When an airline knows its core customers are anything but frequent flyers, is there any point in hosting a loyalty program? Probably not. Which explains why Allegiant, the low-cost leisure-focused carrier based in Las Vegas, never rolled out a full-fledged frequent-flyer scheme. There’s just no return-on-investment when your customers are by definition infrequent flyers.
And yet, and yet. There must always have been a niggling thought in the mind of Allegiant’s marketers that there was a way to give the carrier just a bit of an extra competitive edge when prospective customers made their next booking.
Their answer, introduced this week: an Allegiant credit card, issued by Bank of America, that awards points for purchases and comes bundled with a couple of travel perks. What it is not is a program-linked card. There is no program. Or rather, the card is the program, and the program is the card.
Here are the Allegiant World MasterCard’s major features:
- Annual fee: $59
- 15,000 bonus points after spending at least $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening
- Three points per $1 spent on Allegiant purchases
- Two points per $1 spent on dining
- One point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Buy one, get one airfare when purchasing package including hotel nights or rental-car days
- Priority boarding and one free beverage onboard every Allegiant flight
The points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for travel booked with Allegiant, so the 15,000-point sign-up bonus amounts to a $150 rebate on future trips.
On an ongoing basis, since the bulk of the points earned will be for non-travel purchases, the program will amount to a 1 percent rebate for most customers. That’s decidedly underwhelming when there are cash-back cards that deliver a cash rebate of 1.5 or 2 percent.
As annual fees go, $59 is on the low end. But with plenty of no-annual-fee cards on the market, it may still be a deal-killer for Allegiant customers, who fly the airline precisely because of its low costs.
Earning and redeeming points for travel. While there’s no provision for earning points for flying, versus buying, in all other respects this sounds a lot like a traditional frequent-flyer program, notwithstanding Allegiant’s insistence on dubbing it a credit-card program.
And whatever it’s called, as loyalty initiatives go, it’s pretty unrewarding.
Reader Reality Check
Will you be signing up for an Allegiant credit card?
After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
This article first appeared on SmarterTravel.com, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.