Q: I would like to take a trip home to see my family but airline tickets are so overpriced. Are there any free flight offers from credit cards going on right now that I can sign up for?
A: I totally feel your pain. It seems the days of cheap (or even reasonably priced) plane tickets are long gone. Your idea of using a credit card to get a free airline ticket is actually a smart idea. Years ago when I was going through some very tough times in my life, I would actually apply for a new airline card two or three times per year so I could make it home to see my family.
Best Free Flight Card Offers In 2015 (And Those That Are Almost Free)
Technically with most cards, the flights aren’t “free.” Even if you get enough points or miles to redeem for a flight, you will still have to pay any applicable government taxes and fees out of pocket. With international flights, those out-of-pocket costs can get really high. Plus you will have to meet the minimum spend requirements to earn the bonus miles/points. Remember: since there are different credit cards offering sign-up bonuses, there’s nothing stopping you for signing up for more than one. Here are some to consider:
There are three main things you need to keep in mind when you apply for these cards…
1. Not all free flight offers are created equal
I once signed up for the credit card from Spirit Airlines and what a disappointment that was! They say you get free flights with a new account, but after getting my card, I discovered there was so much fine print and restrictions… the bonus miles weren’t even enough to get me one free ticket home! So watch out — a lot of these free flight offers look great in advertisements and are less rewarding in reality.
2. You typically will have to pay those pesky fees and taxes
It seems like we get nickeled and dimed to death with fees these days… Airport Passenger Facility Charges… Federal Segment Fees… 9/11 Security Fee… Travel Facilities Tax. While each of these may only be a few dollars each, when you add them up, they may add around $25 to $50 onto your round-trip ticket price, depending on how many stops/destinations you have. Whether you have a reward ticket you got through your credit card or a regular ticket you bought, unfortunately there’s no way getting around paying these.
3. Don’t forget about the costs of checked bags
I hate how almost every airline nowadays charges for checked luggage – usually around $25 per bag, per flight (so $50 for one bag on a round trip). Some airlines, like Spirit, even charge you for a carry-on. These costs add up fast. So when you are looking to sign up for a free flight credit card, make sure the associated airline charges low fees – or better yet, no fees – for your checked luggage. Right now, Southwest is one of the very few airlines left that lets you check your first bag absolutely free.
With any of the above offers, if you use your miles/points strategically, you should have enough of them to get at least one free flight, maybe even more. The really nice thing about co-branded airline rewards cards is that they have free-checked-bag benefits. So you will be saving yourself $25 each way ($50 roundtrip) if you have a checked bag.
After the first year is up, if you don’t think you’re getting enough value out of the card, you can always cancel it before the fee kicks in for the second year. However based on my experience, I think you will find that these cards are good for more than just the free flight promotions. For other airline and hotel offers, you can compare these top travel card offers.
Written or last updated April 28, 2015