Up until earlier this year Virgin Atlantic issued a co-branded American Express credit card in the US which often offered a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles. For whatever reason that partnership with American Express ended, and in August they came out with the Virgin Atlantic World MasterCard. For all practical purposes the sign-up bonus was at most 25,000 miles. Now, Virgin Atlantic miles aren’t especially valuable, so I didn’t consider the offer even worth mentioning.

However, it looks like they’ve finally increased the sign-up bonus back to what it was when it was still an American Express card. Now you get 20,000 miles after the first purchase, 25,000 additional miles after spending $2,500 within 90 days, and 5,000 additional miles for adding two authorized users to the card. So that’s a total of 50,000 miles after spending $2,500. The annual fee on the card is $90, and isn’t waived for the first year.

Virgin_Atlantic_World_MasterCard

So 50,000 miles sounds like a really good sign-up bonus, but is it? Last time I analyzed the value of miles back in March, I said that Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are worth 0.8 cents each, making them the least valuable of any miles I analyzed.

One of the only good things about Virgin Atlantic miles is that you can transfer them at a 1:2 ratio to Hilton HHonors, so 50,000 miles gets you 100,000 HHonors points. Well, at least that was great until Hilton slaughtered their award chart back in March. Anyway, Virgin Atlantic does have over a dozen airline partners but they impose fuel surcharges on most of them and don’t let you mix carriers, so for the most part I don’t value their miles that much.

Is it worth applying for the card with this bonus? I guess it depends what other offers are out there that you haven’t applied for yet. I mean, 100,000 HHonors points does get you 25 nights at the Doubletree Beijing, so… ;)

(Tip of the hat to Jon)

  1. October 4th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    tassojunior said,

    What happens to all of us with Virgin AmEx’s??? Should we cancel and apply for a MasterCard before there’s an automatic conversion?

  2. October 4th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Joey said,

    Thanks Lucky! I got the VS Amex a few months ago since I always wanted to fly upper class on Virgin Atlantic. In your opinion, what’s the best way to redeem an upper class ticket on VS? Since it’s 80,000 miles plus fuel surcharges for a roundtrip upper class flight from East Coast USA to London on VS, I was going to use the miles from the credit card bonus and then transfer UR points to my Flying Club account. I’d appreciate your thoughts.
    @tassojunior, I received a note from Bank of America stating the Virgin Amex will be converted to Mastercard. I’d contact BoFA if I were you.

  3. October 4th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    lucky said,

    @ tassojunior — My guess is that you could apply again and probably get the bonus. I’d probably do so sooner rather than later though.

  4. October 4th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    rick b said,

    The geographically inaccurate background image cracks me up. Why would anyone create that in photoshop?

  5. October 4th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Joey — If you do want to fly Upper Class then that’s definitely one of the better values out there at 80,000 miles roundtrip. Do keep in mind you’ll pay over $1,000 for the taxes and fuel surcharges, though for an Upper Class ticket that’s still quite a good deal.

  6. October 4th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Tim said,

    Cancel the Amex first before reapplying or just apply for the MC?

  7. October 4th, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Tim — Well since the card was churnable even in the past I’d probably just cancel the American Express card to be safe, though you should be fine either way.

  8. October 4th, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Steven said,

    Note that they are replacing it with a World ELITE Mastercard— I’m not familiar with a cheaper way to get a World Elite card.

  9. October 4th, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Andy Nguyen said,

    the doubletree at Beijing has raised the rate to 10k/night

  10. October 4th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Karl M said,

    The valuation of 0.8c is out of date. The addition of Virgin America redemptions, plus the big cut in fees for US-UK transatlantic economy redemptions makes this a lot more worthwhile now. Not that it’s up with e.g. United, but if you want to travel mid-long haul economy you should have little trouble getting way better than that in value.

  11. October 4th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    tassojunior said,

    To see the partner award amounts you have to switch from the US site to the UK site once logged in. I don’t know why they don’t list them on the US site. There are very good partners altho SQ and US may be leaving.

  12. October 4th, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Brian L. said,

    @tassojunior – US left months ago, when VS signed up with DL.

  13. October 5th, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Brandon said,

    Is the card churnable?

  14. October 5th, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Andrew said,

    They have economy sales every couple months…I booked a one way/non stop from orlando>london for 16500+$97 during the summer. They just had another sale where I could have booked the same flight for 12500+$130. Its better to book other options back from europe due to the hight taxes/fees.

    Plus you get 1.5 miles on all purchases and they can be used on delta flights as well. The bonus 15K and companion pass is a nice bonus as well, I just met the 25K spend limit.

  15. October 5th, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Rob said,

    Agree with Karl, as it is especially valuable during their sales to Europe. I managed to snag a one-way to London out of Vancouver during Memorial Day weekend for 12500 miles and $170. Not too shabby. I had to deal with some disbelief out of US border patrol when I drove back down to Seattle from Vancouver the last time I flew out of Vancouver, though.

  16. October 5th, 2013 at 9:57 am

    lucky said,

    @Brandon – It has been in the past, so I’d guess it still is.

  17. October 5th, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Jay said,

    I have about two weeks to pay the annual fee.

    I applied for this card, just like that. And now am regretting it. I’ve already gotten the points.

    What are my chances of getting the points taken back, if I cancel the card now?

  18. October 6th, 2013 at 11:35 am

    lucky said,

    @ Jay — I haven’t heard of Bank of America clawing back points, so I’d say chances are good you get to keep the points.

  19. October 7th, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Jay said,

    Thanks.

    I did give them a call and believe it or not, they decided to just waive the $90 for me.

    Booyah!

  20. October 8th, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Miles and points roundup, Florida Keys | Miles For Family said,

    […] 5) Increased Virgin Atlantic card 50000 miles  offer. This may be of interest to families,  who are looking for Hilton points. That’s because you can transfer 1:2 , so you would get 100000 HHonors points. Some popular cities , like Orlando, have some decent redemptions, so check and see for yourself. Another attractive option is the ability to redeem on Virgin America airline flights within USA.  CLICK for more. You can also redeem on award flights from USA to London, but with fuel surcharges.  Read more about it here LINK  […]

  21. October 9th, 2013 at 8:47 am

    alan said,

    Even with weak exchange ratios, you can also exchange those 100K HHonor points for frequent flyer miles on other airlines Using HHonors as just a way to get to that result)

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