Credit card provider MBNA has added airline giant Etihad to its partner portfolio as they today launched two new cards that rewards spending with air miles.
Holders of the Etihad Guest American Express Card will earn 1.5 Etihad Guest Miles for every £1 of spending, while those with the Etihad Guest Visa Card will get 1.5 miles for every £2.
MBNA has a litany of organisations for whom it provides credit cards, with several Premier League clubs including Chelsea and Manchester United among its partners.
But the prestige of launching new cards with the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad fails to mask the rather shoddy deal that is being offered to customers.
It offers 12 months interest-free on flight purchases made through Etihad, but all other purchases come with interest of 18.9 per cent APR Representative.
It offers six months interest free on balance transfers or money transfers – which come with a two per cent fee – but anybody who is in serious need of a balance transfer can get cards with much longer zero interest free periods than six months.
The main selling point is the reward miles, which can be used to pay for or reduce the cost of Etihad’s intercontinental flights.
But even then, you’d have to spend some serious money to make it worth it.
Etihad’s website said a return flight from London to Istanbul (one of the shorter flights it offers from London), would require in excess of 95,000 Guest Miles.
Given that the Amex card provides 1.5 points per £1 spent, this would require spending of more than £63,000 on the card.
There are ways of boosting your rewards, such as 5,000 bonus miles if you spend £250 on card purchases within 90 days of the account opening. You also build up miles by flying with Etihad, which can be doubled or tripled if you fly business or first class.
But compare this to the British Airways Credit Card, which offers 3,000 Avios points for £500-worth of spending in the first three months, and one point per £1 spent thereafter.
If you collect 9,000 Avios points, it’s enough for a return flight to Berlin, or a return trip with Eurostar to Paris.
In fact, MBNA provides another card with American Airlines that gives users the opportunity to gain 35,000 miles within the first three months if they spend £5,000 – an offer which runs until the end of May, at which point it reverts to the same deal as Etihad.
Unlike supermarket credit cards that are more generous with their offers as they compete with High Street lenders, the more esoterically-branded cards tend to be high on gimmicks, but low on value for anyone other than the most regular of customers.
So unless you’re back and forth to Tokyo with Etihad each month, it’s unlikely to be worth your while.