No credit card awards users with both points and miles. Travel rewards credit cards offer either miles or points that can usually be redeemed for hotel or airfare bookings made through any travel agency or website.
In other words, all credit cards use a single rewards currency – points, miles or cash back. But some cards let you redeem for a wider range of travel expenses than others.
Alternatively, if you prefer credit cards that offer points instead, you should get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This card offers 5 points / $1 spent on any travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Travel purchases include airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises.
Cash back vs. miles is a frequent debate among rewards credit card shoppers, but it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Both are fruit, or rewards that you earn on every purchase, in this case. And both have their virtues, though a lot depends on your personal tastes. For example, you always know how much cash back is worth, while miles tend to be more mysterious. Miles are also associated with travel, which is fun. But much like you can eat both an apple and an orange, there’s room in your wallet for a … read full answercash back credit card and a credit card with miles. The best approach is to use a cash back card with a high baseline earning rate for everyday purchases and a credit card with miles for travel expenses.
It’s still good to know how these two major rewards currencies compare, no matter how many credit cards you decide to get. So let’s take a look at some of their biggest similarities and differences.
Typical Redemption Method: Statement credit vs. Eligible travel expenses
Averages are from WalletHub’s 2022 Credit Card Landscape Report. And if you’re wondering, rewards devaluation is when a credit card company increases the number of points or miles needed for a certain amount of redemption value, which decreases the value any unredeemed points or miles you may have. That’s not a concern with cash back because a credit card company can’t change the value of a dollar.
Cash back is just a lot more straightforward than miles because it’s already in dollar terms. So you’ll always know exactly how much you’re earning on a particular purchase as well as how much your unredeemed rewards are worth. With credit card miles, you have to compare the number needed for a certain redemption item – a flight, for example – to how much that item would cost if purchased normally.
But cash back and miles credit cards have a lot in common, too. For example, you’ll find a similar mix of rewards programs among both types of cards. Some offer the same rewards earning rate on all purchases. Some give you more rewards in designated bonus categories, if only up to a certain amount spent. And others offer even higher bonus rates in categories that change every few months. You’ll also find initial bonuses on both types of cards but only on some offers in each group.
Yes, airline miles are worth it. Whether you earn airline miles through an airline’s frequent flyer program or from a credit card with miles, you’re earning something of value in return for money you would be spending anyway. The miles you earn can then be redeemed for free flights and flight upgrades, saving you money on future purchases.… read full answer
Reasons Why Airline Miles Are Worth It
Airline mile are worth an average of 1 cent per mile. The value varies based on the airline or credit card rewards program as well as how the miles are redeemed.
Frequent flyer programs affiliated with major airlines are free to join. Once you sign up, you just have to enter your membership number each time you book a flight to get your miles.
Airline credit cards and general travel rewards credit cards help you earn miles much faster. You can earn miles on tons of different purchases, and many cards also have signup bonuses.
You can redeem miles for free flights and flight upgrades. That’s true whether you’re earning miles from a frequent flyer program or a rewards credit card. Credit card miles can also be redeemed for other travel-related purchases, like hotel stays and car rentals, in most cases.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of an Airline Miles Credit Card
The best airline and travel credit cards often have annual fees, so you’ll have to weigh the value of the miles you’d earn against the cost of the card to determine if the airline miles are worth it. You can also choose a credit card with a $0 annual fee, but you may not earn as many miles.
If you’re usually loyal to one airline, it makes sense to get a credit card for that specific airline. However, if you instead bounce around and book flights on whichever airline has the best and cheapest route, you should get a general travel rewards credit card that’s not affiliated with just one airline.
Choosing between cash back rewards and travel rewards ultimately comes down to your spending preferences, the perks that specific cards offer, and how you plan to redeem rewards earnings. In general, people looking for flexible redemption options and rewards with clear values that can’t be changed by the card’s issuer should choose cash back rewards. But frequent travelers who enjoy perks such as free flights, airport lounge access, and hotel room upgrades have the chance to earn more total value from travel rewards.… read full answer
With travel rewards credit cards, the number of points or miles you’ll need to redeem for a free flight or hotel night, for instance, varies from issuer to issuer and card to card. Points/miles can also lose their value any time the card’s issuer decides to raise the number needed to get a certain dollar amount in redemption value. Cash back rewards, on the other hand, are easy to understand and will retain their value because they’re already expressed in terms of dollars and cents.
All told, cash back rewards are the better way to go for most people. However, there are a number of variables to consider on both sides. Not everyone always needs to choose between cash back and travel rewards, either. Having both a cash back credit card and a travel rewards card in your wallet can make sense in some situations.
Cash Back vs. Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Average Initial Bonus
Average Earn Rate
1.12% cash back
1.23 point/mile per $1 spent
More redemption options
More value on travel purchases
Generally higher fees, from $0-$400+
Foreign Transaction Fee
Up to 3%
Rewards never lose value
Rewards may be devalued
Recommended credit score
Offers for all credit scores
Offers for all credit scores
When choosing between cash back and travel rewards, it’s important to be realistic in how you’re going to use the card. And whichever type of rewards you pick, make sure to pay your bill in full each month, or else you could end up spending more in fees and interest than the rewards are worth.
Bottom Line: Cash Back vs. Travel Rewards
You should get a cash back credit card if you want to earn everyday rewards and enjoy straightforward, flexible redemption options.
You should get a travel rewards credit card if you travel multiple times per year and are confident you’ll earn enough in rewards to cover the cost of the annual fee – without overspending.
You should have both if you can manage more than one account responsibly and want the best collection of earning rates for your biggest spending categories. Just make sure you pay your balances in full each month.
As long as you use your credit cards responsibly, you have the potential to reap lucrative rewards on your everyday purchases. Just be sure to actually put those rewards to use. Rewards that go unredeemed defeat the purpose getting the card in the first place.
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