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Eventually 1+ Free Southwest Flight with Air Tran Credit Card (Expired)

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Eventually 1+ Free Southwest Flight with Air Tran Credit Card (Expired)

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Air Tran Visa

Emily applied for the Barclays Air Tran Visa Signature card in her last mini app-o-rama, but I never got down to writing about because I was lazy.  We regularly apply for credit cards to have Big Travel with Small Money since that is the easiest way to earn miles and points if you don’t fly a lot.


16 credits on Air Tran (1 free flight) doesn’t really excite me (and there are better cards to apply for if you are just starting out), but Emily applied for the Air Tran Visa because:

1)  Barclays uses the TransUnion credit bureau in Kansas, and we don’t have many credit inquiries on our TransUnion credit report.

 We try to limit the inquiries on our credit reports by applying for cards from banks which use different credit bureaus.  We do this to keep the total number of inquiries with each credit bureau to no more than 2 or 3 per 3 to 4 month period.

2) Air Tran is merging with Southwest so we will be able to use the credit on Southwest Airlines for domestic US travel.  Applying for this card gives us an additional way to top off our Southwest Rapid Rewards account.

Keep in mind that there are 3 versions of the Air Tran Visa offer, but only the Barclay’s Visa Signature card with the $59 annual fee offers 16 credits.  The Visa Signature card without the annual fee and the Visa Platinum card offer only 2 credits making them a huge waste of time.

Unfortunately, Barclays may approve you for the Visa Platinum even though you apply for the Visa Signature card (sneaky and underhand in my opinion), so keep that in mind before applying.  And there’s nothing you can do to reverse their decision if you’re approved for the Platinum version.

Barclays Air Tran Visa:

1.   Bonus Miles/Credit.  Earn 16+ credits (enough for 1 free flight) after spending $750 within 3 months on the Air Tran Visa.  You can use these credits for 1 free flight on Air Tran immediately, or wait until Air Tran integrates with Southwest (sometime in 2012) and the credits transfer over (that’s what we’re doing!)

The Air Tran website states that the integration of the 2 airlines (and their frequent flyer programs) will happen after March 2012.  So you’ll have to wait until then (or later) if you want to use Air Tran credits on Southwest.

2.   Two $50 discount certificates annually.  We haven’t yet received these certificates, so I don’t know if these will actually be useful or if there will be restrictions on using the discount certificates.

The terms say “Additional restrictions apply, see discount certificate for full details. ”

The terms also say that you are limited to 1 certificate per reservation only for the primary cardholder and that the certificate is valid for only 1 year.

3.  Foreign Transaction Fee.   There is a 3% foreign transaction fee making this an expensive card to use outside the US.

4.  Up to 10 Air Tran credits for balance transfers.   Earn 1 mile/point per $1 transferred (up to 10,000 miles/points) within the 1st 30 days of opening your Air Tran Visa account.  10,000 miles/points is equal to 10 credits or a 1-way ticket.

This may be a good way to earn extra miles, because  the balance transfer APR is 0% for the 1st 6 months.  There is a 3% fee for the 1st 6 months (4% after the 1st year), but the fee is capped at $50.

So you could transfer a balance of, say, $10,000 for a $50 fee and earn a 1-way ticket worth about $120.  But you have to be able to pay off the balance transfer amount within 6 months, before the 0% APR gets over.

5.  $59 annual fee.   There is a $59 annual fee for the Visa Signature version and no annual fee for the Platinum version.

6.  Extended credit expiration.   Air Tran credits usually expire in 1 year, but will expire in 2 years for Air Tran Visa credit card holders.


If you are initially denied online, call the Barclays reconsideration backdoor number (866-369-1283) and explain to the rep why you want the card.

Our Experience:

Emily applied for the Air Tran Visa online.  Her application required further processing,  so I called the Barclay’s reconsideration line and the credit analyst asked me a few questions and approved the card.

I made sure to confirm that Emily was approved for the Visa Signature version with the annual fee which would earn her 16 credits.  But when the card arrived, it was a Visa Platinum which offered only 2 credits.

I called the reconsideration line and explained what happened to the friendly customer rep.  She said that she couldn’t switch the card after it was issued, but that if I submitted a new application for the Air Tran Visa she would manually approve it for the Visa Signature version.

