The Holland America Line Rewards Visa® Card is an ideal spending aid for families seeking new ways to save money on travel. Because it’s a niche product geared toward cruise-goers, it’s not likely to appear on our list of the best travel rewards credit cards anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a closer look for anyone planning a cruise with Holland America Line shortly.
Unsurprisingly, the Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card rewards spending on purchases with Holland America Lines: onboard purchases, cruise packages, upgrades, add-ons, and more. All Holland America purchases earn 2 Holland America points per $1 spent, with no earning limits or other restrictions. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent, also with no limits.
You get a sign-up bonus worth up to $50 simply for opening your account and making your first purchase. And there’s no annual fee, so you don’t have to worry about incurring any ongoing costs to keep it in your wallet between Holland America cruises.
This card is a nice alternative to airline credit cards, such as Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, hotel rewards credit cards like Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card, and general-purpose travel cards like Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. If a budget-friendly cruise is in your future, read on to learn about its features, benefits, drawbacks, and overall suitability.
When you open your account and make your first purchase or balance transfer, you get 5,000 bonus Holland America points. That’s worth up to $50 when redeemed for purchase credits with Holland America Line and other travel partners, as well as for gift cards and general merchandise.
Earning Holland America Points
Holland America Line Rewards Visa earns unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on all Holland America Line purchases, including cruise package purchases and all purchases made onboard Holland America Line vessels. All other purchases earn unlimited 1 point per $1 spent. There are no limits to the number of points you can earn, and your points don’t expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
Redeeming Holland America Points
The best ways to redeem your accumulated points are for credits toward cruise fare on Holland America Line, onboard purchases (including spa treatments and other luxurious experiences) on Holland America Line vessels and airfare with common carriers.
You can also redeem for purchases made with other popular cruise lines, including (per Barclaycard) “Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Princess Cruises, The Yachts of Seabourn, P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, Ibero, and Aida.” To qualify, purchases must be made no more than 180 days before redemption.
You need at least 5,000 points ($50 value) to redeem for statement credits against cruise purchases. Non-Holland America cruise redemptions value points at $0.01 apiece. Holland America redemptions value points according to a sliding spending scale:
- $50 to $499 spent on Holland America Line purchases within the past 180 days: 1.00% ($0.01 per point)
- $500 to $1,499 spent on Holland America Line purchases within 180 days: 1.25% ($0.0125 per point)
- $1,500 to $2,000 spent: 1.50% ($0.015 per point)
- $2,001 to $4,000 spent: 2.00% ($0.02 per point)
- $4,001 or more spent: 2.50% ($0.025 per point)
Separately, you can redeem your points for airfare purchases made within the past 180 days. To qualify, airfare purchases must be worth at least $50. They always value points at $0.01 apiece. You can redeem for other types of travel through Barclaycard’s LoyaltyEdge portal, at variable minimums and point values.
Finally, you can redeem your points for a wide range of gift cards and general merchandise items in the Holland America Line Rewards catalog. Point values are variable and difficult to quantify with these redemption options. Redemption minimums vary as well.
This card has a 15-month 0% APR introductory promotion for balance transfers. Balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening accrue no interest for 15 months. Beyond the fifteen-month mark, the regular balance transfer rate applies. The regular purchase rate applies from day one.
Concierge Service for Travelers
This card includes complimentary concierge service for cardholders traveling away from home – regardless of whether they’re on a Holland America Line cruise. Per Barclaycard, this 24/7 hotline service includes “recommendations and reservations for dining, travel, hotels, entertainment and more.”
Holland America Line Rewards Visa has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Late and returned payments cost up to $37.
Holland America Line Rewards Visa requires good to excellent credit. If you’ve had any significant credit issues in the recent past, you’re unlikely to qualify.
- No Annual Fee. The Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card has no annual fee. Since you’re likely to keep this card on lockdown between Holland America purchases, this is a welcome feature that lowers your cost of ownership and maximizes the value of your earned rewards.
