Steve Granitz / Contributor

MBNA has started closing down its Virgin Atlantic White and Black credit cards. This affects both the Visa and Amex versions of those cards. After your card is closed down, you will probably be transitioned to another MBNA credit card – but one without the same perks and airmiles.

If you hold an MBNA Virgin Atlantic card, you may have already been contacted directly by MBNA with more information. It isn’t clear when exactly your card will be closed down, though MBNA has told some customers that they will get more information by June 15.

Notably, the new Virgin Atlantic card offered by Virgin Money is not affected – and having an MBNA card will not prevent you from signing up for the new Virgin Money card.

Any airmiles on your MBNA Virgin Atlantic account should be redeemable for a period of time – though it isn’t clear how long that period is. For more information you should phone MBNA directly on 0345 606 2062.

Why is the MBNA Virgin Atlantic credit card shutting down?

MBNA stopped taking applications for all its co-branded airmile credit cards in November, including its Etihad, Emirates, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines, and American Airlines credit cards.

MBNA never gave a clear reason for putting the brakes on so many cards, but a likely reason is that the European Union now limits the interchange fee to 0.3%. This means that MBNA (and other card issuers) can’t charge retailers more than 0.3% per transaction. In turn, this seemingly makes it untenable to offer higher rates of cashback or airmile earning when the issuer’s cut is only 0.3%. Previously, interchange fees around Europe were more like 1 to 1.5%. (In the US, interchange fees are usually 2% or more – which is why the earning rate on points and miles is so much higher over there!)

Closing down applications was the first step towards shutting down the cards – and now MBNA is taking the next step with the Virgin Atlantic card. MBNA has also started closing down its American Airlines credit card – and the remaining co-branded cards will likely follow suit soon.

If you’re looking for a new airmile credit card, there are scant few options left on the market. You might also consider a reward credit card, or even a packaged current account.