Flair Airlines has been making a big return to flying and even expanding as we slowly emerge from the pandemic. Touted as Canada’s only independent Ultra Low Cost Carrier, Flair Airlines offers rock bottom prices on flights within Canada and shortly to the U.S.. Those rock bottom prices are for bare bones tickets – no carry on bags, no check bags, no seat selection and so on. Basically outside of the base ticket price you can pick and choose what services you want for your flights and pay for those accordingly. So while the base fares are cheaper than the competition once you start adding the extras the price can creep up to being equivalent to what Air Canada and WestJet are charging. So how can you save yourself some money – either just on the insanely cheap base fares or even those fares that include add ons? By utilizing a credit card that has high points earning value that can be redeemed for Flair purchases and cards that provide credits for additional fees charged by airlines.
Recommended reading: Review: 5 hours on Canada’s ULCC, Flair Airlines Ottawa to Vancouver
Let’s take a look at the four best credit card options that Canadians have to help make their travels on Flair Airlines cost even less than it already is:
Two cards to bring the cost down by redeeming points
The American Express Cobalt Card is the number one card in Canada when it comes to travel rewards, and cash back. Hands down the card that every Canadian should have in their wallet it earns 5 points per dollar spent in the Eats & Drinks category (Dining, groceries, food delivery, bars, cafes etc.) 3 points per dollar on select streaming services (Starts August 16) 2 points per dollar on travel, transportation & gas and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. Those points can be then redeemed at a rate of 1000 points to $10 towards any purchase made on the card including Flair Airlines flights.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is almost an exact match to the Cobalt Card when it comes to earning. It earns 5 points per dollar spent on grocery, dining and entertainment, 3 points per dollar on gas, transit and select streaming services and 1 point per dollar on everything else. And just like the Cobalt Card you can redeem 1,000 points towards $10 however you must redeem a minimum of 5,000 points when you do so.
Since both of these cards are very similar in their earn and burn systems we can look at the same examples of how to bring the cost down of your Flair flights with either of these cards.
Here’s a bare bones one way flight from Thunder Bay to Toronto:
That’s right, if you are fine to travel without a carry on bag (you are allowed a small personal item), no checked baggage and so on, you can fly for $39 all in. Crazy thing is some routes are even cheaper than that! Back to the $39 flight, this means is that all you need from the American Express Cobalt Card is 3,900 points to pay for the flight. If you take the 5x points earning on the card you would earn that amount with only $780 in spending not taking into account any bonuses. For most people that’s less than one month of spending on this card. I know in our household that’s achieved in about 2 weeks with our groceries alone! Imagine being able to get free travel that quickly and easily! Well you don’t have to imagine it because it is possible.
Even if you didn’t have 3,900 points but say 1,211 points in your account you could choose to redeem that for $12.11 against the charge and this flight is just shy of costing you $27.00 in the end. Don’t forget you’ll earn points on that initial flight purchase as well – 78 points on the Cobalt Card or 39 points on the Scotia Gold Amex card.
The redemption process for the Scotia Gold Amex works the same however you have to redeem a minimum of 5,000 points at once for a $50 credit so this $39 flight would not meet that requirement. However if you are buying a round trip flight or have more than one person flying you’ll easily eclipse that $50 level where you can redeem your points. (Note this 5,000 minimum will be done away with once the Scene+ program launches so you will be able to redeem for those under $50 flight purchases)
This is the beauty of cards like these two – you aren’t stuck in one program to use your points and the points are very flexible in that you can redeem for any travel after not much spending. You can’t do this with AIR MILES, Aeroplan or even RBC’s Avion cards. If you wanted to redeem RBC Rewards points via your Avion card for this same flight you’d be looking at 15,000 points + $11.61 in taxes via their air redemption schedule (that is if you can book Flair with RBC – I’m not sure if you can) which would mean up to $15,000 in card spend or use RBC’s 1,000 points to $10 statement credit for travel which would be better in this case but still requires $3,120 to $3,900 in spending versus as little as that $780 on the two cards we’re focusing on.
Two cards that will rebate extra fees
This HSBC Mastercard offers an annual $100 travel enhancement credit that can be used towards airline baggage fees, seat selection fees and more. Data points show that HSBC is pretty open with this credit and basically allow it to be used towards almost any travel purchase not just baggage fees etc. However, to ensure the credit is used properly and not clawed back you could simply keep your receipts from Flair showing that you paid for a flight that included the extra charges for baggage etc. You can see the example below where we added a big bundle to a Edmonton to Toronto flight for $138. This $100 credit could be applied to that thus bringing a $299 flight down to $199.
The NBC World Elite Mastercard provides up to $250 in refunds annually for select travel expenses. Those travel expenses and a breakdown of the refunds are as follows:
- Airport parking fees – maximum $100
- Baggage fees – maximum $100
- Seat selection fees – maximum $50
Looking at the flight example below you could most likely apply the $100 baggage fee refund towards it. Then if you do decide to pay for selecting your seat (which ranges from $10-$45 per person each way) you could apply the seat selection refund towards that as well.
As you can see both of these cards have additional benefits over and above the points they earn that can help you reduce the cost of flying on Flair Airlines. Whether purchasing those extras at the time of booking, during online check-in or at the airport you should be able to apply these credits towards those fees. Just remember to keep your receipts (especially if you buy any of the extras at the airport) as your card issuer make ask you to submit them for verification prior to giving you the credit.
Wrapping it up
Technically speaking all four cards can be used to bring costs down or to rebate extra fees. Both the HSBC and NBC cards allow you to redeem points against travel charges just like the two Amex cards and on the flipside you could use your points from the Amex cards to pay for the extra fees on these Flair flights. Ultimately you may want to get a combination of these cards to fund your travels on Flair or any airline for that matter as these points and rebates/refunds are open to be used on any airline.
This post is not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned therein. Rewards Canada may earn a commission on successful credit card applications made via the links in this post.