The Adrian Loveridge Column – Virgin Members Welcome!
Virgin Money together with Virgin Atlantic has recently launched two new credit cards which could significantly add benefit to our UK based visitors and encourage more people to travel to the Caribbean. There is a choice, between an annual fee-free Virgin Atlantic Reward card, or a GB Pounds 160 per year Virgin Atlantic Reward + credit card.
Both MasterCard branded cards give free access to Virgin Money Lounges in the UK – of which there are currently seven locations including Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Norwich and Sheffield with discounts on Virgin Group products including train tickets and holidays.
The Reward card earns 0.75 Flying Club miles for every GB Pound 1 spent, double miles for all direct bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays. There is a bonus of 5,000 miles after a first purchase is made with 90 days of account opening.
The Reward + card earns 1.5 Flying Club miles for every GB Pounds 1 spent, double miles for all direct bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays. A bonus of 15,000 miles after first purchase is made within 90 days of account opening plus free access to over 1 million global hotspots via Boingo wifi.
In addition holders of both cards can choose from a range of rewards when they reach yearly spending limits (GB Pounds 20,000 in the case of the Reward card and GB Pounds 10,000 for the Reward + card). These bonuses are significant in themselves, as the miles required for an economy round trip ticket from the UK to Barbados is from 20.000. These rewards are based on the cardholder’s tier status within Flying Club criteria, which are:
Red Flying Club members can choose a free premium economy (now rebranded as Premium) upgrade when flying economy or an economy reward companion seat which enables them to take a companion for no additional miles.
Silver members can choose from these same options, as well as a Premium reward companion seat or a pass for a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.
Gold members can choose two Clubhouse passes, an economy, Premium or Upper Class reward companion seat, or a free premium upgrade.
Of course, there are downsides to using miles as the various taxes and add-ons are still payable and seats are often limited to non-peak periods, so are difficult or nearly impossible to secure during school and public holidays.
While I have strongly advocated the use of miles earning credit cards over the years, anyone even vaguely considering applying for either of these cards should be fully aware of the APR (annual percentage rate) interest payable on any outstanding balance, which is 22.9 per cent for the Reward card and a mind boggling 63.9 per cent on the Reward + plus card. Failure to pay on time would obviously negate any travel benefits.
My own thoughts are, as a destination we have an incredible opportunity to influence potential visitors to Barbados who apply for these new cards. Why don’t we use some of those otherwise empty summer rooms to offer say, 100 holidays for two to applicants based on random selection?