Travel and Airline Credit Cards

Check out our list of the latest travel credit card offers, including bonus offers. Whether it's flights, nights or points, we've made it easy to compare. If you're a frequent flyer or road warrior, an airline or travel card will help you earn perks faster. The following cards from our partners offer travel rewards. Find the one suits you best and apply online .

See offers from our partners below.

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 APPLY ONLINE

at Discover's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Match Mile For Mile: We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates – fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as statement credits towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • See additional Discover it® Miles details
 APPLY NOW

at Discover's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Purchases Intro APR
    0% for 14 months
    Balance Transfers Intro APR
    10.99% for 14 months
    Regular APR
    11.99% - 23.99% Variable
    Annual Fee
    $0
    Credit Needed
    Excellent/Good
 APPLY ONLINE

at Chase's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • See additional Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card details
 APPLY NOW

at Chase's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Purchases Intro APR
    N/A
    Balance Transfers Intro APR
    N/A
    Regular APR
    16.99% - 23.99% Variable
    Annual Fee
    Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
    Credit Needed
    Excellent/Good
 APPLY ONLINE

at Capital One's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $400 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
  • Get a metal Venture Card when you apply today
  • See additional Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card details
 APPLY NOW

at Capital One's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
  • Purchases Intro APR
    N/A
    Balance Transfers Intro APR
    N/A
    Regular APR
    13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
    Annual Fee
    $0 intro for first year; $59 after that
    Credit Needed
    Excellent, Good
 APPLY ONLINE

at Capital One's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 12.99%-22.99% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • See additional Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card details
 APPLY NOW

at Capital One's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
  • Purchases Intro APR
    0% intro on purchases for 12 months
    Balance Transfers Intro APR
    N/A
    Regular APR
    12.99% - 22.99% (Variable)
    Annual Fee
    $0
    Credit Needed
    Excellent, Good
 APPLY ONLINE

at Bank of America's
secure site

 APPLY BY PHONE
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days — that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want — you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 15.99% - 23.99% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
  • See additional BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card details
 APPLY NOW

at Bank of America's
secure site

or call Bank of America at
877-915-7732


Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Purchases Intro APR
    0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
    Balance Transfers Intro APR
    N/A
    Regular APR
    15.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
    Annual Fee
    $0
    Credit Needed
    Excellent/Good
 APPLY ONLINE

at Bank of America's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Limited Time Offer - Buy 1 ticket, get 1 for just the taxes and fees with Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ Offer.
  • Get 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening.
  • Get another Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22) every year on your account anniversary valid on Alaska and Virgin America flights booked on alaskaair.com.
  • Save with a free checked bag on Alaska and Virgin America flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation.
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. No foreign transaction fees.
  • There are two types of cards: the Visa Signature® card and the Platinum Plus® card. The card you receive will be determined by several factors including your income and credit history.
  • The benefits and bonus miles above apply to Visa Signature cards only. The Annual Fees, benefits and bonus miles for Platinum Plus® cards are different.
  • For more information on the differences, see the Features section accompanying the application.
  • See additional Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card details
 APPLY NOW

at Bank of America's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Purchases Intro APR
    N/A
    Balance Transfers Intro APR
    N/A
    Regular APR
    13.24% - 20.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
    Annual Fee
    $75
    Credit Needed
    Excellent/Good
 APPLY ONLINE

at Barclaycard's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers
  • See additional Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® details
 APPLY NOW

at Barclaycard's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent
  • Purchases Intro APR
    N/A
    Balance Transfers Intro APR
    0% for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
    Regular APR
    16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable
    Annual Fee
    $89 - Waived first year
    Credit Needed
    Excellent
 APPLY ONLINE

at Citi's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases1
  • Receive 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back — up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*
  • See additional Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® details
 APPLY NOW

at Citi's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Purchases Intro APR
    N/A
    Balance Transfers Intro APR
    N/A
    Regular APR
    16.74% - 24.74%* (Variable)
    Annual Fee
    $95, waived for first 12 months*
    Credit Needed
    Excellent/Good
 APPLY ONLINE

