Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard Review [2021]: Is Having Great Travel Partners Enough?

You may end up paying considerable fees when booking award flights through Virgin Atlantic. You can transfer miles to other airlines, but is that enough?
Last updated May 1, 2021 | By Kevin Payne

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If you’re an experienced award traveler, you know that sometimes the value of a credit card lies in its partnerships with other rewards programs. That may be the case with the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard. Although miles can be redeemed for travel on Virgin Atlantic, you can get even more value by transferring them to other airline partners instead of booking through Virgin Atlantic.

But is having decent travel partners enough reason to apply for this airline credit card?

Big Welcome Offer for Virgin Fans

Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

Benefits

  • 30,000 Virgin Points sign-up offer
  • 3X miles on Virgin Atlantic purchases
  • 15,000 Virgin Points every year
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Limited travel perks

In this Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard review:

Who should get the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard?

Regular travelers on Virgin Atlantic may benefit from having this Mastercard in their wallet. However, if you’re more inclined to fly on one of Virgin Atlantic’s partner airlines, such as Delta or Air New Zealand, there’s even more reason to pick this as one of the best airline credit cards to have in your wallet. As you earn miles, you can transfer them to partner airlines for award flights without the high fees and taxes you may see if you book with Virgin Atlantic.

There’s a nice companion pass offer tied to this card, but it's only good when booking award flights with Virgin Atlantic, not flights with partner airlines. If you don’t travel with Virgin Atlantic often, this perk won’t be useful to you.

If you aren’t a fan of Virgin Atlantic or aren’t loyal to a particular airline, you may get more value out of a more versatile travel credit card. Although earning rates for everyday purchases with the Virgin Atlantic World Elite card are great, most of your earning potential is tied to booking Virgin Atlantic Flights.

Card basics

Card type Travel
Card issuer Bank of America
Annual fee $90
Intro bonus 30,000 Virgin Points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
Reward rate 3X miles per dollar spent directly with Virgin Atlantic, and 1.5X on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Foreign transaction fee None

Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard benefits and perks

  • Generous welcome offer: 30,000 Virgin Points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days from account opening. You can also earn up to 15,000 Flying Club bonus miles every anniversary after qualifying purchases and up to 5,000 miles by adding authorized users (2,500 miles per authorized user) to your card account.
  • Companion pass: Cardholders can earn a companion pass after spending $25,000 annually. This companion pass is good for the same cabin class when you redeem miles for Virgin Atlantic reward flights.
  • Membership tier points: Virgin Atlantic has three membership tiers: Red, Silver, and Gold. Each membership tier has its own set of benefits. When you spend $2,500 on your Virgin Atlantic card, you earn 25 tier points. You can earn a maximum of 50 tier points per month.
  • Free credit score: You can opt-in for free access to your FICO credit score through your account online or through the mobile app.
  • No foreign transaction fees: The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard is a good option when traveling abroad. It carries no foreign transaction fees for international purchases. You can also use it wherever Mastercard is accepted.

Drawbacks to the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

  • Annual fee: The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard has a $90 annual fee.
  • Travel perks: If you’re looking for a credit card with lounge access, priority boarding, or other travel perks, the Virgin World Elite Mastercard isn’t your best option. This card does not offer specific travel perks for cardholders, beyond its rewards-earning capabilities.

Earning and redeeming Flying Club bonus miles

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look at how your miles can add up with the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of 1 cent.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $787.50

Year two earnings: $487.50

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model which takes a look at points earned via spending, the welcome bonus, and the annual fee.

Best ways to earn

It pays to travel Virgin Atlantic, especially if you use your Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard. All direct Virgin Atlantic purchases will earn 3X miles per dollar spent. If you are a frequent flyer on Virgin Atlantic, your miles will add up quickly.

You’ll earn 1.5X miles per dollar on all other purchases. This is a great earning rate for airline co-branded credit cards, which typically only earn 1X miles per dollar. There’s no limit on how many miles you can earn with your Virgin Atlantic card.

Categories Rewards rate
Virgin Atlantic purchases 3X
All other purchases 1.5X

Maximizing your redemptions

You can redeem Flying Club miles for free flights on Virgin Atlantic. Be prepared to pay considerable fees and taxes on award flights with the airline, though. Most points and miles enthusiasts are used to trading in miles for award flights and only paying a nominal amount for taxes and fees. However, Virgin Atlantic award flights are different; typically, fees and taxes are much higher. You can also use its Miles and Money option to reduce the cost of Virgin Atlantic flights.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club transfer partners

Transferring miles over to one of Virgin Atlantic’s eight airline partners is a great way to get the most value from your Flying Club miles. You’ll also pay much less in additional charges. Here’s a list of Virgin Atlantic partners:

  • Delta Air Lines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Air New Zealand
  • Virgin Australia Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Air China
  • Hawaiian Airlines

As you can see, you can transfer your miles to other airlines that travel almost anywhere in the world.

There are other redemption options for your Flying Club miles. Hilton and IHG hotels are also Virgin Atlantic travel partners. Miles can also be redeemed for various other travel, dining, and shopping experiences. If you would prefer to share your miles, you can gift or transfer them too.

Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard FAQs

Can I use Virgin miles on other airlines?

Yes, Virgin miles can be redeemed for flights with eight partner airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, Air New Zealand, Air China, and Hawaiian Airlines.

Do Virgin miles expire?

Yes, Virgin Flying Club miles will expire if there’s no activity on your account for three years.

Can I transfer Virgin miles to someone else?

Virgin Flying Club miles can be transferred to another person for a fee. You can transfer miles in increments of 1,000 with a max of 100,000 miles per member. The maximum amount of miles you can transfer annually is 100,000.

Can I use my Virgin Atlantic credit card abroad?

Yes, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard is widely accepted worldwide and has no foreign transaction fees attached.

Other cards to consider

Always a top choice when it comes to travel credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the most popular options around. With this card, you can earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months (plus earn up to $50 in statement credits on grocery store purchases in the first year). Cardmembers also get 5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases. Points are worth 25% more when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You can also transfer points to numerous travel partners, including Virgin Atlantic. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee.

Another rewards card that transfers points to Virgin Atlantic is the American Express Gold Card. You can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months. With this card, you get 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) and at restaurants worldwide, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. Cardmembers get other perks too, such as a $120 dining credit, baggage and car rental damage insurance, and other travel benefits. The Amex Gold Card has a $250 (See rates and fees) annual fee.

Big Welcome Offer for Virgin Fans

Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

Special Offer

30,000 Virgin Points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days

See how these cards compare:

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 80,000 point sign-up bonus
  • Up to $50 statement credit for grocery store purchases
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits
American Express Gold Card
American Express Gold Card
  • 60,000 Membership Rewards point welcome offer
  • Rose gold is back! Choose your color.
  • $120 in dining credits
  • $120 in Uber Cash
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Terms apply
  • See rates and fees

Author Details

Kevin Payne Kevin Payne is a freelance writer specializing in student loans, credit cards, personal finance, and travel. He is a regular contributor to Club Thrifty, Millennial Money, and Student Loan Planner. As the budget and family travel expert behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com, Kevin recently turned his writing side hustle into his full-time career. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife and four kids.