When A Great Deal Isn’t

It’s no secret that one of my core rules around accumulating miles is to use credit card sign-up bonuses to your advantage. But that doesn’t mean that every deal is equal, and what looks like the best of deals may not be. Here’s one example.

Virgin Atlantic: “Earn up to 90,000 bonus miles!” Well, Maybe…

virgin atlantic

Wow, what a deal! Actually, maybe not so much.

I have a friend who flies to Australia annually and is always on the lookout for deals that will get her there for free. As soon as I saw this one, I knew that it was  the one for her. Virgin Atlantic miles, while not the most valuable, could play a role with a partner in getting her there.

Then I saw the T&C of the card and tossed the offer. The headline reads “90,000 miles,” but the details run up the cost for you.


20,000 miles to start. Not so bad. But it gets worse from there.

The biggest chunk is that $12,000 in required spend on your credit card within six months of the open date. That’s a pretty good slug of cash for most people. It’s certainly the highest spending requirement that I have seen.

15,000 each anniversary. The card carries a $90 fee, so you’re paying the fee twice now.  But in the terms and conditions of the offer, it also tells you that they won’t simply give you the miles.


7,500 anniversary miles will be posted to your Flying Club account after you spend a minimum of $15,000 in Purchases within the anniversary year with your card. An additional 7,500 anniversary miles will be awarded after you spend a total of $25,000 in Purchases within the anniversary year with your card. Earned Anniversary 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. The value of these rewards may constitute taxable income to you. You may be issued an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 (or other appropriate form) that reflects the value of such rewards. Please consult your tax advisor, as neither we, nor our affiliates, provide tax advice.
Ouch. That’s an additional $13,000 in spend in the first year. To get the full 90,000 miles (Actually, it would be 127,500 when you include the miles you earn from spending.), there is a long list of requirements. Even worse, if you use Virgin metal, as opposed to one of their partners, you’ll pay heavy taxes and fees (the majority of which is fees). On a flight in coach, from the US to Australia, you’re still looking at close to $1,000. Hint: Use Virgin miles to fly Delta. Or any other partner.

What Else Caught My Eye Today

Both of the below were found on Gary Leff’s VFTW. Wish him a happy birthday.

How to Be A Considerate Passenger

American is currently running a campaign about how to be among the world’s greatest flyers. Personally, I find the whole thing a little creepy, but it comes from the same airline that did the “We know why you fly” campaign over a decade ago. This airline wants to know way too much about me. Or maybe already does.

In any case, this article of 16 rules for every kind traveler is an amusing read. My pet peeves include #2 and #14. I disagree with #6. You can recline your seat. It’s your space. But the kind thing to do is to let the person in back of you know that you are doing so and recline slowly so as not to crush their laptop. If they give you attitude after that, let the FA handle it.

Be careful with #8. Yes, you should be kind to those in coach, but switching seats with your spouse to let them sit up front could be a no-no. Of course it’s generous, but many employers take the attitude (and rightfully so, I believe) that they bought the ticket so that their employee could be well-rested to work, not for the employee to share with their spouse. Likewise, I’ve heard of people refunding their business class ticket and picking up two coach tickets with the money. Not only is that a no-no for the above reason but it may also be a taxable event.

And Finally…

Those of you who know me personally know that I am a political junkie. And while I try my hardest to keep politics out of this blog, it saddens me to see how what this election has done to the country. It’s unfortunate that it often takes a tragedy to unite us.

There’s a story for each of us for 9/11. It doesn’t matter where you were at the time, you still remember exactly what you are doing, even 15 years later. And every year, we learn a little more about the day and some of the people who played roles.

Today, I read one of the most powerful tales of sacrifice and duty that I have ever seen. I may not always remember where I was when I read it, but I’ll never be able to forget the story itself.

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