How to Choose the Right Frequent Flyer Credit Card
by Dan on June 6, 2012
Want to satisfy your wanderlust? There’s no better way to do it than travel for free using credit card rewards. Redeem points and miles to fly, sleep and dine high-class, and travel like a jet-setter.
The main trick is you have to be very smart when playing the game of travel rewards credit card. The goal is to maximize your rewards-earning potential by picking out the right card. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution but there are factors to consider before deciding if it’s the right card for you. Below are some of them.
Where are you going?Which route do you fly often? Choose a rewards card or frequent flyer program that lets you fly to destinations you visit regularly. Ask travel agents or do your own research as to which is the best airline that flies to that destination from your home airport. If there are plenty of companies to choose from, it’s better to ask professional agents who are already familiar with the travel industry. This will help you sort out your best options and ensure that you get the most out of the program.
More often than not, signing up for a travel rewards card means you’re pledging loyalty not only to an airline but also to an alliance. Take note of these three major airline alliance: OneWorld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance. American is under OneWorld; Delta is part of SkyTeam; and Continental, United, and US Airways are allied under Star Alliance.
Forming an alliance benefit travelers since it allows them to combine miles rather earn them separately for each account. This makes it easier for members to achieve the highest possible level and get the maximum benefit from each alliance.
Type of Tickets
Will you be booking discounted or full fare coach tickets? Or will you fly first class? Often the type of seat available depends on an airline. Continental Airlines, for example, offer instant upgrades on full fare coach tickets for elite members even if they book months away. This explains why it’s difficult to upgrade most of transcontinental seats if you’re flying with Continental. High fare classes with instant upgrades are already booked in advance by passengers.
You won’t be needing a lot of upgrades but there are circumstances, such as long-haul international flights, that require the right upgrade. Some airlines offer great domestic upgrades yet fail at international upgrades. If you’re mostly traveling overseas, make sure you pick an airline that caters to your needs as an international traveler.
How many times a year do you fly? Understandably, many frequent flyer programs are meant for those who, well, fly very frequently. Business travelers usually belong to this category. While these cardholders earn a big chunk of their miles from actually traveling, there’s an increasing number of mileage-earning members who rely on a combination of travel and non-travel transactions. They may not be frequent travelers but they’re frequent buyers of products and services that easily earn them mileage.
If you happen to belong to this second category, the not so frequent traveler, expedite your mile-earning potential by linking your credit card to an independent travel rewards program.
Whichever group you belong to, the bottom line is to participate in a program that lets you earn the most miles in the easiest way possible.
As previously mentioned, there’s no single best program that fits a demographic need. The best program varies from individual to individual. So it’s important to know your travel patterns first before you can choose the right program.
Image by Flickr user tim ellis