Towards my ridiculous quest to visit Richard Branson’s Necker Island, I signed up for four Virgin Atlantic credit cards. A week on Necker Island costs 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles. My strategy to get there is simply to sign up for lots of cards. After meeting the $12K spend requirement, per card, I’m now almost a third of the way to my goal.
When looking at the miles that posted to my Virgin Atlantic account, I found something interesting…
First a little background info
The Virgin Atlantic Word Elite credit card is a reasonably profitable card for a frequent flyer. It earns 1.5 miles per dollar for all spend (and 3 miles per dollar on Virgin Atlantic purchases), plus you get bonus miles at the end of the year for high spend. $15K spend results in 7,500 bonus miles; $25K spend results in another 7,500 bonus miles for a total of 15,000 bonus miles. If you were to spend exactly $25,000 in one membership year, you would earn 37,500 base miles plus 15,000 bonus miles for a total of 52,500 miles. That’s an average of just over 2 miles per dollar. Even though Virgin Atlantic miles aren’t nearly as valuable as many other mileage currencies, a 2X average is pretty good.
Another perk of the card is that you earn one tier point for every $2,500 of spend. You can earn up to two tier points per month and a maximum of 24 tier points per year. Tier points are used to determine your elite status, as follows:
- Earn 15 Tier points in a rolling 12-13 months and you will reach Silver.
- Earn 40 Tier points in a rolling 12-13 months and you will reach Gold.
Status benefits can be found here:
Status through credit card spend
Since the credit card offers one tier point for every $2,500 of spend, you would think that you could earn Gold status by spending $100,000 with your Virgin Atlantic credit card. But you can’t. Thanks to the 2 tier points per month limit, the best you can do is qualify for Silver status. Right?
Not so fast… Take a look at the recent activity on my Virgin Atlantic account:
You can see above that I earned the maximum of 2 tier points from each credit card. My account now shows a total of 8 tier points that were earned in one month.
In my case, I met all four $12K spend requirements in one billing cycle, but if I was interested in elite status I could have done the following:
- Billing cycle 1: Spend $5,000 per card; earn 8 tier points
- Billing cycle 2: Spend $5,000 per card; earn 8 tier points
- Billing cycle 3: Spend $2,500 per card; earn 4 tier points
At the end of 3 billing cycles I would have spent $12,500 per card and I would have earned 20 tier points and met the minimum spend requirements. If I then signed up for 4 more cards and did it all again I would earn enough for Gold status!
Is it worth it?
To me, this is merely an interesting find rather than a practical one. Most of Virgin Atlantic’s elite status benefits are only useful for those who fly Virgin Atlantic often. I have yet to fly them once. Those who fly Delta without status might find some of the perks interesting though. Gold status gives you a sort of Delta elite status “light”:
- 100% bonus on base miles flown (if you credit paid flights to Virgin Atlantic rather than to Delta)
- Priority baggage, Check in, Boarding and Security with Delta Air Lines
- Extra Baggage (extra piece of baggage is available in Economy Class only) and access to preferred seating
- Upgrades to First Class when travelling on Delta’s US domestic network (not including certain routes between New York and LA, San Francisco, or Seattle)
- Gold members will be able to access to any of Delta’s Sky Clubs (must have a transatlantic sector to/from the UK within the itinerary, when travelling in Economy Class).
I plan to sign up for more Virgin Atlantic cards soon. Maybe I’ll go for status just for fun. I wish they would offer Gold members a discount on award redemptions. A 10% discount, for example, off the 1.2 million Necker Island award would be worth striving for. What do you think Richard? Time for a new Gold perk?