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Miles credit cards – how to choose frequent flyers program

Frequent flyers programs are now available not only for those who use airlines a lot. You can earn miles using your credit card and redeem them for tickets, hotels or car rentals.   Travelers cards or frequent flyers credit card are becoming more and more popular, so let’s find out if gratis miles worth it and how much this rewards cost.

Types of miles credit cards

All travelers credit cards can be divided in 2 major categories:

Airlines credit cards. Such cards are issued by an airline company and offer great rewards only when you use the carrier or the partners. For example, Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express Card, Continental Airlines OnePass Card and United Mileage Plus Signature Visa. You earn a mile for each dollar and get about 20K extra miles sign up bonus. You also receive miles when you buy tickets or use partners’ services – restaurants, car rentals, hotels, etc. It can increase your mileage and bring you some freebie if you often use the same carrier – the major airline of your region, and if you fly a lot. There is no annual fee for the first year and it’s from $60 to $100 for the next. You still pay some fees when you redeem your miles for free tickets or nights in a hotel.

Banks miles credit cards. They provide you with more flexibility – you can choose carrier for each trip or you can redeem miles or points in different way. You can earn up to 2 miles for each dollar you spend, but required mileage also can be higher and miles can expire sooner. There are more restrictions with such cards and terms are more flexible, but you have more options how to spend your rewards. Examples of such cards are Citi Gold Advantage World MasterCard, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card. Annual fee varies from the issuer and can be from $0 to $450 a year.

How much do free miles cost?

When you buy tickets, the average value of each mile is between 1 and 3 cents. For example, if 25 000 miles can be redeemed for a $400 coach ticket from LA to NY, the value is 1.6 c each. Value is usually higher for international and business class flights. But your miles cost nothing if you don’t use them or they’ve expired. To find out the actual cost of free miles, you can calculate the annual fee and additional charges and then compare it with the redeemable value. And it’s easy to find out that in order to earn 25 000 miles you have to spend $25 000 on your credit card.

Miles and frequent flyers credit cards are definitely good choice if you fly a lot and can redeem you miles for a gratitude flight.


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