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Guidelines to Choose the Right Airlines Credit Card

Aug 17, 2007
An airlines card earns credits or points whenever the card is used. Choosing an airline card will not be difficult, if you travel frequently with a certain airline. If you use various airlines, then it is wise to select from airline cards that provide more flexibility in their redemption and reward systems. An airlines credit card is usually best suited for business travelers.

Selecting the right airline card could be a major task so you need to ask yourself some preliminary questions before considering any airline credit card.

1. Which is the airline you frequently fly or prefer to fly? The first question is to determine your most frequented airline. If you prefer to travel by a selected carrier, it is better to check whether they have their own airline credit card. Since most of the airlines today have partnered with credit card companies, the chances are that they will have their own card. However, if you tend to fly by the cheapest or the easiest available carrier at the time of your travel, you will have to consider an airline card that offers greater flexibility. Some cards have alliance partnerships with various airlines, offering greater flexibility to you.

2. What is the frequency of your air travel per year? These cards are based on point accumulation system with the accumulated points expiring after a certain period. If you are not a frequent flyer, then you may not benefit from these cards, as you will not be accumulating enough points to avail the reduced or free travel. Conversely, if you are a frequent flyer, then ensure that the card you have chosen has favorable blackout dates and preferably no cap or maximum allowable points that can be earned. In most cases, however, there are restrictions on the number of points that you can earn and blackout dates when you will not be able to redeem your reduced or free travel privileges.

3. What are the benefits versus fees on the card? In general, airline cards have high interest rates and annual fees. It is important to evaluate the annual fees paid versus the reduced or free mile travel earned per year. An airline card will not be attractive if the annual fee is more than what you will earn as free or reduced travel. In addition, you could be paying hefty finance charges, if you are not able to pay the balance on the card in full every month. In which case, it is better to choose a credit card with a low interest rate and no frills attached than the rewards program.

It is important to research the number of points required to accumulate in order to qualify for free air travel. To get maximum benefits from your airlines card, consider these additional factors prior to making your choice:

Flexibility of the Card: Your card has to be flexible to be used in many places including restaurants and shopping malls. Points are added every time you make a purchase using the card but sometimes certain purchases add more points. It is essential to use airline cards in such cases to avoid accumulating large balances.

Cap on Accumulated Points: Most cards have a cap on the number of points that can be accumulated. If you are a frequent flyer, it is better to read this fine print. Most of these cards have rewards based on predetermined level of points.

Redemption Criteria: Mostly during high season, airlines and hotels do not encourage redemption of miles or use of free or reduced travel privileges as they already have a built in level of demand at that period of time. It is critical to check for the redemption criteria and blackout dates if any prior to application for the card.

Annual Fees: It is essential to do a cost benefit analysis on the various available airline credit cards before selecting one. If you do not travel a great deal, it is better to go for a card with a low or no annual fee and a decent set of rewards. If you are a frequent flyer, you can choose one with higher annual fees and excellent rewards that should more than offset the additional cost.

Terms and Conditions: It is important to read the terms and conditions as well, otherwise known as the fine print regarding such things as balance transfer details, upgrading to higher limit cards, interest rates, debt consolidation using your airline credit card so that you may secure maximum benefit from the use of the card.

Other Services: Certain cards provide travel insurance and discounts on car rental and hotels. Some also provide cash advances in emergencies. Obviously, you have to compare various cards on these to get the best one suited to your lifestyle.

Competition in the market forces credit card and airline companies to frequently change their airlines card product offering to remain competitive in the marketplace. However, it is recommended that once you choose the most suitable airline card for you that you do not change cards unless there are huge benefits in doing so. If you consider signing up for an airlines credit card, it is better to make an informed decision based on long-term benefit, rather than be carried away by the marketing and short-term promotional gimmicks of these companies.
About the Author
Robert Alan advises that you visit CreditCardAssist.com for more information on various airlines credit card offers.
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