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. Reconsideration:

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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