2014 Credit Card Companion Ticket Offer Reviews

Posted by CreditCardGuru

airline ticketsNowadays airfare is so expensive, it sometimes costs a small fortune just to fly somewhere with your spouse or family. Credit cards with companion tickets are one way to save money when are traveling with others. But just because an airline credit card offers companion tickets as a benefit doesn’t mean your travel buddy really gets a completely free ride.

Let’s take a look at your options for 2014. Please keep in mind that, with all of these offers, you will still have to pay any applicable government taxes and fees on the second ticket for your companion (fortunately those are pretty reasonable on domestic flights).

Delta Airlines companion ticket:

Some (but not all) of the the Delta AmEx cards include a companion airfare benefit that you get once per year of membership.

  • Delta PlatinumThe Platinum Delta SkyMiles card has a $150 annual fee, but it comes with an almost free companion ticket each year of cardmembership. You just have to pay the applicable taxes and fees on the second ticket, which will range from $22 to $68, according to AmEx. It can be used for a round-trip economy class flight within the 48 contiguous United States. That alone could make the card worth it, but when you consider the included benefits like Zone 1 Priority Boarding and the ability to check your first bag for free, this card is money well spent, even if you travel only once per year. Terms and restrictions apply.
  • The Delta Reserve card has a $450 annual fee so it will make sense only for die-hard travelers. You get a companion voucher once per year, but unlike the card above, you can redeem it for an economy or first-class fare within the 48 contiguous United States. As with the Platinum card, you’ll need to pay any taxes and fees associated with the ticket. Even though the annual fee is high, it can be worth it if you use the voucher for a first-class flight (because you know how much those flights cost normally). Terms and Restrictions apply.

Or for a more in-depth review, you can compare all 3 Delta SkyMiles cards side by side here.

US Airways companion ticket:

Barclays US Airways MasterCardTheir Premier World MasterCard has an annual fee of $89, which is pretty reasonable, considering that it scores you two companion tickets per year for $99 each (plus any taxes or fees). The benefits aren’t too shabby either:  Zone 2 priority boarding, first-class check-in and, once per year, a US Airways Club day pass for free.

The companion tickets are good for travel within the continental U.S. or Canada. To use them, the cardholder must have purchased a ticket for at least $250.

I think this would be most useful if you have a family of 4 or more. Mom and dad could buy tickets for themselves and the two kids could fly for $99 each thanks to the vouchers.

Right now there is a good sign-up offer for this card.

Virgin American discount benefit:

Virgin America credit cardThis is a bit different than the others. As a cardmember, once per year you can buy a companion ticket and get $150 off the price. So rather than paying a pre-determined amount for the airline companion ticket, this credit card gives you a straight $150 off on a full-fare economy ticket. If the ticket you buy is less than $150, you forfeit the rest of the discount.

I’m a huge fan of this card for several reasons:

  • The annual fee is only $49.
  • Your points are worth more. Each point is worth a pretty consistent 2.2 cents toward award airfare.
  • There are no blackout dates and no seat restrictions

To see the current bonus offer, check out my Virgin America review.

The Platinum Card from American Express:

AmEx PlatinumFor those who travel internationally and fly business class, this charge card’s companion ticket offer is an incredible value even though it has an annual fee of $450.

Simply purchase a qualifying international business- or first-class ticket through AmEx, and you get complimentary companion airfare for free. You do, however have to pay the applicable taxes and fees on the second ticket (which can range from $52 to $365 round trip) and fuel surcharges, which can give you major sticker shock — fuel surcharges can be upwards of $2,000 on some routes.

You’re also limited a bit when it comes to airlines, as only flights booked on participating partners are eligible for this benefit. There are currently 28 airlines participating, including Delta, British Airways, Lufthansa, South Africa Airways and AeroMexico.

Despite the costs and limitations, considering how expensive international first-class tickets can be, the companion benefit can still save you thousands — and there’s no limit to how many you can take advantage of the benefit per year.

Check out our review of the Platinum Card from AmEx to find out more. American express is a CreditCardForum advertising partner.

Hawaiian Airlines companion ticket

Hawaiian airlines credit cardThe Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard has two companion ticket discounts. The first can be used just once: 50 percent off the price of a companion’s ticket on a coach round trip between Hawaii and the continental U.S. The second can be used once each year of cardmembership: $100 off a coach companion ticket (on a round trip between Hawaii and the continental U.S. In both cases, you still have to pay any fees and taxes associated with the fare.

