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New Virgin America Credit Cards Now Available

by on January 7, 2014 · 25 comments

in Barclays, Virgin America

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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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • SJ

    Was able to apply for card once I signed in to Elevate account; instant approval for $24k and was able to set up online access right away. Equifax pull, nice to have a card that’s not Amex, Barclay, Chase or Citi.

  • grazinghippo

    The replacement Barclaycard Arrival credit card was the no annual fee version with a 1 to 1 ratio on all purchases but travel and dining. With the 10% dividend for travel when redeemed for a statement credit – this equals $.011 per point.

    Each point earned on the Virgin America Card is generally worth about $.022 in airfare.

    In summary, those that accepted the Arrival as a replacement card are not earning equal awards. Of course, the redemption options are infinitely greater.

    However, taking into account the annual fees – it a much better deal to go with the Arrival 2x miles card with an annual fee of $89.

  • thepointsguy

    If you had the Virgin card with an annual fee, reports have been that you are having it replaced with the $89 Arrival, and if you had the no-fee Virgin card, you’re being offered the no-fee Arrival. I’ve clarified post.

  • Steve

    I wonder if it’s made out of metal or plastic…

  • Bonescal

    Hi brian, this is off topic but don’t know any other way to ask. I wanted to know how long do you need to wait between applying for citi cards to be considered a new applicant? It used to be 18 months from date of cancel, is that correct and does it still work? Can i apply for the Hilton Reserve and Citi Business on the same day?
    Thanks

  • MrWho

    It’s Comenity, most likely plastic.

  • Brandon

    Will these credit cards be churnable?

  • Greenjeans1

    isn’t the new visa card far preferable to the master card because of its ability to garner status points?

  • Greenjeans

    Isn’t the new Signature card preferable because of the status benefits? Although VA Silver elevate benefits are not great, I appreciate having them every time I fly.

  • scottwharton

    I have one. It’s plastic

  • jjcruiser

    I received my new card finally. Aside from the fact I’ve gotten about four emails from Comenity about my “account status,” they got my account info wrong, and when I called the customer service was clueless, I’m also really disappointed in how crappy the card is. The barclay one was a nice solid plastic. This feels like cardboard paper. What a disappointment. I suppose I’ll keep it a year to get the companion and bonus miles but then I’m going back to my sapphire.

  • Tommy

    Pretty annoyed. I applied and was instantly approved on Jan. 7 and they said the card was in the mail and would arrive in 7-10 days. It’s now Feb 3 and still hasn’t arrived. They wouldn’t send a replacement until today when they finally agreed to, and that will take 4-6 days. However, they did send the $149 bill for the new card. I fly often and as a gold member have not been able to get the proper credit for the flights I should be getting (not to mention other expenses). They apparently will not ship a card (even a replacement card) any faster than apparently the Post Office’s slowest delivery available, and don’t do card tracking either.

    Using a small bank like Comenity would be fine if they could provide good service — I already got an email saying “sorry our cards look terrible we will eventually replace it with a fancier looking card”. Also annoying is the call in to get to a customer service rep took 5 minutes or so of listening to ads and other crap.

  • BJ

    So far, it has been nothing but bad news. Applied for the card and received a notice they would contact me in 7-10 days about a decision. Noticed the very next day an email about my new card offering an opportunity to sign into my account. Tried signing in but received only error messages. Called the contact number for CS which I found on the email. Apparently I was approved but could not log on because they had all the information incorrect on my account (wrong address, phone, etc.) Now the real problem began. They sent the card to the wrong address, refused to cancel it until we waited a week (for what reason I have no idea), but they did correct the address and send me the first statement correctly. Finally after a week they have canceled the card sent to the wrong address but say it will take a week to ten days more for me to receive my card at my correct address. Meanwhile the annual fee was charged to my account, the bill is due, and I have yet to receive the card. I don’t see this card relationship lasting very long as it is back to my MP Visa Signature with Chase.

  • Ce Ce

    I also ( a loyal Virgin American traveler to NYV from CA)
    waited to get the new VA card. I was approved on Jan.31
    and still have not received the card, Had one conversation
    with them and they said 7 to 10 days bit it has already been 14
    days. I looked up Comenity Bank ratings on BBB and found
    87 complaints and 1 positive response. Should we be
    worried about this company???

  • JW

    Comenity Bank who is handling the new Virgin America Visa seems to not be as experience or full featured as Barclays. I usually have a few authorized user cards issued but with Comenity, they don’t issue out unique cards for each authorized user. All cards basically have the same credit card number and security code. There is no way to tell who charged what on the card when you look at the statement. That is a huge flaw and could lead to fraudulent charges being easily overlooked.

    Is there anyway to provide feedback to Virgin America so that they could know how terrible Comenity Bank is?

