Aer credit card proves there’s no such thing as a free flight

The card from Aer Lingus and BoI promises great rewards – but read the small print

Christine Hamill, head of retail cards at Bank of Ireland, and Susanne Carberry, director of network revenue and loyalty at Aer Lingus, launching the new Aer credit card. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

Christine Hamill, head of retail cards at Bank of Ireland, and Susanne Carberry, director of network revenue and loyalty at Aer Lingus, launching the new Aer credit card. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

 

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Take the new Aer credit card from Bank of Ireland and Aer Lingus, which was launched on Monday with the promise of free flights and other potential rewards.

The Irish credit card market has been short of a decent rewards scheme for some time now. So Cantillon’s spirits were lifted at the thought of a post-January jaunt to the United States courtesy of this new card, notwithstanding the fact that you have to pay €30 in Government stamp duty each time you take out a new credit card.

However, our excitement at the offers – including two fast-track and priority boarding passes, two lounge passes, annual multi-trip family travel insurance, Avios flight points – was soon dashed when we read the all-important small print.

Yes, the card does offer free flights as well as the aforementioned benefits, but you would do well to claim them all.

First of all, you have to pay a monthly fee of €7.99 just to keep the card in your wallet, so that’s €96 you’re out of pocket straight away. Secondly, you’re going to pay an annual APR of 26.6 per cent on your purchases, which could put an even bigger dent in your pocket and is one of the highest rates in the Irish market.

A lower rate is available as part of an instalment plan, and there is a zero rate introductory offer. You’ll also pay nothing, of course, if you pay the bill each month in full. But it’s still a hefty rate.

While the value of the annual travel insurance policy is given as €157, it would want to be a gold-plated policy. A family can get two years of worldwide travel insurance (including the US) with multitrip.com for the same price.

What of the free flights? You’ll have to spend €5,000 a year on your credit card first. Cash advances are excluded from this calculation.

And the free flights are to Europe only. You’ll also have to pay the taxes yourself and book at least 30 days in advance. In addition, it doesn’t apply during restricted periods, which is probably when you’ll want to fly. There goes springtime in New York.