Do you enjoy earning frequent flyers miles for every latte, lunch, train ticket and virtually everything else you buy? If you don’t – you should. Turning every day purchases into frequent flyer miles makes it easier than ever to earn lucrative travel rewards like upgrades, lounge access and “free” companion tickets to explore destinations all over the world – for less. Today Virgin Atlantic launched a new credit card with Virgin Money, and we’ve got the full scoop…

Release of new Virgin Atlantic credit card.
Byline John Nguyen/JNVisuals

Two Cards

Virgin Atlantic has launched two cards: a free version, and a premium version with additional benefits. Both Mastercard cards are offered by Virgin Money and anyone who currently holds the previous MBNA Virgin Atlantic card is allowed to apply for this new card and receive the new sign up bonus. Essentially, you can still use both cards and make them work for you, though it’s tough to beat the new earning rates of the premium card.

Sign Up Bonuses

The free version with no annual fee offers 5,000 Virgin Atlantic miles as a sign up bonus after your first purchase. The premium version carries an annual fee of £160 and comes with a sign up bonus of 15,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles after your first purchase (within 90 days). £160 for 15,000 points is always a great deal, but it’s the ongoing benefits we’re compelled by.

Earning Rates

You’ll earn .75 Flying Club miles for every £1 spent on the free version, but a whopping 1.5 Flying Club miles for every £1 spent on the premium version. That’s the most generous earning rate of any non Amex UK airline credit card. With wide Mastercard acceptance, this could be a lucrative choice, especially as Virgin Atlantic partners with KLM, Air France and other airlines to give increasing value to Flying Club miles. We have an extremely useful, comprehensive list of clever ways to spend Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, here.

Flexible Benefits

The thing that got us excited about this new card is the flexibility of the benefits. Cardmembers can choose between Heathrow or Gatwick Clubhouse lounge passes, a round trip upgrade to Premium Economy when redeeming for economy, or a 2 for 1, where the second person flies without needing to use additional miles – you just pay the taxes. These benefits are triggered when spending £20,000 in a year on the free version or £10,000 on the premium version. There’s one interesting catch, which you’ll read below. All cardmembers will receive access to Virgin Money lounge around the UK for refreshments, wifi and other perks on the go.

Silver And Gold Benefits

This credit card takes an interesting approach by offering increased benefits for Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Silver and Gold members. For cardholders hoping to use the 2 for 1 voucher when cashing in points, standard “red” members with Virgin Atlantic can only use it to book Economy. Silver members can use it to book Premium Economy and Flying Club Gold members can use it to book Economy, Premium or Upper Class. As a reminder, the 2 for 1 is only valid when you’re using miles, not for cash bookings.

A Clever Benefit Move

All cardholders can take advantage of the round trip upgrade to Premium Economy when booking a flight using points for economy – after meeting the spending requirement. These vouchers are valid for two years, so if someone earned one in one year, and a second voucher in the second year, they’d have two vouchers and could easily then book two round trip tickets using Flying Club miles in economy – and end up with two people flying round trip in Premium.

Should You Get It?

There’s no doubt that the Premium card will offer a better daily return on your investment. £160 a year is a lot of money, but the initial 15,000 points greatly offsets the first year cost. If you’re spending £10,000 a year and receive your choice of perk, it would be hard to argue against £160 for a round trip upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy. This card isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a Virgin Atlantic loyalist and are looking for ways to build your points – it’s the best new option out there. Full details, here.

Are you going to grab this new Flying Club miles earning card?