Airlines Beef Up Credit Card Perks

by Mercator Advisory Group 0

Airline cards are noted for having new incentive levels and appeals for a mature rewards card product. Competition for the high-spending, low-risk consumers that typically select airline cards has increased post-recession.

Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com and author of “How You Can Profit from Credit Cards,” said the rewards card market in general — for cash back, points and airlines miles — has heated up over the past year or so. “Airline rewards offering very generous sign-up bonuses have been sort of a byproduct of the overall market upswing,” he said.

However, initial bonuses right now are so generous that the trend will probably be short-lived, and card issuers are likely to reduce them, Pearson said. “That will shake out of the system pretty quickly,” he said. “If you’re spending too much money to bring the customer in at the beginning, it’s not a sustainable value proposition. It won’t take long for somebody in the organization to cut that off at the knees.”

Mileage bonuses of 25,000 miles or more have become common sign-up incentives. But programs are evolving benefits beyond the miles themselves.

Some cards include priority boarding, a perk usually reserved for travelers with an elevated frequent-flier status or for those who paid extra to board early. In general, airline cards accelerate accumulation of miles toward higher flier statuses, which open their own box of goodies, such as express check-in and complimentary upgrades.Ai

Foreign transaction fee waivers and waivers of bag check fees are also elements of some leading programs.

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