Last Reviewed: 12/26/2010
Virgin Atlantic actually offers two flavors of credit cards, the Virgin Atlantic Black and White cards. We’ll review both in detail here, but the main difference between them is that the Black Virgin Atlantic Card has a higher annual fee but offsets this fee with a higher rewards payout and more bonuses. Both cards are on the American Express network, and are issued by Bank of America.
Generally speaking, the Virgin Atlantic Black Card is worth the additional $41 per year in annual fees, as you earn 50% more Flying Club Miles per dollar spent. Importantly, the Virgin Atlantic Black card routinely shows up in GetDebit’s top 5 ranked airline rewards credit cards. The same can’t be said for Virgin Atlantic White, which tends to show up at or below the #10 spot. You can also read our primer on the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Program so you have a better understanding of how these rewards play out.
|White Card||Black Card|
|Basic Rewards||1 Flying Club Mile per dollar spent on all net purchases.||1.5 Flying Club Miles per dollar spent on all net purchases.|
|Category-specific Rewards||3 miles per dollar spent on all Virgin Atlantic purchases.||3 miles per dollar spent on all Virgin Atlantic purchases.|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||1%||1%|
Earning Flying Club Miles from the Virgin Atlantic Credit Cards
Perhaps the most obvious contributor to the performance difference between the VA White and Black credit cards is that the Virgin Black card earns 1.5 miles per dollar of spend, whereas VA White only earns 1 mile. Both cards earn 3 miles per dollar of spend on Virgin Atlantic purchases (such as tickets).
Additionally, the Black Card has a higher signup bonus (20K miles versus 12.5K) and also has the potential to earn an additional 7,500 bonus miles per year relative to the White Card (if you reach $25K of spend on the card each year).
GetDebit Wisdom: The more you spend per year using either of the Virgin Atlantic Credit Cards, the better they perform relative to other airline cards. This is due to 2 main factors: 1) higher spending means you earn all possible bonuses, and 2) you are diluting the impact of the annual fee. The graph below shows the rank of both the Black and White cards at various total spend levels (using the GetDebit standard spending profile scaled higher and lower).
Redeeming Your Flying Club Miles Earned with the Virgin Atlantic Credit Cards
Miles you earn with your VA cards can be redeemed via Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club Program. You can read GetDebit’s very detailed assessment of how much Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles are worth, but here are the key takeaways:
- Due to Virgin Atlantic’s crazy high fuel surcharges (which you are still on the hook for even if you earn an award ticket!), it is uneconomical to redeem your miles for VA tickets.
- However, it turns out you can redeem your miles on Virgin’s partner airlines as well. Both Continental and US Airways redemptions would value your Flying Club Miles at roughly $0.01 per mile, a significant improvement versus Virgin’s own tickets.
Virgin Atlantic Credit Card Fees
The VA White card has a $49 annual fee, whereas the VA Black Credit Card has a $90 annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is only 1%, which is pretty good.
GetDebit’s Final Word on the Virgin Atlantic Credit Cards
This is definitely a case where you should play around with the GetDebit Ranking Engine to better understand how your specific spending profile impacts the value of both the Black and White Virgin Cards. As the graph above shows, the higher your annual spend amount, the more impactful these cards are. At fairly high levels of spend (say, $2,500 or more per month), these cards-especially Black-rise to the top (or near the top) of the airline card rankings.
|Virgin Atlantic Black Card||Virgin Atlantic White Card|
|Apply for Virgin Atlantic Black||Apply for Virgin Atlantic White|
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.