When travelling with Virgin Australia, having the right credit card in your wallet can be the difference between sitting out in the terminal or relaxing in an airport lounge: and in some cases, even between paying for your flight or travelling for free!
Let's not forget frequent flyer points either, which can also help secure your next flight or upgrade to business class, and can be earned on many of the same cards.
Whatever your strategy and wherever you're headed with Virgin Australia, these credit cards are worth a look.
1. The American Express Platinum Charge Card
With unlimited Virgin Australia lounge access and limitless entries to Delta Sky Clubs in the USA, Chile and Japan – Delta being Virgin's Stateside partner – it should come as no surprise that the American Express Platinum Charge Card ranks as the best overall card for regular Virgin Australia flyers.
Jetting abroad with Virgin or one of its international airline partners? Complimentary Priority Pass membership also unlocks over 1,200 lounges worldwide, including in ports where Velocity Gold and Platinum members have no lounge access even if flying with Virgin Australia, such as in Nadi (Fiji). Access to Plaza Premium and American Express lounges bring further options as well.
Points earned on this card can be converted across to Velocity on a 1:1 basis, with Virgin Australia flight bookings – plus those on all other airlines, regardless of their affiliation with Virgin Australia – fetching the equivalent of two Velocity points per dollar spent: ditto hotel charges within Australia, and purchases made overseas.
Restaurant charges in Australia attract a higher three Velocity points per dollar spent, and while the card does have a hefty $1,450 annual fee, that's partially offset by a $450 Platinum Travel Credit (travel voucher), an offer of 120,000 bonus Velocity points for new cardholders, complimentary Hilton Honors Gold, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Radisson Rewards Gold Elite memberships, and more.
2. American Express Velocity Platinum Card
For a more affordable price tag, look to the American Express Velocity Platinum Card, which kicks things off with a free return domestic Virgin Australia flight every year plus two yearly Virgin Australia lounge visits in return for a $375 annual fee.
Also included each calendar year are two visits to the American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport when travelling with any airline – whether that's Virgin Australia; its partners AirNZ, Beijing Capital Airlines, Delta, Etihad, Hainan Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Singapore Airlines or Tianjin Airlines; or even competitors like Qantas – plus 100 bonus status credits if you spend more than $50,000/year on the card.
You'll also earn 2.5 Velocity points per dollar spent on Virgin Australia flight bookings (and purchases of add-ons like Economy X) and 1.5 Velocity points per dollar spent everywhere else, except government bodies where the earn rate is 0.5 Velocity points per $1. Eligible new cardholders can also pocket 50,000 bonus Velocity points.
3. Virgin Money's Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card
Also strong on Virgin Australia-centric perks is the Velocity High Flyer Visa Signature credit card from Virgin Money, offering a $129 Virgin Australia flight voucher every year and two complimentary Virgin Australia lounge passes, each valued at $65.
That's $259 of up-front perks which largely counteract the card's $289 annual fee, with up to 80,000 bonus Velocity points also on the table for eligible new cardholders who meet the spending criteria.
Purchases accrue one Velocity point per $1 spent up to $8,000 per months and 0.5 Velocity points per $1 thereafter, except government charges which earn no points.
4. American Express Explorer credit card
With a $400 Travel Credit included every year which can be used towards a Virgin Australia flight booking – or indeed, airfares with any other airline or a hotel stay instead – the $395/year American Express Explorer credit card is another card which neutralises the annual fee from the get-go.
That's because if you were going to spend at least $400 per year on Virgin Australia flights anyway, paying an annual fee of a similar amount to receive the same value essentially makes the card 'free' – and what's more, you'll earn the equivalent of 1.5 Velocity points per dollar spent on most everyday charges.
Unlike the AMEX Velocity Platinum Card, the points you earn here can be manually converted to Velocity (and seven other frequent flyer programs) at leisure, with two yearly AMEX Lounge visits included too, along with extras like smartphone screen insurance, the equivalent of 37,500 bonus Velocity points (50,000 MR Gateway points) for eligible new cardholders, and more.
5. ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures Visa
With a bigger focus on perks as opposed to points, the ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures Card packs in a free Virgin Australia domestic return flight each year and two Virgin Australia lounge passes for an annual fee of only $225.
Given that the free return flight can be taken on almost any Virgin Australia route – including the transcontinental treks from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Perth, and other long routes such as from the east coast to Darwin, or from Brisbane to Hobart – the value gained out of the flight alone would more than negate the annual fee.
That makes everything else an added bonus, including the card's absence of an international transaction fee when shopping abroad, an earn rate of up to 0.75 Velocity points per $1 spent via the ANZ Rewards scheme, and 40,000 bonus Velocity points after spending $500 on eligible purchases within three months of card approval.