Editorial Policy

Issuers Roll Out Mega Bonuses for Airline Cards

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By Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D.
April 11, 2011

It’s official: The Capital One Match My Miles offer has come to an end. But if you missed out on this lucrative Capital One Venture Rewards Card offer, don’t despair. Other card issuers have stepped up to the plate, rolling out a bonanza of bonuses to match the Capital One offer.

Launched on March 10, the Capital One Match My Miles campaign for the Venture Rewards card offered to match the miles that new cardholders earned from other airline rewards cards. The clincher? Capital One would match as many as 100,000 miles for each new cardholder until the number of matched miles reached a total of one billion (yes, billion) miles.

How long does it take to give out a billion airline rewards miles? Well, the offer was so successful that Capital One hit their target in early April and closed down the program a month and a half before its May 13th ending date. (New cardholders who have already reserved the miles have until June to charge the $1,000 required to get the miles.)

However, if you missed the boat, take heart. With competition in the travel rewards credit card market surging, other travel rewards card issuers have rolled out not-to-be-missed bonus offers for new rewards card applicants.

Here is an overview of some of the best offers currently available to you if you have excellent credit.

British Airways Visa Signature card by Chase (100,000 bonus miles)
Chase has matched the Capital One Miles Challenge with a 100,000 BA Miles limited time offer on its British Airways Visa Signature card. If you are approved for the British Airways card, you will earn 50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase on the new card and another 50,000 miles if you charge $2,500 to the card within three months. Currently, the application deadline for this offer is set at May 6; but like the Capital One offer, it could close sooner.

With 100,000 miles in your account, you’ll have enough for about two roundtrip flights overseas. Not bad for anyone wishing to take their significant other to Europe this summer!

Cardholders earn 2.5 BA rewards miles per dollar spent on British Airways purchases and 1.25 BA miles for other purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees on overseas purchases, and big spenders who charge at least $30,000 within a year will also be awarded a Travel Together complementary companion ticket. The card comes with a $95 annual fee, which is not waived the first year.

To get the bonus miles, you must be a member of the British Airways Executive Club program. However, new card applicants are automatically enrolled in the program when approved for the British Airways Visa card. Best of all, miles can be spent on other airlines that are part of the OneWorld Alliance network, including American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Iberia Airlines.

Continental Airlines One Pass Plus card by Chase (30,000 to 50,000 bonus miles)
The Continental Airlines One Pass Plus card from Chase offers a regular sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles for new applicants. However, if you apply before May 15, 2011, you will get 50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase. That’s enough to get you two round trip tickets within the U.S.

One Pass Plus cardholders earn two miles per dollar spent on Continental Airlines purchases and one mile per dollar spent on other purchases. In addition, if you charge more than $25,000 to your card within a given year, you will get an additional 10,000 bonus miles. The card comes with a $85 annual fee, waived the first year.

Citi Aadvantage card (30,000 to 75,000 bonus miles)
Citi is offering another tantalizing frequent flier bonus for consumers applying for the Citi Aadvantage card. New cardholders will receive up to 75,000 American Airlines bonus miles if they spend a certain amount within the first four to six months.

The rewards bonuses are tiered to different spending levels, and the deals are available through different marketing channels so you have to stay on your toes to get this deal.

30,000 Aadvantage bonus miles. New Citi Aadvantage cardholders who spend $750 within the first four months will automatically get 30,000 bonus miles in their Aadvantage miles account. In addition, cardholders earn one Aadvantage mile for each dollar spent. The card comes with a $50 annual fee, waived the first year.

75,000 bonus miles. Citi’s mystery 75,000 bonus offer on the Citi Aadvantage card is not widely distributed. According to a Citi representative, the card issuer regularly tests different credit card offers. At any given time, some offers are available only online, some via the phone and some via mailed credit card offers. To get the 75,000 miles bonus, new cardholders must charge $4,000 in the first 6 months. If that fits your spending pattern, check for the 75,000 miles bonus offer online or call Citi to inquire about whether this offer might be available to you.