Virgin to revamp loyalty scheme - you'll soon be able to earn Flying Club miles on all Virgin brands
Virgin has revealed a major overhaul of its Flying Club loyalty scheme which it says will make it easier to earn reward flights and upgrades.
The loyalty programme, part of the newly created Virgin Group Loyalty Company, will allow collectors to earn and spend Flying Club miles across Virgin-branded companies from next year.
As the new scheme is still in its infancy, Virgin was unable to tell us the full details or provide a likely launch date other than at some point in 2019. But in theory you might be able to earn miles you can put towards a Virgin Trains journey or even a discount off its Virgin Media broadband services.
Currently, Flying Club miles can be earned by spending on a Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card, opening a Flying Club savings account for a year, flying Virgin Atlantic or spending with various other partners. These can be used on reward flights, upgrades and companion tickets (for more, see below).
For more information on the Virgin Atlantic Reward credit cards, see our Airline Credit Cards guide.
What do we know so far about Virgin's new scheme?
While exact details have yet to be confirmed by Virgin as plans are in the early stages, it has sent an email to its Flying Club members and confirmed a few things with us. Here's what we know:
- A Virgin Group Loyalty Company (VGLC) will be established next year to manage the scheme. It will be owned by Virgin Group and Delta Air Lines.
- The existing 'Virgin Red' loyalty scheme will be integrated into the new loyalty programme.
- You will be able to have a miles-earning loyalty account with VGLC without having to join Flying Club. (Flying Club will still exist as a separate entity).
- Flying Club will continue to be owned and managed by Virgin Atlantic as its frequent flyer programme, so you'll still be able to earn miles by flying Virgin Atlantic and partner airlines as normal, but you'll also have access to benefits from the wider Virgin Group powered by the new loyalty programme.
- Earning rates are still to be confirmed.
- Some Virgin brands may be on board with the scheme before other Virgin brands.
- Virgin Atlantic says it will keep customers updated with more details as the new scheme is developed.
How can I earn Virgin Flying Club miles now?
There are several ways:
- The fee-free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card (eligibility calc / apply*) gives 5,000 bonus Virgin Flying Club miles if you make a purchase of any amount within 90 days. It also gives 0.75 miles for every £1 spent on the card. Repay IN FULL every month to avoid the 22.9% rep APR.
- The £160-a-year Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card (eligibility calc / apply*) offers a higher 15,000 bonus miles on your first purchase within 90 days, and gives double the amount of ongoing points – 1.5 miles for every £1 spent. Rep APR is 63.9% (incl fee), so repay IN FULL every month.
- Lock your cash away for a year in a Virgin Flying Club savings account. You don't earn cash interest, instead you'll earn 1,400 miles for every £1,000 saved. So £15,000 for a year would earn 21,000 miles – enough for a return economy classic flight to New York. However, taxes and fees are still payable, meaning a 'free' Virgin Atlantic flight to New York could still end up costing you a few hundred pounds.
- Fly with Virgin Atlantic or its partners (incl Delta, Singapore Airlines). On a Virgin return flight from London to New York you'll earn at least 1,729 miles, depending on your ticket type. (See Virgin Atlantic's earnings table).
For a full list of how to earn miles, see the Virgin Atlantic website
How many Virgin Flying Club miles do I need to bag a free flight?
Unsurprisingly, the amount of Virgin Flying Club miles you need for a flight depends on your destination. For a 'free' return flight, you'd need at least 20,000 miles for a return economy flight to either New York or Dubai, plus taxes and charges, which could cost roughly £250.
However if you've fewer miles, you can spend miles in multiples of 3,000 using Virgin's Miles Plus Money scheme where you can part-pay for flights in miles and cash.
What does Virgin say?
Virgin Group Loyalty Company chief executive Andrew Swaffield said: "Customers expect to be rewarded for their loyalty to Virgin and we want to ensure Virgin customers get the very best rewards possible.
"Our ambition is to bring the Virgin companies together and combine their appeal to customers, working together to create a truly outstanding offer."
For more ways to be rewarded for your spending, see our Credit Card Rewards guide.