The Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard is offering up to 90,000 bonus miles but there are quite a few strings attached.
The bottom line is that you earn 127,500 Virgin Atlantic miles after spending $25,000 in the first year on the card and paying $180 in annual fees. The offer breaks down like this:
25,000 Immediate Miles after First Purchase, Adding Authorized Users, and Paying Annual Fee
- 20,000 Flying Club bonus miles after your first retail purchase
- Earn 2,500 Flying Club miles for each authorized user you add to the card up to 5,000 Flying Club bonus miles
- The card has a $90 annual fee that is NOT waived the first year.
This is 25,000 total miles just for opening the card, adding two authorized users, making one purchase, and paying the $90 annual fee.
Miles as Soon as You Spend $12,000 within 6 Months
- 50,000 additional Flying Club bonus miles after you spend at least $12,000 in qualifying purchases within 6 months of your account open date
We’re up to 75,000 bonus miles. Plus the card earns 1.5 miles per dollar on all purchases, so you’d have 93,000 Virgin Atlantic miles after spending $12,000 on the card.
Miles Next Year
- Earn 7,500 bonus miles upon anniversary if you spend $15,000 in a year on the card
- Earn 15,000 bonus miles upon anniversary if you spend $25,000 in a year on the card
- The card has a $90 annual fee that you’d have to pay again to get these anniversary miles.
The first anniversary bonus threshold is only $3,000 beyond the minimum spending requirement, so that seems like a no-brainer if you’ve gotten this far. You’d get 12,000 miles for that $3,000 in spending (4,500 for the normal spending and 7,500 bonus) or 4 miles per dollar.
The last 7,500 bonus miles would cost another $10,000 in spending, so the return isn’t nearly as good.
If you spent $25,000 on the card in the first year (and $12,000 was in the first six months, and you added two authorized users), your total haul would be 127,500 Virgin Atlantic miles.
- 90,000 for the various bonuses
- 37,500 for $25,000 * 1.5 miles per dollar on all spending
You would also have paid $180 in annual fees.
Two Reasons Why You Want Virgin Atlantic Miles
1. AMONG THE CHEAPEST ECONOMY AND PREMIUM ECONOMY AWARDS TO EUROPE (IN MILES)
The first reason to get Virgin Atlantic miles is that economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. If you can fly outside of Peak Reward Season, which is March 31 to April 18, June 22 to September 6, and December 13 to December 31, then…
- from Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. you only need 10,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one way economy flight to London
- from Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, and Orlando, you only need 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one way economy flight to London
- from Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco, you only need 15,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one way economy flight to London
If you want to travel within the Peak Reward Season, you’ll pay 10k more per one way. That can still be a good deal depending on where in the country you’re flying from.
Fuel surcharges are a reality when redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on their own flights, but total taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are only around $150.
Combine a cheap one way Virgin Atlantic award from the eastern United States to Europe and return from a low tax country–like Spain or Switzerland–to the United States on a one way award with Singapore miles (on a United flight) for a very cheap European vacation. Returning from London will incur expensive departure taxes.
Or you can fly one way from parts of the United States to the United Kingdom in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 17,500 miles and $148.60.
Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.
Virgin Atlantic has relatively frequent 30% off sales on awards between the United States and Europe, like this one last year. That would mean a one way to London from Boston, New York, and Washington would cost only 7k Virgin Atlantic miles in economy or 12,250 Virgin Atlantic miles in Premium Economy! That’s super cheap, even considering the out of pocket cost.
2. INCREDIBLE VALUE PARTNER AWARDS
Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners.
Each has its own award chart, and the values can be good, especially with this transfer bonus. Best of all, on many partners, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect any fuel surcharges!
Award prices will also include unavoidable government taxes but none include fuel surcharges:
- Atlanta to Buenos Aires roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 45,000 miles (35k Membership Rewards)
- Los Angeles or San Francisco to Auckland roundtrip in Business Class on Air New Zealand: 125,000 miles
- London to New York roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 40,000 miles
Some of Virgin Atlantic’s award prices flying ANA are also very good, but you do have to book roundtrips, and (minimal) fuel surcharges will be collected. Roundtrip prices are listed in the table below.
120k to fly First Class to Japan from Central/Eastern US roundtrip is a great mileage price. I checked the fuel surcharges on a one way ANA First Class cash ticket between Houston and Tokyo (on ITA Matrix) and they were only $44.
Should You Get the Virgin Atlantic Credit Card?
Probably not. I know the headline bonus miles number is humungous, but the miles are not as valuable as American, United, or Alaska miles, and the spending requirement is huge.
Only get the card if you have gotten other, better cards already, you can easily meet the big spending requirement on this card, and you can get good value from one of the few truly good uses of the card’s miles.
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Hat tip One Mile at a Time