at American Express's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. Terms and limitations apply.
  • As a Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card Member you'll receive Hilton Honors Gold status.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See additional Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express details
 APPLY NOW

at American Express's
secure site

Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Purchases Intro APR
    N/A
    Balance Transfers Intro APR
    N/A
    Regular APR
    16.24%-20.24% Variable
    Annual Fee
    $75
    Credit Needed
    Excellent/Good
 APPLY ONLINE

at American Express's
secure site

 APPLY BY PHONE
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See additional Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express details
 APPLY NOW

at American Express's
secure site

or call American Express at
877-915-7068


Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Purchases Intro APR
    N/A
    Balance Transfers Intro APR
    N/A
    Regular APR
    16.24%-20.24% Variable
    Annual Fee
    $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
    Credit Needed
    Excellent/Good
Show More Results


Compare Travel Credit Card Offers

Updated: July 13, 2017

Card Welcome Bonus Bonus Requirement Rewards Rate
Discover it® Miles Match Mile For Mile: We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year Automatic Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 50,000 Bonus Points Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 40,000 Miles Spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening Unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card 20,000 Miles Spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening Unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card 20,000 Online Bonus Points Make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card 30,000 Bonus Miles and a companion fare from $121 ($99, plus taxes and fees from $22) Make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America & 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® 50,000 Bonus Miles Spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days Earn 2X miles on all purchases
Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM $150 Bonus Spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase

Welcome to the World of Travel Cards

Every day, a new credit card seems to launch, with travel and cashback cards taking the lead. Similar in many ways, travel cards can be thought of as the “adult” card, because the miles or points can be quite valuable, and there’s a little more thought to making them work, in part because there can be an annual fee to leverage (more on that later).

Travel cards offer a twofold bonus. First, you can use them to maximize the returns on your travel spending, saving you hundreds of dollars a year. Second, some offer special access to travel rewards, such as free nights in swanky hotels, access to exclusive airport lounges and more. Not only can travel cards benefit those who work around the world or who often travel for pleasure, they can reap great rewards for the occasional traveler. Just think – earn statement credits for a weekend getaway or a quick trip out of town. Here’s what you need to know to find the best one:

General rewards rate

Travel rewards cards offer rewards as a points system, where the points have a certain cash value applicable toward travel spending. Often, these cards refer to points as miles. They are pretty much the same thing, although the values can vary, going above $0.02 and below $0.01 for every point or mile earned.

When earning, you can get up to $0.03 for every dollar spent for a specific category, such as restaurants or worldwide travel. Others will offer a flat 2:1 miles-per-dollar ratio on all purchases. Take stock of how much you spend, on average, for categories like restaurants, gas and yes, even airfare to decide which kind of travel card works best for you.

Certain Chase cards will increase the rewards rate if you redeem them through their travel purchase portal. You can also often redeem for clothing, electronics and other goods with many cards’ miles, although you may not get as good of a rate of exchange.

Sign-up bonus

Besides the general rewards plan, you should closely examine the sign-up bonus when deciding on a travel rewards card. You will have to meet a minimum spend requirement in the first few months, so know your budget going in, to ensure you can meet the goal. Make sure you have the money to pay it back in full and on time so you don’t incur interest fees, otherwise, you have defeated the purpose of getting a bonus.

Airline-specific perks

Airline-specific cards can offer unique perks, such as free checked bags, priority boarding or lounge access. If you have a loyalty to a certain airline, the right rewards rate combined with these perks may make them a superior deal compared to more general travel cards.

Transfer partnerships

Some travel cards have partnerships with specific hotel and airline rewards programs, sometimes with a 1:1 ratio. So, even if you have a co-branded card, you might be able to use your miles on other brands.

Fine print and fees

Certain offers come with blackout dates in which you can’t apply your miles to reservations for certain flights or nights in a hotel. They’re usually reserved for heavily trafficked times, such as holidays or days near major events. Again, having a plan comes in handy. Do you require fuss-free redemptions? Or do you travel enough during off-peak times that blackout dates won’t bother you?

