For a $90 annual fee, the Virgin Atlantic Black Card — a Bank of America co-branded American Express — offers
- 20,000 Bonus Miles with First Purchase
- 50% off a companion coach award when you spend $25,000 on the card in a year
- 3 Miles Per Dollar on Virgin Atlantic Spend and 1.5 Miles Per Dollar on “Everyday Purchases” — I haven’t verified the categories of the latter, but presumably gas and groceries.
- You get one tier point per $2,500 in purchases (up to 2 per month). Since it takes 40 to earn gold and 30 to retain it, up to 24 tier points a year from a credit card is a big deal. They also advertise “additional tier points when you fly Virgin Atlantic Airways” but I’m not clear on what this means, presumably bonuses rather than just stating the obvious that flights earn tier points.
- Up to 15,000 bonus miles every Anniversary (I haven’t tracked down what “up to” means yet)
(Update: see the bottom of the post for details.)
- Up to 5,000 bonus miles when you add additional Cardmembers to your account (I haven’t tracked down what “up to” means yet)
(There’s also a somewhat less lucrative $49-a-year White Card.)
no other frequent flyer card we know of allows you to–in theory, at least–cash in your miles for space travel.
Of course, American Express Membership Rewards has a space offering. Presumably some of the other cards with ‘customized rewards’ options would as well. And US Airways used to have this.
Still, for Virgin Atlantic flyers this card would seem quite good — especially if you need the boost towards status. As for me, I credit my Avis rentals to Virgin and an extra 20,000 points would make for a nice shot in the arm even at $90…
Update: The anniversary bonus miles works as follows:
7,500 anniversary Flying Club miles will be posted to your Flying Club account when you spend a minimum of $15,000 in net purchases within the anniversary year with your Virgin Atlantic Card. An additional 7,500 anniversary Flying Club miles will be awarded when you spend $25,000 in net purchases within the anniversary year with your Virgin Atlantic Card. Earned Anniversary Flying Club miles will be posted to your Flying Club account each year within four to six weeks of the anniversary of your Card’s open date.