While on an airline flight from Charlotte to Phoenix recently, the co-pilot came over the speaker and said he had an exciting offer to share with us. To use his words, our flight had been selected to receive a very exclusive, limited-time offer. Well…Mr. co-pilot, what could this wonderful offer be? Waiting with anxious anticipation (hey, I’d been sitting in this seat for 3+ hours at this point), I was a bit taken aback by this “offer.” What was it? For this flight only, we could sign up for the exclusive airline credit card and receive 40,000 bonus points after our first purchase – enough for a free flight to Hawaii! And if we signed up in flight, we would receive an extra 500 frequent flyer miles and extra credit for the flight we were on. To top it off, we would get priority boarding on future flights as long as we remained active members. Wow – what an offer (insert dramatic sarcastic eye roll here)!
I don’t know about you, but that’s an elite club I don’t want to be a part of. But I was shocked to see so many people pick up an application and start filling it out. While there are ways to earn perks on a credit card and plenty of ways to try and game the system to earn little rewards, is it worth it? I say NO. Why? Let’s talk about 5 reasons this is an offer to pass up.
It’s still a credit card
Even if you get lots of free perks, you’ve still signed your name to an agreement to take on debt. Romans 13:8 – my mantra on debt – doesn’t quite fit with that approach.
This “generous” offer was accompanied by a $99 annual fee. Still cheaper than a flight in most cases, but why in the world would you pay $99 for the privilege to go into debt?
Backed by an Airline
If there is one industry that can compete with the government for proving it cannot handle money well, it is the airline industry. A company that charges me to: board the plane (and pay extra for a decent seat), bring my luggage, have a snack (no free peanuts!), use the internet, watch a movie, etc., etc. is clearly a company that I need to watch my pennies around.
Rewards Rarely Get Redeemed
Studies by the credit card industry bear out that $48 billion worth of credit card rewards points go unredeemed each year. This is why the companies can be so “generous” in offering the rewards, because they know you aren’t going to use them!
We’ve all had it happen to us – we sign up for something, thinking it is an amazing deal only to learn later (always too late) that there was a catch. Maybe on this one it is blackout dates, maybe there is a hidden fee, maybe it is the rule that you must apply in person, have your application personally approved by the pilot, dance an Irish river dance and clean the plane upon landing…with your toothbrush. Who knows? I stayed far enough away from that “snake on a plane” offer to find out.