The Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® is offering up to 90,000 bonus miles but there are quite a few strings attached.

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The bottom line is that you earn 127,500 Virgin Atlantic miles after spending $25,000 in the first year on the card and paying $180 in annual fees. The offer breaks down like this:

25,000 Immediate Miles after First Purchase, Adding Authorized Users, and Paying Annual Fee

  • 20,000 Flying Club bonus miles after your first retail purchase
  • Earn 2,500 Flying Club miles for each authorized user you add to the card up to 5,000 Flying Club bonus miles
  • The card has a $90 annual fee that is NOT waived the first year.

This is 25,000 total miles just for opening the card, adding two authorized users, making one purchase, and paying the $90 annual fee.

Miles as Soon as You Spend $12,000 within 6 Months

  • 50,000 additional Flying Club bonus miles after you spend at least $12,000 in qualifying purchases within 6 months of your account open date

We’re up to 75,000 bonus miles. Plus the card earns 1.5 miles per dollar on all purchases, so you’d have 93,000 Virgin Atlantic miles after spending $12,000 on the card.

Miles Next Year

  • Earn 7,500 bonus miles upon anniversary if you spend $15,000 in a year on the card
  • Earn 15,000 bonus miles upon anniversary if you spend $25,000 in a year on the card
  • The card has a $90 annual fee that you’d have to pay again to get these anniversary miles.

The first anniversary bonus threshold is only $3,000 beyond the minimum spending requirement, so that seems like a no-brainer if you’ve gotten this far. You’d get 12,000 miles for that $3,000 in spending (4,500 for the normal spending and 7,500 bonus) or 4 miles per dollar.

The last 7,500 bonus miles would cost another $10,000 in spending, so the return isn’t nearly as good.

If you spent $25,000 on the card in the first year (and $12,000 was in the first six months, and you added two authorized users), your total haul would be 127,500 Virgin Atlantic miles.

  • 90,000 for the various bonuses
  • 37,500 for $25,000 * 1.5 miles per dollar on all spending

You would also have paid $180 in annual fees.

Three Reasons Why You Want Virgin Atlantic Miles

1. AMONG THE CHEAPEST ECONOMY AND PREMIUM ECONOMY AWARDS TO EUROPE (IN MILES)

The first reason to get Virgin Atlantic miles is that economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one way flight to London.

And taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are only $135!

Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles plus $135 and return from a low tax country–like Spain or Switzerland–to the United States on a one way award with United or American miles for a very cheap European vacation.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Limited Time to Europe: 14k Points.

Or you can fly one way from parts of the United States to the United Kingdom in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles (22k ThankYou Points) and $231.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

Virgin Atlantic has frequent 30% off sales on awards between the United States and Europe. One is happening now through September 22. It offers one way in economy to London for 12,250 miles and one way in Premium Economy for 19,250 miles. If you transfer speculatively during a 25% transfer bonus from ThankYou Points (like this one that ended last April) and another 30% off sale comes up in the future, you” pay only 10,000 ThankYou Points one way to London or 16,000 ThankYou Points one way in Premium Economy. That’s un-freakin-beatable!

Here are the sweet spots on the Virgin Atlantic award chart.

2. INCREDIBLE VALUE PARTNER AWARDS

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners. Each has its own award chart, and the values can be good. Best of all, on many partners, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect any fuel surcharges!

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Award prices including unavoidable government taxes (none include fuel surcharges):

  • Atlanta to Buenos Aires roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 45,000 miles + $99
  • Los Angeles to Auckland roundtrip in Business Class on Air New Zealand: 125,000 miles + $69
  • London to New York roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 40,000 miles + $186

Here are the sweet spots on the partner award charts.

3. VIRGIN ATLANTIC UPPER CLASS

Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class–called Upper Class–is world class.

Virgin Atlantic offers its Flying Club members the best award availability, but the catch is the fuel surcharges (plus departing London taxes) of around $1,000 per roundtrip award in Upper Class.

While the out-of-pocket cost is a big drawback, the miles prices are very low. New York and Chicago to London are only 40k miles one way in Upper Class and Los Angeles and San Francisco to London in Upper Class are only 50k miles one way.

Roundtrip Miles Prices to UK with Flying Club Miles listed Economy, Premium Economy, Upper Class from left to right

Right now award space is excellent in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for two people who want to fly next summer. For instance, here is Atlanta to London’s calendar. Dates with a purple line underneath have two Upper Class award seats (which is every day in May except one).

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If you want to avoid fuel surcharges, Delta miles can be used to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 62.5k miles one way plus taxes and no fuel surcharges.

Should You Get the Virgin Atlantic Credit Card?

Probably not. I know the headline bonus miles number is humungous, but the miles are not as valuable as American, United, or Alaska miles, and the spending requirement is huge.

Only get the card if you have gotten other, better cards already, you can easily meet the big spending requirement on this card, and you can get good value from one of the few truly good uses of the card’s miles.

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