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Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card: Is It Worth It?

Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card
Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card

Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card: Is It Worth It?

This card allows you to earn a lot of miles (especially if you spend $25k or more annually), but award travel is burdened by hefty fees and limited destinations.
Editor's Rating: 4.0/5.0
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Editor's Rating

{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

4.0/5.0

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

The Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card can be a decent value for consumers spending more than $25,000 annually on their credit card, and those who don’t mind how this frequent flyer program operates. Award travel through Flying Club offers fewer destinations than other reward programs we’ve seen, and it charges high fees upon redemption (hundreds of dollars). To compensate for this, the miles are highly valuable, and the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card oozes miles out of every crevice, possibly making up for some of these negative aspects of the program.

Good For…Bad For…
  • Individuals spending $25,000+ annually
  • Those who don't mind the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Program and its fees and limitations

Review: Should You Get the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card?

The Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card is a great airline miles credit card, burdened by a less-than-ideal rewards program. We estimate that this card can earn you anywhere between a 3.9% and 7.8% rewards rate, which can sound great without context. However, Virgin Atlantic charges very high fees and surcharges on its rewards travel – ranging from a few hundred dollars to $1,000 depending on the destination. Consumers would have to be very dedicated to flying with Virgin Atlantic, in order to make the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card a worthy consideration. Otherwise, more general travel rewards credit cards provide better value.

If you are fine with the expensive redemption of the card, it provides a lot of opportunity to earn award miles for high spenders. If you spend over $25,000 on your Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card annually, you will get 15,000 bonus Flying Club miles every year. This award (combined with the miles earned getting you to it) will earn you one round-trip ticket to London from anywhere inside the United States. Plus, if you reach this $25,000 spending threshold inside a year, you will also have the ability to book a second award ticket for just half the miles – a feature that can save you $455 in redeemed miles, or more depending on the trip.

The last thing to consider before getting the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card is that Virgin Atlantic offers award travel to a limited number of international destinations. You can use your miles to also book travel with one of 13 other airline partners, though you will generally have less available dates to chose from by doing so - at that point it'd be better to just have a credit card earning you miles with those airlines you fly with.

Virgin Atlantic Award Travel Destinations

London

New Delhi

Shanghai

Lagos

Dubai

Johannesburg

Hong Kong

Bottom Line: If you don’t mind paying high fees when redeeming award travel, and if Virgin Atlantic offers award flights to destinations you’d like to visit, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card can be a good deal. For consumers looking for a good travel or airline miles credit card, however, and for whom this card contains too many “if”’s to put up with, we recommend exploring other options.

Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card Benefits & Features

The Virgin Atlantic credit card from Bank of America earns users 3 Flying Club miles per $1 on all Virgin Atlantic purchases, and 1.5 miles per $1 on all other purchases. We estimate the value of a single Flying Club mile to be $0.026, placing this card’s rewards rate between 3.9% and 7.8% - depending on how your spending breaks down.

Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card
Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card

Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card

Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card
Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card
  • Earn 1 tier point per $2,500 in purchases (maximum of 2 per month) and additional tier points when you fly Virgin Atlantic or airline partners
  • Get a second reward ticket for half the miles when you redeem Flying Club miles for a Virgin Atlantic Economy reward ticket (must spend $25,000+ in purchases annually)
  • Earn 1 tier point per $2,500 in purchases (maximum of 2 per month) and additional tier points when you fly Virgin Atlantic or airline partners
  • Get a second reward ticket for half the miles when you redeem Flying Club miles for a Virgin Atlantic Economy reward ticket (must spend $25,000+ in purchases annually)
Annual Fee
$90
Regular APR
14.24%
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
N/A
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The information related to the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Cardholders will also receive 20,000 bonus Flying Club miles after they make their first purchase. Note that transferring a balance to this card, or taking out a cash advance will not trigger the bonus – you must use it to pay for a product or service. In addition, if you add a more cardholders to the account, you can earn up to an extra 5,000 miles – worth approximately $130.

Big spenders can also qualify for additional bonus points depending on how much they charge to their Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card. If you charge a minimum of $15,000 on your credit card within 1 year, you will receive 7,500 bonus Flying Club Miles. If you manage to reach $25,000 in spending inside a single year, you will receive another 7,500 miles on top of that, for a grand total of 15,000 bonus miles. Cardholders are eligible to qualify for this bonus every cardmember year that they remain in good standing (meaning you make at least the minimum payments on all your monthly bills).

Discounted Companion Award Travel

If you spend more than $25,000 annually, the primary accountholder can redeem a companion ticket at half the miles cost. For example, a roundtrip flight for two, from New York to London, would normally cost 70,000 Flying Club miles. However, if you book that same trip after you have reached at least $25,000 in spending, it would only cost 52,500 – a savings of 17,500 miles (a $455 value).

The value of this benefit will scale with how many points you are discounting. We found that a trip between New York and London was among the cheapest award flights that Virgin Atlantic offered. Therefore, cardholders with other more expensive itineraries can expect to save even more than $455.

