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What is an Airline Card?

By Ken Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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An airline card is a type of credit card that gives travelers the advantage of going to various destinations serviced by the airline for virtually nothing. These cards are very popular especially among business travelers who must pay for their own travel expenses then get reimbursed. Under such circumstances, the mileage program credits can start to add up very quickly.

The benefits of an airline card are numerous. First, any purchases made for air travel will likely include bonus miles. Second, most cards will credit miles based on purchases made. This means there is no need to travel before one begins to collect airline miles. The more miles a traveler collects, the more free traveling they can do.

For those who are going to take advantage of the free travel provided by an airline card, there are a number of important things to keep in mind. You may still be charged security fees, port of entry taxes, or other such charges related to air travel. The miles may only pay for the cost of the travel portion of the ticket itself. However, these fees generally are nominal compared to the overall price of the ticket.

The airline card market is relatively competitive. This means there may be substantial rewards for signing up or when using the card for the first time. This has the potential to significantly lower the time needed until a customer has earned enough points or miles for free travel.

Also, for those looking for an airline card, remember that most are specific to one particular airline. For those who want to travel on just one airline, this may be no problem, but not all airlines service the same destinations. This has the potential to present problems for those who want a great variety of travel options. In such cases, going with a major airline card, such as those associated with American Airlines or Delta, are probably the best bet. Major airlines offer the most destinations.

While there are many benefits of an airline card, there are also some disadvantages that should not be overlooked. For example, most cards have a higher interest rate than standard credit cards. These rates are often higher than even other rewards-based credit cards. Some may also have a high annual fee that many credit card customers may not be used to.

Also, customers should be aware of any and all conditions in place when using an airline card to plan travel. Some free travel dates may be blacked out. However, there are some cards without blackout dates as well. Some may require booking well in advance of the flight. Though it may seem like boring reading, the terms and conditions should be read carefully.

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