In March 2022, we learned that South American mega-airline LATAM would be launching co-branded credit cards in the United States, and it’s with a new issuer to the airline credit card space. Well, we’ve now learned the details of these cards, and they’re also open for applications, so let’s take a look at the details.
Details of the Cardless LATAM credit cards
San Francisco-based financial technology firm, Cardless, has partnered with LATAM to create, distribute, and market new credit cards in the United States. Specifically, we’re seeing the introduction of two co-branded credit cards, including a no annual fee card and a premium card.
The LATAM Airlines Mastercard:
- Has no annual fee
- Has no foreign transaction fees
- Offers a sign-up bonus of 15,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the first three months
- Offers 3x miles on LATAM purchases, 2x miles on restaurants and ground transportation, and 1x miles on everything else
- Offers qualifying points toward LATAM elite status at the rate of 10% of the miles earned from card purchases (which doesn’t include miles from sign-up bonuses or promotional miles)
The LATAM Airlines World Elite Mastercard:
- Has a $99 annual fee
- Has no foreign transaction fees
- Offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $2,500 within the first three months
- Offers 4x miles on LATAM purchases, 3x miles on restaurants and ground transportation, and 1x miles on everything else
- Offers qualifying points toward LATAM elite status at the rate of 20% of the miles earned from card purchases (which doesn’t include miles from sign-up bonuses or promotional miles)
- Offers two LATAM lounge passes per year
- Offers three upgrade coupons per year (though those with LATAM Pass Gold Plus status or above don’t receive extra coupons)
I’ve written in the past about Cardless, which is trying to revolutionize the co-brand credit card industry in the United States. The people behind Cardless are huge miles & points geeks. What makes Cardless unique is that the company can launch a co-brand credit card in a month (compared to over a year in many cases with the larger issuers), and can also make these agreements economically viable even if the portfolio doesn’t see billions of dollars of spending annually.
Up until now, Cardless has primarily partnered with sports teams, so LATAM is Cardless’ first airline partner.
My take on LATAM’s new credit cards
It’s always cool to see new co-branded credit cards, and it’s particularly great to see Cardless get into this space, given how innovative the company is.
Prior to learning the details of the card portfolio, I was skeptical of how much general appeal there could be for these cards:
- LATAM has left the oneworld alliance, and instead now just partners with Delta (without belonging to SkyTeam); this means there are limited opportunities for redeeming rewards on partners
- LATAM’s frequent flyer program, LATAM Pass, isn’t particularly lucrative, though it’s probably still the best option for booking award flights on LATAM
- This could be useful for those specifically loyal to LATAM or who fly to the region regularly
Now that we’ve learned the details of the cards, what’s my take? These cards are roughly what I would have expected, with a couple of pleasant surprises:
- It’s cool that spending money on the cards can help you qualify for elite status, meaning that 10-20% of the miles you earn from spending will help you earn status; this follows the trend of airlines making it increasingly easy to earn status with credit card spending (like what American is doing with Loyalty Points)
- It’s cool that the premium card offers two lounge passes plus three upgrade coupons, which could be a reason to pick up the card
I’m impressed overall, though for my own spending profile and rewards preferences, these likely aren’t cards that I’ll be prioritizing applying for.
Cardless has launched its first airline credit cards, in partnership with LATAM. We’re seeing two new cards issued, including one no annual fee card, and one $99 annual fee card. The cards both have some unique benefits and are pretty competitive, and I’m impressed by the overall value proposition for those who are LATAM loyalists.
What do you make of Cardless’ new LATAM credit cards?