Virgin America Visa Credit Card Review: 20,000 Point Bonus = Free Flights

The Virgin America Visa® Signature Card is currently running a limited-time bonus of 20,000 Elevate points after your first purchase of any amount (ends August 31st). I haven’t flown Virgin America before, but they are an airline similar to JetBlue and Southwest in that they are trying to offer very low fares within their specific network of airports. Their frequent flier program uses something called “Elevate Points” where you can book any flight using points blackout dates using variable pricing. So the question is, what can 20,000 Virgin America points get me? More than I thought, actually.

Let’s take the short flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas. A quick search shows me that I could buy a SFO-LAS roundtrip in October for $137.60. If I choose to price out the exact same trip with Elevate points, I see that it costs 5,396 points and a $5 security fee:

In this case, 20,000 points would nearly equate to 4 such short roundtrips. At such a conversion rate, 20,000 bonus points would be worth $491 in Virgin America airfare (2.5 cents per point). What about a long-haul flight? How about a nonstop flight from Los Angeles to New York City:

Here, the LAX-JFK flight came out to either $297.60 or 12,838 points + $5 security fee. This time, 20,000 points would work out to $455 in Virgin America airfare (2.3 cents per point). A similar query for LA to Washington DC yielded similar results. Given that this card does have an annual fee of $49, the net value of the bonus is up in the $400 range, making this a pretty good bonus if you take such flights. In addition, every year (including the first year) you get a discount code good for $150 off a companion ticket.

The rewards system for purchases is 3 points per $1 on Virgin America purchases and 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else. If it were me, I’d manage my spending on this card carefully to earn just enough points to use up all those bonus points. Finally, this card is issued by Barclaycard, which means it should be easier to get approved as compared to Citi or Chase if you’re like me and already have a bunch of cards from the major issuers.

  • Virgin America Visa® Signature Card application link

Comments

  1. Can these be redeemed for other things, such as amazon gift cards, like the Southwest Rapid Rewards points?

  2. Do you lose the points if you cancel the card?

  3. @Patrick – I think the only other option is for international flights on their partners including Virgin Atlantic to Europe and Virgin Australia to Asia/Australia.

    @Justin – No, they just get deposited in your Elevate points account. Elevate points do expire after 18 months of no earning or spending activity, so I would make one last purchase on the card before canceling, reseting the 18 months.

  4. Thanks – this is a great offer….

  5. Be warned.. They offer 20,000 points for signing up.. I just finished my first billing cycle, they gave me 10,000 instead of the advertised 20k.. When i inquired.. Their reply was hmmm.. i guess you didn’t qualify for the 20k.. Although there’s no further stipulations stating that you have to meet a certain criteria to get the advertised 20k.. Call their customer service and they’ll beat around the bush and transfer you to Virgin customer service, who claim they have no control over what the bank does, and doesn’t understand why they’re not giving the full 20k as advertised. Tells you to call the bank back who transfers you back to Virgin.. It’s a scam and the worst customer service experience i’ve ever had with a credit card company. I never would have signed up for this card without Virgins promotion.. But i’ll sure be cancelling this one ASAP… Shopper Beware!!!!

  6. I didn’t any bonus points after my first purchase, just got my first statement. Wondering if it has to do with the fine print from the offer. It says ‘have paid the Annual Fee on the account’. they charged me the $49 annual fee but i didn’t yet pay it. could this be it or do you think i got screwed?

    3. Bonus Points: Applicants approved for the Visa Signature or Platinum Card with $49 annual fee will receive 20,000 Bonus Points awarded to your Virgin America Rewards Account at the close of the first billing statement in which you make your first purchase or balance transfer (that is not returned or rescinded) and have paid the Annual Fee on the account (and such fee is not rescinded). Applicants approved for the Visa Signature or Platinum Card with no annual fee will receive 2,500 Bonus Points awarded to your Virgin America Rewards Account at the close of the first billing statement in which you make your first purchase or balance transfer (that is not returned or rescinded).

  7. @TJ – Seems like you’d get it after getting the statement in which it shows you pay your annual fee? You can always call them up and check to see which bonus you’re signed up for, it should be in their system. I don’t think you’ll be able to avoid paying the annual fee, if that’s what you mean.

  8. Isn’t this a 2.5% return minus 50 dollars on your spending if you do use these kinds of flights?

  9. @Justin – I’m not sure what you mean? The card gives you 25,000 points after first purchase of any amount – there is no minimum spending requirement.

  10. I just mean if you decide to keep the card, after the initial bonus. It seems like you’re getting a great percentage back on your purchases if you’d be taking these kinds of flights anyway. This might be a really good day-to-day spending card.

  11. @Justin – Sorry about that! You’re right, it could work out well if you fly Virgin America regularly.

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