Flying with miles and points around the world is amazing – especially when you’re redeeming your rewards for flights in First and Business Class, where you’ll get the most value for your miles. While a premium cabin ticket allows you to experience a variety of priority airport services and other perks, airline credit cards do feature a number of benefits whereby if you’re a frequent flyer of a specific airline, it makes sense to hold the card.
Most airlines have their own credit cards which offer you the ability to earn miles or points with the airline’s frequent flyer program for every $1 you spend. Unlike with credit cards issued which earn rewards with a bank program that you can transfer to various airlines, airline credit cards earn rewards directly with the airline and cannot be transferred to other airlines.
Earning Miles/Points for Purchases with Credit Cards
Obviously one of the biggest reasons why you’d want an airline card is to earn miles for your everyday purchases – then you can redeem those miles for flight awards with your airline or with their partner airlines.
Depending on the type of card you have and the rewards structure, you could earn multiple miles per $1 spent. For example, some airline credit cards may award you multiple points per $1 spent for purchases directly with the airline. There may also be bonuses on other types of spend like travel, restaurants, gas, groceries, etc.
Sign Up Bonus
When you first apply for the card, chances are there will be a huge sign up bonus in the form of a number of miles after spending a certain amount within a certain timeframe. The bonus miles earned can be redeemed just like your other miles – for flights and more.
Sometimes the sign up bonus is huge enough to get you a one-way Business Class ticket to Europe!
Free Checked Bag with Airline Credit Cards
One of the biggest perks of an airline credit card is that it usually does get you a free checked bag, sometimes for only you and sometimes for all travelers on the reservation. Do note that not all airlines offer this perk, so be sure to check your card benefits and details.
Access to More Award Availability
There are certain credit cards where one of the airline benefits is access to more award availability – this is a huge benefit in a world where award space gets booked up quickly. You can use this perk and book flights that other members may not be able to – and sometimes at great rates, too. Remember that you can always share your miles and book tickets for others, so this could be a great way to confirm friends or family on flights using miles.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
If you fly frequently, chances are you will find yourself out of the country quite a bit – and you’ll definitely want a credit card that doesn’t charge you foreign transaction fees as these can add up quickly. Airlines know loyal flyers and card members value this benefit greatly as it can save a ton of money.
Lounge Passes with Airline Credit Cards
Select airline credit cards offer their cardholders a few airline lounge passes within a certain timeframe, usually annually. You can use these passes to access the lounges and relax prior to your flight. Keep in mind that there may be further access restrictions such as having to travel on an eligible itinerary, etc.
Priority Airport Services
Priority Check-in and Priority Boarding are some of the biggest benefits offered as part of the airport priority ground services. You can skip the lines and quickly check your bags in prior to heading to your gate. Priority Boarding allows you to quickly board the plane and find bin space for your carry-on and just relax ahead of the crowd.
All in All
Every frequent flyer should hold their airline’s credit card due to the ability of earning miles and points for everyday purchases in addition to all of the benefits and perks offered. Do note that if you hold elite status, some of the credit card benefits could overlap with your elite perks as the credit cards do offer elite-like benefits.
Airlines can offer a variety of different cards to select from – the more expensive the annual fee is, the more benefits are generally offered with the card. Not every airline has a credit card and not all airlines have multiple card offerings. Have a look at what credit cards your airline offers and see if any of them would improve your travel experience and if so, it might make sense to apply for it.