Virgin Atlantic 90K Offer Is Back

Bank of America issues Virgin Atlantic’s credit card and every so often they release what seems like a very generous sign-up bonus of 90,000 miles. It’s actually a decent bonus (for a pretty decent loyalty program) but it’s not truly 90K once you break down how it all works.

The offer

  • 20,000 Flying Club bonus miles after your first retail purchase
  • 50,000 Flying Club bonus miles after you spend at least $12,000 in purchases within 6 months
  • Earn up to 5,000 Flying Club bonus miles when you add an authorized user
  • Earn up to 15,000 additional bonus miles each anniversary after qualifying purchases (7,500 anniversary miles after you spend a minimum of $15,000 and an additional 7,500 anniversary miles after you spend a total of $25,000 within the anniversary year with your card).
  • Earn 3 miles per $1 spent directly on Virgin Atlantic purchases
  • 1.5 miles per $1 on all other purchases
  • 25 tier points per $2,500 in purchases (maximum 50 per month) to elevate your Flying Club status
  • If you spend at least $25,000 on your card within a year, the primary cardholder will also qualify for an economy companion reward ticket for half the standard miles of a reward economy seat, maximum one reward companion ticket per year.
  • $90 annual fee (not waived)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Subject to Bank of America’s new credit card application rules

Sign-up bonus

As seen above, the sign-up bonus has four components to it:

  • 20,000 Flying Club bonus miles after your first retail purchase
  • 50,000 additional Flying Club bonus miles after you spend at least $12,000 in purchases within 6 months of your account open date
  • Earn up to 15,000 additional bonus miles each anniversary after qualifying purchases
  • Earn up to 5,000 Flying Club bonus miles when you add additional authorized users to your card

The easy part of the sign-up bonus is earning 25,000 miles, since you only have to make a single purchase and add an authorized user to earn that. The additional 50,000 miles is only earned after you spend $12,000 in 6 months. That’s a lot of spending for some people, so it may not be very practical, especially considering that you could hit multiple sign-up bonuses with that level of spend. But they do give you 6 months, so that’s only $2,000 worth of spend per month.

And finally, you don’t get the additional 15,000 bonus miles until you reach an anniversary and hit up to $25,000 worth of spend which again is a pretty big commitment. So really this only a 75K sign-up bonus, which isn’t bad considering what you can do with Virgin Atlantic miles.

The economy companion reward ticket for half the standard miles of a reward economy seat is kind of a joke for $25K worth of spend. It can only be used once a year and only gives you half off economy awards (which are generally pretty cheap) while you still have to pay taxes and fees (which can be quite high). I would definitely not go chasing that companion ticket.

What can you do with Virgin Atlantic miles?

Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express, Chase, and Citi, making it very easy to accrue miles for its program.

The biggest knock against Virgin Atlantic is that using points for flights on their own metal can result in some pretty high fuel surcharges. The plus side is that some of the rewards are pretty cheap so it’s like getting a big discount when paying cash in some cases.

There’s also some good value on partner airlines. While Virgin Atlantic is not a member of an alliance, they partner with several airlines, such as Delta, Singapore, ANA, Hawaiian, and a few others. On several of these partners, fees can be pretty minimal. The drawback is that one way awards typically cost the same as roundtrip awards so you pretty much want to just stick to booking roundtrips.

If you do enough research, you’ll find some pretty good sweet spots for some of these partner awards. For example, one very popular sweet spot is using 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a roundtrip first class ticket to Japan with ANA and only about $180 in fees. That’s around 100,000 miles cheaper than what Star Alliance partners United and Aeroplan would require.

Final word

This offer comes and goes so I wouldn’t feel a lot of pressure to jump on it. Also, getting a lot of value from Virgin Atlantic on partners requires a fair amount of research and hustle since they don’t publish all award charts and you’ll have to call in to check on certain bookings. If you’re willing to do a little bit of work, though, you can find some great deals and since Virgin Atlantic points can be transferred from Amex, Citi, and Chase, you shouldn’t have trouble earning enough miles for your redemptions.

H/T: The Frequent Miler

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