5 Things to Consider Before Applying for an Air Miles Credit Card

Who doesn’t want to be rewarded for spending money, especially when the reward comes in the form of free travel? If you play your cards right, this could be the case for you.

Here are five things to consider before applying for an air miles credit card.

1. Understand what an air miles credit card is.

An air miles credit card is a variety of credit card that rewards its owner for expenditures made on it by giving “air miles” for the amount spent on the card. This amount can then be redeemed for airline tickets.

Generally, air miles credit cards have special arrangements with particular airline miles programs, enabling cardholders to use their air miles earned on the credit card toward tickets on those airlines (and potentially other associated airlines through a frequent flyer program).

2. Know how air miles credit cards operate.

Now that you understand what an air miles credit card is, you probably want to know how they can work for you. While each airline has its frequent flyer program that is intended to inspire loyalty amongst passengers, there are a few common ways that you can earn “miles.”

  • By boarding flights
  • By spending funds on a co-branded credit card
  • By making purchases with an airline partner (like car rental or online store).

Keep in mind that the number of miles needed to book an airline ticket depends significantly on reach, price, and fare class. For example, in the US, you probably need around 25,000 miles for a roundtrip internal basic economy flight, and 50,000 if you want to fly to Europe.

Additionally, airlines sometimes have “blackout dates” when you are not able to use miles to purchase tickets. These “blackout dates” tend to be most common around the holidays when travel is most popular (and therefore the most expensive).

general credit cards

3. Compare airline credit cards and general credit cards with travel perks.

That being said, it is crucial to point out that there are two primary kinds of travel reward credit cards: co-branded airline cards and general credit cards with travel perks.

Co-branded airline cards (such as American Express & Delta and Chase & Southwest) allow you to earn extra points when you spend money with those specific airlines and often also grant perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and lounge access.

On the other hand, general credit cards with travel perks aren’t affiliated with one airline, meaning you earn points from the credit card issuer and then can choose to use the travel rewards points on a variety of airlines.

4. Determine whether or not it is the right type of card for you.

Generally, air miles credit cards are incredibly valuable for individuals who travel regularly, as well as for those who are looking to plan a holiday and want to build up air miles to help pay for the flights.

If you often fly on one airline, then you probably want to get a co-branded card for that specific airline; however, if you fly a variety of airlines, then a general credit card with travel perks is probably more suited for you.

Additionally, because these cards often come with high APRs, you only want to apply for an air miles credit card if you are in a position to pay it off every month; otherwise, the interest you will need to pay will rapidly negate any potential rewards.

5. Check that you are eligible.

When it comes to rewards cards, there is a tendency to have much stricter requirements when it comes to credit scores than other basic cards. For this reason, it is essential that you check your credit score to make sure you are in the requisite range (although you won’t know if you will be accepted until you apply).

Have you ever considered having an air miles credit card? Why or why not? Let us know your thoughts and any experiences you have had in the comments below!


Deepak Kumar is a Co-Founder of SoulWallet, a neutral comparison portal for consumer financial services. With a team of “out of the box” thinkers and a deep understanding of the UAE consumer banking industry, the company helps customers make the best choices when shopping for financial products such as credit cards and loans.

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