Also, pay attention to expiration dates. Your miles can expire if you don’t use them by a certain deadline. Others allow you to keep your miles as long as your account is active.

Some cards may require you to book through an airline’s website in order to apply your points to the cost of your flight.

Finally, some travel cards will offer a certain reimbursement amount if your trip is delayed. They can also have trip insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and other benefits.

Be mindful of annual fees. You’ll want to make sure you will use the card enough to offset an annual fee. Also, cards specific to a hotel or airline may offset the annual fee cost with certain perks, like one free night’s stay or free flight every year you keep your account open. Many cards waive the fee for the first year.

Want more information?

Below are a variety of frequently asked questions and answers regarding travel rewards and programs. You can also read our detailed reviews of travel credit cards once you have narrowed your choices down to a few cards. The reviews can help you confirm which offer fits your needs. If you’re homing in on a card for a specific airline or hotel, we have reviews for those, too.

What is a travel credit card?

A travel credit card can reward you for travel behavior, such as eating at restaurants or staying at hotels. Some are loyalty cards in which you benefit from using specific hotel or airline brands. Others, such as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, have an open-ended reward and redemption system that allows you to redeem for all manner of travel expenses.

Travel cards are an excellent way to get reimbursed for vacations, make purchases on shopping portals, gain access to airport lounges, get free baggage checks and more. Today, there is a huge selection of travel cards, so it’s important to shop around and pick the one that’s best for your lifestyle.

What are airline miles?

Airline miles were originally designed for airline loyalty programs in which you got credit in the way of “miles” for your spending on a card. Today, miles cards sometimes are not attached to a specific airline, such as Discover it Miles, or a card may have partnerships with a variety of airlines, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

There are also hotel travel cards, which will typically refer to the benefits as “points.” Whether called points or miles, these benefits can earn you savings in the hundreds each year. By putting miles toward flights or points toward hotel stays, you can get a statement credit for vacation expenses and more.

How do I get a travel credit card?

When you apply for a travel credit card, the card issuer will gather some information, including Social Security number, name and address, and income. Fill out the form honestly, because you can have the card revoked if you’re caught in a lie. Income can be money you have access to, rather than just your salary, so if you and your spouse are employed, you can combine the incomes. This is helpful if you are an at-home parent and the family has just one income.

Many cards will approve or decline you within minutes. If you are approved, you may be able to shop online with your new account. Your card will arrive within a few days in the mail.

How to compare travel credit cards

Here's how to compare travel credit cards:

Track your spending for 2 months. You'll want to see how much you spend on items such as groceries and gas.

Study a mix of travel cards, including Chase Sapphire Preferred, Delta Gold from American Express and Barclaycard Arrival Plus. Each has a specific type of model: The Sapphire Preferred offers a vast variety of partnerships with airlines and hotels; the Delta Gold rewards you for spending at a specific brand; and the Arrival Plus is a good choice for general travel.

Compare the signup bonuses and decide if you can afford the required spend. Also, look at the annual fees and compare to the benefits your receive, such as free baggage checks, miles earned, and rental car insurance.

Why do creditors offer travel cards?

On the surface, it doesn't make sense why creditors or credit card issuers offer travel credit cards. But it makes sense, once you understand the issuer business model. Here's how it works:

  • Card issuers charge fees such as late payment fees, annual fees, balance transfer fees and cash advance fees. For example, when you transfer a balance to your new card, you are usually charged a 3%-5% fee or $5-$10, whichever is greater. Even if the card offers a 0% intro APR, and you pay your balance by the time the offer ends, the bank still gets a take.
  • Card issuers, as you probably know, benefit from interest fees you pay when you carry a balance past a month. These fees are hefty, with the average APR running at about 15%. If you make a $500 purchase and your APR is 17%, a monthly minimum payment will mean that you pay for 24 months and pay $92 in interest. Great for the issuer, not so amazing for you. That's why it's important not to carry a balance, or you'll wash away the earnings you've made with your travel card.
  • Card issuers and networks earn a processing fee for each transaction that is typically paid by the merchant. Called interchange fees, they are based on the volume and value of transactions. Usually, the consumer is not impacted by this fee, which can be a percentage of the transaction of say, about 2%, plus a flat fee of perhaps $0.10 per transaction. That said, you can be charged a “checkout fee” for using your card.

