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.
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)