We’ve known it’s been coming for several months, we had our assumptions and now we have our answers. The Chase Aer Lingus card has launched, and with it, a grandiose 100K Avios signup bonus. At first glance, it appears to be a near-clone of it’s IAG peers, the Iberia and British Airways cards, also from Chase. High level view looks great, but after we dig in, things don’t look fantastic. Here are the basics:
|Chase Aer Lingus Visa Signature|
|Annual Fee||$95||Not waived year one|
|Spend Bonuses||Internatinal Airlines Group Purchases||3x Avios on all IAG purchases
Coming in at $95, the Chase Aer Lingus card is right smack in the middle of “normal” territory for a semi-premium card. Right in-line with with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi ThankYou Premier. Sadly, at launch, the annual fee is not waived. A courtesy the aforementioned cards both offer. This alone might cause anyone considering the card to give pause. We consider this a fail.
The signup bonus is actually pretty decent, for those who like big, round numbers. We’ve got 100K Avios total, 50K of them come when one spends $3,000 within three months of account opening. There are two additional bonus tiers, at $10K and $20K annual spends. Each of these milestones will net the cardholder an additional 25K Avios.
At it’s maximum value, we consider these combined bonuses worth $550. This is based on our most recent Aer Lingus Avios reckoning. If one plans to earn and burn, consider 50,000 are only worth $275.
The Chase Aer Lingus card offers 3x points on all International Airlines Group purchases. For those not fully caught up on global airline group mergers, this is the parent company of Aer Lingus. It only makes sense that purchases made with the airline’s corporate siblings would offer similar benefits. IAG airlines include British Airways, Iberia, OpenSkies and of course, Aer Lingus.
This is a niche benefit. Useful for those who regularly patronize any of the group’s members, but a bit worthless for anyone else. Personally, I much prefer the more general travel bonus offered on the Sapphire due.
For a moment, lets consider a hypothetical scenario. One in which two identical tickets are purchase via an IAG airline, both for $2000. One is purchased with the Chase Aer Lingus card and the other with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, here’s how things would net out:
|Card Used||Spend Bonus Earned||Value|
|Chase Aer Lingus card(3x IAG)||6000 Avios||$33.00|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred(2x travel)||4000 Ultimate Rewards||$87.60|
If you agree with our valuation method/results, then it becomes pretty clear which card has more earning potential. Even on Aer Lingus’ own metal, the Sapphire Preferred’s points haul is worth 165% more than the Chase Aer Lingus card’s.
Annual Companion Ticket – Potentially useful, likely not
The Chase Aer Lingus card provides the cardholder the opportunity to earn a single companion ticket each calendar year. As is often the case, details and restrictions outlined in the fine print really eat away at the value of this benefit.
What you’re essentially getting here, is an economy-only buddy pass when one spends $30,000 on the card in a calendar year. With this level of spend in mind, it’s safe to assume that the only person who might actually find value here is the “one-card wallet guy”. Certainly not I. Furthermore, the companion pass is limited to flights to/from the US and Ireland, on Aer Lingus metal. In my opinion, this exhaustive list of restrictions places a firm value of worthless on the Chase Aer Lingus companion pass.
Priority Boarding – Nice to have, not worth getting excited over
Straight from the fine print:
Primary cardmembers and authorized users are eligible for priority boarding on Aer Lingus operated flights only
If you really place a value on standing in the front-half of the line, then by all means, celebrate. Otherwise, don’t let this largely useless benefit sway your decision to apply one way or the other.
No FX Fees/Standard Visa Signature Benefits
Now we’re getting into the weeds and seeing what pretty much any other card in this class offers. First of all, foreign transaction fees shouldn’t even be a thing in 2018. The fact they’re still advertised as a benefit is ridiculous.
Other Visa Signature benefits like purchase protection, rental car insurance and fraud liability waivers apply.
Who is the Chase Aer Lingus Card For?
Two types of people. The first, are those that get really excited by shiny things. To this group, that big number up top, 100K, is all they need to hear. In their world, a point is a point, no matter what it can do. Trying to convince a member of this group that 50,000 Ultimate Rewards are worth more than 100K Avios is like trying to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.
The second, non-abstract, group includes people who frequently travel to Ireland/other Aer Lingus destinations. Maybe they just really like the carrier, Europe or have family in the region. For them, this card does make a bit of sense, especially if it’s the only card they use. If one is able to spend $30K, the companion pass is likely to yield some real value.
Ultimately, we’d recommend the average, US based traveler steer clear. It’s simply out-competed by other cards from Chase, Amex and Citi. Furthermore, we’ve seen some data points posted on several card-related forums that Chase is shutting down (all)accounts of cardholders whom frequently open and close cards. I’m certainly not risking my relationship with the company that offers what I consider the best award program, Ultimate Rewards, for a $275 signup bonus. Proceed with caution.