With all these fees floating around, what do you do? First off, pay in full and on time each month. That will keep you from paying late fees and interest fees. Also, keep an emergency fund so you won't be tempted to take out a cash advance. Finally, ask the merchant if you are being charged a checkout fee for using your Visa or MasterCard. If so and it's a big purchase, you may want to think about shopping elsewhere.

What are the advantages of a travel credit card?

Travel cards have a number of advantages, including the ability to earn statement credits for travel and sometimes luxury benefits, such as access to airport lounges.

If you are loyal to a specific hotel or airline brand, you can earn double miles for spending on that brand and even earn stays and other loyalty benefits. Some cards, such as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, allows you to earn 2X miles on everything, then you can earn a statement credit on travel purchases of your choosing. This allows you to shop around for the best hotel, airline, limousine service, condo, rental car, and so on. Add to that, your miles don’t expire, although there can be a deadline for redeeming a specific purchase.

What are the disadvantages of a travel credit card?

There are a few disavantages to travel cards, but nothing that can’t be overcome.

As you know, travel cards can have an annual fee, but that doesn’t have to be a disadvantage. Simply make sure you will spend enough to cover the fee. If, for example, you have a $59 annual fee and you get 2X miles on every purchase, you’ll need to spend a minimum of $3,000 throughout the year to get 6,000 miles, which is enough to cover the annual fee.

Another challenge, and this is true for all credit cards, is that you can incur interest fees if you carry over a balance. There’s an easy answer, though. Just don’t charge anything you don’t already have the money to cover, and pay in full and on time each month.

How do frequent flyer credit cards work?

Frequent flyer credit cards reward you more for airline-related expenses including baggage checks, tickets, and food and drink. The higher end cards might also gain you access to such benefits as brand-specific airport lounges. The more you use the card on airline expenses, the more you benefit with miles that can be redeemed for flights.

Heads up that frequent flyer miles can expire, so read the fine print. Also, there can be blackout dates, so before taking out a card, make sure it’s a product you’ll use based on your current habits. Do you only travel for the holidays? Do you not really have an interest in airport lounges? That will impact the card you apply for.

How do you use your airline miles?

Cards vary widely when it comes to using your airline miles. Some cards offer a portal that allows you to redeem for qualified packages, flights, hotels and condos, and more, such as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. The Arrival Plus allows you to redeem on any qualifying travel expense through a card portal that tracks how many points you need to redeem an item and how much more time you have to redeem for each item. Others limit how you use the miles to specific brands. For example, the American Express Delta cards’ miles can be specifically used for Delta flights and other Delta expenses.

What are bonus miles?

Many travel cards offer a signup bonus in which you spend a certain amount on your card within a certain period of time, usually 3 months or 90 days, in exchange for a one-time bulk of miles or points. Some cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, also give you points for behaviors such as signing up your first authorized user within a certain amount of time. You typically have to be a new cardholder.

While the bonus miles are a great draw for the new cardholder, there are a couple of things you want to make sure about before signing up. First, do you have the cash on hand to pay back the purchases you make to qualify for the bonus? You’ll want to be able to pay it back by the due date of that month, or you’ll incur interest charges, which basically would defeat the purpose of the bonus miles. Remember, a credit card is not designed to be a long-term loan.

Second, are you going to use the card enough to make the annual fee worth your while? Calculate how many miles you need to make up for the fee, even if the fee is waived the first year, because you want to consider a card to be a financial product for the long haul. Why? Because the longer you keep a card and treat it well, the better it is for your credit.

How many miles does it take to get a free flight?

