There is an endless amount of credit cards today offering frequent flyer miles or other types of travel rewards. Searching for the best credit card for you can seem like a daunting task. You will want to weigh the pros and cons of airline specific cards versus cards issued by banks that offer airline miles as a reward. What may be the best card for one person may not be the best for the next person.
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When looking for the best credit cards with miles rewards you must not only weigh the benefits and downsides of the different types of cards you will also have to sort through the many introductory offers and fine print that you must look out for. Remember the saying, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
How does a credit card offering frequent flyer miles work?
Airline credit card offers that offer miles, typically give you a mileage point per dollar you charge to the card. Some offer double points on each dollar or different point amounts depending on the type of purchase you make. These points can then be converted to frequent flyer miles and cashed in for free airfare for a vacation or other airline perks such as a seat class upgrade.
What are the pros and cons of an airline specific credit card?
You will find that air miles credit cards are offered directly by an airline. The points you earn are only good on that airline which limits you if you want to fly on a different airline or want to travel to a destination not served by the airline whose credit card you have. If you are a member of a frequent flyer program with the airline, you can typically earn double the points when you take a trip and use the credit card to pay for your airfare.
What are the pros and cons of a credit card company travel rewards card?
Credit cards offering airline mileage points that are owned by the major credit card companies typically allow you more flexibility because you can use your points for any airline; however, you may face greater restrictions along with that added flexibility. If a typical bank owned credit card is the route you choose to go you may also consider a card with cash back rewards. You can then use that cash back to book travel without any of the restrictions you may face with rewards points.
What should you watch out for when looking for a frequent flyer rewards credit card?
Many credit card companies today try to lure consumers in with offers that are hard to pass up.
They many offer a large number of points for signing up or double points for a specified amount of time. Other cards may offer 0% APR on your credit card balance transfers or for the first six months on new purchases. While some of these offers may be worth accepting, others come with a lot of fine print that you will want to watch out for.
Consumer Reports, in a 2010 online article, warns consumers against cards with many bells and whistles that may come with hefty annual fees. In addition to annual fees, be careful of additional fees for balance transfers, cash advances, or foreign charges. Annual fees should not necessarily be a deal breaker but make sure the reward points you earn will make up for the fees you may pay. SmartMoney.com, says that many times the fees may be worth it if the card gives you double points for paying fees or added perks like free checked baggage.
What additional fine print should I be wary of?
In addition to hidden credit card costs, be careful to watch out for several other restrictions and limitations unique to travel rewards cards. These include:
Cards that limit the number of travel points you can accumulate in one year
- Points that expire
- High APR increases
- Blackout dates for travel using your points
- Restrictions on advance purchase of flights using credit card points
Limited points for certain types of purchases or from certain types of stores such as discount chains
You are now ready to begin comparing credit cards that offer frequent flyer miles. Given the right card used in the right manner, you could be on your way to a free trip in the near future. Remember to determine which types of card, an airline owned card or bank owned card, is best for you and make sure you read all of the fine print. You also need to weigh the any fees versus the perks you can earn.
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