You might have been curious about an airline miles card if you were thinking about getting a rewards credit card. Even though some customers stand to gain significantly from the travel benefits and rewards, airline miles cards sometimes don't pay for themselves. Continue reading if you have any questions about whether an airline miles card will be a suitable fit for you.
Who Should Get a Miles Card from an Airline?
Airlines miles cards might be a good substitute for very frequent travelers, especially if they are already members of an airline loyalty program. They can be a useful way to boost your mile balance since you can use your card to charge both travel-related and non-travel-related transactions. As was already mentioned, airline miles cards frequently offer useful travel advantages. The following are some typical benefits, however they may differ from card to card:
- Preferential Boarding:
Priority boarding is a feature of several airline credit cards when you fly with them. You'll value this benefit if you don't like to be the last person to find your seat and would rather be relaxed when the plane begins to taxi to the runway.
- Upgraded seats:
A free seat upgrade can also be possible if you have an airline rewards credit card. Under some circumstances, some airlines will provide holders of airline miles cards a roomier seat even if you have booked an economy seat.
- Checked Bags Are Free:
Many airlines exclude cardholders from paying the luggage cost. This may be able to save you a sizable sum each time you fly, unless you are already an elite member. For instance, you may avoid paying at least $60 in checked luggage fees if you book a round-trip flight with Delta. Some cards even provide complimentary checked luggage for your traveling companions, which might allow you to pay off the annual charge of your card with just one family trip.
- Discounts for In-Flight Purchases:
You will value this benefit if you like to eat and drink when you fly or if you require WiFi. Some cards provide discounts of up to 25% on every transaction you make while flying.
- Airport Benefits:
This group of unique advantages may include free lounge access, payment of TSA PreCheck application fees, and even free food and beverages. All of these benefits might make your time at the airport less stressful, allowing you to unwind and get ready for your journey.
- Friend Passes:
Many airline credit cards include discounted or free companion passes. This can be one of the most lucrative benefits, as you’ll only need to pay taxes and fees for a companion when you travel. There are cards that offer one free pass per year, while others require that you spend a certain amount to qualify.
Reasons Why Airline Miles Cards Might Not Be Valuable
If none of the aforementioned appeals to you, you might be beginning to question whether an airline miles card is the best option for you. There are still additional factors, though, that could make an airline miles card unprofitable.
- Annual Fees:
Annual fees are not only related to credit cards for airline miles, but they can add up quickly. While the more basic cards have an annual charge of $75 to $95 or more, you may expect to pay up to $550 or more if you want premium services. It follows that you must be absolutely certain that the benefits of the card will much outweigh the expense of the annual fee.
- Potentially Limiting Your Options for Airlines:
If you have a general travel card, you can shop around for the best deal on flights from a variety of airlines. However, if you have an airline miles card, you are limited to flying with that one carrier. While it may be possible to use your miles to purchase flights with partner airlines, you need to be highly brand loyal to get the most out of your airline miles card.
- Less Alluring Welcome Bonuses:
When compared to airline cards, general credit cards frequently provide large incentives. You might be dissatisfied with the offers from airline miles cards if all you desire is a sizable sign-up bonus after spending the required amount. Despite a few instances, you might benefit more from a more generic card.
- Less Chances to Earn Bonus Miles:
There are stringent restrictions on what purchases may qualify for bonus points on several airlines. For instance, a lot of airline mile cards only let you earn points for flying. When compared to more general rewards cards, there are some cards that offer a restricted number of miles for expenditures like gas, food, and other necessities, but these tend to be fairly small.
- Difficult Redemptions:
Booking your reward travel may be challenging with airline credit cards due to airline loyalty programs, which is one of their biggest negatives. Some include restrictions on your travel schedule, such as blackout dates. Finding a seat might be challenging because some airlines even cap the amount of reward seats that are available. Additionally, there are no guarantees the reward program will remain the same. Recently, a number of airlines made program changes that decreased the value of miles when booking a journey.
You should certainly take some time to think about if an airline miles credit card is a good choice for you if you're thinking about getting one. For frequent travelers, airline mileage cards can be a wonderful alternative, although they can be very limited. There are general travel credit cards that can offer greater value if all you're looking for is a means to score some free flights or other travel perks. You may often earn rewards on travel and regular transactions with general travel cards, so you can rack up points when you pay for groceries, meals out, or gas. In order to increase your chances of receiving rewards, you might utilize it as your go-to card in your wallet. Additionally, general cards may provide more adaptable redemption choices. Even while booking hotels or flights typically offers the most value in terms of redemption, you can still use your rewards as statement credits or gift cards if you can't travel, as might be the case during the 2020 COVID pandemic. Consider carefully whether an airline miles card is worthwhile to you before deciding.