How To Calculate Credit Card Airline Miles

Airline miles credit cards make it possible to get discounted or free flights but it is important to know that not all cards offer the same benefits. The annual fee, interest rates, restrictions on the number of miles that you can earn and bonus miles all vary from one provider to the other. This is why it is important for consumers to research and choose a card that offers a fair balance of this combination of factors.

Done right it would then be possible to estimate when and how much your next vacation will cost.

Calculating Potential Credit Card Airline Miles

The standard airline mile reward is 1 point or mile for every dollar spent. Redemption is much lower with each reward earned having a value of between 0.01 - 0.25 depending on the provider. With this in mind it is possible to calculate how much you would need to spend to earn your next free flight.

Check rewards earnings: First look for the rewards that you will earn with purchases. Some programs will give 1 point for every dollar but will double or triple the rewards for purchases made at their affiliated partners. For instance if you purchase an airline ticket you might receive 3 points for every dollar spent. So know what rewards you will receive and then sit down to calculate the miles you would receive based on your monthly spending.

Here's an example:

If you spend $2500/ month on regular bills then you can place this on your card and of course use your cash to pay off the balance. Let's say you travel twice a year at a rate of $350 per ticket. The rewards you can expect would be:

2500 * 12 months = 30,000 points

350 * 2 = 700 Tripling those points will give 2,100 points

Total expected points thus far would be 32,100 points.

Bonus earnings: Remember to include any bonus miles in your calculations. If you enroll in the right program you can earn as much as 30,000 - 50,000 bonus miles just by enrolling and making your first purchase. Add this to the total above and you will have a total of 62,100 to 82,100 points for the year.

Factor in the miles earned by flying: If your credit card is tied in with a frequent flyer program you will be able to earn even more miles on your trips. Review your travel itinerary and locate the estimated miles that you will earn with each trip. Another way to do it would be to use any of the mileage calculators available on the internet. Miles are usually calculated as one mile earned for every flight mile so if you know the distance between airports you will be able to calculate it yourself.

Check to see if there are also any bonus opportunities like airline promotions or if you are a gold or elite frequent flyer for example. Calculate this and add to the previous miles calculated to get an average of your earnings.

Now that you have that average you will be able to see whether you will be able to earn a free or discounted flight when you expect or even if it makes sense to get an airline miles credit card.

Finally, you need to remember to factor in things like the credit card annual fees and interest rates if you do not plan to pay off your balance every month. If the savings is significantly more than these combined then go ahead and start comparing programs to choose the best airline miles credit card.

We recommend you check out the best airline miles credit card on the market.


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