The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard is not one of our top-rated airline credit cards. You can review our list of the best airline credit cards for what we think are better options.
Full Review of Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard
Rich bonuses if you reach annual spending thresholds
Bonuses of tier miles to help earn elite status faster
Lucrative one-time offer for modest spending
$90 annual fee
Virtually no benefits
- Rich Bonuses if You Reach Annual Spending Thresholds: At 3 miles per dollar spent on Virgin Atlantic purchases, this card’s rewards for airline spending are respectable enough. What elevates them to being exceptional are built-in bonuses tied to spending that potentially add hundreds of dollars a year in benefits.You earn additional miles and a companion ticket if you charge significant but attainable amounts to the card every year. You receive 15,000 miles every anniversary on qualifying purchases. Another 7,500 miles is awarded if spending for the year reaches $25,000. Reaching the $25,000 annual threshold also gains you an “Enhanced Anniversary Award Benefit” in the form of a companion ticket, which is complimentary except for paying taxes and fees.
- Tier Miles To Help Earn Elite Status Faster: You gain elite status with Virgin’s Flying Club—which sweetens rewards and adds some flight benefits—by earning Tier Miles. And where these points are customarily earned only by flying, this card allows you to earn them as bonuses for spending. You receive 25 Tier Miles every month in which you spend $2,500, and 50 tier points if you spend $5,000 in a month. It requires 400 tier points to reach Silver status from Red, the entry-level tier, and 600 more points to reach Gold. The miles expire a year after they are earned. These bonuses, then, could give you a huge head start towards reaching Silver status. If you spent $2,500 a month on the card for a year, you’d earn 300 of the required 400 Tier Miles. You could earn the remaining 100 points by taking a single return Economy flight over the year.
- Lucrative One-Time Offer for Modest Spending: Typically, one-time offers for rewards cards that run to tens of thousands of miles or points require spending of $3,000 or $5,000 within three months. But this card offers 60,000 points for spending $2,000 in that time, a goal that almost any cardholder could easily achieve. With Investopedia’s valuation of 1.6 cents per Virgin Atlantic mile, the bonus miles would be worth $960 when used to buy Virgin Atlantic flights.
- $90 Annual Fee: The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard’s bonuses could potentially justify the card’s $90 fee several times over. But to do that, you need to use the card regularly through the year, preferably including spending with Virgin Atlantic to earn the highest rewards rate. If you don’t score those rewards, this card offers relatively little for its annual cost.
- Virtually No Benefits: This card offers very few of the benefits common to airline or travel cards with an annual fee, or even some that have no fee. The absent features include the likes of any type of rental-car insurance, price protection, or extended-warranty coverage.
This Card is Best For
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
This Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard is best-suited to Virgin Atlantic flyers and brand loyalists who are willing to spend fairly heavily on the card. Charging an average of $1,250 a month over a full year unlocks the Virgin Atlantic bonuses that are the card’s biggest attraction. Those extras include miles bonuses and a free companion fare, along with Tier Miles to help you get to elite status with Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club. The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard is also an unusually good choice for those who are loyal to Virgin Atlantic’s large number and range of partners, from which you can earn Flying Club miles. You can also transfer points or miles from some partners’ loyalty programs to Flying Club, at rates that are sometimes better than the industry norm—such as the 1:1 exchange of Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Flying Club miles.
Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard One-Time Offer
You receive a one-time offer of 60,000 Flying Club miles after spending $2,000 within the first 90 days of opening the account.
Rewards Earning Details
Every dollar you spend directly with Virgin Atlantic earns you 3 miles, for total rewards of about 4.8 cents per dollar, based on Investopedia’s valuation of Flying Club miles at 1.6 cents when used to buy Virgin Atlantic flights. All other purchases earn you 1.5 miles per dollar, for about 2.4 cents in value.While you earn only the regular 1.5-mile-per-dollar rate on purchases from Virgin Atlantic partners, you can still earn rich additional mileage rewards with these carriers, hotels, car-rental companies, and retailers. (These are Flying Club bonuses, which you can earn without necessarily using a Virgin Atlantic credit card.) While rewards vary, you can earn Flying Club miles for the distance traveled on Virgin Atlantic’s 11 carrier partners, who include Air France, KLM, SAS, Virgin Australia, and Air China. These earnings sometimes equal or rival the mileage earnings for travelling on Virgin Atlantic itself.Car rentals in the U.S. and Canada from Avis, Hertz, Alamo, and National earn you a bonus of 1,000 Flying Club miles, which translates to about $16 in value per rental. (Bonuses may differ for non-North American rentals and for other car-rental partners.)
Stays at Virgin Hotels, too, earn 1,000 Flying Club miles. And if you stay at Hilton, Marriott, Best Western, Hyatt, or seven other hotel chains, you can elect to earn Flying Club miles, rather than points in the loyalty programs for those chains.