  • Greg

    Total joke process, so bad, considering going back to flying UAL over VX. I’m shocked VX would manage this process so terribly.

  • BJ

    RUN DO NOT WALK away from the new Virgin America Visa from Comenity Bank. It took them over 30 days to get the card in my hands after almost instant approval. The excuses ranged from the bad weather, problems with the card supplier, to their own error of sending cards to the wrong address. It took more than a dozen calls speaking to a CSR to actually receive the card. They offered a credit to my account for my trouble that they now say is in their system but after a week has yet to post to the account. They have the nicest CSR people I have encountered these days and all speak English, but the information they provide varies from rep to rep and it never seems to resolve anything. I have now received TWO statements from this company before I was able to receive and use the card. I will use it for the mileage bonus and say goodbye. Shame on Virgin America for ruining their reputation by partnering with this no name incompetent bank to issue their card.

  • RM

    I feel stupid asking this (so please be patient) but can someone explain why the Barclay Arrival card is so great? I had it when it was connected to Virgin America and now I have the new Arrival card. (And Barclay wouldn’t give me the 20L or 40K signup bonus that they gave “new” customers, but that’s besides the point.) Right now I have 10,000 Barclay “miles.” They are worth $100 in credits for travel purchases. Right now I still also have 10,000 Elevate miles with Virgin America. For these miles I can fly from LAX to PHL this May one-way. A one-way ticket from LAX to PHL right now costs a lot more than $100. Am I missing something? How is Barclay a better deal than a regular mileage credit card?

  • stuart

    Maybe they’ve worked out the kinks. It took a little over a week for me to get my new card – longer than it should have but not that bad. So far, no problems.

  • Bob

    They do not have an automatic payment set up. You need to either mail a check or go online to initiate a payment. I find this very strange. I don’t know of a credit card where automatic payments aren’t allowed. My guess is they don’t want to have automatic payments as this limits the likelihood of late payments and hence, late payment fees and interest. Either that, or they aren’t smart enough to set up automatic payments on their website. Let me see, commission or omission. I vote for commission.

    I think this is sleezy and very bad business and not indicative of the quality of Virgin America. I would hope someone at Virgin America would either demand a first rate website or look for another vendor. Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank (the real banks) all have automatic payment options. They would love Virgin’s business, unless Virgin is in on the fees in which case, shame on them.

  • j

    I feel EXACTLY the same way and have complained to them many times about it, but I think you’re right – they’re doing it to get late fees.

  • Diego

    I just got stuck with a late fee and finance charge that could have been avoided for this exact reason. Worst credit card service I have ever experienced.

  • Aletsia

    I just got stuck with a 3rd late charge and finance charges. This time its because the payment was not processed on time, by them!!
    I bet its being done on purpose to collect fees!! I wish someone would sue them!!

  • VAmisleadingmarketing

    Well I got majorly played by Virgin America and its Credit Card. I forked over $149 when I read about the awesome benefit ” No change or cancel fees. Period” “Enjoy maximum flexibility to modify your travel plans without paying an additional fee to change or cancel your non-refundable Virgin America flights. You’ll only need to pay the difference in fare when making a change.” PEOPLE CONSIDERING THE CREDIT CARD BECAUSE OF THIS BENEFIT BEWARE. Once you cancel a non-refundable ticket, it goes into your travel bank … so when you get your new ticket and want to make yet another change, they WILL CHARGE YOU $150 change fee! So the “PERIOD” in their marketing campaign is completely misleading! They will wave the change fee only once per new ticket purchased! Southwest Airlines, here I come. No change fees ever for real!

  • jimmy

    Commenity is shit. Their online account is horrid, you can’t simply view transactions without downloading statements. Also, their automated phone system you basically have to use to communicate with them is atrocious.

    I had a fraudulent charge from Italy a couple months ago and my card was frozen. When I called to resolve the issue it must have been this person’s first day because they were flabbergasted by the process. Also, the charge was still on my account when i went to pay my bill this month.
    On top of that, i was leaving for a trip in about 8 days but the rep told me it would take 10-14 business days to get me the replacement. Needless to say I was shocked they couldn’t overnight it or at least get it to me within a week. Any other time I’ve dealt with fraud they have a new card in my mail almost immediately. I guess Commenity doesn’t want me to spend money?

    Oh ya, my favorite thing about the ‘benefits’ is the ‘free’ checked bag. What that means is they still charge you $25/bag, and Community refunds you in 8-12 weeks or something ridiculous. Also, your companion has to be on the same reservation. My girl and I flew to Vegas, I booked mine with points and hers with cash and I could only check 1 bag and get reimbursed.

    It really sucks they partnered with this bank, because I love Virgin America as an airline – especially living next to SFO.

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