Virgin Atlantic is joining SkyTeam in 2023 — here's why that's good news for travel credit card points collectors

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Virgin Atlantic A330-300s.

Virgin Points are about to become a lot more useful. Bradley Caslin/Shutterstock
  • Virgin Atlantic is joining the SkyTeam airline alliance in 2023.
  • Once this partnership is official, you'll be able to use Virgin points to fly on more than 20 airlines.
  • Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of six flexible points currencies, so they're easy to earn.
  • Read Insider's guide to the best travel rewards credit cards.

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Most prominent airlines around the world are members of a major airline alliance, namely:

  • Oneworld
  • Star Alliance
  • SkyTeam

A major benefit of airline alliances is the ability to use airline miles from one airline to fly on any of its alliance partners. For example, if you collect American Airlines miles (a member of the Oneworld alliance), you can use those miles to fly on other Oneworld airlines such as British Airways, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, and many more. 

Virgin Atlantic is one of the few airlines that isn't a member of any of the three major airline alliances. But in early 2023, Virgin Atlantic plans to join the SkyTeam alliance — making Virgin Points more valuable. Here's why.

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Virgin Atlantic to officially join SkyTeam

While Virgin Atlantic isn't a member of any of the big three alliances, it's cobbled together a healthy variety of airline partners by itself. You use Virgin points to fly with:

  • ANA (a Star Alliance member)
  • Air New Zealand (a Star Alliance member)
  • Delta (a SkyTeam member)
  • Flying Blue, the partnership between Air France and KLM (SkyTeam members)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (a Oneworld member)
  • Singapore Airlines (a Star Alliance member)
  • South African Airways (a Star Alliance member)
  • Virgin Australia (not a member of a major alliance)

Some of the best sweet spots in the award travel world exist through these Virgin Atlantic partnerships. For example, you can fly first class to Japan on ANA for as little as 110,000 Virgin points round-trip. That seat can cost more than $15,000 in cash.

Another great use of Virgin points is booking Delta One (lie-flat business class) seats to Europe for 50,000 points. The same award seat through Delta's own site routinely costs more than 300,000 miles.

It's unclear what will happen to Virgin Atlantic's non-alliance partners once it joins SkyTeam in early 2023. But there's no reason to think it will jettison these valuable associations. In fact, this union with SkyTeam will likely catapult the utility of Virgin points.

There are currently 18 airlines under the SkyTeam umbrella. That means you can use Virgin points to reach significantly more destinations around the world. Even if Virgin points already get you to everywhere you care to go, these 12+ new airline partners will open up more award availability for you to use your points.

Virgin Atlantic currently publishes unique award charts for each of its airline partners. Because of this, we don't know the full implications of its entrance into SkyTeam, and the untold number of new sweet spots that may arise.

You may have Virgin points without even realizing it

Virgin Points are an extremely valuable rewards currency. And with the above changes, they're likely to be an even more powerful tool for those who want to travel on the cheap.

Here's another strength of Virgin Atlantic that is rare among loyalty programs: Virgin is a transfer partner of nearly all major flexible credit card rewards currencies:

  • Amex Membership Rewards points (1:1 transfer ratio)
  • Bilt Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio)
  • Capital One miles (1:1 transfer ratio)
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards® points (1:1 transfer ratio)
  • Citi ThankYou points (1:1 transfer ratio)
  • Marriott Bonvoy points (3:1 transfer ratio, with 5,000 bonus Virgin points for every increment of 60,000 Marriott points you transfer)

If you collect any of the above currencies, you've got a stash of Virgin Points at your fingertips. Most of these points transfer to Virgin Atlantic instantly.

If you don't currently collect these transferable travel rewards, you've got dozens of credit cards to choose from, each with its own welcome bonus, which can help you to earn over a million Virgin points. Here are some good examples.

Capital One miles

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60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Earn 5x points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out. Earn 3x points on select streaming services. Earn 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs). Earn 2x points on other travel. Earn 1x point per dollar on everything else.

60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

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80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $4,000 in eligible purchases on your card in the first three months from account opening

Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy Points on purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy. Earn 4X Marriott Bonvoy Points on up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn 2X Marriott Bonvoy Points on all other eligible purchases.

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Earn up to 17X total points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Earn 3X points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining. Earn 2X points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

60,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Earn up to 14X total points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Earn 2X points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains). Earn 1X point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

You can also earn Virgin points with Virgin Atlantic's own credit card, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® . This $90-annual-fee card offers a welcome bonus of 30,000 bonus Virgin Points after spending $1,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. To learn more, you can read our Virgin Atlantic credit card review.

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic is joining the SkyTeam alliance in early 2023. That will triple the number of airlines you can fly with Virgin points — making the loyalty program even more valuable.

This is good news to many credit card rewards collectors because Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of nearly every flexible points currency. If you're low on Virgin points, you can simply open a couple of credit cards, earn the bonuses, and easily amass hundreds of thousands of points.

Joseph Hostetler, CEPF

Credit cards reporter

Joseph Hostetler is a credit cards reporter for Insider who also covers helpful miles and points tricks. He is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). Joseph has more than five years of experience writing professionally about credit cards, previously authoring and editing for The Points Guy and Million Mile Secrets.  You can reach Joseph at jhostetler@insider.com. Learn more about how Personal Finance Insider chooses, rates, and covers financial products and services »

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Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/virgin-atlantic-join-skyteam-good-news-credit-card-points-2022-9