- Long 0% APR Introductory Promotion for Balance Transfers. For a travel rewards card, Holland America Line Rewards Visa has an unusually long 0% APR balance transfer promotion: 15 months. That’s in line with some of the top balance transfer cards on the market, including Chase Slate. Plus, the $50 sign-up bonus can be triggered by a single balance transfer. If you’re looking for an opportunity to pay down cumbersome credit card debt and earn valuable rewards at the same time, this card is a definite contender.
- Easy-to-Attain Sign-Up Bonus. This card’s sign-up bonus is super easy to earn. All you have to do is open your account and make a single purchase or balance transfer. For your trouble, or lack thereof, you’ll earn 5,000 Holland America points – worth $50 at redemption.
- High Redemption Rates for Big Cruise Spenders. If you spend heavily with Holland America Line, you’ll automatically increase the value of your points when you redeem for statement credits against Holland America purchases – up to $0.025 apiece when you spend $4,001 or more within a 180-day period. That equates to a 5% return on Holland America Line spending.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. The Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card has no foreign transaction fee. If your next Holland America cruise is scheduled to call at international ports, this feature will save you some serious cash.
- No Penalty Interest Charges. If unexpected expenses or unpredictable cash flow occasionally causes you to miss statement due dates, you’ll be happy to learn that this card doesn’t charge penalty interest. Depending on the average size of your carried balances, this could substantially reduce your balance-carrying costs.
- Limited 2x Categories. The Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card earns 2 Holland America points per $1 spent on Holland America cruise packages and onboard purchases. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent. Given that cruise spending is likely to account for a very small proportion of your total discretionary budget, this isn’t a very generous rewards system. If you prefer travel rewards cards that earn above-average returns on a wider range of spending types, check out Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite MasterCard. Its unlimited 2x point earnings apply to all purchases, all the time, and equate to a 2% return on spending when redeemed for statement credits against travel purchases.
- No Automatic Loyalty Status or Benefits. The Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card doesn’t come with automatic loyalty status. Nor does it offer any special perks for frequent Holland America customers. Most popular airline and hotel credit cards offer at least some concessions for loyal customers, even if it’s just a free checked bag or discounted food and beverages. And some do better: Both Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express and IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, among many others, offer automatic elite status that confers tangible benefits, such as complimentary room upgrades and accelerated base point earnings on in-network purchases.
- No Earning Reciprocity With Other Cruise Lines. Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card only allows you to earn 2 Holland America points per $1 spent on Holland America purchases. If you step outside the Holland America ecosystem, your purchases will earn just 1 point per $1 spent. This is a drawback relative to some other cruise line cards.
- Limited Fringe Benefits. Beyond 24/7 concierge service for travelers, this card has few fringe benefits. If you’re looking for a card that offers complimentary rental car insurance or extended warranties, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
- No Point Transfers. Though you can redeem your Holland America points for non-cruise travel purchases, such as airfare, you can’t directly transfer your points to other travel merchants’ loyalty currency accounts. General-purpose travel rewards cards, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, do allow such transfers – often at favorable ratios that can magnify point values. So do many branded cards, such as Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express.
- Low Baseline Rewards Rate. The Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card earns just 1 point per $1 spent on most purchases. Unless you redeem your points for statement credits against large Holland America purchases, that’s a 1% return on spending. Consider boosting your rate of return with a broad-based cash back credit card that earns 1.5% or better: Chase Freedom Unlimited (unlimited 1.5%), Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (unlimited 1.5%), and Citi Double Cash Card (unlimited 2%) all come to mind.
I have plenty of friends who can barely contain themselves as they count the days until their next cruise. Many of them use travel rewards credit cards to reduce the cost of their trips and stretch their finite vacation budgets further.
If you’re a kindred spirit who loves sailing off to sea, and you don’t mind cruising with Holland America Line, I’d strongly encourage you to consider applying for this card. Before you know it, you could be enjoying the view from the upper deck – at a far more reasonable price than you ever imagined.