What’s the Worst Offer You’ve Received? TPG Readers Respond

Dec 1, 2017

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We’re always on top of the most lucrative travel rewards card offers here at TPG, and believe us, not all offers are worth your time. Whether it’s a credit card with a high annual fee and no sign-up bonus or a less-than-stellar incentive to spend money and receive a small sum of points in return, there are some duds in the mix.

After asking TPG Lounge readers to share the worst credit card, buy-miles and status offers they’ve received, we have even more examples of when it’s probably best to pass and wait for something better to come along.

High Price, No Sign-Up Bonus

When Mastercard unveiled three options in its Luxury Card portfolio in 2016, we noted shortcomings, including the lack of a robust rewards program and transfer partners. We were able to overlook some of the downsides thanks to sign-up bonuses that were worth more than the Gold and Titanium cards’ annual fees when redeemed for airfare. Unfortunately, though, the Mastercard Black Card had no sign-up offer to speak of, and the other two cards have since completely dropped their sign-up bonuses.

Reader Joe T. had this to say about the Black Card: “…no bonus, huge annual fee, similar benefits to CSR…” The Black Card charges a $495 annual fee ($195 for each Authorized User) compared to $450 for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the latter includes a $300 travel credit compared to a $100 annual airline credit on the Black Card. Not to mention, the Reserve is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months — worth $1,100 based on our valuations.

Elite Status at a (High) Cost

The first moments of flight for an American 737
$2,115 is a high price to pay to lock in American Airlines AAdvantage Gold status.

American Airlines gives elite AAdvantage members the opportunity to secure status through the following membership year by paying a set amount of money — and usually, it’s quite a lot. Jackie H. says AA offered to sell her Gold status for the price of $2,115 — more than twice our valuation of that status level. These offers are customized based on your elite-qualifying activity to date, so other readers (presumably with more logged EQMs and EQDs) reported lower offers of $695, $1,200 and $1,800.

Spend $16,000 for $75 Worth of Miles

Reader Tracy V. shared an outrageously poor proposition from the United MileagePlus Explorer Card: Spend $16,000 on purchases between October 1 and December 31, 2017, and receive 5,000 bonus miles. This was on top of the card’s standard 10,000-mile bonus for spending at least $25,000 on the card in a calendar year.

Those 5,000 MileagePlus miles are worth just $75 according to our valuations. That’s fine and all, but is it worth spending an average of more than $5,000 a month? Not a chance. As John C. said, “I think it’s a bad sign when you ‘get’ more miles from the actual spend than from the bonus.”

Unnecessary Fees

Hilton Waikoloa Village, Big Island Hotel
Don’t transfer points to someone else when you could simply book an award in their name. Image courtesy of Hilton Waikoloa Village.

This one’s not an offer per se, but we had to share Dawn H.’s spot-on advice: “Most airlines actually charge you to ‘transfer your miles to another person.’ Doesn’t make sense because you can just use [sic] redeem those miles to buy someone else a ticket. But I know some people who do it because they don’t know what to do with the miles.”

Make sure you take the time to investigate your booking options with a loyalty program; don’t just assume that you’ll need to transfer your rewards to another account if you’d like to redeem them in someone else’s name. Most airline programs will allow you to book award flights for someone else, as do most hotel programs, so you’re likely able to avoid this extra charge entirely.

Feature photo by Xanya69 / Getty Images

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.