If you are one of those frequent flyers, whether for business or pleasure, an airline credit card which provides you airlines points or miles every time you utilize your card, can be a great way to get some of that money you spend on travel fares.
What Is an Airline Credit Card?
An airline credit card, as far as how it works, is basically a cash back credit card with one huge difference – instead of getting cash back, you earn points or miles whenever you use your card.
Air miles from British Airways used to be the biggest and most famous airline reward scheme. However, in the last few years, the number of airlines that offer such cards has increased dramatically.
Quite often, you can get started with one such card without paying any fee for the first year of your membership.
What Can I Redeem My Miles for?
Once you have accumulated enough points or miles, you can redeem them for free flights to almost any destination you choose.
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Apart from air tickets, generally one can redeem the earned airline miles or points for availing car rentals, hotel accommodation, cash or goods, giving you the option of redeeming whatever you find most suitable at any given time.
Although the reward system varies from airline to airline, on average, to earn a free flight to, say, Paris, you would need to spend around $7000.
Again, this depends on your card and its terms.
You can keep accumulating your earned points and redeem them to get free air tickets on reaching a specified level. The good thing is that some companies now allow you to top up your points or miles if you don’t have enough yet, but you want to use your miles right away.
Here are five of the best credit cards, offering bonus air miles to new members:
1. Citi Platinum Select/ AAdvantage World MasterCard
This card carries the usual benefits of priority boarding and free checked baggage.
The exceptional benefit of this card is that you earn a discount of $100 on your airfare provided you pay out $30,000 or more.
- APR: Varies from 13.99%-21.99%.
- Annual fee $95
- For every dollar you spend on specified AA purchases, you earn two American Airlines AAdvantage miles and earn one AAdvantage mile for every dollar you spend on rest of the purchases.
- First check up is free for you and a maximum of four persons accompanying you.
- On spending $30,000 or additional amount per annum, you get an airline discount of $100.
- On redeeming your AAdvantage miles, you reclaim ten percent of redeemed miles.
2. The JetBlue Card from American Express
Frequent fliers of JetBlue are awarded this American Express card. There is no fee charged for the first year of membership. Subsequently, only $40 is charged towards fee, making it worthwhile to patronize this airline for the benefits it offers.
As a promotion, they also offer 20,000 TrueBlue points on spending one thousand dollars during the initial three months of your membership.
- Annual fee: $40.
- APR: 15.24%.
- For qualified in-flight purchases as also their getaway holiday packages, you get eight points for every dollar you spend.
- For the rest of the purchases, you are entitled to one point for every dollar spent.
3. Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express
In case Delta is your preferred airlines, you’ll benefit on opting for one of the three cards that SkyMiles provides.
These offer the most excellent perquisites to frequent fliers.
Though the card carries an annual fee of $95, you’re exempted from paying it for the first year. Looking to the perks that you’ll enjoy, it’s worth paying that fee.
- Annual fee: $95.
- APR: Varies from 15.24%-19.24%.
- For every dollar you spend on Delta purchases, you earn two miles.
- For other purchases, your earning will be one mile per dollar.
- Your first check bag is free for up to nine people traveling on your Delta reservation.
- You also get priority boarding for up to 9 people on your Delta reservation.
- You get additional twenty percent off on your in-flight expenses towards food, beverages, entertainment and purchases
- For card member and two guests, $25 per visit per person goes to Delta Sky Club.
4. US Airways Dividend Miles Business Card
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, you’ll find this card very valuable.
Additionally, you are credited with 50,000 bonus points after your initial purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee.
You may also earn up to 10,000 miles on transferring a balance from other business accounts inside the initial month of membership.
- $89 annual fee.
- APR: Varies from 15.99%-24.99%.
- For every dollar spent on US Airways purchases, you earn one mile.
- For rest of the purchases, you earn one mile for every two dollars you spend.
5. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
This card is great for frequent fliers. During the period of promotion, no fee is charged for the first year of membership.
Additionally, you get unrestricted miles with no worries of their getting expired.
With this card, you won’t ever have any limitations of blackout dates.
- Annual Fee: $59
- APR: Variable from 13.9%-20.9%
- For every dollar you spend, you earn two miles.
- One-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
Should I Get One?
The only scenario that I recommend for getting an airline credit cards is if you can afford to pay off your balance in full each month.
Otherwise, with an average annual percentage rate (APR) of around 18%, the amount of interest fees you pay will outweigh the value of any rewards you stand to earn.
Those who are frequent flyers and spend money regularly on airfare stand to benefit the most from airline credit cards. Many cards also offer sign up bonus which usually includes an X amount of free miles. So, using an airline credit card is a great way to get something back in return for spending all that money on airfare.
Well, there is the annual fee that some cards charge that can go as high as $100 or more. Sure, this fee might be worth it if what you get in return is attractive enough. It is always suggested that you do your calculation before you apply for any card. It makes no sense to get a card with so little rewards that you won’t even be able to use it for anything.
Every card has something to offer and has its own conditions. Some allow you to earn more mileage points but may have a higher annual fee.
So, go for the one that most suits your style of spending cash.
It is worth adding here that the rates of interest charged, fees and conditions for the best airline credit cards mentioned above keep changing from time to time.
It is therefore recommended to check the latest fee and interest chargeable and also the conditions of credit card issuers before signing up.