Well, I didn’t see that one coming! MBNA announced yesterday that they have launched a new UK credit card in conjunction with Etihad Guest, the loyalty programme for Abu Dhabi’s national airline.
The first thing to note is that the cards look very pretty!
The earnings rate is pretty decent as well.
As is becoming the norm, the cards come as a double pack of an American Express and a Visa. This is the same structure as the Virgin Flying Club, Miles & More and American Airlines cards from MBNA, and indeed the Lloyds TSB Duo Avios cards.
The Amex earns 1.5 Etihad Guest miles per £1
The Visa earns 0.75 Etihad Guest miles per £1
The cards have no annual fee.
But what’s the sign-up bonus?
Well, it’s OK but not a game changer. Sign up today and you will receive 5,000 Etihad Guest miles. You only need to spend £250 in 90 days to trigger the bonus.
That is not a bad deal for a free credit card, to be honest. However, I believe that you will see that figure creeping up from time to time. MBNA recently offered 15,000 miles in a targeted deal for the Miles & More card, for example, despite only offering 1,500 miles usually. And, of course, the free MBNA American Airlines cards are currently offering an exceptional 35,000 AAdvantage miles.
The bottom line is that, if you don’t already collect Etihad Guest miles, this card is not a good enough reason to start. For comparison, you would need (according to their calculator) 87,951 Etihad Guest miles for a return Business Class flight to Abu Dhabi and 110,450 for First Class. Ironically, redemption rates are cheaper when you use American Airlines miles to redeem on Etihad than using Etihad miles directly.
If you a serious collector of Etihad Guest miles, I would recommend that you focus in the short term on the Starwood Amex instead. As per this post, you currently get 20,000 Starwood points for signing up, and these are convertible into 25,000 Etihad Guest miles (or 25,000 Avios, amongst other things).
For on-going earning with Etihad, of course, the new Etihad Guest card is better than the Starwood Amex. The Starwood card would only earn you 1 Etihad Guest mile per £1 (1.25 if you convert in 20,000 point chunks) whilst this new MBNA package gets you 1.5 Etihad Guest miles on the Amex and the flexibility of the Visa card as well.
FREE promotion to Etihad Silver status and double / triple miles
There are three interesting extra perks which come with the card:
Double miles on Business Class flights taken with 90 days of account opening
Triple miles on First Class flights taken within 90 days of account opening
Promotion to Etihad Guest Silver status after one return flight within your first year of card membership
If you are a regular Etihad flyer in premium classes, the first two benefits are substantially more valuable to you than the 5,000 mile sign-up bonus. The Silver status upgrade is a ‘nice to have’ but – as Etihad is not in a major alliance – is not much use if you are only planning one flight with them.
Interestingly, this is the first card promotion I can think of that actually gives you a bonus for flying the airline concerned instead of simply using their card.
Etihad is clearly making a big push in the UK
I doubt that Etihad was top of MBNA’s list of target airline partners, so I assume that Etihad has offered them a good deal. It is also worth noting that Etihad became an American Express Membership Rewards partner last year. The airline is clearly trying to get traction for its loyalty programme in the UK market.
The card has been added to our ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page and I will update it with the latest sign-up bonus each month.