Known for its no-frills service, flights to under-served destinations (residents of Belleville, Illinois, deserve vacations, too!) and dirt-cheap fares (fly from Belleville, Illinois, to Orlando for under $200!), Allegiant has been targeting bargain-loving travelers for quite some time.
It’s going after the same audience with its new rewards credit card from Bank of America – the Allegiant World MasterCard ($59 annual fee). In fact, this is the first time Allegiant has set foot in the rewards realm (it doesn’t even have a frequent-flier program).
The card may appeal to (and maybe even make financial sense for) a small subset of travelers. But we gave it a low rating because we think most fliers can do better.
The card charges the following fees:
- $59 annual fee
- 3 percent foreign transaction fee
Allegiant also charges a rare fee worth knowing about – credit card surcharge fees. You could pay up to $8 each way per passenger if you use a credit card (even the Allegiant World MasterCard) to book your flight:
Earning and redeeming
The card rewards points as follows:
- 3 points per $1 on Allegiant purchases. This applies to airfares and other travel that Allegiant sells (including hotel and rental car bookings, and activities/excursions).
- 2 points per $1 on dining
- 1 point per $1 on other purchases
The card is also offering a sign-up bonus of 15,000 points if you spend $1,000 or more on the card within the first 90 days.
Points are worth 1 cent each toward travel purchases on Allegiant.com – and there’s no redemption minimum, meaning you choose how many points you want to redeem. That makes this program different from most other carriers’ programs. In fact, technically, Allegiant still doesn’t have a frequent-flier program. The only way to earn points is the card – and you redeem those points like cash. So they’re not “miles” in the traditional sense.
Like Allegiant itself, the card comes with sparse benefits, but it does have a few, including:
- Priority boarding. You don’t technically have to pay with the card to get this – just show it when you fly).
- Free beverage. You get one every time you fly Allegiant and show your card.
- Buy-one-get-one-free airfare. Use your card to purchase a vacation package from Allegiant (with four or more hotel nights OR seven or more rental car days), one airfare per purchased itinerary will be free.
Note that this card leaves off one of the most common airline-card benefits: Free checked bags. Also note that Allegiant charges for checked and carry-on luggage (fees vary by destination and whether you pay before departure or at the airport).
So is it a good card or not?
As with all cards, we’re going to start with the old YMMV (your mileage may vary) disclaimer. It depends on what you’re looking for in a card and in an airline.
But we’ll also say most travelers (even Allegiant fliers) can do better by passing on the Allegiant card and using another travel rewards card (or even a cash-back card).
Allegiant has been billing this card as the “travel card for infrequent fliers.” Allegiant knows many of its fliers are using it to take a vacation once a year. And that they’re looking for the cheapest way to get there. So, their card encourages them to earn points on regular purchases throughout the year and then cash them in for that yearly vacation.
Here’s the thing though – you can still do that AND take advantage of that $160 round-trip flight from Cleveland to Fort Meyers by using another credit card. Because Allegiant doesn’t even waive credit card surcharges for its own card, you have nothing to lose (and possibly something to gain) by using one of the following:
- Capital One Venture: If you’re willing to pay a $59 annual fee, consider the Capital One Venture card, which rewards 2X miles on every purchase. Those rewards can be cashed in (at 1 cent each) for travel purchases on any airline or hotel stay. This card also waives foreign transaction fees.
- Discover it Miles: Avoid annual fees entirely by opting for the Discover it Miles card. You’ll earn 1.5 miles (worth 1 cent each) that can be redeemed for any travel purchase or even cash back. It also waives foreign transaction fees and gives an onboard Wi-Fi credit. Plus, Discover doubles all the miles you earn in Year 1.
- Blue Cash Everyday: The Allegiant card touts the ability to save points for future vacations by making everyday purchases. While the Blue Cash Everyday from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) doesn’t have a dining category, it has gas and grocery bonus categories. Plus, (as of Sept. 2016), it’s offering 5 percent back on travel (for up to $4,000 in purchases) during the first six months. You’ll redeem for cash-back statement credits, meaning you can use your rewards on absolutely anything.
- The many cards that offer an unlimited 1.5 percent back: It’s a trend for banks to offer 1.5 percent cash-back cards. We have a list of all of those cards here. True, the Allegiant World MasterCard offers 3 points per dollar on purchases. But if you’re only flying once a year, you may be better of earning 1.5 percent back on everything.
If you frequently fly Allegiant (and thus frequently earn 3 points per dollar on airfares), you could conceivably get a free flight out of this card. But, for infrequent fliers (the very demographic the card is courting), you have plenty of better options.
Why we gave it 2 out of 5 stars
This card’s rating is based on our standards for co-branded airline rewards cards.
The card got docked primarily for having an annual fee and not many perks to show for it, as well as some consumer-unfriendly terms.
|Bonus-earning opportunities: The card earns this star with an advertised sign-up bonus and a bonus category outside airline purchases (dining, in this case)|
|Rewards flexibility/simplicity: We rewarded half a star, due to the cash-like nature of the points. However, points expire (after 12 months of account inactivity), and there’s no ability to use points with airline partners.|
|Unique travel perks: The card falls short on perks for travelers.|
|Companion benefits: The card gets half a star for the BOGO special on vacation packages. However, there are so many strings attached (including the length of the trip), that it’s not consumer-friendly enough for a full star.|
|Fair fees: This card has no travel perks whose monetary value offsets the annual fee. It also charges foreign-transaction fees, which we penalize travel cards for doing. In addition, it does not waive card surcharge fees for its own credit card.|