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Airline credit cards are credit cards used by frequent travelers for their airline-specific benefits. They are provided by card issuers, working in conjunction with a particular airline to reward their customers both for loyalty and for paying for travel and other expenses using the card.
With airline credit cards, you earn a certain number of miles for the amount you spend on the carrier and other eligible services. You can then redeem your rewards to book flights, pay for services, or make eligible travel purchases.
Different airline credit cards vary in terms of the benefits they offer, as well as fees and costs. This means that not all airline credit cards are suitable for all travelers. Also, not all travelers will benefit from airline credit cards.
That said, you can make a better decision by comparing the pros and cons of airline credit cards.
The Benefits of Airline Credit Cards
Attractive sign-up bonuses
Most airline credit cards are accompanied by attractive welcome bonuses, some of which are large enough to pay for a flight. It should be noted that you get the bonus after meeting certain conditions – usually by spending a certain amount of money within a specific time after opening the account or opening a new credit account.
A hassle-free way to earn miles
As a frequent flyer, airline credit cards allow you to earn rewards while doing what you would be doing anyway.
These vary from airline card to airline card and may include free or discounted checked bags, lounge access, onboard food and beverages, companion passes and enhanced service.are.
Priority boarding and seat upgrades
If when you board and where you sit during the flight is important to you, some airline credit cards offer just that; an opportunity not only to be among the first to board, but also to obtain a seat upgrade.
Rewards on non-travel categories
Some airline credit cards can earn you bonuses on your other spending areas, like hotel reservations, helping you maximize your earnings. Moreover, this feature not only allows you to accumulate your miles, but also prevents them from expiring if you stop your trip for a certain period of time.
Travel assistance and protection
Some airline credit cards provide coverage for situations such as flight delays or cancellations, trip interruptions, lost luggage, rental car accidents, and access to medical care.are.
The disadvantages of airline credit cards
Limited to one airline
As the name suggests, airline credit cards limit you to a single carrier and, in some cases, its partner airlines. This can further complicate the process of redeeming rewards due to competition: you can’t always redeem your rewards for what you want from the rewards program offerings or have flexibility on travel dates.
Limited opportunities to earn rewards
This is especially true if you end up with cards that only offer rewards on airline/travel related purchases and none on everyday spending.
High annual fees
Annual fees for airline credit cards can range from a few dollars under $100 to amounts over $500. The more benefits you get, the higher the fees. If your rewards exceed the fees, then credit cards are worth it, otherwise they are an unnecessary expense.
Reward programs can be devalued
Airlines can devalue their programs or remove them at their discretion, as has already happened with many airlines. With the limitation of only one airline, there is no guarantee that your earned miles will be useful.
Are airline credit cards a good idea?
You may qualify for an airline credit card if you:
- Fly often
- Always or mostly use the same airline
- Have good credit and be able to pay off your credit card balances on time
If most of the above don’t apply to you, then you better skip the airline credit cards.
The final take
Obviously, airline credit cards can be a good idea or a bad idea depending on your flying habits. Admittedly, they are only a worthwhile investment if the value you derive from them exceeds the associated expenses. Where are you lying? The information above may help you understand this.