You can apply for the card here (and go for the 35,000-mile sign-up bonus they’re offering right now).

Alaska Airlines companion ticket:

Alaska Airlines Visa cardOnce per year, cardmembers can purchase a companion ticket for $99 plus applicable fees and taxes (which start at $19). The card’s annual fee is $75, which is a bit less than the other guys, but I’m still not the biggest fan of this card. Why? As it is issued by Bank of America, a reputation for less than stellar customer service, rightly or wrongly, might apply.

This article was written or last updated March 12, 2014.


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Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

19 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Ron July 9, 2013 at 7:26AM

    Platinum American Express Companion Fares are a rip!!! They can only be used for round trips, for a duration of no longer then 30 days, and not to be used on all Airlines. The only good thing is “free luggage”. I will not renew my Platinum Card when due!

    • Ganesh March 6, 2014 at 6:19PM

      On the contrary, I found Platinum AMEX to be a great benefit. You probably did not work closely with a travel advisor, they can really help you get the best deal and partner flies free.

      Although I have a complaint about this website. Too many “embedded” words that are nothing but hustles for products and services. I will definitely not visit this website again. It SUKCS!

  2. rakeshp December 4, 2012 at 8:27AM

    Sal, Bro….I will answer your questions on spirit below:

    1. Are there black out dates for air travel? No…but there are much less travel results to pick from. Hey you will save money most of the times.
    2. Do I have to buy a “full fare” in order to get a companion ticket? Is this an annual benefit? Yes it is buy one airfare, taxes on the 2nd passenger, more than normal amt of tax but you save a lot of money anyways.
    3. Is there a phone number for “Spirit Incentives” desk where I can talk to a real person, if questions arise? Yes there is a number.

    This is not a scam bro. So what if Citi uses a third party. Thankyou rewards is third party for any credit card you have. Credit monitoring is another third party….and so on, so don’t let their party scare you. This is official.

  3. rakeshp December 4, 2012 at 8:23AM

    Hello, I am a long time Citi card holder and their companion airfare benefit is awesome. They have their own website called spirit incentives and I save money each and everytime I use this service. I’m talking $200+ savings for 2 people compared to Kayak.

    Folks I am just a customer and the benefit is awesome. Also I get 1 point for every mile that I fly and the points for the ticket amount. I benefit in a number of ways. Plus it is airline neutral….just about all the major airlines are members of the service. Can’t beat this program.

    • Daman1973 September 7, 2013 at 3:20PM

      I had a great experience with citi…. Just purchased a ticket for me, my son, and an infant lap passenger from Newark nj to Orlando fl… Total cost…. $299. (Tax and fees included). Unfortunately the program will end 10/31/2013.

    • cuda22 September 13, 2013 at 12:21PM

      I have this card and loved it. However they are discontinuing the companion fly free in October 2013. I really hat this and that was the only reason I took it out. Real bumber.

    • caroline February 20, 2014 at 7:38AM

      Hi,which citicard you use it?I was citi card holder,they discontinued the program since august.

    • red50 March 4, 2014 at 8:52PM

      I have this citi card also and was very happy with the travel benefits for the companion ticket; however, they have discontinued this benefit recently so I am seriously thinking of applying for another card with better benefits at this time.

  4. Kristen November 27, 2012 at 8:06AM

    Delta gold Amex card no longer includes the companion fare. I called and asked-they’ve dropped that benefit.

    • Michael November 28, 2012 at 4:25PM

      You are correct the benefit is going away, but not until Jan 25th, 2013. I called customer service and they said if you apply and are approved from now thru Jan 24th 2013 (the day before it changes) then you will still get the companion benefit for your first year.

  5. Cinci Ed August 22, 2012 at 8:21AM

    This is about Citicard ThankYou Premier credit cards that offer a free companion ticket annually to members holding the card.

    Based on today’s experience, I think the companion ticket program is a scam.

    I am in the process of arranging a trip with my wife for December from Cincinnati, OH to New York.

    First, I checked my usual airline, Delta and found plenty of availability with a total round trip ticket price (including all taxes and fees). of $388.10 for a non-stop flight.

