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Verdict: This card is designed for frequent Virgin Atlantic flyers who want to earn Flying Club miles. While it has a good rewards rate, Flying Club miles themselves have a fairly low value and the Achilles heel of the card is redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles means paying high taxes, fuel surcharges and fees of about $500 to $8000 for reward flights — plus a high annual fee for the card.
Prior to 2013, Bank of America offered a Virgin Atlantic American Express. The card changed to Mastercard in August 2013, with the same features and point payouts, although the bonus offer is lower at 20,000 points after the first purchase.
The Virgin Atlantic Mastercard from Bank of America lets you earn 3 Flying Club miles for every $1 spent on Virgin Atlantic purchases and 1.5 Flying Club points for every other $1 spent. You can also earn tier points along with your Flying Club miles for an annual fee of $90.
The VA Mastercard from Bank of America offers a pretty good base earning of 1.5 miles per dollar spent, compared to most airline cards that offer a flat 1x miles. You also earn 3 miles per $1 on Virgin Atlantic purchases, which is also higher than most airline cards. While Virgin Atlantic miles are not the most valuable, they can be worthwhile for upgrading or using them for business class redemptions. When you use miles for award flights, you will need to pay fuel surcharges.
You can also use your miles on 14 different airline partners, including Virgin America, Virgin Australia, Air China, Hawaiian Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Gulf Air, Cyprus Airlines, Jet Airways and Delta Air Lines.
If you’d prefer to use your miles for hotel stays, you can transfer Flying Club miles to Hilton at a 1:1.5 ratio, meaning your 20,000 bonus miles would become 30,000 Hilton HHonors points.
- 20,000 bonus Flying Club miles after your first purchase
- Up to 15,000 extra Flying Club miles every anniversary after meeting qualifying purchases (7,500 bonus miles if you spend $15,000 during the year and 15,000 miles if you spend $25,000)
- Up to 5,000 bonus miles when you add additional cardholders
- Earn tier points as well as miles. You get 1 tier point for every $2,500 in purchases, up to 2 tier points a month, and extra tier points when you fly Virgin Atlantic or a partner airline
- Get a second reward ticket for half the miles when redeeming Flying Club miles for a Virgin Atlantic Economy reward ticket
- 3 Flying Club miles per $1 spent on Virgin Atlantic; 1 mile per $1 on other spending
- $90 annual fee
- Flying Club miles not valued as highly as other programs
- Reward tickets require paying high fuel surcharges, taxes and fees that are more than the ticket price
- Foreign transaction fee of 1%
Is the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard Worth it?
For most people who are not die-hard Virgin Atlantic frequent flyers, the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard is not worth it. Miles have a low value and you are required to spend a lot to get all of the bonus miles. Even worse, redeeming your miles usually means paying hundreds anyway in fuel surcharges and fees that are usually higher than the ticket price.
If you are after the best way to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, a better choice is the Business Gold Rewards American Express card, offers 50,000 reward points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. With the Business Gold Rewards card, you can transfer points to VA at a 1:1 ratio.
If you simply want to get the best rewards for airfare, you may be better suited to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which gives you 2x points on travel and 20% off airfare, hotels, cruises and rentals when you redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards.