It’s not surprising that the Virgin America credit card issued by Comenity Bank is being wound down. New applications already ceased, and Alaska Airlines announced plans not to continue the brand into the new year. Virgin America Elevate members are being encouraged to switch to Alaska’s Mileage Plan, and existing Virgin America planes will be repainted.
But it is interesting to see that Comenity isn’t doing anything to preserve the accounts of customers who already have a Virgin America credit card. Sometimes when a co-branded card is discontinued, the accounts will be rolled over to another brand, or the accounts will just be sold to another bank. (For example, Comenity could sell the accounts to Bank of America, giving those customers the option of a replacement Alaska Airlines credit card.)
That’s not happening. Per FlyerTalk, all Virgin America credit cards will cease to function on January 1, 2018, and accounts will be closed by January 4.
Anyone who wants to replace their Virgin America credit card will need to use another card in their wallet or make a new application. Obviously Alaska Airlines is encouraging people to apply for their Visa Signature card issued by Bank of America.
This isn’t the worst thing in the world. A new application means the potential for a new sign up bonus, which usually doesn’t happen if your account just gets rolled over to someplace new. A new application does create a temporary ding on your credit score, which is unfortunate, but temporary is the key word.
If you think you might want to replace your Virgin America card with a new Alaska Airlines credit card, I recommend you apply before your first account is unceremoniously closed. The Visa Signature card typically a sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles, and for a $75 annual fee you also get a $99 coach companion fare (plus taxes) that will be valid on any Alaska Airlines flight without blackout dates or route restrictions. Companions are still eligible to earn miles and upgrades, so it’s a great way to save money on expensive tickets to destinations like Mexico and Hawaii.
Alaska has also been running a promotion since this spring that will waive the $99 charge on the first year’s companion fare. (You’ll still need to pay $99 to redeem it in subsequent years.) Initially scheduled to run through June, it’s been repeatedly extended, but I wouldn’t count on it lasting forever. If you want to get the best deal on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card, it’s better to apply sooner rather than later.