Chase Unveils Two New Airline Credit Cards….And I Really Don’t Like Either


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I’m an unabashed fan of Chase and a large number of the credit cards the bank issues but I’m struggling to see the point of the Chase Iberia Visa credit card or the Chase Aer Lingus credit card announced by the bank towards the end of last week.

Chase has issued the British Airways Visa card for years and now the bank has announced that it will offer credit cards branded with two more IAG Group airlines – Iberia and Aer Lingus.

There’s a certain amount of symmetry here as this announcement means that Chase will now offer credit cards for the three main Avios issuing airlines…but that doesn’t make what Chase is offering any more worthwhile. If anything it underscores how pointless the new cards are.

Before I go any further here’s a look at what the new credit cards are offering:

Chase Iberia Visa Signature Card

This card is open to applicants right now (here’s a link) and here are the main things you’ll probably want to know:

Annual Fee:

$95 which, at the time of writing, is not waived in the first year.

Sign-up bonus:

50,000 Avios after $3,000 spent within first 3 months & a further 25,000 Avios after $10,000 spent within the first year (the $10,000 includes the original $3,000 so the 25,000 Avios is earned after a further $7,000 is spent)

Earnings:

  • 3 Avios per $1 on Iberia, Aer Lingus, British Airways, LEVEL and OpenSkies purchases
  • 1 Avios per $1 on all other purchases

Main Benefits:

  • $1,000 flight discount voucher after $30,000 spend in a calendar year
  • 10% off flights booked on Iberia
  • No foreign transaction fees

Chase Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card

This credit card hasn’t been launched yet but we still have details of what it will offer when it arrives in the next few weeks.

Annual Fee:

$95 which, if the Iberia card is anything to go by, will not be waived in the first year.

Sign-up bonus:

Unconfirmed but is expected to be the same as for the Iberia credit card:

50,000 Avios after $3,000 spent within first 3 months & a further 25,000 Avios after $10,000 spent within the first year (the $10,000 includes the original $3,000 so the 25,000 Avios is earned after a further $7,000 is spent)

Earnings:

  • 3 Avios per $1 on Iberia, Aer Lingus, British Airways, LEVEL and OpenSkies purchases
  • 1 Avios per $1 on all other purchases

Main Benefits:

  • Companion Economy Class ticket after $30,000 is spent in a calendar year
  • Priority boarding on flights to/from the US
  • No foreign transaction fees

So What’s Wrong With These Credit Cards?

They’re Not The Best Way To Earn Avios

These cards share a number of the same flaws as the British Airways Visa card that Chase issues (which isn’t a surprise) and the biggest of these is that none of them offer the best way of earning Avios.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points can be converted over to the British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus and the Aer Lingus Aer Club at a ratio of 1:1 which means that if you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card you can essentially earn 3 Avios/dollar whenever you spend on travel (of any kind) or dining.

This makes earning triple Avios easier with the Sapphire Reserve than it is with any of the three main Avios earning credit cards.

American Express Membership Rewards convert over to the British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus at a ratio of 1:1 and, as the Platinum Card from American Express offers 5 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent on airfare, you can essentially earn 5 Avios per dollar whenever you book a flight on any airline in the world.

That’s a 67% better earning rate than the Avios credit cards offer.

The Benefits Aren’t Very Good When You look Closely

Iberia Card Issues

  • The $1,000 discount can only be earned after spending $30,000 in a calendar year. Anyone approved for this card part way through a year (as anyone who applies in 2018 will be) will be starting off with a disadvantage and may find themselves having to pay two annual fees before hitting the target.
  • The $1,000 discount is also slightly deceptive as it isn’t until you read the T&Cs closely that you’ll see that the $1,000 discount is only applicable “when purchasing two tickets, for the same flights in the same class of travel“. This is essentially a discount on a companion fare.
  • The 10% discount is only applicable to Iberia marketed and operated flights – codeshares are specifically excluded. This seriously limits the number of flights you can use this discount on as Iberia doesn’t offer all that many flights to/from the US.
  • The 10% discount only applies to the base fare the airline is charging – carrier fees and taxes (which can be substantial) are excluded from the discount. This means that the 10% discount won’t ever actually reduce your out of pocket costs by 10%.

Aer Lingus Card Issues

  • The companion ticket can only be earned after spending $30,000 in a calendar year so, just like with the discount on the Iberia card, anyone approved for this card part way through a year will be starting off with a disadvantage and may find themselves having to pay two annual fees before hitting the target.
  • The companion ticket is only good for Economy Class bookings – you have to spend $30,000 on an unrewarding credit card to get a “free” ticket in transatlantic Economy Class. Who’s going to find that a compelling benefit?

Some Positives

There are one or two positives here but boy do you have to look hard to find them.

  1. The 10% discount available through the Chase Iberia Visa card is available for flights “from any destination”. The British Airways Visa card limits its discount to flights departing the US.
  2. The 10% discount available through the Chase Iberia Visa isn’t limited to Economy Class – the discount can be applied to Premium Economy and Business Class fares too.
  3. It looks like these cards will not be subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Bottom Line

I really don’t see the point of these credit cards….just like I don’t see the point of the British Airways Visa Card either.

These cards don’t offer the best way to earn Avios and their benefits are mediocre (and in some cases a little deceptive) so why would you waste a pull on your credit card score to get these cards?

I guess some will be enticed by the sign-up bonuses (fair enough) but I can’t imagine why anyone would put any regular spend on these cards or why anyone would hold them for their benefits.

When you think about it there’s actually something quite funny here – banks want to stop miles & points fans from churning credit cards and yet here we have Chase unveiling two new credit cards that may only really be useful to those who churn.