Is It Really Possible to Fly Free With Credit Card Rewards?

credit card rewards

Airline mile rewards have long been a popular incentive for credit card holders like myself. I collect miles for numerous airlines, but for the average traveler like myself, it would take forever to see the mileage results and rewards that I’m able to see by integrating the two through a credit card.

While the rewards programs related to travel may not be presently as lucrative as they once were, there are still many benefits you can get out of racking up miles just for using a credit card for purchases.

Most airline rewards credit card programs give you a certain amount of miles for every transaction you make. As an incentive for joining the rewards programs, the credit card companies will likely offer bonus miles to keep new business coming in. Depending on the frequency with which you use your credit card for purchases, you could earn enough miles to qualify for free airfare.

Is This Type of Rewards Program for Me?

Consumers that sign up for airline rewards programs through credit card companies should be sure the card offerings are in line with their lifestyle. For people that never travel, earning airline miles is illogical. There are plenty of other credit card rewards programs including cash back incentives that would make more sense.

However, if you do tend to fly a few times a year or more often for business travel, you should invest some time in comparing the airline rewards credit cards to find the best one for you. I flew internationally quite a bit in my former job, and the credit card points served to boost the miles I was already racking up. It was a win-win for me.

It is important to keep expectations in check when applying for a credit card with airline rewards. Many cardholders get frustrated at the slow pace of earning miles because they are expecting instant free tickets to arrive in their mailbox. For this reason, it is important to read the fine print and clearly understand how the program works and how long it may take to build up enough points for free airfare. Not all rewards programs are built the same. You need to find one tailored to your specific needs and expectations.

Another consideration free airfare hopefuls should make prior to applying for an airline rewards card is your ability to spend responsibly on credit to keep earning miles. Like many incentive programs through credit card companies, any late or missed payments will zero out your rewards account. If you spend recklessly just to accrue miles you may not only lose the miles you have earned, you may find yourself in a serious cycle of debt that is hard to break.

What Else Should I Know?

While it is very true that you can earn enough airline points to qualify for free airline tickets, you may have to be more flexible about your travel plans than you normally would. Essentially, there will be limitations on your ability to fly for free. For instance, a popular flight that an airline has no problem filling with paying customers will not issue you free tickets on that flight. They will limit your travel option to less popular travel days and times so they aren’t losing money.

If you are flexible in your scheduling, this can certainly work to your advantage. You would be able to pick and choose between what is being offered and what works for you. If you are traveling with a purpose and have limited flexibility, you may find the airline rewards not meeting your expectations. There may be other incentives that can make the program still worth the effort, including the ability to upgrade to a first or business class seat with your earned miles. It is important to consider all aspects of the rewards program before applying for a card.

Author Bio

Philip Taylor (PT) writes about personal finance and making extra money at PTMoney.com.

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