Credit cards and air travel go hand-in-hand. This pair works together well given the security of booking, the price point of flight tickets and the assurance of access to money anywhere you go. It’s natural that many airlines and hotel chains are interested in connecting with the credit card industry directly. Virgin America is no stranger to this connection with their pair of credit cards: the Virgin America Visa Signature and Virgin America Premium Visa Signature.
Purchases from Virgin Airlines will obviously be the big point-winner. For every dollar spent with Virgin America, you’ll receive 8 points. These points are coming from two point systems: five points for being a member of Elevate, their frequent flyer program, and three more points for using the Visa Signature card. For any other purchase on the card, you earn 1 point per dollar. The point value is $0.02 per point, which is a fairly high rate in comparison to other airline point systems. It’s worth noting that these points never expire while you use your card. This is a bit of a perk as under the Elevate program, points expire after 18 months if there’s no activity on your account. However, with the Virgin America card, by paying your annual fee and keeping your account in good standing, your points will remain available to you as long as you keep the card.
Annual Fee & APR
The Virgin America Visa Signature card will run you $49 annually while the Virgin America Premium Visa Signature card costs $149 per year. The Annual Percentage Rate ranges from 16.23 to 25.24 depending on your creditworthiness.
If you’re looking to book a flight in the near future, the sign-up bonuses could provide you with a nice opportunity to fly for ‘free.’ With your annual fee and $1000 in spending on your new account within the first three months, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus points. These bonus points convert into $200 towards a flight. If you were planning on spending $1000 over three months anyway, you basically got a $200 flight for $49. Not to mention the future points earning that can convert into free flights. The Premium card will send you 15,000 points for the annual fee along with the $1000 in spending, which converts to $300 towards flights. The sign-up deal works out to the same cash savings of about $150 off either a $200 or $300 flight.
As an airline card, the perks are found at on your ticket and at the airport.
On Your Ticket
If you’re booking your travel with a companion, you get benefit from one voucher for $150 off their ticket each year you have the card. The $150 is eligible for the base fare (no fees or taxes) on round-trip flights. Make it count, because if you spend less than $150 on the ticket, the remainder of the voucher is lost. However, there are plenty of chances to maximize the voucher, as Virgin will email you the coupon code once your account is activated and you can use it anytime in the following year. Another benefit of using the card (though it’s a cross-benefit of the Elevate frequent flyer program) is that there are no black-out dates, so you can book at will! If you’re the type who enjoys the flexibility of changing or canceling your booking once its made, the Premium version of this card should be appealing. If you change or cancel your non-refundable booking, all fees will be waived. For any Virgin flights, you can change your ticket and simply pay the difference in fare.
At the Airport
Once you’re at the airport, your card gets you some nice benefits. On any Virgin flight booked on the card, you and your companion on the flight get one free checked bag. This perk can save you $25 per piece in fees. Once you’re checked in and your baggage is taking its free ride to the plane, your card lets you enjoy being the first on the flight with included priority boarding. Then, once you’ve settled into your seat ahead of the rest, you can enjoy discounted in-flight purchases. You receive 20% off of the in-flight entertainment system. There’s nothing better to pass the time in the air than an in-flight movie. Or, if you’d like to get some work done or snoop around the internet, you can use also use the wifi provided as a cardholder.
Premium’s Status Points Potential
If you’re an Elevate status member, the Premium card offers you some additional ways to collect Status Points. For every $10,000 you put on your card, you earn 5000 Status Points to a maximum of 15,000 points annually. Those 15,000 points will get you just shy of the 20,000 points needed for the Elevate Silver level. The basic Visa Signature card already gets you a lot of the perks that the Silver status gets you (such as a free first checked bag and priority boarding). However, if you reach the Silver level, you will enjoy 2 additional bonus points for each dollar spent on Virgin America flights. This could total very nice 10 points per dollar spent. With Silver, you also have 25% off a Main Cabin ticket once per year and complimentary upgrades to Main Cabin Select within 12 hours of your flight.
If you fly with Virgin America often, the Virgin America Visa Signature and Virgin America Premium Visa Signature cards are valuable assets. Their points are high-value for their ability to purchase tickets. The perks associated with the cards are also big money savers. Potentially two free checked bags for each flight and the annual companion coupon for $150 will pay off the annual fee quickly for either card.
Regarding the basic versus Premium card, most people will use the basic card’s benefits more often. The Premium card has some nice advantages, especially if you are looking to attain or increase your Status in the Elevate program. However, the Status points aren’t redeemable for flights, only for status levels, and they are much more difficult to attain. Unless you’re seeking Status, the basic card is the way to go.