Aer Lingus Visa Card Review: Versatile and Valuable for the Right Flyers

High spenders can earn an extra-generous helping of Avios rewards points — which can be redeemed for flights on several airlines — plus an annual companion ticket.

Sara RathnerOctober 7, 2020

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: The card is most beneficial to high spenders who can earn the largest bonus tier and the annual companion pass. Otherwise, its true value comes from Avios rewards points' flexibility.

Aer Lingus Visa Signature® card

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$550

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

16.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

Fact: Guinness tastes better in Ireland. And thanks to the generous sign-up bonus offered by the Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card — the co-branded card of Ireland's major airline — it's easier to experience that for yourself.

The card, issued by Chase, earns Avios, which can be redeemed not just on Aer Lingus, but also on British Airways, Iberia and multiple other Oneworld Alliance airlines. An annual companion ticket for Aer Lingus-operated flights adds an extra dose of value to the card.

But it takes a lot of spending in the first year to earn the highest possible sign-up bonus. And as is the case with all airline-branded credit cards, you get the most out of this card only if you fly that airline often. If not, consider a general travel rewards credit card for more flexibility.

Nerd tip: The Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card card is a close cousin of two Avios-earning credit cards from other European airlines: The British Airways Visa Signature® Card and the Iberia Visa Signature® Card.

Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card: The basics

Card type: Airline.

Annual fee: $95

Sign-up bonus: Earn up to 100,000 bonus Avios. Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on your purchases within your first year of account opening.

Rewards:

Aer Lingus distributes rewards points known as Avios, a currency it shares with several other airlines including British Airways, Iberia and LEVEL. The card earns:

  • 3 Avios per dollar spent on Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia.

  • 2 Avios for every dollar spent on hotel accommodations when booked directly with the hotel.

  • 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Avios are worth around 1 cent apiece, although the value can vary based on redemption options.

Nerd tip: Be aware that Avios expire if you don't collect, spend, share or purchase any for 36 consecutive months.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Other benefits: 

  • Companion ticket: Make $30,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, and you'll earn an economy companion ticket, which you have one year to redeem. The companion ticket is valid for Aer Lingus-operated flights when the cardholder is taking a paid economy flight. No taxes and fees apply to the companion ticket.

  • Priority boarding: The primary cardholder, and any authorized users, are eligible for priority boarding on Aer Lingus flights to and from the U.S. and Ireland.

  • Travel coverages, such as auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance and lost luggage reimbursement.

Benefits of the Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card

Generous sign-up bonus

Earn up to 100,000 bonus Avios. Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on your purchases within your first year of account opening. Even if you stop at the lower tier, that sum of Avios can snag you a round-trip economy ticket to Dublin or Shannon from select U.S. cities.

Annual companion pass

Bring someone else along on your journey for no extra charge when you book an economy ticket for yourself. You need to spend $30,000 on your Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card in a calendar year to receive the companion pass. No taxes or fees are charged on the companion pass, either. Sláinte!

Multiple ways to redeem avios

If your #travelgoals extend to other destinations around the world, you can also redeem Avios for flights operated by British Airways, Iberia, and Oneworld Alliance partners like American Airlines.

Helpful travel protections

Your baggage doesn't have to weigh you down when you use the Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card to book your trip. If your baggage gets delayed by more than six hours, you'll be reimbursed up to $100 a day for three days to cover the cost of toiletries and clothing. And if your checked or carry-on baggage is lost or damaged, you're covered for up to $3,000.

Drawbacks and alternatives

High spending minimum to earn the full sign-up bonus

Depending on your spending habits, you may need to exclusively use the Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card for a year to earn that sky-high bonus. If you normally rotate through several cards to maximize your earnings on different types of spending, committing to just one card can shortchange your earning potential on other travel loyalty programs, or on cash-back cards.

Getting the companion pass also requires high annual spending

You'll have to spend $2,500 per month in one calendar year to earn the companion pass. Other airline cards grant you a companion pass when you keep the card for another year and pay the annual fee.

With the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, you'll get one companion pass per anniversary year, which is good for an Alaska flight booked on alaskaair.com. Using the pass will cost $99 plus taxes and fees, from $22. Alaska Airlines partners with Aer Lingus, British Airways and the rest of the Oneworld Alliance. The annual fee is $75.

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card also grants cardholders a companion pass for domestic main cabin travel when you renew your card. When you use the pass, you'll pay taxes and fees of up to $75. The card's $250 annual fee is on the high end, however.

General travel cards can offer more flexibility

When it comes to international travel, Avios are remarkably versatile and can be used with a number of airlines. But Avios are of more limited use domestically. You can redeem them for flights with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, but that's it. And keep in mind that Avios also have an expiration date.

A card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, on the other hand, offers a lot more flexibility. It features around a dozen travel partners, to which you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio, and those partners include members of all three major airline alliances: SkyTeam, Star Alliance and Oneworld. But more than that, you'll have access to major U.S.-based airline partners as well, including JetBlue, United and Southwest. The card's rewards currency — Chase Ultimate Rewards® points — won't expire as long as you have an open card account. The annual fee is $95.

Companion pass is good oNLY for economy tickets

Take it from someone who once flew from Dublin to New York in the back row of the coach section: Seven hours is a long time. The companion pass you get by renewing the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card can be eligible for an upgrade to a Delta Comfort+ or first class seat. Terms apply. But that luxury comes at a price: namely, a $550 annual fee.

Should you get the Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card?

If earning Avios will get you where you want to go, the Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card can be a good fit. The card offers the biggest benefit to high spenders, because they'll earn the higher sign-up bonus and the valuable companion pass.

But if you simply don't spend enough to unlock these additional perks, fear not. There are a lot of travel rewards cards that can put you well on your way to your next international trip.

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