Has Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card Stolen AMEX Gold’s Crown?

As you may be aware AMEX has ravaged the perks of the AMEX Gold card, and it is thus no longer as easy for me to endorse this card. Last week, I updated my comparison of the AMEX Gold card with the free Virgin Atlantic Credit card. It was difficult to determine a definite winner, but I did promise an update comparing the premium Virgin Atlantic card to the AMEX Gold card. Then you will have the full facts available to help you decide where to focus your loyalty.

Customer loyalty
Who deserves your loyalty in the battle of the credit cards?

Why is AMEX changing the benefits?

For those who are unaware, these changes stem from changes in EU legislation. The legislation might have been introduced to protect consumers but all I have seen is negative changes for consumers. Card benefits have been cut in a series of punishing updates. Merchants aren’t paying less so who has really benefitted from these changes? If BREXIT ever does happen, I cannot see this legislation being high on the repeal list, so I guess this card benefit famine may continue for some time.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+

Anyway, enough of my whining! let’s see how the AMEX Gold card compares with the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit card.

Annual fee

The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit card has an annual fee of £160 whereas the AMEX Gold card has an annual fee of £140. This is only payable from year two so you could cancel the card before the one year anniversary and avoid this charge. However, if you do cancel the card, you will not be able to earn a further sign-up bonus on the AMEX Gold card if you have held an AMEX in the previous 24 months. You might still feel it is worth recycling, just to avoid the annual fee, but then you will be reliant on your spend alone for the reward points.

Winner: AMEX Gold

Sign up bonus

The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit card has a generous sign-up bonus of 15,000 Flying Miles (all you need to do is make one purchase in your first 90 days of card membership). Apply before the 30th June 2019 and you can double this. Yes, you will earn an extra 15,000 Flying Miles if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. This is bloody fantastic!

The AMEX Gold card offers a paltry 10,000 in comparison for the same level of spend – £3,000 within 3 months. Use this referral link to earn an extra 2,000 rewards but 12,000 membership rewards is a poor alternative to 30,000 Flying Miles. IMPORTANT NOTE: don’t forget about the 24 months rule here.

If you spend £3,000 in the first three months, here is how the cards compare.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit card AMEX Gold
Sign-up bonus 30,000 12,000
Ongoing rewards 4.500 3,000
Total rewards 34,500 15,000

Winner: Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit card. There simply is no contest!

Athletics race winner
storming into the lead

Rewards earning

As the above table shows, the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit card offers 1.5 miles per £1 of spend. The AMEX Membership Rewards scheme offers 1 reward per £1 spent. Plus, when you use your card to book Virgin Atlantic flights or Virgin Holidays you earn 3 Flying Miles.

Winner: Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit card. Maybe that extra £20 fee is worthwhile after all!

Transfer options

The one area in which AMEX Gold absolutely wins is the flexibility stakes. The card allows you to transfer rewards to twelve airlines including Virgin, Delta, Singapore Airlines, and British Airways. The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit card only allows you to transfer points to Virgin Flying Miles. It is great if you are a massive fan of Virgin and happy to put up with a limited number of routes but not so good if you want the option to transfer points elsewhere.

Winner: AMEX Gold


AMEX Gold card offers a referral bonus of 6,000 membership rewards for every friend you refer who signs up using your referral link. They also get an extra 2,000 rewards when they satisfy the minimum spend. This perk does not exist with the Virgin card.

Friends enjoying drinks
Refer your friends to earn with AMEX Gold

Winner: AMEX Gold

Loyalty bonus

Each plan year you spend £15,000 on the AMEX Gold card you earn a loyalty bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points. There are no loyalty bonuses with Virgin but when you spend £10,000 in a year you qualify for a reward. However, unless you are a Virgin frequent flyer with status, they are rubbish! Here is how they work:

Red Flying Club members

You get a choice of:

  1. A Premium upgrade if you book an Economy cabin reward flight at no additional cost.
  2. A desultory economy class companion ticket when you book an economy reward flight.

Most of the cost of your economy flight is taxes and fees and you still need to pay these so you won’t save much with this reward benefit. The British Airways companion ticket is much better as it allows you to fly business or first class even if you have no tier status.

Silver Flying Club members

Silver club members can select from:

  1. A Premium upgrade if you book an Economy cabin reward flight at no additional cost.
  2. An economy class companion ticket when you book an economy reward flight.
  3. A pass to the London Heathrow or London Gatwick Clubhouse if you are flying with Virgin Atlantic. That’s a pass just for you so your companion will have to hang around in the airport will you quaff champagne.

What can I say? Rubbish!

Gold Flying Club members

Gold members can select from:

  1. A Premium upgrade if you book an Economy cabin reward flight at no additional cost.
  2. A companion reward ticket in any class with no additional miles. Now that is more like it!
  3. Two Clubhouse passes to either the London Heathrow or London Gatwick Clubhouse

The only other perk that AMEX Gold card offers is lounge access for two.

The winner is…

Is Virgin better?

Yes, it is. If you are happy to restrict yourself to Virgin, this card offers a higher earnings rate and generous sign-up bonus. It won’t be quite such an obvious winner when the offer expires in June but until then, if you are happy to pay £160, this card should definitely be on your radar.

This post may contain affiliate links which pay me a small commission should you click on them and make a purchase. Creating blog content takes up a lot of time including researching, fact checking, editing and more and for very little reward. It would be great therefore if you could use these links if anything catches your fancy. These small commissions help towards the cost of running the site, and the occasional glass of wine.
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About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips

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