I have to admit that I am one of those guys who follows the old rule “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. So when I came across the Veterans Advantage Card on the Deals & Offers tab on the new United.com website I was skeptical. The main draw was a 5% discount on all United flights, but there were a host of other discounts including pretty much every rental car company, AMTRAK, Greyhound, and a bunch of stores. The catch was that to join you needed to pay $60 plus a $4.95 handling fee. Hmmm. Let’s do the math, hey I’m an engineer, I like math. So to recoup $64.95, I divide it by 0.05 and get $1299. I would need to buy $1299 worth of United tickets to make this worthwhile. I probably spend about $3000 on United per year, so that part works out.
I decided to investigate more. The UA website link brings up a page giving some details of the program and touting the ability to get a free 30-day membership, but it didn’t really provide the detail I want before making a committment. Going to the www.veteransadvantage.com website gave me the answers that I needed. It lists the many programs involved, plus if you go to the Plan Options tab and then the Special Offers tab on the left side you will find two mutually exclusive options. One allows you to get a 15% discount on the membership price ($51) and the other gives you a free companion ticket.
OK, so not much to risk, but I was still a little concerned that I would find that the 5% discount on United would only apply to a high fare class or be somehow limited. I decided to take the plunge for the sake of my readers – what the heck it’s only $65. The first thing after signing up and getting my member numbr and code for United was to take it for a spin. Plugging the code into the Offer Code space on the search screen, I tried out an upcoming itinerary to attend my daughter’s graduation. They said a blue star would appear on each fare to let you know the discount was being applied and sure enough it appeared on every single flight listed. I was really surprised as I have had other United discount codes that only applied to a few flights when I tried them out.
OK, so the fare I wanted for a normal price of $762 was now only $724. A modest savings of $38, but heck, that’s equal to a free dinner, I’ll take it. So the ROI (return on investment) so far is already paying off as I just made back 58% of the money I put into this thing and I still haven’t got my rental car or hotel.
I’ll continue to report on my successes with this card over the coming year, but so far it seems like a good investment. Check it out yourselves and let me know if you have any questions that I can try to answer. Savings so far: $38.