Swipe and Go: The Credit Card Travel Miles 101 Guide

Are you a travel junkie with a passion for getting the most out of every mile? Of course, you are! That’s why you want the best credit card that rewards you for your purchases with airline miles.

Finding the best rewards programs has more to do with your budget than what kind of traveling you do. You need a credit card that not only rewards you but also has other perks, such as no annual fees and appealing balance transfer terms.

Beyond that, you should also know how to use your rewards points so that you really can get the most out of every mile.

In this article, we’re discussing how to get the most out of your travel rewards credit card and listing a few to choose from.

Here is some travel miles 101 for you.

Credit Card Travel Miles 101

The first step in obtaining a travel rewards card is to repair bad credit. Most banks’ rewards programs require good to excellent credit ratings before giving you a credit card.

That said, this is not an article about credit cards for dummies, so let’s move on to the basics of how to use your rewards card most efficiently.

The Basics

It’s important to know the difference between ‘cash back’ points and airline miles when accumulating rewards on your credit card.

There are basically four categories to earn from if you’re a points chaser:

  • Statement credits – cash back
  • Airline Credit Cards – earn airline miles
  • Hotel Branded Credit Cards – earn hotel points
  • Points Rewards Credit Cards – points can be redeemed for cash back or transferred to airline and hotel partners

Accumulating Airline Miles

If you’re already an airline miles rewards credit card holder, you’ve probably scoured the airline forums for the best way to accumulate miles points.

The truth is, it’s different for every card. Some cards offer double points on select purchases, while others allow a flat rate across the board.

Likewise, if you fly often with a particular airline, opting for their credit card may be the best way to accumulate the most mileage points.

What to Do with Your Points

Outside of airline credit cards, there are basic credit cards that accumulate points and miles. You can redeem these miles in two ways depending on your financial goals or how you want to use them.

One, you can redeem the points directly from your credit for a specified amount of miles per dollar spent. Two, you can transfer the points to an airline of your choice.

Which Credit Card Is Right for You?

Aside from the major airline credit cards, we’ve selected these top cards for their generous rewards programs and other favorable terms.

Citi Advantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Citi partnered with American Airlines to bring you this exclusive airline miles rewards card.

You’ll earn two miles for ever dollar spent at gas stations, restaurants, and eligible American Airlines purchases. Better yet, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles if you spend $2,500 within the first three months of receiving your card.

Find other Citi products via this useful link.

The Platinum Card from American Express

For an elite credit card that offers the ultimate in travel rewards, take a look at the Platinum Card from American Express. Although there is a $550 annual fee, the card’s perks make it worthwhile.

You’ll earn five points on flights that are booked directly with your favorite airline or through American Express Travel. Not to mention the 60,000 bonus points you’ll receive for spending $5,000 in the first three months of activating the card.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card

The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card boasts no annual fee and a zero percent APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months. They’ll give you 25,000 travel points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening the card.

Travel benefits include 1.5 points per one dollar spent on all purchases. You can redeem your points for flights, hotels, vacation packages, rental cars, baggage fees, and cruises.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the best credit cards for travel rewards. You’ll enjoy a regular APR of 18.24% to 25.24% variable and the annual fee is waived in the first year.

Beyond that, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening the card. Receive two points on travel, dining, and restaurants worldwide, and one point per dollar on all other purchases.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card was given the title of Best Travel Card by CNBC in 2018. Probably because you can earn two miles on every purchase, every day. Besides that, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 in the first three months of activating the card.

The one drawback to this card is the $95 annual after the first year.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

One of the best things about the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is that there is no annual fee ever.

You’ll enjoy the one time bonus of 20,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in the first three months of opening the card. Earn 1.25 miles on every purchase.

You are eligible to fly any airline with this card.

Discover It Miles

For a great credit card that offers rewards miles and has no annual fee, you might consider the Discover It Miles credit card. You’ll earn 1.5 miles for every dollar spent. And, Discover’s matching program will reward you with double the points at the end of your first year.

You can fly any airline, anytime using your points with the Discover It card. There are no blackout dates ever.

Final Thoughts

Remember your travel miles 101 when selecting a credit card. As we’ve outlined here, not every travel miles reward is created equal. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each type of credit card and corresponding rewards program before you sign up.

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