New Virgin America Credit Cards Now Available

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A few months ago, Virgin America and Barclaycard ended their partnership so folks looking to apply for a Virgin America credit card could no longer do so, and last month, the bank sent out a letter to current Virgin America credit cardholders stating that their current credit cards would be phased out by January 1, 2014 (the date at which they stopped earning Elevate points on the card) and replaced with the premium ($89 annual fee waived the first year) Barclaycard Arrival if you had the Virgin card with an annual fee, and the no-fee Arrival if you had the no-fee Virgin card, by January 15, 2014. The bank set up an FAQ page for cardholders with the information, but the one question that remained was – when would a new Virgin America credit card be available?

New Virgin America Visa

Well, the airline wasted no time, because it has already partnered with a small bank called Comenity Bank to issue two new versions of its credit card. Here are the details.

Virgin America Visa Premium

Virgin America Premium Visa Signature

  • Earn 15,000 Elevate bonus reward points when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent with Virgin America
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • Earn up to 15,000 status points every calendar year and carry forward any additional status points – 5,000 points per $10,000 you spend
  • No change or cancel fees on non-refundable fares
  • Free first checked bag for you and a companion
  • $150 off a companion ticket every cardmember year
  • 20% discount on in-flight entertainment
  • $149 annual fee

Virgin America Visa Basic

Virgin America Visa Signature

  • Earn 10,000 Elevate bonus reward points when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent with Virgin America
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • Free first checked bag for you and a companion
  • $150 off a companion ticket every cardmember year
  • 20% discount on in-flight entertainment
  • $49 annual fee

These cards are very much like the old versions including the Companion ticket (which if you max out compensates for the $149 annual fee on the Premium card), but there are a few of interesting features on the premium one that caught my attention. With the old version, you’d have to spend $25,000 in a calendar year to get 10,000 status points, so just $5,000 more dollars nets you 5,000 more status points – and if you max this out, it’s three quarters of the way to Elevate Silver status (earned at 20,000 status points per year).

Another interesting thing is that change/cancellation fee waiver. Virgin will charge you $100 to change or cancel a non-refundable Main Cabin ticket, so if your plans tend to change and you max out this benefit, you could be saving hundreds of dollars.

Finally, the status points rollover can be a really valuable benefit for Virgin flyers that’s sort of like Delta’s Medallion Qualifying Miles rollover benefit where any status points you earn above and beyond an elite status tier qualification are rolled over toward your qualification for the following year. So if you earned 30,000 status points in 2014, you’d qualify for Silver status and start 2015 with 10,000 status points already in your account toward 2015 status qualification – it’s a nice little head start.

You can redeem Elevate points for about 1.5-2.3 cents each on Virgin America travel, so you’re looking at a potential $300 or so in value from the bonus on the Premium card, and $200 or so on the Basic card. If you are looking for a low annual fee and the main benefits you plan to maximize are the Companion ticket and checked bags, the Basic card is probably the right choice for you, but if you can really max out that change/cancellation fee waiver and rack up those status points with spend, the Premium card might be a better choice.

That said, if you’re a current Virgin America cardholder and have had your card replaced with the Barclaycard Arrival, you might want to stick with that card since you still get the same 2.2% return on spending (all spending since it earns 2X miles per $1 on all purchases) when you redeem for travel, including Virgin America tickets, and you’ll still earn miles/points on the tickets you redeem your Arrival miles for since it’s just like getting a statement credit for a regular purchase you made.

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