This is the 14th of my series of article looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether of not they are worth applying for. These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Card Offers‘ 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?!
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.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2023 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:
SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 30,000 points bonus, worth 30,000 Avios, until 4th February 2023 Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.