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What’s The Best Non-Airline Credit Card for Travel Rewards ?
For those who earn the bulk of their miles by traveling, I generally recommend a credit card linked to their primary airline mileage program. You, on the other hand, are at the opposite end of the spectrum—a frequent buyer rather than a frequent flyer. And that calls for a different approach. Frequent buyers like yourself may be best served by earning their miles with credit cards linked to the card issuer’s rewards program, rather than to an airline-specific program. To distinguish them from airline cards, let’s just call them bank cards. Bank cards trump airline-specific cards in one crucial respect: The free flights awarded in exchange for the miles are not encumbered by the capacity controls that make award redemption such a challenge in traditional airline programs. That’s because the card issuer simply buys a ticket for the cardholder when he redeems his miles. And since the award tickets are purchased on the open market, they’re not subject to the onerous restrictions associated with airline program awards. All the major card issuers offer bank cards in their product portfolios
What Is the Best Credit Card for Airline Miles?
If you’re a frequent traveler, chances are you’ve signed up with just about every frequent flyer program available. After all, accruing miles not only gets you free flights, drinks, checked bags and more, but also a chance to upgrade seats and speed through security. (Learn more about how frequent flyer programs work on this One Minute Travel Tip.) But if you want to take your frequent flier game to the next level, you can sign up for a credit card that offers travel perks; there are plenty of programs available both through specific airlines and banks. Many of these programs offer enticing signup bonuses ahead of busy travel seasons (think summer and the holidays), so act while the iron is hot. Of course, picking out the best card is tough – each card has advantages for different types of travelers. For example, the best credit card for a Delta loyalist is not necessarily the best card for someone who only flies once or twice a year. With that in mind, we took at look at what’s out there and came up with the ideal card for what you value the most.
What’s the ‘best’ credit card for earning miles?
Airline cards are MasterCard and Visa cards issued by a handful of large banks, each co-branded with one individual airline. These cards are available for five legacy lines (American, Continental, Northwest, United, and US Airways) plus AirTran, Alaska, America West, Frontier, Hawaiian, Midwest, Southwest, and a bunch of foreign lines. AmEx issues similar cards for Delta and JetBlue. You receive credit (usually one mile per dollar) for every purchase you charge to the card plus bonuses for air tickets and other specified purchases; JetBlue and Southwest provide roughly equivalent awards. The credit you earn through the card goes directly into your frequent flyer account with the co-branding airline and mixes with the miles you earn by flying. Bank-buys cards are MasterCard and Visa cards, issued by various banks, and not affiliated with any individual airline. Instead, you accrue points based on how much you charge in a separate frequent flyer account with the bank; you cannot combine these miles with the miles you earn by flying in any airline’s program. When you accrue enough points, the bank buys you a ticket on any of several airlines, at the lowest available price, usually with a dollar maximum for each ticket class. T&E (Travel and Entertainment) cards from American Express and Diners Club were the original travel-oriented credit cards. Both award one point per dollar (with some promotional bonuses), which you can convert into miles in several airline programs.