Free Flights! Free Money! Are the credit card freebies too good to be true?

30 May 2011

ccardsHappy Bank Holiday! And in true-to-British-summer form it’s persisting down. So to cheer you up, as if a (free) day off work weren’t good enough, we thought we’d look at what else you can get for free  from those lovely and generous credit card people.

A quick scout around show that the ‘best’ freebies around include flights and gift card vouchers. The three main bucket airlines are first off the blocks with BMI, FlyBe and Ryanair all offering free flights to thank you for availing yourself of their credit.

BMI (note, not BMI Baby)’s AMEX card will give you 20,000 points if you spend £250 in 90 days on it. This amount of points will get you a free business class flight to Majorca (18,000 points and apparently not an oxymoron) or two shorter, non-Business flights to somewhere a bit nearer, like say France.

FlyBe and Ryanair both offer a free return European flight when you get their credit card with a minimum spend of just 1p for FlyBe and £100 on the Ryanair card . Note, however, that without a trace of irony, these free flights for all three airlines do not include taxes and charges. What a great deal. In addition, according to MoneySavingExpert.com, finding flights to book with the FlyBe vouchers can be difficult due to poor availability, and you have to call an expensive phone number in order to get your flights. It’s probably just a coincidence.

So what about vouchers then? Well the cashback card Amex rewards is currently giving away 6,000 bonus points for each month out of the first three that you spend over £500. Each point is worth 0.5p, so the full 18,000 is worth £90, which can then be converted into gift cards to spend at M&S, House of Fraser, Amazon, Boots, HMV, Waterstones, iTunes, Homebase, Comet, Net-a-Porter & more.  Not bad. And certainly better than the Play.com card which gives you a measly £15 voucher if you spend £150 on its card in the first 3 months. But still, better than nothing eh?

Or is it? Unsurprisingly, these cards do not offer the best APR on the market, with the examples above offering between 16.9% (BMI Amex and Play.com) and a whopping 19.9% (Ryanair. Of course) which is more than double the cheapest standard rate available (9.9% with Capital One) according to Moneyfacts.com .

Or, even better, both Marks and Spencer and Tesco are offering credit cards with 0% interest for 15 months. Depending on how much your monthly spend might be, this could save you well over the cost of a 1p Ryanair flight, or £90 vouchers etc.

Bottom line? The credit card companies are out to snag you and extract cash from you in interest payments- if they can offer you a shiny freebie to draw you in all well and good. But they have probably done their sums first, so make sure you do yours...

TOPICS:   Credit Cards   Freebies

9 comments

  • Gunn
    Aren't most people savvy now about these so called "free" gifts. the Capital one isnt a bad card at all, good low rate and 1% cashback on all purchases, it does have a yearly fee but it should be covered by the cashback if you spend over £1800 on it for the year.
  • callum
    I have the flybe card and it's almost impossible to find availability, no matter how far in advance you look. Plus they don't really go anywhere I would want to go to that Ryanair doesn't serve - a paid flight on Ryanair being far cheaper than a "free" flight on Flybe. When I did finally find a fare I could book, it was £62 in taxes (on a domestic flight!). I then went through their normal booking system, and found the same flight was £60. So not only would I be spending a fortune on a "free flight", I'll be paying MORE than anyone who booked it as a normal flight. Ridiculous!
  • PHProxy
    The AMEX platinum cashback CC seems the best. No fee, 5% cashback in the first 3 months (up to £100 cashback), then 1% after that.
  • FlyMaybe
    FlyBe have no decent availability (in most cases no availability) with their Rewards4All flights. They are a joke, plus on most occasions as mentioned the fuel surcharges, taxes, fee's etc.. often mean its more expensive than buying a regular ticket in advance. The one time you can book a decent flight chances are they are delayed or cancelled due to "Operational Reasons".
  • NGIH T.
    . I then went through their normal booking system, and found the same flight was £60. So not only would I be spending a fortune on a “free fligh
  • ngih t.
    £62 in taxes (on a domestic flight!). I then went through their normal booking system, and found the same flight was £60. So not only would I be spending a fortune on a “free flight”, I’ll be paying MORE than anyone who booked it as a normal fligh
  • Robert S.
    American Express Platinum cashback card is surely the best? No annual fee, 1.25% cash back in your pocket... If there's anything else better out there..let me know please!
  • Robert S.
    http://goo.gl/twEor
  • This a.
    Really the best travel multi-level marketing opportunity is now starting. Reserve your position now the least money an mlm has asked.

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