Are airline credit cards worth it anymore?

Airline credit cards have been around for several decades and have evolved alongside frequent flyer programs. Initially, these cards offered simple bonuses for free flights, but now they offer more options to consumers, including transferable points and fixed-value points programs. However, with the increasing number of airline credit cards available, it has become difficult for consumers to compare their value. These cards are also subject to constant changes in benefits, bonuses, fees, and program restructuring. Therefore, it is important for consumers to carefully consider if an airline credit card is worthwhile for them, especially premium ones with high annual fees.

One factor to consider when evaluating an airline card is the welcome offer. It is important to ensure that the sign-up bonus is advantageous and to take note of the spending requirements. For example, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card currently offers 80,000 points, but you need to spend $5,000 in the first three months to earn the sign-up bonus. It is also important to research and compare the value of different welcome offers, as they often change. Lastly, it is crucial to have a clear plan for how you intend to use the miles you earn.

Another factor to consider is the annual fee of the card. Some airline credit cards do not have annual fees, but these are exceptions. Cards with high annual fees may be worthwhile for frequent flyers who can make the most of the additional benefits like lounge access and earning elite-qualifying miles or points based on spending. Most popular airline credit cards charge around $100 per year, but some offer anniversary bonuses to soften the blow of the annual fee.

Earning categories is another important factor to consider. Many airline credit cards now offer multiple miles per dollar at various merchants like restaurants and grocery stores to compete with non-airline travel rewards cards. It is important to check the bonus miles categories and see if they align with your spending habits.

Travel benefits are another perk of airline credit cards. These benefits can include waived annual fees, free checked bags, priority boarding, and discounts on inflight purchases. For example, the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card offers a free checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation. Regarding onboard discounts, the JetBlue Plus and JetBlue Card provide 50% savings on food and beverage purchases.

Elite status is an important consideration for many travelers. Some airline credit cards offer elite-boosting opportunities, usually with high annual fees. For example, the JetBlue Plus and JetBlue Business cards grant automatic Mosaic status to cardholders who spend $50,000 or more in a calendar year. If you are a frequent flyer aiming for the next status tier, it could be worth carrying an airline card.

Companion tickets are another benefit of airline credit cards. These benefits vary among airlines and cards, so it is important to review the details. For example, the Alaska Airlines credit card offers an annual companion fare upon renewal, starting from $122 for economy class. The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard includes a one-time 50% discount on round-trip coach travel between Hawaii and North America and $100 off a companion ticket for round-trip coach airfare after each account anniversary.

In conclusion, there are still excellent airline credit cards with tailored perks for different types of travelers. However, it is important for consumers to carefully consider various factors, such as welcome offers, annual fees, earning categories, travel benefits, elite status, and companion tickets, before deciding if an airline card is right for them. By doing so, they can ensure that they are getting the most value out of their airline credit card.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *