The Virgin Atlantic Black credit card account rewards cardholders for spending with Flying Club miles and the chance to earn two Premium Upgrades and one Companion Reward voucher every year. Cardholders get both an American Express card and a Visa card; potential rewards rates on general spending may reach 2.6% and 1.3%, respectively. In the first year, the £140 annual fee may be offset by the 18,500-mile welcome bonus, which can be worth over £200. All rewards estimates depend, of course, on how you redeem your miles.
Virgin Atlantic Black Card Features
|Flying Club Miles/£1 spent on...||Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays Purchases||General Purchases|
|Amex||4 miles/£1||2 miles/£1|
|Visa||2 miles/£1||1 mile/£1|
- On the Amex card, earn 2 Flying Club Miles for every £1 spent on general purchases and 4 Flying Club Miles for every £1 spent at Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays
- On the Visa, earn 1 Flying Club Miles for every £1 spent on general purchases and 2 Flying Club Miles for every £1 spent at Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays
- Receive a Premium Economy upgrade on an economy redemption when you spend £5,000 on the Black Amex in a year (you can earn two of these upgrades a year)
- Earn a complimentary companion reward flight when you spend £7,500 in years when you purchase a full-fare flight
- Earn 18,500 bonus miles with your first purchase within 90 days
- £140 annual fee
- 22.9% variable APR
- Welcome bonus
- Premium Economy upgrades
- Companion Rewards seat
- Extra miles for Virgin flight and Holidays purchases
- Virgin has few airline partners with which to share miles
- £140 Annual fee
Virgin Atlantic Black Credit Card Review
The Virgin Atlantic Black credit cards allow users to earn Flying Club miles for their spending. Flying Club miles can be used to purchase rewards seats or to upgrade existing seats. In addition, cardholders can earn up to two Premium Economy upgrades and one Companion Reward seat per year. (One Premium Economy upgrade is earned when you spend £5,000 on the Amex – you can do this twice a year. The Companion Reward is earned when you spend £7,500 on the Amex - you can do this once a year.) The value of these perks depends on how you use them.
Successful applicants are issued with both an American Express and a Visa. Assuming the value of a Flying Club Mile to be 1.3p, the Virgin Black Amex can achieve a rewards rate around 5% on Virgin flights and Holidays and around 2.6% on other general spending. Where Amex is not accepted, you can still earn half of those rewards by using the Virgin Black Visa card. Use the Amex wherever you can because it earns Flying Club miles faster, and your Amex spend contributes to upgrade and companion voucher eligibility.
You'll need to fly on Virgin at least twice a year if you want to utilize the companion voucher - once to earn the companion voucher and a second time to use the voucher.
Assuming you use the Amex card, you need to spend about £5,200 in general purchases or £2,600 on Virgin flights and Holidays a year (or some combination of the two) to make up for the £140 annual fee you pay every year. Virgin Atlantic also has a White credit card account, with no annual fee and smaller earning power.
Bottom Line: The Virgin Atlantic Black credit card lets users earn Flying Club Miles and the chance to earn Premium Economy upgrades and a Companion Reward. Before deciding on a credit card, think about if you are likely to use the upgrades and companion vouchers.
Virgin Atlantic Black Credit Card Details
Premium Economy Upgrade
The chart below (based on data gathered from recent searches on the Virgin Atlantic website) gives you an idea of the value of a Premium Economy upgrade, in both pounds and Flying Club miles, for some popular destinations out of the UK. You can see the Premium Economy upgrade can potentially be worth hundreds of pounds, or thousands of Flying Club miles.
|Estimated Value of Premium Economy Upgrade||Cash Price Difference, between Economy and Premium Economy||Upgrade with Flying Club Miles, from Economy to Premium Economy||Implied Value of a Flying Club Mile|
Companion Reward Seat
The value of the Companion Reward is also dependent on how you use it. The chart below shows some sample flight costs for popular destinations out of London. While you clearly get the most value by using the Companion Reward on an Upper Class ticket, remember the original Flying Club member must first buy a ticket for cash in the same cabin class!
|Estimated Virgin Fares||Economy||Premium Economy||Upper Class|
The Companion Reward flight is awarded when you buy a full fare qualifying Virgin Atlantic flight, only after you’ve reached £7,500 of Amex purchases a year. (A full fare qualifying flight are those tickets purchased in booking classes: Y,B,R,L,U,M,E,Q,X,W,S,H and J.) A Companion Reward ticket can only be used to accompany a ticket in the same cabin class on the same day and flight, purchased at a qualifying adult fare. Companion Rewards are valid for twelve months from the date they’re added to your Flying Club account.
We calculate that the rewards rate on a Virgin Black card is between 1.3% and 5.2%. We calculate the upper value as follows: by spending £1 on the Black Amex for a Virgin Atlantic flight or holiday, you earn 4 Flying Club miles. Assuming each Flying Club mile is worth £0.013, 4 miles per £1 spent means a 5.2% rewards rate. (This is the math: 4 * £0.013 = £0.052, or 5.2% of £1 spent) The lowest value is calculated using the lower rate of 1 Flying Club mile per £1 on everyday spending on the Visa card, for a rewards rate of 1.3%. The other rewards rates are calculated following the same methodology.
|Rewards Rate on Virgin Flights and Holidays Spend||Rewards Rate on Other General Spending|
|Virgin Black Amex||5.2%||2.6%|
|Virgin Black Visa||2.6%||1.3%|
Keep in mind that the rewards rate on a Virgin Black credit card, like all airline cards, can be quite variable depending on how you spend your Flying Club miles. Generally speaking, redeeming your miles on economy seats is a poor use of miles and redeeming your miles on Upper Class seats or upgrades will create more value from your miles.
What is the Value of a Flying Club Mile?
We have assumed an average value of £0.013 per Flying Club mile for the calculations in this review. The actual value you achieve will depend on how you redeem your miles – the value of miles is quite variable, depending on how you use them. After analyzing flight data on some popular routes out of the UK, we’ve found the best use of miles to be redeeming them for Upper Class flights or upgrading from Premium Economy to Upper Class, as you can see in the following table.
Those who want to travel to a destination not serviced by Virgin Atlantic can use their Flying Club miles at any of Virgin’s partner airlines, listed below:
- Virgin Australia
- Jet Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- Air China
- Air New Zealand
- Hawaiin Airlines