    Then I went onto thankyoucompanion.com to book and get my “free” companion ticket. They offered five options. All via US Airways with a stop in Philadelphia for a total ticket price of $482.74.

    When I call the people at the companion ticket reward desk and asked them why they don’t offer a Delta direct flight they replied that their web site only posts the least expensive ticket available at the time.

    Then I pointed out that Delta offers a direct flight for $94.64 less, so why not list the Delta option. The person at the companion ticket reward desk did not have an answer and said that she didn’t work for Citicorp and I would have to contact Citicard customer service directly.

    After some circular phoning – from Citicard rep to Citicard rep, I finally spoke to Krystal, a supervisor in South Dakota (maybe). She could not tell me why the site did not offer the Delta direct and cheaper option, but would offer me a $50.00 discount to make me happy. Well it doesn’t.

    Seems to me that Citicard when promoting this program did not point out that the companion program would default to the cheapest and perhaps non-direct flights.

    Meanwhile, their program does not follow their own rules that would have got me a cheaper ticket on a direct flight.

    So there it is. Scammed again.

    Ed
    Cincinnati, OH

  6. Alaska air rip off July 26, 2012 at 8:56AM

    Cost of the Alaska Visa card and your portion of the fare on companion tickets has been going up for 10 years, but now no First Class. I am not renewing.

  7. Robert July 11, 2012 at 9:55AM

    We just got a notice from Alaska Airlines that the Companion Ticket will soon only be usable for coach class tickets. You won’t be able to use them for First Class.

  8. Greg January 24, 2012 at 7:31AM

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I signed up with American express platinum and was able to fly with my wife for the cost of one ticket. Was simply amazing.

    • Tracie January 27, 2012 at 7:38AM

      The AMEX website states that companion tickets are subject to government taxes/fees from $50 to $500 roundtrip and may also have airline-imposed fuel surcharges of up to $800. The customer is responsible for these charges, correct? So the companion ticket is not actually “free”?

      • pat May 2, 2013 at 12:31PM

        I use Amex ALL THE TIME. Companion ticket was about 50.00 (plus the 99.00), maybe more depending on where you are flying. But I was told to upgrade to platinum so I did and now the companion ticket is free just pay taxes of about 40.00. just the free luggage is worth the cost of the card but a free companion ticket to boot is a super deal!

    • Ron July 9, 2013 at 7:29AM

      Try using it one way, can’t be done

  9. Pedro C January 20, 2012 at 9:44AM

    I’ve spent the last 2 hours trying to book a Thankyou Premier companion ticket (using their portal thankyoucompanion.com run by Spirit Incentives.) The assessment: it’s hit or miss, usually miss, and bordering on being a scam.

    Problem #1: The inventory of tickets is *extremely* limited. Here’s how it works: you type in a route, and the engine only shows you the lowest 1-15 itineraries for that route. So for example, if you want the nonstop route and that is more expensive, you are out of luck. If you want a flight that is not a redeye and a redeye flight dominates the list of cheapest itineraries, you are out of luck (this is what I am facing right now.)

    Sometimes the cheapest routes are completely unreasonable. I wanted to fly from Aspen to Boston, and the only route listed was had 3 layovers and took 20 hours, overnight. Are you kidding me?

    If the cheapest route is one that is acceptable, then you are in luck. But it’s a roulette game.

    Problem #2: They mark all prices up by 30%, compared to say, Orbitz.com. Still not a bad deal if you can find a decent itinerary. I don’t think the extra 30% comes from a requirement to purchase a certain fare class — it looks like a pure markup.

    All around, pretty scammy, and definitely not a “free” domestic ticket, as advertised.

  10. Sal January 12, 2012 at 9:27PM

    The Citibank’s Thank you Premier card requires you to book air travel through a travel company called “Spirit Incentives”. What is this company?? This company is apparently affiliated with American Airlines which just filed bankruptcy. It worries me that I would have to book my airfare through a separate travel desk that might not have a phone number. So my questions are:

    1. Are there black out dates for air travel?
    2. Do I have to buy a “full fare” in order to get a companion ticket? Is this an annual benefit?
    3. Is there a phone number for “Spirit Incentives” desk where I can talk to a real person, if questions arise?

    -Sal

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