She warned me that the application would be denied online without a hit to Emily’s credit report, but that she would call me back and manually approve the application.  I was VERY skeptical, but had nothing to lose.

Sure enough, the application was denied online.  The reason was:

“Our records show that you’ve already established the maximum allowable number of this product with us.  Please let us know immediately if you didn’t apply for or receive this product previously.  A credit bureau report was not used in making this determination.”

A few minutes after that, the rep called us back and approved the application.  I was still skeptical until the card arrived in the mail and the credits posted to Emily’s Air Tran account!

Yesterday, Emily received an offer in the mail which promises her 16,000 bonus points (16 credits or 1 free flight) if she spends $1,250 in November, December, and January on her existing Air Tran Visa!

We’re quite happy with the 2.5 flights (~$600 value) we got from the 1 credit inquiry to Emily’s TransUnion account!

Bottom Line:

The Barclays Air Tran Visa credit card is worth considering if you like cheap flights on Air Tran. This may be a good option besides the Southwest 50,000 point credit cards to earn points on Southwest Airlines.

I wouldn’t apply for this card instead of other cards with higher sign up bonuses (get the higher bonus cards first!), but would keep this in mind if I was running out of options or needed to apply for a credit card which used the TransUnion credit reporting bureau.

If you applied for this card, what was your experience like?

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Looks like the deal is now dead.

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@Erik – Thanks for the update! I’ll modify the post to reflect.

I applied for this card and was approved instantly for the better card. I also did a balance transfer for $19k into my checking account for a 6 month interest free loan and the extra credits.

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@Bryce Ostenson – It looks like it was from Barclay’s and says that Emily can get 16,000 points by spending $1,250 in Nov, Dec, and January. There was no promotion code either on the mailer. I’ll scan it and email it to you later this week.

@HikerT – Do you have to be so logical? 🙂

@KateFromCA – Well put! If you wait to activate until next year, you could either get a companion pass for 2 years or none at all!

@toomanybooks – I agree that WN will likely tighten this. They can’t afford to give away 1 year of free flying just because you signed up for 2 credit cards!

@Balance Transfer – Nice! $19K for 6 months and 1.5 free flights for the $50 BT fee + the annual fee. Not too bad!

as I read it the points came after first purchase, not activation. They do count toward companion pass (verified) at least this year they do.

The big thing about the airtran card is the pilots from airtran have bogged down the merger, they are afraid of losing seniority and southwest has threatened to keep the airlines seperate. They could keep both brands under thier corporate umbrella and keep the FF programs from merging. I got both the personal and business cards hoping to combine with the chase SW cards I just got… far airtran has been a waste of time as they are cancelling service to DFW from ATL later this month….southwest doesnt serve ATL at all, and next year I’m moving to DFW where no doubt airtran will have no service.

It all comes down to the definition of “bonus.” WN is notorious for having poorly-written, ambiguous language in its T&Cs, promo language, etc.

My opinion is that WN will tighten up on this stuff but it is impossible to be sure. It seems likely that they will have to give us SOME reason to stick with them (and their credit cards and partners).

We have no Europe or Asia, we have no newer plane designs, no first class, they have scrod us 10 ways on drink tickets, reusing TTFs for family , etc., ad nauseum.

For me and a lot of guys, the CP is the whole ball of wax. If they tighten so as to give us no shot at getting it unless we spend almost $20K in a calendar year, we are all gone.

Re. Companion Pass: the rules for RR 2.0 state that bonus points do not count towards Companion Pass qualification – from the T&C:

“Purchased points and points earned from program enrollment, Tier bonuses, flight bonuses, and Partner bonuses do not count toward Companion Pass status.”

Now, no one knows if this will actually be enforced in 2012. But, everyone knows that this year, the bonuses do count since this year (2011) is a transition year from RR 1.0 to RR 2.0 and the less restrictive rules (RR 1.0 in this case) apply. Many people got their Companion Pass through these offers.

So, push your earning of 110,000 points to the next year at your own risk: you may get an (almost) 2-year Companion Pass as it is valid from the time it is earned until the end the following year, or you may get no Companion Pass at all…

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