This is the 14th of my 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 ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
Let’s be honest. I doubt that many Head for Points reader actually have the Ryanair credit card! But have we all been making a big mistake?!
Link: Ryanair MasterCard official page
About the card
The Ryanair MasterCard is issued by Santander. They are not major players in the loyalty credit card market, and I think they inherited this card when they took over GE Bank’s card portfolio.
What is the sign-up bonus?
The sign-up bonus has been constant over the last year or so.
On paper it is attractive, offering up to 5 free flights in your first year, and 4 free flights per year thereafter. You get the first flight when you spend £100, two more if you spend £3000 in your first six months and two more if you spend £3000 in your second six months.
It’s Ryanair. What is the small print?
Here is the first ‘catch’ – the six month periods do NOT run from the date you open the card. There are 2 six month spend periods in a year. One runs from 11th December to 10th June inclusive and the other from 11th June to 10th December.
To be fair to Ryanair, some of the other rules are actually very generous:
- If you only spend between £1500 and £3000 in a six month period, you still get 1 free flight voucher
- If you spend over £3000 in a six month period, the excess is carried over (up to a maximum of £3000) into the next period
- They count cash withdrawals on your credit card as part of the £3000 calculation
What are the rules on redeeming my free flights?
Here are the relevant rules:
Flights must be redeemed by the cardholder, except when two vouchers are earned in one period, when you can travel with a friend
Flights are subject to availability, seats may not be available even if seats are for normal retail sale
Vouchers are valid for 8 months from the date of issue and the Give-Away Flight must be booked and taken prior to the expiry date
July and August are completely blocked for redemption
Some routes – not named – are completely excluded for redemption
Flights must be booked one month before travel
Taxes must be paid on the Ryanair MasterCard, which will attact the credit card payment fee (!)
Any other benefits?
There is talk of ‘exclusive cardholder benefits’ but they seem to consist of a few pounds off digital photo gifts – nothing life changing.
What is the annual fee?
There is no annual fee.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
There is no points scheme. However, the ‘free flights’ bonus runs for each year you hold the card, so you will earn 4 free flights a year if you spend £6,000.
What are the free flights worth?
No idea! However, this could be a decent deal for someone who flies Ryanair (and many people do, not through choice but because they serve destinations that others do not. Second-home owners in Europe are often in this category, as are a lot of people outside London who live near a Ryanair hub.)
You will, of course, have to pay full taxes on top of your ‘free’ flight. Since taxes make up the bulk of the cost of a Ryanair flight, the benefit is not huge. However, you only need to spend £6,000 to get your four free flights.
Arguably, even if you only got £15 of value for each free flight, you are getting 1% back on the £6,000 of spending. You could probably do better than this before you started coming up against ‘black out dates’.
Other points to note
You need to ring Ryanair to book your free flights, on a 10p per minute – from a landline – telephone number. I don’t know if there are further offline booking fees.
The Head for Points Verdict:
I genuinely don’t know enough about how easy it is to redeem the free flights or what extra offline booking and premium rate telephone charges may be involved. It is not fair to rate the card on this basis.
I am interested to hear from anyone who actually has one about their experiences of trying to redeem their flights.
(Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.)