This is the sixth of my series series of posts looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether of not they are worth applying for. These posts will be linked to the relevant sections of the Cards Update page. Click here to see previous entries on Lufthansa, American Airlines, Marriott, Tesco and Hilton
This has been the trickiest card to evaluate so far, to be honest. Flybe and its loyalty scheme has completely passed me by before today. But is the card worth a look?
About the card
The Flybe MasterCard is issued by Sygma Bank. Sygma is part of Creation, who also operate the Marriott Rewards card and numerous retailer and football club credit cards. Creation may not be a familiar name but they are behind many store cards and are owned by a joint venture between French bank BNP Paribas and French store chain Galerie Lafeyette.
What is the sign-up bonus?
The current offer is for one free return flight on any Flybe route to / from the UK and Ireland, excluding the longer routes to Spain, Portugal and Croatia. Taxes and other charges are still due – this is a key problem, as we will see.
You will also receive two lounge passes, allowing two pre-flight visits to a Flybe lounge.
This is worse than the offer earlier in the Summer, which offered two free return flights – one on application and one after spending £500.
Any other benefits?
A few, but nothing radical. 10% off Avis car rentals worldwide, 5% off car parking via Holiday Extras and some minor hotel and travel money benefits. Nothing you couldn’t better elsewhere with very little research.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
It’s not as simple as that. The Flybe reward scheme is called Rewards4all. You will earn 1 point for every £250 you spend on the card, which can be redeemed for flights or lounge access.
It is not clear whether the points awarded are based purely on spend in each statement period, or if unused spend is carried over – ie if you spend £600 in Month 1 and receive 2 points for spending £500, does the other £100 carry forward to next month? If not, a cardholder could spend a lot of time juggling the timing of purchases to get as close to a £250 multiple each month as possible.
What is a Flybe point worth?
The Rewards4all scheme is outlined here. The rewards are:
- 16 Reward Points (£4k spend) = 1 Economy return flight within the UK and/or within ROI
- 22 Reward Points (£5.5k spend) = 1 Economy Plus return flight within the UK and/or within ROI
- 24 Reward Points (£6k spend) = 1 Economy return flight between UK and Europe (not Spain, Portugal or Croatia)
- 30 Reward Points (£7.5k spend) = 1 Economy Plus return flight between UK and Europe (not Spain, Portugal or Croatia)
On the face of it, this compares OK with the Avios scheme when looking at the spend required for a redemption flight. Note that Flybe has baggage charges for Economy flights. An Economy Plus flight gives you a decent free baggage allowance, as well as lounge access and free drinks and snacks.
You can also earn Reward Points when flying with Flybe, either 1 or 2 points per sector depending on booking class.
As a budget airline, taxes and charges make up a huge percentage of the fare. A random return trip from Southampton to Dusseldorf, for example, was £100 of which £76 was taxes. You would therefore only be getting £24 of value from the £6,000 of credit card spend required to redeem for this flight.
You also need to remember that, with Avios redemptions, taxes are capped at £27 with Reward Saver. This is a massive disadvantage for the Flybe programme. Unless you are flying to or from a region not served by BA it is difficult to see the value of a Rewards4all redemption.
Other points to note
There is a nasty expiry policy on points earned from the credit card, which disappear 12 months after they are earned. Points earned from flying do not expire for 2 years (not that 2 years is generous either!). There are some other tweaks which may surprise Avios collectors:
- you cannot book one-way redemptions,
- changes are free for Economy Plus redemptions but a shocking £32.50 per sector for Economy redemptions, and
- reward flights are non-refundable.
There is this interesting comment on the website as well: “Discounted web fares may occasionally be available at a lower cost (including taxes & charges) than equivalent reward flights“. This means that you may end up being asked for £100 in ‘taxes and charges’ to book your redemption flight, whilst a cash ticket for the same flight is available for £80!
I have no idea how good or bad ‘free’ flight availability is with Flybe.
The Head for Points Verdict:
Score for the sign-up bonus – 3/10. This is on the basis that the card is free and that you are probably getting £30 to £40 of value for your ‘free flight’ when adding in the taxes. The two lounges passes will also benefit anyone who uses Flybe.
Score for on-going earning – 3/10. Poor, not because of the points required for a free flight but because of the level of taxes that are still required. The nasty 1-year expiry policy on your points is also a negative. That said, if you regularly fly on a specific Flybe route then you may value the points more highly – although I would suggest you compare with a good cashback credit card, using the cashback to pay for tickets!