Miles redemptions for a flight vary widely, and it depends on the type of ticket you want (ie. First class) and when and where you travel, but for example, on an Oct. 28, 2016, Delta flight from LAX to JFK (main cabin), it would have run you 25,000 miles.

Miles can also be used to upgrade your seat, purchase a companion’s ticket or buy refreshments. Miles often don’t expire (read the fine print), so it can be worth your while to save up for a big trip. Just double down on paying for things you would buy anyway to earn those miles. Sometimes you can pay rent, car insurance and utilities with your credit card. Just make sure there are no fees for those charges.

How do you use a travel credit card to save money?

Using a travel card to save money only works if you use your card for purchases you plan to make anyway and if you pay your card bill in full and on time each month. That way, you avoid late fees and interest charges. You also want to make sure that your planned spending will put your miles or points above the annual fee. So, if you have an annual fee of $95, and the redemption is at $0.01 for every mile, you want to make sure you plan to earn at least 9,500 miles or points in a year.

Ideally, you want to focus on your best travel or rewards card, and put as many purchases as possible on it so that you earn maximum miles.

What do you need to consider before getting an airline credit card?

4 things to consider before getting an airline credit card:

  • Are you going to earn more points or miles than the value of the annual fee? This can be a deal-breaker, because there is no point is taking out a card that you won’t be using to the fullest extent.
  • Will you be able to pay off the balance each month and on time? Again, you don’t want to be in a situation where you are paying interest charges each month. Only put charges on your card that you can pay off by the deadline.
  • Will you have an opportunity to use the miles or points? You don’t have to be a big traveler to take advantage of many cards, but you want to make sure this is a card that you will benefit from.
  • If it’s a loyalty card, will you realistically use it for that brand without cramping your style? If you aren’t dedicated to a particular brand of hotel or airline, there are a number of great cards that allow you the freedom to use all manner of travel brands.

How do you strategically use an airline credit card?

9 strategies to maximize airline rewards:

  • Research thoroughly before choosing your card. Read the fine print. Do miles expire, and when? Are there blackout dates? Can you live with the limitations?
  • Make it your go-to card. See if you can pay your rent or utilities with it. Buy your groceries with it.
  • Don’t spend just to earn miles. Only use it to buy what you were going to buy anyway.
  • If you can’t pay it off in full each month, there’s no point in acquiring it. The interest fees will overshadow any miles or points you’ve earned.
  • Never go over the limit or pay late. These are wasted dollars.
  • Letting points expire are a waste. Keep track of when points are due to expire and plan ahead to use them so you aren’t wasting them on expensive travel dates. Also, with some programs, earning just one point can reset the expiration date.
  • Stay flexible and try a variety of travel dates when redeeming. For example, international flights are sometimes cheaper midweek. And flying on Christmas Day can be cheaper than flying on Christmas Eve.
  • Sign up for loyalty programs, use shopping portals and use travel portals that might earn you additional points, such as the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Frequently check for deals.
  • Make a goal to use points for a trip, then do it.

What do you look for in a travel rewards credit card?

Here are 7 things to look for in a travel rewards credit card:

  • Is it flexible enough for your needs? There’s no point in taking out a card if you’ll never redeem the miles.
  • Will you earn more points than the cost of the annual fee? This is a deal breaker.
  • Will you use it without overspending? Never carry over a charge from month to month.
  • Are the benefits, such as complimentary auto rental insurance or airport lounges, items you will use? If not, there may be a good card for you with a lower annual fee.
  • Do you want a card with a shopping portal? This is a great way to save some money, although heads up that the rate of exchange can be lower.
  • Will you use the loyalty program, if there is one? For example, hotel brands might offer one free night after a certain number are purchased.
  • Are blackout dates or points expiration rules a deal breaker? As always, read the fine print.

How much is a frequent flyer mile worth?

