An airline credit card is a type of reward credit card that allows you to earn points or miles that you can put towards the cost of a flight.
Who are airline credit cards for?
Airline credit cards are best suited to frequent flyers and those who will make full use of the travel related benefits.
Most airline credit cards come with high annual percentage rates (APR) which means they are only suited to those who can pay off their credit card balance in full each month.
Some cards also come with monthly or annual fees, so it’s important to weigh up the cost of these versus the benefits before deciding whether an airline card is right for you.
Data collected by MoneySuperMarket, correct as of 2017
How do I use an airline credit card?
To get the most rewards for your money, it’s a good idea to use your airline credit card for every day transactions – such as in shops or restaurants. Just make sure you don’t spend more than you can afford to pay back each month, otherwise you’ll start paying interest.
Airline credit cards are not generally suited to:
Large purchases – if you need to use your credit card to spread the cost of an expensive item over a number of months, you should avoid using an airline card and look for one that offers an interest-free purchase deal instead.
Balance transfers – likewise, balance transfers are best left to credit cards designed specifically for this as you’ll find more favourable rates.
Cash withdrawals – cash withdrawals often come with fees and you’ll be charged interest from the moment you take out your money, so they are best avoided.
What are the advantages of airline credit cards?
If you use them sensibly, airline credit cards can provide a number of benefits, including:
Companion flights: some airline credit cards offer the option of free companion tickets, which means you can take someone along with you when you travel.
Lounge access: you might also qualify for access to certain airport lounges, where you can get benefits like complimentary food, drinks, Wi-Fi, newspapers and magazines.
Priority boarding: you could even get priority boarding, which lets you avoid the rush and get on the plane early.
Points top-up: if you can’t wait for more airline points, you might even be able to top up what you have with your own cash.
Start-up miles: some airline credit cards offer a start-up amount of free air miles when you sign up.
Frequent flyer miles: for frequent travellers, you could have the chance to combine frequent flyer miles with the rewards on your credit cards, which means even more discounts.
What are the disadvantages of airline credit cards?
However, if you’re thinking about taking out an airline card keep the following in mind:
High interest rates: airline cards typically charge a higher APR compared to standard credit cards, so make sure you pay off your balance in full each month.
Annual fees: airline credit cards often charge an annual fee that can be as much as £150, so consider whether you’ll take advantage of the card enough for the fee to be worth it.
Overspending: if you want to rack up a large number of points, you could find yourself spending more than you can afford to pay back. So be sure to budget carefully.
Are there any alternatives to airmiles credit cards?
Airmiles reward credit cards work best for people who fly frequently and fly far - so if you go on lots of holidays to exotic destinations, using an airmiles reward card for your day-to-day spending (and then paying it off at the end of each month) could be a great idea.
On the other hand, if you don’t fly frequently and tend to stay closer to home when you go on holiday, a simple cashback credit card might be an alternative worth considering.
Cashback credit cards pay you back a proportion of what you spend, so provided you repay your balance in full each month you’ll avoid interest charges and could earn a decent amount of cashback each year.
Comparing airline credit cards
Airline credit cards can offer a number of benefits when used correctly, and comparing airline credit cards on MoneySuperMarket is a good way to find one that works for you. You’ll be able to browse through cards from different providers and see the types of rewards they offer, if they’re specific to a particular airline, and the monthly fee you’ll have to pay for the card.
What’s more, our Eligibility Checker will help you to see how likely you are to get each card, without harming your credit score. Once you’ve chosen your card, all you need to do is click through to the provider and make your application and you’ll be on your way.