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Carnival Cruise Lines offers a credit card issued by Barclays and MasterCard that earns FunPoints rewards towards future cruise vacations. There's a good promotional offer for up to 10,000 free FunPoints with the first purchase and balance transfer made on the credit card. This can be a good card to have for avid cruise passengers, with value maximized in the higher FunPoint redemption tiers. However, if you're just a casual cruiser, then there are other travel cards that offer you greater value for your spending.
Credit Card Benefits & Rewards
How do I earn rewards and FunPoints? You earn twice the FunPoints when paying for cruise trips, purchases of merchandise or services made during life at sea, and charges to your Sail & Sign accounts. All other purchases made on land accrue one FunPoint per dollar charged. The current promotion offered by the cruise line and Barclays is 10,000 FunPoints with the first use on your card, and 5,000 more FunPoints for moving a balance over to the MasterCard. Based on Carnival's redemption values, this is the equivalent of $100 towards a fun cruise trip.
Barclays representatives state that FunPoints do not expire so long as you maintain the MasterCard account in good standing and active by making payments and using it at least once a month.
FunPoints earned on the Carnival credit card can be redeemed for free cruise vacations, meals onboard the ship, drinks and cocktails at the bar, souvenirs and merchandise from ship's shops, spa services like massages and skin treatments, or even off-shore excursions and special onboard experiences. Examples of some of the experiences onboard the ship begin at champagne and chocolate delights for 6,100 FunPoints, 7,200 FunPoints for a bathrobe, 12,500 FunPoints for $100 in onboard credits (OBC), or 20,000 FunPoints for a $200 Spa credit (25,000 FunPoints for $200 OBC). At the highest end, passengers can also redeem a $1,250 discount or credit onboard with 75,000 in credit card FunPoints. Some reports indicate that excursions cannot be redeemed in advance, but you can book sightseeing tours or kayaking adventures with FunPoints through guest relations once you've embarked.
The Reward Return of a FunPoint
To determine the average value of a FunPoint, let's walk through a series of example calculations. For starters, the bathrobe is currently retailing on the cruise line's website for $50. This would mean the value of a point would be $50 / 7,200 FunPoints = 0.7%, or less than a cent. The next tier up, getting a $100 award to spend on the ship will reduce your FunPoints balance by 12,500, which equates to a value of 0.8%, still less than a cent. $200 credits onboard the ship will require 25,000 redemption points, which is still 0.8%. At a higher tier, $200 spa credits / 20,000 FunPoints is a value of one cent. At the highest example available, a $1,250 OBC would be a 1.6% redemption value.
From this, we can infer that the greater the number of FunPoints you redeem, the better the value you're getting out of it.
TIP: Consider holding off using your FunPoints to redeem when less than 20,000 points have accrued. The higher the FunPoints balance that gets applied to each item charged, the better. That means even if you're redeeming 75,000 points in total for ten different charges, the value you get for each charge or item will be low. One way to maximize the redeemed value is to pay as much as possible in one credit card transaction (ex: book excursions, onboard credits, decorations, and the cruise room rates all at once) so you can have a high dollar amount purchase to apply a higher FunPoint balance to.
How to Redeem FunPoints for Award Travel
FunPoints can be redeemed in advance up to fifteen days before the start of the cruise. Otherwise, you'll have to wait once you disembark to apply the points to your credit card purchases online.
TIP: We suggest that Carnival cruisemembers apply the points credits retroactively instead of getting credits in advance. This way, you charge the purchases onboard and earn extra FunPoints on top of them versus getting OBC and missing out on the opportunity to earn extra points. Either way, you're going to get the same redeemed value, but the first method squeezes extra FunPoints out of the experience.
Despite the MasterCard being a branded Carnival Cruise lines credit card, FunPoints can be redeemed for discounts or awards on Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa Cruises, and the Yachts of Seabourn.
Barclays simplifies this process by process by providing a FunPoints calculator, which lets you estimate the dollar award value based on your FunPoints balance. Cardmembers can log onto their account and apply the points retroactively to the charges showing up on their credit card. Note that certain customers have reported differences in what what telephone representatives have said their FunPoints are worth in dollars versus what was actually applied to their credit card account. To be safe, please verify the dollar value with a second telephone representative and the online FunPoints account.
Review: is the Carnival Credit Card Worth it?
While you do get to earn FunPoints twice as fast for cruises (great for perennial frequent passengers), the value of a point is lower compared to other credit cards. You have to accumulate 75,000 points (that's a lot of spending!) to even attain a 1.6% value on OBCs.
There are a number of other credit cards out there that are carrier agnostic, and give you more redemption value, and faster. Here's one comparison of the Carnival MasterCard to other travel credit cards: Capital One's all-purpose Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (even the no-fee one gets a higher value). The rewards rate on the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a solid 2%. However, if you are a passionate cruise passenger, or like having their cheerful credit card, then the Carnival World MasterCard would make a nice addition to your credit card rotation - especially since it has no annual fee.
Information current as of January 2014