Allegiant Airlines, the ultra low cost carrier based in Las Vegas, NV is really making a hard push for their Allegiant World MasterCard again. The card has been around for awhile but as of late I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount of promotions they’re pumping out for it.
Since it’s inception, this card has received overwhelmingly negative reviews from basically everyone. After being bombarded with so many promotions I decided to dive back into it and see if the card has made any changes for the better.
First… a disclaimer: I won’t address interest rates in this or any post. If you’re looking into credit cards for the points, you’ll ALWAYS negate the value of those points if you carry a balance. Never spend more than you can afford to spend.
Trying to make the case:
Despite the card’s many flaws, it does have some solid perks that are worth discussing.
First and foremost… FREE BEER: This airline may drive you to drink, but the the Allegiant World Mastercard has you covered. If you show your card you’ll get one free drink on every flight. I skimmed the fine print expecting to come across the legal mumbo jumbo from the no-fun-police that specified that this only applied to non-alcoholic drinks but it somehow doesn’t exist. You can get free beer! I should probably mention that every time I’ve flown with them the only options were Mich Ultra and Bud Light but hey… don’t look a gift horse (or Clydesdale) in the mouth. This card pays for itself in beer with 5 round trip flights per year… I guess that’s something.
Priority boarding: I never got the point of this. Nobody in the history of ever has said “Oh boy, I can’t wait to leave this perfectly respectable seat at the airport and go sit on the cramped basic economy ULCC Allegiant plane longer than everyone else! If this tickles your fancy though… there you go. For me, talk to me when I can get OFF the plane first. Then we can talk about paying an annual fee for a card with an otherwise questionable return rate.
No blackout dates: This shouldn’t be overly surprising since they probably have a very low number of award flights anyway since this card is the ONLY way to earn miles with Allegiant but it’s worth noting that there are no blackout dates ever so you’ll have no problem redeeming your miles.
Great if you buy vacation packages: If you buy vacation packages from Allegiant this card suddenly becomes a much more enticing option. You’ll earn 3x the points per dollar and buy one get one free airfare but only when you purchase a vacation package from Allegiant with four or more hotel nights or seven or more rental car days on the same itinerary. I’ve actually booked rental cars through Allegiant and their rates are extremely competitive but I have a hard time staying that many nights at a hotel without taking advantage of the hotel’s loyalty programs and booking through them directly. To each his (or her) own though.
The Sign Up Bonus: As of March 2018, the sign up bonus is quite good. You’ll earn 15,000 Bonus Points (equal to $150 off your next Allegiant trip) with an easily attainable spend of $1000 in purchases in your first 90 days. That makes the annual fee very easy to justify for your first year.
Now for the bad news:
There isn’t REALLY a frequent flyer program: One of the biggest selling points of the card is that it keeps your points from expiring. As someone who applied for the otherwise terrible Frontier Airlines no-annual-fee World Mastercard specifically for this reason, I won’t judge. There’s a big difference though and that’s that you ONLY earn points with the credit card… not because you actually flew with Allegiant. They don’t really have a Frequent Flyer program in the traditional sense so you can’t justify the card as a way to keep points from expiring. You’ll never get any points to begin with unless you use the card.
The low earning rate makes the annual fee hard to justify: Despite the fact that the card’s earning rate is a paltry 1 cent per dollar (except on Allegiant purchases), the card charges a $59 annual fee. That means that you would need to spend almost $6,000 just to break even on this thing (and you’re only breaking even if you ignore the fact that if you had spent that same $6,000 on a good credit card that would also come with a decent amount of points that carry some actual value). This is easy to justify in year one with the sign up bonus, but tough after that.
You’ll also have a hard time getting many points on Allegiant purchases unless you book vacation packages since their airfare is generally so cheap anyway. Also, by booking vacation packages through Allegiant and maximizing the value you’ll get out of them you’re going to be spending at least 4 days at a hotel where you could be building up status and hotel rewards if you book with them directly so that’s kind of a waste.
The Allegiant World MasterCard falls short of many general travel rewards cards, even some that don’t carry an annual fee. The Sign up offer is solid but it’s value goes way down after the first year to the point where it would be hard to justify for the majority of people. This can be a good card for you, but only if you fly with Allegiant often enough that you can basically pay for it in booze or if you frequently book travel packages through the airline. Even then, I wouldn’t recommend using this card for ANYTHING other than Allegiant purchases unless you feel like buying something super cheap every once in awhile just to keep it open like a Coke out of a vending machine, a pack of Ramen Noodles or round trip airfare on Allegiant Airlines.