Card of the Month: Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

Virgin Atlantic miles are useful since you can redeem them on travel partners like All Nippon Airways (ANA). The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard by Bank of America currently has a limited time offer of up to 80,000 miles.

As a disclaimer for the post, I’m going to use the “real value” of the intro bonus, since you need to spend an excessive amount to earn the full 80,000 miles.

Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®

  • Annual fee: $90

  • Intro bonus: 60,000 Virgin Atlantic miles (VS) after $2,000 in spend within the first 3 months of account opening

  • Additional bonus tranches:

    • 7,500 anniversary miles after spending a minimum of $15,000

    • Earn an additional 7,500 anniversary miles after spending a total of $25,000 within the anniversary year of your card

  • Authorized user bonus: up to 5,000 miles when you add an authorized user (2,500 each, max of 2)

  • Spending multipliers:

    • Earn 3x on Virgin Atlantic purchases

    • Earn 1.5x on all other purchases

  • No foreign transaction fees

Intro Bonus: Earn up to 80,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles

I’m not a fan of the “earn up to 80,000 miles” intro bonus marketing because most people won’t reach the spend.

Here’s how the 80,000 bonus breaks down:

  • 60,000 miles after $2,000 in spend within the first 3 months of account opening

  • 5,000 miles after adding 2 authorized users

  • 7,500 anniversary miles after spending $15,000 within the anniversary year of the card

  • 7,500 anniversary miles after spending a total of $25,000 within the anniversary year of the card

For the 2 additional anniversary levels, you’re spending an additional $25,000 to earn 15,000 miles, which comes out to be 1.2% return on spend.

Companion Reward

The Virgin Atlantic card earns a companion reward in the same cabin class when you redeem Flying Club miles for a Virgin Atlantic reward ticket. Must spend $25,000 or more in purchases annually to qualify.

The Fine Print

To qualify for the companion reward, the initial ticket must be a Virgin Atlantic ticket purchases by redeeming directly through Virgin Atlantic Airways.

You won’t be able to redeem the companion reward on partner airlines like Delta or ANA.

The main issue with redeeming VS miles directly with Virgin Atlantic is that you’ll have to pay hefty fees.

For example, if you redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for Upper Class fare from the US to the UK, you’ll need to spend 95,000 to 135,000 miles AND pay $1,100 to $1,200 in fees.

Virgin Atlantic (US to UK Example):

  • Upper Class

    • 95,000 to 135,000 VS AND

    • $1,100 to $1,200 in fees

  • Economy

    • 20,000 to 30,000 VS AND

    • $450 to $500 in fees

For the number of fees you’re paying in economy class, you’re better off keeping the points and booking a round trip fare on another airline.

Value of Virgin Atlantic Miles

Below is a breakdown of how much Virgin Atlantic miles are worth. When you redeem the miles for business or first class flights, you can get 2 cents per point (CPP). For economy flights, the miles are valued at 1.1 to 1.3 CPP, depending on where you’re going.

Earn 60,000 miles after you spend $2,000 on the card within the first 3 months of account opening, and another 5,000 miles when you add 2 authorized users.

When you complete the spend and authorized user criteria, you’ll earn 65,000 miles. At a 2 CPP valuation, the 65,000 miles are worth $1,300. The return on spend is 65%.

Previous offers didn’t have anywhere near a 65% return on spend. It was 50,000 miles after $12,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

Optimal Redemption Strategies

The optimal strategy for redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles is to use them on ANA for business or first class. The chart below shows how many points you’ll need for a round trip ticket in each fare class.

For ANA, you must book a round trip ticket to get the below rates.

ANA business class usually retails for $7,000+ round trip.

ANA Biz 1.JPG

ANA first class retails for ~$21,000+ round trip.

ANA FIrst 3.JPG

If you’re planning a business class trip to Japan on ANA with two people, the best strategy would be:

  • You + P2 = Virgin Atlantic x 2 + CSP OR Amex Plat

  • Example: Need 95,000 each = 65k bonus + 30k transfer (UR or MR to VS)

Both players would need to get the Virgin Atlantic card with the increased bonus, AND transfer 30,000 Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic miles.

Delta One Suites

Below is the flight redemption chart to redeem Virgin Atlantic points for Delta One Suites. Routing is limited, so you might have to reposition to take the Delta One flight.

Delta One Suites routes (as of Sept 2019):

a) Europe = DTW
b) Asia = ATL, DTW, LAX, MSP, SEA
c) Australia = LAX

For Delta One, round trip fares are optional. If you only want to book a one-way flight, it will require half the miles.



Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. 

UGC disclosure: 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.