Purchases with retail partners such Apple, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus can also earn Flying Club miles, often through one-time specials. For example, at the time of writing, it was possible to earn five miles for every dollar spent at Macy’s.You earn additional miles if you attain certain spending thresholds every year. Spending $15,000 within your card-anniversary year earns you 7,500 miles, and reaching $25,000 within the same time provides an additional 7,500-mile bonus. If you reach certain monthly spending thresholds, you can also receive additional bonuses of Virgin Atlantic Tier Points. Usually earned only by flying, and so difficult to value precisely, these rewards are needed to achieve elite status in the Flying Club. You earn 25 Tier Points for every $2,500 you spend, to a maximum of 50 Tier Points per month. You also earn them by buying flights on most of Virgin’s airline partners. Reaching Silver status, the first elite tier, requires earning 400 Tier Points within 12 months.
Rewards Redemption Details
Points can be redeemed for reward flights, as well as for other experiences and benefits.
As with the points or miles earned with most cards, Flying Club miles generally yield the greatest value when used for Virgin Atlantic flights. You can choose to pay entirely in miles, or choose the “Miles Plus Money” option and pay partly in miles and partly in money. The amount you spend in cash still earns you the relevant miles and counts towards your spending to earn Tier Points.
Virgin Atlantic allows you to give or transfer miles to others. You simply log into your Flying Club account and designate the Flying Club account to which the miles should be transferred.
Additionally, you can use your points to spend at partners, including other airlines, like Delta, and at hotels like Hilton and IHG. Virgin Group partners will also accept your miles for balloon flights, train trips, and other experiences. Virgin Galactic’s trips into space are even an option for spending your miles.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
Given the top rewards rate of 3 miles per dollar on Virgin Atlantic spending, making the most of this card begins with favoring the carrier whenever you fly. All other spending on the card earns only half as many miles per dollar spent, but purchasing travel from Virgin Atlantic partners can earn you Flying Club miles from the rewards program itself. Flying with an airline partner, for instance, can allow you to earn rewards comparable to taking a Virgin Atlantic flight, including both Flying Club miles and the Tier Miles needed to qualify for elite status in the Flying Club. Renting from a car-rental partner can earn you a 1,000-mile bonus.
For some hotel partners, you can opt to change your rewards preferences when using this card to earn Flying Club miles for stays rather than the chain’s own loyalty points. Finally, you can earn Flying Club miles for every dollar you spend at retail partners, including taking advantage of limited-time specials that provide many times the regular rewards rate.
Also, plan to use the card enough through the year to meet the spending thresholds that unlock bonus Flying Club miles and Tier Miles. The 15,000 bonus miles you receive on qualifying purchases essentially boosts the card’s rewards rate for the year by a half-cent per dollar spent. That raises the value of rewards from Investopedia’s valuation of 1.6 cents per dollar spent to about 2.1 cents. Reaching the $25,000 mark, and so earning 15,000 miles in total, further increases the boost, by an additional 0.6 cents per mile. (At $25,000 in spending, you also then get the companion pass that could add hundreds more to the card’s value.) You’re also rewarded if you invite people to share the card’s account with you. Adding an authorized user earns you 5,000 bonus miles, to a maximum of 5,000 bonus miles for adding two users.
Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard’s Outstanding Benefits
- Overdraft protection
- Monthly FICO Score
- Digital wallet
- Account alerts
- $0 Liability for fraudulent purchases
- Chip cards
Bank of America, which issues the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard received a score of 798 out 1,000 in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The bank ranked in seventh place among 12 major credit card issuers. The score was a little below the national average of 806 points for all issuers.
Bank of America offers mobile apps for iOS and Android. These apps allow for account access in general, including the ability to keep track of credit card transactions. Scored out of a possible 5 by users, Bank of America’s mobile app has a score of 4.8 stars in the Apple App Store and 4.7 stars on Google Play.
As you might expect, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard comes with $0 fraud liability. The issuer monitors purchases to identify unusual patterns and flag them. Additionally, the card features chip technology, making it more secure for users.
Another feature is overdraft protection for those with a Bank of America account. The card can be connected to the account and serve as protection against overdrawing from it.
While it’s highly rewarding, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard might not be worth its fee for those who plan to use the card only occasionally. True, with its $90 annual fee, you could justify the expense, or close to it, merely from the rewards earned from a single high-season transatlantic return flight for two. (Assuming a fare of $900 each, you’d net 5,400 miles—at 3 miles per dollar spent with Virgin Atlantic—worth about $86 when used to buy further Virgin Atlantic flights.)But the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard offers few other benefits, even when flying on Virgin Atlantic. The card’s sweet spot kicks in only if you charge upwards of $1,250 a month, and so begin to unlock its multiple potential bonuses for high spending.
If you cannot—or would rather not—charge that much a month to the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard, you might be better off with a flexible travel rewards card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred, for example, has an annual fee of$95 and provides 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining, and you can even transfer those points on a 1:1 basis to your account with the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.