As we all know, air travel can be expensive. There are ways to earn free air travel, and one of those ways is to use a card for your day to day purchases which earns free tickets or frequent flyer miles on many of the major airlines.
There are two basic types of credit cards that do this. The first is known as an airline mile card. The miles earned can be used for free tickets on over 250 major airlines. Many of these types of cards also allow the credit card holder to cash in their points for other travel rewards such as rental cars and hotel stays.
The second is known as a frequent flyer card. It allows the credit card holder to earn frequent flyer miles on a specific airline and its partners.
For people who are responsible with card debt, getting a card to earn free travel can be a smart idea. For those who are able to pay off most or all of their credit card bill at the end of the month, charging day to day purchases such as groceries, clothing, and gas makes sense.
So the question is, which card is better? An airline mile credit card or a frequent flyer credit card? The answer lies in the needs of the traveler.
If you need flexibility, an airline mile credit card may be the best choice. Since these cards earn points instead of frequent flyer miles, the rewards are not subject to the same restrictions as frequent flyer miles. Also, since the points can be used on a variety of airlines, you are not boxed in by the schedule and availability of just one airline.
Some of the airline mile credit cards also allow the credit card holder to convert those points into frequent flyer miles on specific airlines. They can then be added to frequent flyer miles that the credit card holder has accumulated from actual flights and other sources, allowing the traveler to earn free flights more quickly.
The down side of airline mile credit cards is that the rewards may not add up as quickly frequent flyer mile credit cards. Many of them work on a $ 1 dollar spent = one point system. Since it averages about 24,000 points to earn one free ticket, it may take some credit card users a few years to rack up enough points for a free flight.
If you are a frequent traveler on one specific airline, then a frequent flyer card may be your best choice. Often these cards offer bonus miles just for opening up the credit card account once you've made your first purchase. It's not unusual for the bonus to be 15,000 miles or more which can be added to miles earned from actual flights.
Most frequent flyer cards offer one mile for each dollar spent, but some offer double miles for purchases at specific places. Again, these miles earned can be added to miles earned from flights.
The downside to a frequent flyer card is the limited choices you will have when booking travel. There are often black out dates associated with frequent flyer miles and a limited number of seats available on flights for those redeeming miles.
Whether you choose an airline mile credit card or frequent flyer credit card, it's a good idea to research all of the terms and conditions including all reward conditions, credit card fees, interest rates and late fees associated with the card before you make your choice.