Airlines Credit Card – Guidelines to Choose the Right Card
An airlines credit card earns credits or points whenever the card is used. Simple enough, right? Choosing the airline card will not be difficult, if you travel frequently with a certain airline. If you use various airlines, then it is wise to select the airline cards that give more flexibility in its redemption and reward system. The bottom line is that, in most instances, an airlines credit card is very well suited for frequent business travelers.
Since selecting the right airline card is an important task, you need to ask yourself some preliminary questions before considering an airline credit card.
1. Which is the airline you frequently fly or prefer to fly?
The first question is to determine your most frequented airline. If you prefer to travel by a selected carrier, it is better to check whether they have their own airline credit card. Since most of the airlines today have partnered with credit card companies, the chances are that they will have their own card. However, if you tend to fly by the cheapest or easily available carrier at the time of your travel, you will have to consider an airline card that offers greater flexibility. Some cards have alliance partnerships with various airlines, offering greater flexibility to you.
2. What is the frequency of your air travel per year?
These cards are based on a point accumulation system with the accumulated points expiring after a certain period. If you are not a frequent flyer, then you may not benefit from these cards, as you will not be accumulating enough points to earn reduced or free travel. Conversely, if you are a frequent flyer, then ensure that the card you have chosen has no blackout dates and no cap or limit on the number of points that can be earned.
3. What are the benefits versus fees on the card?
In general, airline cards have high interest rates and annual fees. It is important to evaluate the annual fees paid versus the reduced or free mile travel earned per year. An airlines credit card is not attractive if the annual fee is more than what you will earn as free or reduced travel. In addition, you could be paying hefty finance charges, if you are not able to pay the balance on the card in full every month. In which case, it is better to choose a credit card with a low interest rate and no frills attached than the rewards program.
It is important to research the number of points required to accumulate in order to qualify for free air travel. To get maximum benefits from your airlines card, you should also consider the following points prior to making the choice:
4. Flexibility of the Card - Your card has to be flexible to be used in many places including restaurants and shopping malls. Points are added everytime you make a purchase using the card but sometimes certain purchases add more points.
5. Cap on Accumulated Points - Most cards have a cap on the number of points that can be accumulated. If you are a frequent flyer, it is better to read this fine print. Most of these cards have rewards based on predetermined level of points.
6. Redemption Criteria - Mostly during peak travel season, airlines and hotels do not encourage redemption of miles or use of free or reduced travel pricing.
7. Annual Fees - It is essential to do a cost benefit analysis on the various airlines credit card offers before selecting one. If you do not travel a great deal, it is better to go for a card with lower annual fees and a modest rewards program. If you are a frequent flyer, you can choose one with higher annual fees and benefit from the unlimited travel rewards that are possible.
8. Other Services - Certain cards give travel insurance and discounts on car rental and hotels. Some also provide cash advances in emergencies. You have to compare various cards on these to get the best one suited to your lifestyle.
Competition in the market forces credit card and airline companies to frequently change their Airlines card product offering. However, it is recommended that once the right Airline card is chosen, it be not changed unless there are huge benefits in doing so. If you consider signing up for an Airlines credit card, it is better take informed decision based on long-term benefit, rather than be carried away by the marketing and promotional gimmicks of these companies.
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Analyze Reward Credit Cards Thoroughly
Travel has its payback in the form of reward credit cards. Choosing the best reward credit cards for yourself can be intimidating, and you should be guided by some factors that are personal to you. How do you choose and analyze THE travel reward credit card that suits your needs and lifestyle best? How do you, in fact, analyze reward credit cards in the first place?
Reward Credit Cards Should be Tailor Made for You
For one thing, the travel rewards companies work on the assumption that you want something – and they can give it to you. The problem is that most of us don’t know what that ‘something’ is and tend to lean towards fat, attractive packages that we may never use. For example, a travel reward credit card that offers you discounts on airfares might not be very attractive to a traveler whose airfare is paid for by his company. Then again, a reward credit card that offers exotic holiday cruises may remain unutilized in the hands of someone who does not enjoy sailing!
On the other hand, a frequent traveler might actually benefit from free upgrades on board if his card gives him that facility. Choosing a card according to how you would use it and benefit from the rewards would be most important. Are the rewards offered suited to your lifestyle?
Best Reward Credit Cards Offer Value and Usage
To begin, analyze your travel patterns. If a particular airline gives you special privileges on a particular rewards credit card, and if you frequently use that airline, it makes sense to go in for that credit card. Being faithful to a particular airline would result in accruing rewards that might actually result in much higher value in the form of points, cash back etc. Other credit cards may offer fancy rewards on airlines that you would prefer to avoid or which do not service the destinations you frequent. So choose a reward credit card where the value increases with usage.
Hidden Costs of a Reward Credit Card
The hidden costs need to be worked out too. Travel reward credit cards often come with hefty fees attached.
* Does the reward that you are likely to earn over a year cover the cost of maintaining the credit card?
* Are you going to be able to cash your rewards?
* Is there a time limit for earning and cashing the rewards?
* How easy is it to redeem your reward points?
* Is there a complicated process or is there an online or phone-based system?
The answers to these questions will dictate the kind of card you want.
Research Reward Credit Cards
Do not hesitate to ask such probing questions to the sales rep of the card company. Most prospects will not hesitate to ask for references from existing cardholders. Check forums and blogs online about the public opinion about the card. Do everything in your control to ensure that you are signing up for what you expected.
Reward credit cards come in several shapes, sizes, colors, and forms. It is easy to be tempted by a ‘once in a lifetime offer’. However, try to keep a sensible view of what YOU need from the reward credit card of your choice. The bottom line is - if you are going to travel you might as well make it work for you through the best reward credit cards you can find for yourself. Truth is, if you do not make a reward credit work for you, you may soon see that is working against you. Then, a reward credit card becomes almost equivalent to a penalty card – which should be avoided at all costs.
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