Keep in mind that the discounted companion fare will only apply for the remainder of the year in which you reached $25,000 in spending. If your cardmember year lasts from January 1st to December 31st, and you only reach $25,000 in spending on December 20th, you will be left with 11 days to book the second award travel ticket at half the price. The good news is that what matters is the time of purchase. Therefore, in the scenario we described, you could book a flight on December 21st for a flight on March of next year, and you will still only need half the required miles for the companion ticket.

Tier Points & Status

For every $2,500 you spend on your Virgin Atlantic credit card, you will be awarded 1 tier point that help you qualify for the airline’s different elite membership statuses. You'll need 15 tier points in order to qualify for the Silver Tier, and 40 points to reach Gold. Different levels of membership carry with them various perks and benefits, including increased base point earning, priority boarding, and access to Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses. You can read more about the benefits of Virgin Atlantic’s tier program on their website.

Note that you may earn a maximum of 2 tier points per month through the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card.

What Are Virgin Atlantic/Flying Club Miles Worth?

On the surface, Flying Club miles are highly valuable – we estimate that a point carries, on average, a value of $0.026. This is significantly higher than many other frequent flyer miles or frequent guest program points. This figure will vary from booking to booking – in the 14 sample bookings we looked at this figure ranged from $0.0012 to $0.09 per mile. The values below $0.01 were, on the whole, uncommon, though we still urge readers to redeem carefully, if they hope to get the most out of their award travel.

One of the major downsides of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program is its high fees and surcharges. With many of the best airline miles programs, we've never had to pay more than a few bucks when booking award travel. With Virgin Atlantic, you will be required to pay hundreds of dollars in fees. For example, when booking a round-trip flight from New York to London, outside of the 35,000 miles you redeem, you will need to cough up $455 in fees (per passenger). While this is still a lot cheaper than booking the flight with your own money, many consumers don’t want to have to pay anything when they are booking flights with the miles they earned. It takes a lot of the allure of “free travel” out of the equation when the travel is this far from free.

The table below shows a sample of the itnieraries we examined during the course of our research.

From

ToAward Travel PriceUSDUSD Per Point

New York

London35,000 + $455$1,123$0.019

New York

Shanghai80,000 + $613$2,720$0.026

Los Angeles

Dubai81,000 + $1,335$3,085$0.022

Los Angeles

Hong Kong92,500 + $1,483$6,553$0.055

Virgin Atlantic miles can also be used to book trips with their partner airlines, including Delta. When it comes to their own award travel, Virgin Atlantic offers limited options – with most options being international flights out of the United States, to a select few locations around the globe, including London, Shanghai, Dubai, Hong Kong, and New Delhi. This is where booking trips with other airline partners, such as Delta, comes into play.

Booking award travel like this, however, comes with a few downsides. First of all, you will not be presented with as many options and times. Delta chooses which flights they make available to Virgin Atlantic customers, and they usually first reserve the best flights and times for Delta customers. Secondly, you will not be eligible for any of the Virgin Atlantic benefits when booking travel with Delta – this includes priority boarding privileges, and the discounted companion fare. 

How Does the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card Compare To Other Credit Cards?

If you wish to gain an clear picture of the value the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card holds, then it is important to see it against the backdrop of other available options. Below we run profile how this card performs when compared to some of its competitors.

Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card vs British Airways Visa Signature® Card

British Airways Visa Signature® Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card, like the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card, is affiliated with a UK-based airline. Choosing between the two cards may be strictly a matter of preference – choosing between Flying Club and Avios programs.

For people who travel with 1 or more people, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card becomes a much better deal when spending $30,000+ annually. This figure is the threshold for earning a “Travel Together” ticket with the card – a one time “buy one get one free” offer for a British Airways flight. A similar deal is attainable with the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card at just $25,000 in annual spending. Generally, the Travel Ticket benefit is worth significantly more. However, if you can’t qualify for it, this is a moot point.

The information related to the British Airways Visa Signature® Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card vs Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express will be the better credit card for users who want greater flexibility, and who don’t travel exclusively with Virgin Atlantic. With the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express users earn points, which are transferable to a number of different airlines. In addition, points can be redeemed for stays at several hotel brands. Additionally, the annual fee for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is only $5 more per year at $95 (waived for the first year)(See Rates & Fees). The only things you will be missing out on, if you choose to go with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express over the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card, is things like the discounted companion fare, and annual point bonuses. If these things matter more to you than the flexibility offered by the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express we recommend sticking with the Virgin Atlantic credit card.

The information related to the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. This offer and/or promotion may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available.

Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® Credit Card vs Citi Premier℠ Card

Citi Premier℠ Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Citi Premier℠ Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

The Citi Premier℠ Card is a better choice for individuals who value both flexibility and short-term awards. ThankYou® Points earned with this card can be redeemed for travel. The Citi Premier℠ Card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus points after users spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. This is a great way to earn travel rewards quickly.

The information related to the Citi Premier℠ Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. This offer and/or promotion may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available.

Comparison Tool

To readers who still want to weigh their options, but are unsure of which credit card will provide the best rewards for their particular spending patterns, our tool is there to help. Simply input your spending, and it will calculate for you the estimated value of rewards earned.

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Assumptions based on $1,430 monthly spend
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Comments and Questions

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).