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Airline Miles Credit Cards - Survey & Comparison

Aug 17, 2007
At one time, there were not many airline credit cards available for you to choose from. The first of the airline miles credit cards was the Citi AAdvantage MasterCard, which is still available today. Though this card had plenty to offer, it wasn't necessarily the best airline credit card for everyone.

The Evolution of Airline Credit Cards

Over time, airline miles credit cards began to evolve. Soon after the Citi AAdvantage MasterCard hit the market, the United Airlines Mileage Plus card was offered by through a partnership with United Airlines. Shortly after, Continental Airlines followed suit with the Continental Airlines World MasterCard. These leaders in the airline miles credit card industry started what has become a widespread credit card option for frequent travelers.

Partnering with Airlines

The partnerships formed between credit card companies and airlines put a new face on airline credit cards. Today, there are just as many airline credit cards to choose from as there are airlines. The majority of these airline credit cards pretty much the same, though the subtle nuances can vary from card to card. With all of these cards, the miles you earn are good for use with just the airline named on the card. The only exception to this is if the airline has sister companies. In this case, the miles may be good with the sister airlines as well.

Generic Airline Credit Cards

In addition to the vast number of airline credit cards that are formed in partnership with airlines, there are many generic credit cards. In this case, the word "generic" doesn't stand for off brand or low quality. Rather, these cards allow you to earn airline miles that you can use with any airline of your choice. Usually, these cards work by assigning each airline mile a monetary value, usually 1 or 2 cents per mile. You can then use these miles to purchase a ticket through the credit card company that the company has acquired from the airline at a discounted price.

With generic airline credit cards, you are provided far more freedom in deciding which airline to use. This allows you to select the airline that is running a flight at the time and location that is best for you. It also allows you to take advantage of market fluctuations in ticket prices from one airline to the next.

Additional Perks

In addition to the number of miles it takes to earn free travel with airline credit cards, you should consider the additional perks offered. For example, so airline credit cards only provide special discounts for air travel. On the other hand, some cards allow you to redeem your points for other travel related necessities, such as car rentals, cruises, hotel stays, and vacation packages.

You should also pay attention to the special incentives offered by airline miles credit cards. Some allow you to earn bonus miles through certain purchases. For example, you might be able to earn bonus miles with a credit card that has partnered with a specific airline if you make purchases from that airline on the credit card.

In addition to incentives, some airline credit cards provide sign up bonuses. It is fairly common for an airline credit card to offer 5,000 bonus miles after using the card for the first time. The Gold Delta Skymiles Credit Card and American Express Credit Cards offer 10,000 bonus miles. Of course, you need to look out for how many miles it takes to earn a free ticket. The average number of miles needed with airline credit cards is 25,000, but you should always read all of the fine print first before making a decision.
About the Author
For more discussion on finding the best airline miles credit cards, Robert Alan recommends that you visit CreditCardAssist.com.
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