Travel & Airline Credit Cards of 2018

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Credit Cards for Frequent Flyers

Best airline credit cards allow frequent flyers earn travel rewards. There are two types of travel rewards credit cards frequent flyers can use:
  1. Airline-branded credit cards:

    for those who always fly one preferred airline, book their travel in advance and have flexible dates. These cards offer the biggest rewards, including sign-on bonuses that are enough for a free domestic round-trip ticket.

  2. Travel (or bank-sponsored) credit cards:

    for those who prefer flexibility of using earned rewards on any airline, any time. You can earn points or miles on all purchases and redeem them for travel on any airline, hotel stays, or simply cash. And cash are easy to use toward any ticket purchase.

Some programs give you points, some give you miles - usually one point or mile per dollar spent, sometimes more. A couple of banks let you transfer your travel reward points to other airlines, but others don't. Find out how your rewards program works, where you can redeem your miles, and what the value of a point or mile is before you sign up, so you can choose the card that will give you the most value.

Many airline reward cards charge annual fees that can be quite steep. Don't discount a card just because it has an annual fee, though. Look at the benefits the card offers and see if you are going to use them. Airline credit cards may offer free checked bag for the cardholder and its companions, priority boarding, travel insurance, access to airport lounges or a companion pass. Calculate how much you can potentially save on using credit card benefits to see if the annual fee is worth paying. Also, think about how often you'll use the card and calculate the value of the rewards you can possibly earn. If the rewards cover the annual fee and you have some more left to redeem toward travel, the card will be worth the fee.

And one more important thing about airline cards and rewards credit cards in general to consider: you should never ever carry a balance on your travel card. If you do not pay off the card balance each month, it will accrue interest and interest rate is much higher than the rewards rate and as a result, interest will eat all your rewards. Therefore, you will overpay rather than save on your air travel.


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