Q: For earning airline miles, what is the best credit card currently in the market?
A: Airline credit cards aren’t quite as lucrative as they once were for several reasons, not the least of which is due to devaluation of miles by the airlines over time. However, they’re still a good deal and as popular as ever. Here’s what you need to consider before choosing, though:
Annual fee vs. annual spending
The truth is that for many people, paying a high annual fee just won’t make sense unless you put a lot of spending on the card and rack up the miles. For example, if you only spend a few hundred dollars per month, then a big chunk of those rewards you earn over the course of the year will just being going to balance out the cost of the annual fee you paid. Unfortunately, almost every airline miles credit card charges an annual fee, making them sub-optimal choice for occasional spenders.
The airlines on which your miles can be used
The problem with cards branded for a specific airline is that the miles are usually only good for flights on that carrier alone. But what happens if they don’t offer a flight to your destination, or even if they do, it’s an indirect flight with multiple stops and layovers? So, when you’re asking yourself what is the best credit card for miles, you need to also consider how often you fly on a given airline or whether they service city pairs that you might need or want to travel between.
How many miles you earn on spending
Even though most cards only give one mile per dollar spent, their value is more than the typical credit card point that’s worth one cent. When you can use 25,000 airline miles to buy a round-trip flight, obviously you are getting more bang for your buck. So this is one big advantage that these types of cards offer.
What is the best credit card for earning airline miles?
Unless you have a huge affinity for a particular airline and you rack up lots of reimbursable spending from work travel, your best bet could be to go with a credit card not affiliated with a specific airline. That way you have the flexibility to book whatever flight is most convenient. Furthermore, you want a card that provides more than 1 mile per dollar and the cards mentioned below can beat that earning rate handily.
Here are some specific recommendations:
For an annual fee (but waived the first year):
It’s hard to beat the Capital One Venture Rewards Card. Go here to read the review and see for yourself.
For no annual fee:
The Discover it Miles Card was recently launched and delivers a lot of value with 1.5 miles per dollar spent. Plus, it even doubles your miles that are earned in year one! Go here to read our Discover it Miles review to learn more.
For more options:
Check out the top 10 travel credit cards to see what else is out there!