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A Shocking Credit Card Offer


While on an airline flight from Charlotte to Phoenix recently, the co-pilot came over the speaker and said he had an exciting offer to share with us.  To use his words, our flight had been selected to receive a very exclusive, limited-time offer.  Well…Mr. co-pilot, what could this wonderful offer be? Waiting with anxious anticipation (hey, I’d been sitting in this seat for 3+ hours at this point), I was a bit taken aback by this “offer.”  What was it?  For this flight only, we could sign up for the exclusive airline credit card and receive 40,000 bonus points after our first purchase – enough for a free flight to Hawaii!  And if we signed up in flight, we would receive an extra 500 frequent flyer miles and extra credit for the flight we were on.  To top it off, we would get priority boarding on future flights as long as we remained active members.  Wow – what an offer (insert dramatic sarcastic eye roll here)!

I don’t know about you, but that’s an elite club I don’t want to be a part of.  But I was shocked to see so many people pick up an application and start filling it out.  While there are ways to earn perks on a credit card and plenty of ways to try and game the system to earn little rewards, is it worth it?  I say NO.  Why? Let’s talk about 5 reasons this is an offer to pass up.

It’s still a credit card

Even if you get lots of free perks, you’ve still signed your name to an agreement to take on debt.  Romans 13:8 – my mantra on debt – doesn’t quite fit with that approach.


This “generous” offer was accompanied by a $99 annual fee.  Still cheaper than a flight in most cases, but why in the world would you pay $99 for the privilege to go into debt?

Backed by an Airline

If there is one industry that can compete with the government for proving it cannot handle money well, it is the airline industry.  A company that charges me to: board the plane (and pay extra for a decent seat), bring my luggage, have a snack (no free peanuts!), use the internet, watch a movie, etc., etc. is clearly a company that I need to watch my pennies around.

Rewards Rarely Get Redeemed

Studies by the credit card industry bear out that $48 billion worth of credit card rewards points go unredeemed each year. This is why the companies can be so “generous” in offering the rewards, because they know you aren’t going to use them!


We’ve all had it happen to us – we sign up for something, thinking it is an amazing deal only to learn later (always too late) that there was a catch. Maybe on this one it is blackout dates, maybe there is a hidden fee, maybe it is the rule that you must apply in person, have your application personally approved by the pilot, dance an Irish river dance and clean the plane upon landing…with your toothbrush. Who knows?  I stayed far enough away from that “snake on a plane” offer to find out.


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  1. Pam Pyatt

    I took Dave Ramsey’s course Financial Peace University through our church a year ago. I am trying so hard to get out of debt. But, something keeps throwing a curve ball at me. I am self employed and my business fell off (we are still able to pay our bills). And my son-in-law lost his job. So I try and help them out some (they have 2 little children) I keep saying that after the holidays I am going to buckle down and get out of debt next year (all except my house) and then pay off my house I. Less than 5 years. That is my goal I love your blog and your wife’s blog. Please keep up the good work and keep blogging.

    1. Barry

      Thanks, Pam, for your encouragement. As you run into roadblocks on your journey to becoming debt free, remind yourself that anything worth doing is going to have obstacles. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Fight the urge to give up and you WILL win!

  2. Virginia

    I was a Dave Ramsey kind of girl for several years. I never had a lot of debt but I was rather careless and disorganized with it. I paid off what I did have, kept my running costs current and saved quite a bit. I was single, putting my youngest through college…no loans there…and paying my own way. I am an LPN and do not make loads of money…but I saved almost $30 thou. So it was time to house shop…just something small and more than 20% down. In my area of Virginia a nice house can be had for well under $100,000….well long story short…I had become a FICO ghost and no one …not even Churchill mortgage would agree to a give me a home loan. So I am still paying rent when I should be paying a mortgage payment…or even have the mortgage paid off. The take away from all this: debt free is a great concept…but it can also be a road block to the simple pleasure of home ownership.

  3. Patty

    Wow Virginia!! I’m so impressed with your $30 thou. I also am a Dave Ramsey grad and have gone backwards lately and must get a grip. Thanks for the encouragement. I’d say, keep going with your great ability to save. There’s gotta be someone out there that will give you a loan.
    Keep up the good work.


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