While a frequent flyer mile is often worth $0.01, it can be more or less, depending on the program. For example, according to our valuation system, the Discover it Miles valuation is $.01 for every mile, while the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, is valued at $0.0126. That means if you have accumulated 30,000 miles with your Discover it Miles card, those miles are worth $300. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and you want to redeem them in the Ultimate Rewards portal, you will get the equivalent to $378 when you redeem. (CreditCards.com’s valuation system: A reward value is determined by calculating the cost per reward unit [point or mile] for obtaining a good or service.)

How do you redeem airline miles?

When redeeming airline miles, sometimes it’s as simple as going into a portal after the purchase and clicking a button. In other cases, such as the American Express Delta cards, you log into your Delta account to purchase your tickets. Before choosing a card, make sure you are clear about the steps and decide if you can live with those steps.

In the same way that you need to make sure that you’ll take full advantage of the card’s benefits and that you’ll maximize the savings, you want to ensure that the way that you redeem suits your lifestyle. Some cards are very easy to use, allowing you to redeem for pretty much anything that is travel-related, including limousine service. Others allow you to maximize your miles with a travel portal that gives you a bonus for redemptions.

Do frequent flyer miles expire?

Frequent flyer miles often expire. Some, such as Delta, don’t. Others require your account to remain active, although that can be as simple as earning a single mile before the expiration date. Make sure you read the fine print so you aren’t scrambling to use your miles.The key is to stay organized. Plan a specific trip for your miles and budget how many miles you need to earn to reach your goal. Never, ever, go over what you can afford, and mark on your calendar when the miles would expire.

Can you transfer airline miles to hotel points?

Usually you can’t transfer airline miles to hotel points, but there are exceptions. The question is really: Should you do it? The answer to that is typically no, because the transfer ratios are rarely favorable. It’s best to choose your card carefully and make sure you will use it well.

Before applying for a card, look at your past history. Do you love and use the brand that the card co-brands with? Have you used that brand in the past, and will you use it in the future? How often will you use it? If you can see yourself earning enough points or miles to make the card worthwhile, go for it.

Can you transfer miles to another person?

You might be able to transfer miles to another person, but it may not be to your advantage financially because you may be charged a fee for the transfer. Instead, book an award seat for someone else by entering their name instead of yours in the portal. Just keep in mind that in the case of international flights, some airlines require to see the card that was used. Sometimes, even the cardholder has to be present at flight time, or the ticket isn’t honored.

Can you transfer miles from one airline to another?

Typically, you can’t transfer miles directly between airline loyalty programs, although you may be able to earn and redeem miles for flights on partner airlines. In fact, in some cases, partnerships offer a 1:1 ratio.

Research which airlines your card’s co-brand has partnerships with, taking special care to look for airlines that fly out of your city or to destinations you often travel to. Also, research the transfer ratio.

Before applying for a card, research several cards, because the best deal may not be your favorite brand. You may in fact find that a more general card will give you more generous miles earned or that a card includes partnerships with your favorite brand.

Is a travel credit card right for me?

There are a few factors that will help you decide if a travel card is right for you.

First, do you have strong credit? Travel cards typically require good or excellent credit, so there is no point in applying unless you have at least a 700 FICO score, the dominant scoring model that lenders use. It has a range of 300-850, with 850 as the best.

Do you have a good handle on your finances? To maximize a travel card, you need to be able to juggle a couple of balls. It’s not difficult, but if you are not sure how much money is coming in, how much you spend each month, and what you are spending it on, you may want to hold off on getting a travel card. Why? Because to use the travel card successfully, you will want to use the card as much as possible, but never on something you don’t already have the money for. A cashback card such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited may be a better choice for you for now, because it offers a straight 1.5% cash back and there’s no annual fee.

Finally, do you travel at least somewhat? You don’t have to be a jetsetter, but to take full advantage of the card, you’ll want to at least be someone who travels a couple of times a year, or on a few weekend trips a year. The best way to assess this is to look at your travel habits in the past year, study how much you spent, and track which airlines and hotels you stayed at.

With a little effort on the front end, a travel card can save you hundreds a year on travel expenses, give you free nights or even flights, or even grant you access to luxury airport lounges. Find the right card for you.

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