Ten years ago I got my first rewards-earning credit card, a Royal Caribbean Visa. It earned 1 point for every dollar of spend, and after spending $50,000 on the card, you could get a free cruise to the Caribbean. It also had a picture of a cruise ship on it, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s amazing how naive I was about points and miles at that time. I did eventually did get the free cruise, although I sure did give up a lot of miles and points opportunities during that time.
I’m pretty active on some cruising forums, and I’ve noticed that there is still considerable interest in these cards. I thought it would be nostalgic to look at them again and see if there is any value to be had with them.
If you go to the Royal Caribbean website (www.rccl.com), you’ll find that there are actually four beasties of cards that you can get. There are versions for Royal Caribbean, Azamara, and Celebrity, which are all now owned by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. The first one is the regular Royal Caribbean Visa that I had so many moons ago.
A $100 credit for signing up–this doesn’t excite me.
You earn double cruise points when you spend money on Royal, Celebrity or Azamara, and one point per dollar on everything else. The discounted companion airline certificate must be booked through the company Promotions in Travel, LTD, of whom I have never heard. At least there is no annual fee, and the bonus points are awarded on first purchase.
You can also get an Azamara credit card through Royal Caribbean.
The 15,000 bonus points (worth $150 in on-board credit with one transaction make this more appealing than the Royal Caribbean card. You also get 10k bonus points after spending 10k dollars in the first year. Not listed in the benefits list is that there is a $69 annual fee. If you spent $10,000 on a 2% cash back card, you would earn $200. The 10K bonus points are worth $100 on-board credit, so this is a losing proposition for you. Lets move on.
There are two species of Celebrity Visa Signature cards. The first is the no annual fee version.
This is identical to the Royal Caribbean Visa in every way, except there is no nebulous airline companion ticket. I’ll pass on this one too. The is also a premier version of this card with an annual fee of $95.
The sign-on bonus is 10,000 points with first purchase, and like the Azamara card you get the 10K annual bonus which is worth $100. The other benefits would have little value to me, because I never pay extra to eat in the specialty restaurants or buy premium beverage packages. The $300 future cruise discount would also have little value to me, because you must book a Concierge Class stateroom, I am lucky if I can book a decently priced balcony stateroom, and I usually book cheap insides.
The benefits on any of the cards do not entice me. If I am going to have a hard pull on my credit with a credit card application, I want at least $400 in value from that pull. The $100 to $150 of bonuses on these cards falls way below that threshold.