Difference Between Credit Cards for Frequent Flyers and Airline Miles

Great tools for saving money on airline tickets and vacations, frequent flyer and airline miles credit cards are quite different from each other. If you wish to get the best deal, then it is important to know these differences and then zero in on the product that best addresses your immediate travel needs and requirements. With a little time on hand, proper research and prior knowledge in regards to the features and benefits of these cards, you can emerge as a winner -- in many more ways than one.

Read on for a closer look at these airline credit cards.


At the very onset, it is essential to know that there are two classes of credit cards that are linked with airlines. While 'frequent flyer' cards are issued by specific airlines, the 'airline miles' credit cards are sponsored by certain banks or credit providers that do not have any association or affiliation with any airline. Both these cards are best used on a regular basis and offer great advantages if used for the purpose of vacations or business travel. As they demand higher interest rates and annual fees than other regular credit cards, it is well advised to retain as little balance on them and keep redeeming their airline miles.

Frequent Flyer Credit Cards

Generally sponsored by reputed airlines, these credit cards tend to be co-branded with larger banks like the Bank of America or American Express. In the contemporary scenario, there are many frequent flyer cards that keep hitting the market and attracting consumers with their rewards and bonuses. These cards prove to be perfect for those who tend to be "brand loyal" or are otherwise compelled to avail the services of just one airline because of airport location.

With this card in place, you can establish a frequent flyer account that actually has cash values. However, there is a downside to this category of credit card. It does not permit you to shop fares (as the miles do not accumulate with other airlines). It also has a higher annual fee and interest rate in comparison to an airline miles credit card. Perhaps, the higher rate is attributed to the extra expense incurred by issuer for its co-branding purposes.

Airline Miles Credit Cards

This category of credit card has its own set of pros and cons as well and is popular for its ability to be used on multiple airlines. In this case, unlike the frequent flyer card, a user is rewarded in the form of points, rather than miles. These accumulated points can be redeemed by way of air miles or other travel related perks. In addition, the points can also be applied to purchases done at retail stores, hotels, restaurants and other merchant outlets. This special feature linked to the redemption of points makes these cards very useful in regards to air miles as well as other purchases.

Here, savvy shoppers who boast a good credit score, can secure better rates as well as no annual fees on their airline miles credit cards. A downside of these bank sponsored credit cards is that they sometimes come packaged with multiple restrictions and "blackouts" that can cost you money or zap your air miles. It is therefore very important to go through the fine print in detail and read the guidelines in a careful manner. For instance, there are some cards that completely erase the earned air miles in a specific reporting period, even if you happen to delay your payment by as little as three days. To benefit from this card, you need to choose a program that aligns with your spending habits and lifestyle; otherwise you could end up forfeiting generated points before you have a chance to use them.

As different as they may appear to be in their features, modes of redemption of rewards and other perks; both these cards prove to be helpful if you pay your balance each month. With your earned air miles, you can redeem for more free tickets each year than you may ever imagine. So, gear up to enjoy the many advantages of your airline credit cards and fly high - the right way!

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

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