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Deal or No Deal: $50 Gift Card for Purchases on AA.com

Deal or No Deal: $50 Gift Card for Purchases on AA.com

As discussed in my review of US Airways’ new system-wide bonus offer, promotions linked to the use of a particular credit card are becoming increasingly common.

This one’s from American, and also requires the use of a MasterCard.

Offer Details

Register and use a MasterCard to purchase flights, hotel stays, car rentals, or tours ("activities") by December 15 to receive a MasterCard gift card worth up to $50, as follows:

  • Receive a $10 gift card for purchasing a round-trip flight on American, American Eagle, Executive Airlines, AmericanConnection, oneworld carriers, or AAdvantage-participating airlines.
  • Receive a $25 gift card for purchasing a flight plus one other travel product (hotel stay, car rental, or tour).
  • Receive a $50 gift card for purchasing a flight plus two other travel products.

All purchases must be made on AA.com, and qualifying travel must be completed by March 31, 2011.

Bonus may be earned only once per customer.

Deal or No Deal

This promotion raises a number of value questions.

First, there’s the rebate itself. The average price of a domestic coach ticket is currently around $350. So getting $10 back represents a rebate of less than 3 percent. That’s modest at best.

Then there’s the form of the rebate. While gift cards are routinely promoted as cash equivalents, in practice they aren’t as readily useable as cash and often go unredeemed or only partially used.

This promotion is designed to increase sales of non-airline services on American’s site, a potentially significant source of extra revenue for American (and for other airlines). Which raises the question of price. The hotel rates, for example, quoted on American’s website may or may not be comparable to the rates available on the hotels’ own websites, or on other travel websites. Comparison-shopping is a must.

And even if the price is competitive, buying on American’s website may preclude earning loyalty points in the hotel’s frequent-stay program, as I pointed out in a recent review of a bonus promotion for hotel bookings made on AA.com.

On the other hand, travelers can earn one AAdvantage mile for every dollar spent when booking tours through AA.com—miles that they probably wouldn’t earn if purchasing through other channels.

In all, this is an offer that is likely to appeal only to those who already planned to purchase flights or other travel services from AA.com.

Reader Reality Check

Do you find this offer compelling?