Airline credit cards are increasingly becoming popular. Airline companies and banks, in particular, often sponsor airline credit cards in order to provide incentives to attract consumer interest. But before choosing an airline credit card, you should collect as much information as possible about each airline card that you are considering.
If you are a business traveler or a frequent flyer, an airline credit card is definitely something to investigate. But you might be wondering how airline credit cards work. Quite simply, you earn reward points, or miles, for every dollar spent with the credit card. These points can earn you free flights, free companion tickets, lost baggage protection, first class upgrades, car rentals, free stays in hotels and more.
It was the Citi Aadvantage card that first offered the airline credit card. Consumers got points with every purchase they made. These points could be redeemed for free air travel through a variety of different airlines. Today,most airlines have partnerships with credit card companies in order to provide airline credit cards rewards programs, and the incentives offered by these companies is attractive thanks in part to the existing competition in this industry.
When compared to standard credit cards, airline credit cards charge a higher interest rate and, in many cases, also charge annual fees for membership. But when used effectively, there are several attractive features of airline credit cards that help to offset those added charges and fees.
There are two general types of airline credit cards:
1) Airline-Sponsored Credit Cards
2) Bank-Sponsored Credit Cards
The points you earn from airline-sponsored credit cards can be used only on a particular airline. These cards are convenient, if you wish to fly on a particular airline or that airline dominates the routes to your potential destinations. Otherwise, it might be better to go with the many bank-sponsored airline credit cards now available.
Bank-sponsored credit cards are more flexible in nature. Unlike airline-sponsored credit cards that generally only allow you to redeem your points on one airline, you can use your points earned from the various bank-sponsored airline credit cards to redeem your miles on a wider selection of airlines. And typically, the points required to earn free travel is generally less with bank-sponsored credit cards. But there are exceptions to this rule.
Things to Keep in Mind
You should make it a point to thoroughly understand airline credit cards and how they work for you as well as how they work for the card companies before making a decision. You might want to peak with people who already have one like family or friends and solicit their feedback on the cards that they use. You can also utilize the Internet, which offers an unprecedented amount of information on a wide variety of credit cards and their features and benefits.
First of all, when selecting any credit card, you should start first with the applicable interest rate of each card. Is the interest rate comparable to other card offers currently available or does it appear to be abnormally high? If you plan to carry a balance on your credit card, you need to be absolutely sure that you select an airline credit card with the lowest ongoing interest rate available. In general, airline cards are not the right choice for those who carry a balance on their credit cards because of the generally higher costs associated with airline cards. Higher interest rates combined with high card balances never go hand in hand.
Some airline credit cards offer points but only on certain purchases. Keep these reward schemes in mind while choosing a card because the card will be essentially worthless if you are not able to make the type of purchases allowed on the card.
Another important item to consider is the expiration date on points that you earn. Also, find out if your points can be used even after the redemption period has expired. Certain cards will stipulate specific uses for point redemption at certain retailers after the expiration date.
And finally, the number of reward points earned per dollar spent varies from card to card. The number of points necessary to earn free or reduced travel will vary from card to card as well, so make sure to carefully weigh those factors when selecting an airline credit card as well.
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