Five ways to earn benefits when booking Virgin flights ↦There are five different ways to gain benefits when booking a flight for Virgin. Unfortunately you won't be able to use all five together but some flyers may get to four. Combining any of these options will still earn more than flying by itself.
1. The obvious points benefit
Frequent flyer points. Sounds obvious and it is obvious except for one thing to watch. Some cheap international flights don't offer points or the earn rate on miles are reduced by half. Before buying a ticket, make sure you determine if the flight is eligible. This is normally found by clicking on Fare Inclusions at the top of the search results page, then checking the Fare Types in the coloured pricing boxes next to each flight. The low price may make it worth giving up the points but you'll need to see how many points you'll be forgoing, and assign a value of 1 cent per point. So if you are forgoing 1,000 points that are valued at $10, then the price difference should be more than $10.
2. The almost as obvious points benefit
Use a points-earning credit card to purchase the flights. Even if you don't have a Virgin credit card, using a points-earning card will improve your haul when booking Virgin flights. It's not unusual to be booking a flight on one airline but earning points on a credit card that is linked to a different airline.
3. The hardest points benefit
The American Express Velocity Escape Card. If you have one of these cards, it earns a bonus point per dollar on the Virgin site, doubling your credit card points haul to two Virgin points per dollar. Other cards to earn the same benefit are the American Express Velocity Platinum Card and the American Express Platinum Charge Card (the bonus applies to some other ailrines too).
4. The skim
Before you charge onto the Virgin site to book your flight, log into Cashrewards or sign-up here to gain a free $5 credit , and search for Virgin. Cashrewards is a site where they earn commission on sales directed through them. The advantage for using them is they share some of that commission back with you. The prices you pay for flights on the Virgin site are still the same whether you go through by clicking Cashrewards or directly to Virgin.
On Cashrewards, you will get 2% back on domestic flights and 3% on international flights. After clicking the virgin link on Cashrewards, you will be taken to the Virgin site where you can book direct. This is normally the best move since changing a flight on a third party site can take some time and incur additional charges from both the airline, and the third party site (for example, Expedia.com.au or Flybuys).
5. Third party loyalty programs
Rather than using Cashrewards, there are two other options. These are third party travel sites, so if you want to change a booking you'll have to go back to those sites and not Virgin. Not only will it probably take longer, especially after hours, you may incur more charges as third party sites often charge a fee for altering or cancelling a flight, and this will be in addition to whatever Virgin charges.
The first site is Expedia. They have a rewards program where you earn one point per $5 spent on airfares. However, this is one of the worst options. On average Expedia points are worth 0.7cents each. At five dollars spent per point for airfares, this bonus is will earn a tiny 0.14 cents per dollar spent. That is not 14 cents, but 0.14 of a cent, per dollar. By comparison, Cashrewards is 2-3 cents per dollar spent. If you'd rather not use Cashrewards, there is a better option than Expedia.
Flybuys has a site called Flybuys Travel. You earn one Flybuys point per dollar spent. If you are not a member of Flybuys and never shop at Coles, this will be of little use unless you are spending more than $2000 on flights, as you need to earn at least 2000 points to convert them back to 870 Virgin frequent flyer points. Going through Flybuys can earn points valued at 0.435 cents per dollar spent if transferring them to Virgin or 0.5cents per dollar if using them as shopping discount vouchers at Coles. Sometimes Flybuys runs promotions where Virgin flights receive 3x or 10x points. These can change the value substantially. At 3x, the value increases the earn value to 1.45cents per dollar and at 10x, you are looking at 4.35cents.
For example Two people are travelling together from Sydney to LA return
The ticket price is $1500 per person, total price $3000.
Virgin points earned: 7495 each way = 14,990 for each passenger
Credit card at one point per dollar: 3,000points
Bonus for using the Virgin Amex card: 3,000points
Cashrewards at 3% for flights: $90 cash back
Total: Using the basic earn rate of 14,990 frequent flyer points per person, the total is 29,980 points. Total from using the above strategies is 35,980 points plus $90 cash back.
Booking alternatives compared to $90 cashback:
Expedia: 600 points, valued at $0.84
FlyBuys Travel: 3000 points, valued at $13.05-$15.00
One person travelling Melbourne to Sydney return
The total price is $250
Virgin points earned: 912
Credit card at one point per dollar: 250points
Bonus for using the Virgin Amex card: 250points
Cashrewards at 2% for domestic flight: $5.00 cash back
Total: 1412 points plus $5.00 saving off the airfare (compared to 912 points for flying)
Booking alternatives compared to $5 cashback:
Expedia: 50 points, valued at $0.07 (yes, 7 cents)
FlyBuys Travel: 250 points, valued at $1.08-$1.26