Virgin America Visa Signature review

Virgin America Visa Signature:

(Update 26 June 2014: this card is no longer available to new applicants. Prior cardholders were convered to the Barclaycard Arrival card. Virgin America has a new card issued by Comenity Bank.)

  • Card issuer: Barclays
  • Type: Visa Signature/Visa Platinum (automatically considered for lesser Platinum if rejected for Signature)
  • Sign-up bonus:
    • $49 annual fee Signature/Platinum versions: 10,000 miles after first purchase; 1 point per $1 in balance transfer in first 30 days of account opening, maximum 5,000 miles
    • No annual fee Signature/Platinum versions: 2,500 miles after first purchase; 1 point per $1 in balance transfer in first 30 days of account opening, maximum 2,500 miles
    • Note on balance transfers: current offer says 90 days on the main offer screen but 30 days in the official terms
  • Annual fee: $49 and no annual fee versions of both Signature and Platinum
  • Annual fee waived first year: No
  • Additional cardholders: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3%
  • Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver (CDW): Secondary
  • Earning:
    • $49 versions: 3 points/$1 on Virgin America purchases, 1 point/$1 everywhere else
    • No annual fee versions: 1 point/$1 on all purchases
  • Redeeming (selected options):
    • Flights on Virgin America , Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia
    • Award flights on Virgin America are priced by dollar value of ticket
    • Update (see Karl’s comment below): redemptions on Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia are based on an award chart (Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia) and are priced 50% or less than the same awards booked through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (high taxes & fees the same, though)
    • No other redemption options
  • Special benefit(s): None
  • Annual benefit(s):
    • 300 bonus points per $5,000 spend, up to 1,200 points per year
    • $150 off a companion; certificate issued in first year of card membership following first purchase and payment of initial annual fee ($49 Signature version only)

Review: The bonus is not big, but for those looking to redeem on Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Australia, there is effectively a 50% discount (on the points portion, not the taxes & fess) by using Virgin America Elevate points.

Also, the companion certificate on the $49 Visa Signature version may be useful to Virgin America flyers.

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Rapid Travel ChaiJohnKarl MitchellThe NomadDan Recent comment authors

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Rapid Travel Chai
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@John – I do not know much about balance transfers, so asked a friend, here is a summary of his reply:

“Interest charges are computed separately for the different types of transactions: purchases, cash advances, BTs, etc… The 0% BT offer terms usually state you need to be current with your payments, not pay in full.

The only time I’d consider a BT would be if they were 0% (interest AND fee).

Find out what the fee is for the BT by calling BoA. The CR representative may be able to provide detail on your hypothetical.”

John
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John

Here’s what I’m wondering. You only get the 5000 points if you do a balance transfer within the first 30 days. Let’s say you want to take advantage of that 0% balance transfer offer for a number of months. Is it possible to buy a pack of gum, get your 10,000 purchase points, pay that off, and then transfer a balance all within 30 days? My mail offer states the following: “If you make a balance transfer you will be charged interest on purchases if you do not pay off your entire balance, which includes any transferred balance, by the… Read more »

Karl Mitchell
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Karl Mitchell

Glad to help. I actually fly LAX-LHR quite a bit, and having flown with several of the other airlines I’ve found that I greatly prefer Air New Zealand (NZ) and Virgin Atlantic (VS) across all levels of service. Unfortunately, NZ availability is terrible, so I tend to focus on using miles for VS upper class. Despite the quite high fees, i feel like I get good value: 100,000 miles + $1000 for a $4000 ticket, so about 3c/mile. With the Virgin Atlantic Amex from Bank of America I would get from 1.5-2.1 airmiles/$, with the sweet spot being at $25,000… Read more »

The Nomad
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The Nomad

exactly… I wouldn’t even call it a ‘deal’ 😀

Karl Mitchell
Guest
Karl Mitchell

You’ve missed the point. Virgin America points are worth roughly two miles in other programs. Consider that Amex Membership Rewards only offers 1:2 exchange, and that Virgin Atlantic redemptions are half the number of points as Flying Club miles. This is actually quite a good earn rate for such a cheap card, and the fact that it’s Visa Signature adds more value. The options for redemptions are, however, limited.

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@Karl Mitchell – thanks so much for writing, I should have done research on Virgin America’s Elevate program. For those who want to redeem on Virgin Atlantic/Virgin Australia, this does look like a great deal, sure the same high taxes but half or fewer the points.

Dan
Guest
Dan

I’m surprised they have the nerve to even offer this deal!