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Barclay’s issues a Virgin America Visa Signature card that I’ve written about before because of Virgin’s incredible award chart. This card has never had an eye-popping number as the sign up bonus, but the 20k point sign up bonus at the time was deceptively good because of some redemption options for Virgin America points on Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Atlantic

Well that 20k point sign up disappeared, and the normal 10k sign up bonus returned.

But now there are two different sign up bonuses floating around: 20k and 10k + a free roundtrip. Both are intriguing, but which one is right for you?

20k Elevate Points

This page about an expired Virgin America/Visa Signature/USA Ski Team promotion has an application link to a 20k Virgin America offer after first purchase.

  • 20k Elevate Points after first use
  • $150 off a companion ticket each year
  • 3x points on Virgin America purchases
  • $49 annual fee

The $150 companion discount is actually worth about $150 too. The terms and conditions allow the discount to be applied to pretty much any roundtrip ticket purchased at least 14 days out.

Hat Tip Daraius

10k Elevate points + a Free Roundtrip

Barclay’s has temporarily sweetened the normal 10k offer to include a free roundtrip ticket on Virgin.

So this offer breaks down like this:

  • 10k Elevate Points after first use
  • A free roundtrip flight anywhere Virgin America flies until 7/11/13 (blackout dates apply) after $1,000 in spending in the first 90 days
  • $150 off a companion ticket each year
  • 3x points on Virgin America purchases
  • $49 annual fee

So this offer is identical to the 20k offer in every way except that this offer has an extra free roundtrip and 10k fewer points, plus this offer requires $1,000 in spending to unlock all components of the bonus.

Which is more valuable: 10k Elevate points or a free roundtrip on Virgin America?

Elevate points are worth about 2 cents. Here are a few screenshots showing a roundtrip from Los Angeles to Boston on Virgin and its cost in cash versus points.

Using the MileValue Mile Value Calculator, this itinerary gets 2.07 cents worth of value per point.

That means an extra 10k points is worth $207. That makes the free roundtrip pretty clearly the more valuable perk if you can use it well, since cross country trips normally cost $300 or more.

Can you use it well?

The free roundtrip code comes 4-6 weeks after spending the $1,000. That means you will get the code around April or May if you get the card and meet the spending requirement immediately. That would give you about two months to fly a roundtrip anywhere Virgin America flies.

Opportunity Cost

The opportunity cost of a card is what you give up to get it. When you get a great American Express personal card, that means you can’t get a different American Express personal card until later.

But this card is issued by Barclay’s, which has only two or three cards worth getting. That means there isn’t much opportunity cost to getting this card.

Which Card for You?

If you want to use your Virgin America points on one of its partners like Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic, or Virgin Australia, then you want the version with as many points as possible, the 20k sign up bonus.

Application Link: Virgin Atlantic Visa Signature with 20k points

If you want to use your Virgin America points on Virgin America and you want to take a roundtrip flight between May and July, you are better off with the 10k points plus free roundtrip.

Application Link: Virgin Atlantic Visa Signature with 10k points and free roundtrip on Virgin

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