Earlier today, Greg published a US-centric award chart for Virgin Atlantic flights (See: Virgin Atlantic award chart (U.S.-centric). In that post, he noted his previously-published post about how to average 2.1 miles per dollar on all spend via the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard. There are of course many ways to earn Virgin Atlantic miles, but those who look to do so from the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard might have access to a new benefit: a free companion ticket when you redeem Flying Club miles for a Virgin Atlantic Reward ticket after $25K spend in a cardmember year.
- New benefit on the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard offers a free companion reward ticket after $25K annual spend. (Possibly for new cardmembers only?)
- See key terms highlighted in the Quick Thoughts below
This looks interesting at the very least since it is a companion reward ticket (in other words, it applies when you are redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for Virgin Atlantic-operated flights). There are some limitations based on status (more below), but it may still be well worthwhile.
It is unclear as to whether or not this will apply to existing cardholders; the benefit is being advertised on the landing page for new applications and via emails advertising the card.
The current intro bonus on the card is weak (35K after spending $1K in the first 3 months and adding 2 authorized users). Several times a year, the bonus increases to 75K: 25K after first purchase and 50K after $12K purchases in the first 12 months. Currently, there aren’t any working links to the 75K offer (as far as we’re aware). If this benefit is replacing the higher welcome offer, it may be less interesting (or more interesting depending on whether you’d be able to take advantage of it annually).
Greg is an existing cardholder and he attempted to confirm via phone whether or not this benefit applies to existing cardholders to no avail — he was told that it does not apply to existing cardholders, but it was clear that the agent hadn’t ever heard of this benefit. Since we all know that customer service doesn’t always know best, we’d bet that this benefit likes does apply to existing cardholders and BOA just hasn’t informed cardholders or customer service reps, but at this point we do not know for sure.
As noted above, this benefit comes with some key restrictions. Here’s what you need to know:
A) This is an anniversary benefit: If you spend at least $25K in net purchases using your card within a year (beginning on the date you open your account and continuing for every 12 month period thereafter), you’ll qualify for this benefit.
B) You’ll have two choices:
- A one cabin upgrade on a rewards flight fare from economy classic to premium (not to Upper Class).
- One matching Companion Fare in the same cabin class if a cardholder redeems miles for the primary ticket. But that depends on your status:
- Red Tier members may redeem for a companion ticket in Economy class
- Silver Tier members may redeem miles in Economy class or Premium Economy class
- Gold Tier members may redeem miles in Economy, Premium Economy, or Upper Class
In other words, if you choose the Companion Fare, you can only redeem it in Upper Class if you have Gold status. Since spending on this card can help towards status, some readers who are spending $25K per year may have Virgin Atlantic status.
There are a few other interesting terms that are noteworthy:
- Notification of the Enhanced Anniversary Award Benefit will be on your Flying Club statement four to six weeks after reaching the $25,000 spend threshold
- The Enhanced Anniversary Award Benefit must be redeemed within two years of issue
- The value of this reward may constitute taxable income to you. You may be issued an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 (or other appropriate form) that reflects the value of such reward
Based on those terms, I expect you can likely access this benefit before your first anniversary (since the terms state it will be on your statement 4-6 weeks after reaching the spending threshold). Further, it is apparently valid for two years, which is nice as it should give you plenty of time to find a good redemption. The final piece is less exciting: they may issue a 1099 for this benefit. How will they value the certificate? It’s anybody’s guess. After 1099’s this year from referral bonuses, I’d expect it is at least possible that you’ll be issued a 1099 if you spend towards this. That obviously may decrease the value of the benefit by some amount.
Still, if you’re redeeming this for one of the long haul options in the chart Greg published earlier, this might not be a bad deal in some situations. See the chart in that earlier post to see if it might make sense for you.
Overall, this isn’t a game-changer benefit, but it certainly doesn’t hurt for someone who is spending towards Virgin status anyway.
See more details about the card and find an application on our Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard page. (to be clear, we do not earn an affiliate commission on this card).
Full fine print from the email to follow:
Enhanced Anniversary Award Benefit
If you spend at least $25,000 in Net Purchases using your card within a year (beginning on the date you open your account and continuing for every 12 month period thereafter), the primary cardholder will also qualify for your choice of A) One cabin upgrade for the primary cardholder when flying on a Rewards Flight fare from Economy Classic to Premium. Not valid from Premium to Upper Class; or B) One matching Companion Fare in the same cabin class if a cardholder redeems miles for a primary ticket. The cabin into which the cardholder can redeem miles for the primary ticket is restricted based on the cardholder’s Flying Club tier at the time of booking: Red Tier members may redeem miles for a primary ticket in Economy Classic and receive one matching Economy Classic Companion Fare; Silver Tier members may redeem miles for a primary ticket in Economy Classic and receive one matching Economy Classic Companion Fare or redeem miles for a primary ticket in Premium and receive one matching Premium Companion Fare; Gold Tier members may redeem miles for a primary ticket in Economy Classic and receive one matching Economy Classic Companion Fare, or redeem miles for a primary ticket in Premium and receive one matching Premium Companion Fare, or redeem miles for a primary ticket in Upper Class and receive one matching Upper Class Companion Fare. Cardholder shall be responsible only for paying applicable taxes, fees, charges, and carrier-imposed surcharges for the Companion Fare. The Companion Fare shall have no date restrictions but may be dependent on Reward Flight booking class. These will vary according to the qualifying destination, and are subject to change as a result of fluctuations in taxes, airport levies and exchange rates. Both travelers must be on the same flights and travel itinerary. Flights and routes are subject to availability. To qualify for the companion reward, the initial ticket must be a Virgin Atlantic ticket purchased by redeeming directly through Virgin Atlantic Airways. Notification of the Enhanced Anniversary Award Benefit will be on your Flying Club statement four to six weeks after reaching the $25,000 spend threshold. The Enhanced Anniversary Award Benefit must be redeemed within two years of issue. Please note that the annual fee is not billed as a purchase and will not be considered in any of the purchase amount thresholds described in this disclosure. The value of this reward may constitute taxable income to you. You may be issued an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 (or other appropriate form) that reflects the value of such reward. Please consult your tax advisor, as neither we, nor our affiliates, provide tax advice.