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Good bonus, lacks benefits: Aer Lingus Visa Signature credit card review

July 01, 2020
8 min read
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)
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Aer Lingus Visa Signature Overview

The Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card offers a strong bonus and decent earning potential on Aer Lingus, Iberia and British Airways flights. It does, however, fall a bit short in terms of airline-specific perks. Loyal Avios members can benefit from the card, but most casual travelers will be better off with a card that earns a transferable currency. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

While travel has been put on the backburner for many Americans due to the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people have started looking ahead to 2021 and even 2022 trips. Those looking to hop across the pond in the future may be interested in capitalizing on the current sign-up bonus offered by the Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card from Chase.

Today, we’ll walk through the card details and whether it makes sense for you to apply.

Who is this card for? 

The Aer Lingus Visa Signature is best suited for travelers who frequently fly back and forth between the U.S. and Europe. The card only charges a $95 annual fee, and you do get a couple of solid airline perks. However, the earning structure isn’t anything to write home about.

What does set this card apart is its bonus. We’ll dive into the details in a bit about the worth of the bonus and how you can earn it, but that remains one of the biggest selling points for the card overall.

Do keep in mind that since this is a Chase card, it does adhere to the Chase 5/24 rule. If you’ve opened five or more accounts across issuers in the past 24 months, you’re almost certain to be denied for this card.

Related reading: Cards offering welcome bonuses of at least 100,000 points

Sign-up bonus: Up to 100,000 Avios 

The Aer Lingus Card is currently offering a signup bonus of up to 100,000 Avios. Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening and earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening. That’s $1,500 in value according to TPG’s valuations.

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This bonus is the biggest selling point of the card overall. Especially since you can use Avios points across Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia interchangeably, earning a bonus in Avios does offer a little more flexibility in terms of earning and burning rewards compared to other airline loyalty programs.

One thing to consider, though, is that this card only earns bonus rewards on specific travel purchases — you’ll want to make sure that you’re either spending enough on flights and hotels over the next year to hit the bonus or that you’re willing to sacrifice the bonus rewards on other spending categories to earn the bonus.

Related reading: The best uses of 100,000 Avios

(Photo by Liam Spencer/The Points Guy)
This bonus can go a long away on Aer Lingus and other Avios award flight bookings. (Photo by Liam Spencer/The Points Guy)

Main benefits and perks 

The card offers minimal perks. Though to be fair, that makes sense for a mid-tier cobranded card.

You can earn a companion ticket after you spend $30,000 each year. That companion ticket is good for a year, but can only be redeemed on flights between the U.S. and Ireland. However, the upside is that there are no restrictions, blackout dates or a surcharge on the companion ticket.

Additionally, both the primary cardholder and authorized users are eligible for Priority Boarding on any Aer Lingus flight to or from the U.S.

There are a few perks I’d like to see as part of a $95 annual fee, like an inflight discount or additional free checked bags. Aer Lingus includes a 20kg checked bag for all fare types except Saver, but only offering priority boarding as a flight perk on a card with an annual fee seems lacking.

Earning points 

With the Aer Lingus card, you’ll earn

  • Earn 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and LEVEL.
  • Earn 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel.
  • Earn 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.

For flights, that’s not a bad return for a cobranded airline card. However, keep in mind that those with cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve will likely still be better off using those premium cards to book flights and hotels from a return on spending perspective.

Related reading: Avios rewards program hub

Redeeming points 

Avios are a decently valuable travel currency. TPG values them at 1.5 cents each, placing Avios above both Delta and American Airlines. You can transfer Avios freely across Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia. And since British Airways is a Oneworld partner, that opens up a lot of doors for redemption options across airlines.

But for those looking to capitalize on the Aer Lingus route network, there are some strategic reasons for booking on Aer Lingus. One of the competitive advantages is that it charges lower taxes and fees — which can save you hundreds of dollars on award flights.

Additionally, Aer Lingus has a solid North American route network and the ability for U.S. travelers flying out of Dublin or Shannon to clear U.S. immigration in Ireland rather than waiting until hitting the ground in the U.S.

There are some nuances to booking Aer Lingus flights with Avios, but once you have the process down it’s not hard to accomplish.

But whether you’re booking Avios award flights on Aer Lingus, BA or a partner airline, Avios gives you a lot of redemption options, including Aer Lingus A321 business class from Dublin (DUB) to Philadelphia (PHL) for just 50,000 Avios and $151.60 in taxes.

Related reading: How to book Aer Lingus award tickets with Avios

For 50k Avios, you could book DUB to PHL on an Aer Lingus A321 in business class, pictured here. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

Other cards to consider 

Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia all have cobranded credit card options through Chase. All three are currently offering the same 100,000-point bonus and an identical reward structure. The three cards are more or less interchangeable, the only large difference being in the perks offered.

The Iberia Visa Signature Card, for example, comes with a 10% discount when you book flights through and comes with a $1,000 discount voucher each year after you spend $30,000 rather than a companion ticket. The British Airways Visa Signature Card comes with up to $600 per year in flight statement credits across eligible tickets and a Travel Together Ticket after you spend $30,000 on the card each year.

So if you tend to fly with either Iberia or British Airways more frequently, those cards may be a better option.

Something else to consider is that Aer Lingus is a Chase transfer partner. This means that you can use points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve to book Aer Lingus flights by transferring them through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Chase offers a higher level of flexibility, so beginners or those who fly with multiple airlines throughout the year may be better suited by a transferable currency card. You’ll still be able to transfer points to Aer Lingus when you want to book a flight with Avios, but you’ll also have the option to use those points on other travel and non-travel redemption options.

Related reading: Best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Bottom line 

In my mind, the biggest draw to this card is the sign-up bonus. 100,000 Avios can go a long way when looking at redemption options between the U.S. and Europe. If Aer Lingus is the primary airline you fly between the U.S. and Europe, it makes sense to take advantage of this offer and the benefits that come with the card. However, there are other options out there for earning Avios and even for transferring points directly to Aer Lingus.

Featured image by (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.