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.
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.
United MileagePlus is the best airline rewards program, according to WalletHub’s latest Frequent Flyer Report. And it doesn’t matter whether you travel a lot, a little or somewhere in between because MileagePlus is the top choice across the board. This is largely due to the fact that MileagePlus miles don’t expire because of account inactivity, in addition to the program’s tens of transfer partners and its lack of blackout dates for flights booked with miles.… read full answer
It’s also important to remember that credit cards are a whole different ballgame. An airline can have a great loyalty program but a crummy credit card. So, when you’re considering airline rewards credit cards, make sure to keep the following key characteristics in mind. Doing so will help guide you to the most rewarding miles program possible.
How to Pick the Best Airline Rewards Program:
Airline Affiliation: Some airline cards offer generic miles that can be redeemed for flights on any airline. Others are tied to particular airlines and provide miles usable only for flights with affiliated carriers. The former are good for both the infrequent traveler and those who travel a lot, but on different airlines. The latter are only good for brand-loyal frequent flyers.
Initial Rewards Bonus: The initial bonus that you can earn during the first few months of card use is an extremely important consideration. The reason for that is bonus miles on certain cards may even exceed the number of miles attainable from a full year of card use.
Earning Rate: You need to figure out how quickly you’ll be accruing miles, as this dictates how lucrative each card you consider will be. Just be aware of cards that require you to sign up on a quarterly basis in order to be eligible for the highest rewards earning rates.
Earning Tiers: Some airline miles credit cards give you a certain number of miles per $1 spent until you reach a designated spending threshold, at which time the rewards earning rate changes. Depending on your spending habits, this can significantly affect a card’s appeal.
Expiration: If your airline miles will expire at some point, you clearly need to know about it. When present, expiration is typically linked to either account inactivity or the amount of time elapsed since miles were earned.
Redemption Policy: Find out how many miles you need to redeem for a flight and how much that flight would cost if purchased normally. This will tell you how much the miles are worth. You should also scan the rewards program’s terms to see if there’s any mention of blackout dates or a minimum number of miles required for redemption.
Status Miles: The rate at which status miles are doled out is a key factor for frequent flyers who are thinking of committing to a particular airline.
Yes, airline credit cards are worth it if you travel frequently with a certain airline. You’ll often get extra rewards for buying your tickets from a specific airline and may receive special perks like early boarding or free checked bags. You can also get general travel cards that aren’t partnered with any specific airline. Those cards often provide more versatility and better overall value than airline-branded cards. Let’s look at some examples of both types.… read full answer
Here are some airline credit cards that are worth getting:
A lot of airline cards will also have other travel-related perks. You might get insurance for travel accidents, trip cancellation, lost baggage, and/or rental cars.
If you're a frequent flyer on a specific airline, feel free to also take a look at our editors' picks for the best airline credit cards. In case you don't want to be tied to a specific airline, check out some of the best travel credit cards on the market – they offer attractive rewards that you can use for a variety of airlines and other travel purchases.
One of the easiest airline credit cards to get is the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa® Secured Card, which accepts people with bad credit. This card offers 5% cash back on two categories of your choice (up to $2,000 each quarter), 5% back on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations booked in the Rewards Travel Center, 2% back on your choice of one everyday category (like gas stations, EV charging stations, grocery stores or restaurants) and 1% back on all other purchases. The card has a $0 annual fee.
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