If you travel frequently for business, pleasure or both, not using a rewards credit card is a missed opportunity. These cards allow you to rack up points or miles, which are redeemable for a variety of travel related expenses, including airline tickets and hotel discounts. Take a look at the guide below to learn how you can earn airline miles and maximize their value.
What are airline miles?
Also called frequent flyer miles, airline miles are a type of reward you can earn for purchases with a specific credit card or airline. If you fly often, you could say you're a “frequent flyer," hence this term is used for the rewards you can earn on your flights.
You'll usually earn a certain number of miles based on the cost of a plane ticket or how much you charge to your credit card. Similar to points, which you can earn with many credit card rewards programs, your airline miles may have a variety of redemption options. However, those options typically focus on travel-related benefits and reward customer loyalty. For example, miles can often be redeemed to help pay for future ticket purchases.
How to earn miles with a credit card
Airline miles are available through airlines and credit card issuers. To earn directly from an airline, you start by enrolling and participating in its loyalty program. After that, book flights on that airline and enter your member or frequent flyer number when you pay. Earning miles through a credit card requires you to use that card — you'll accumulate miles as you make purchases.
If you're interested in earning miles with a credit card, there are few things to know:
- You can accumulate miles when you use a travel rewards credit card for your purchases. Depending on the terms of your card, you'll earn airline miles at a set rate for your spending on certain purchase categories. These miles are not tied to one specific airline, and in some cases, can be redeemed for items like merchandise, event tickets and gift cards.
- Some travel rewards cards are co-branded with an airline which allows you to accrue frequent flyer miles with that particular company. These airline credit cards are good options for travelers who like to fly with a specific airline. In general, you'll earn a certain number of miles for every dollar you spend.
- Most travel credit cards also offer generous welcome bonus offers.
How to use airline miles
The way you'll redeem your frequent flyer miles varies by airline and credit card issuer. In general, the redemption process is fairly straightforward:
- Airlines and loyalty programs: Usually all you'll have to do is select the “shop with miles" option whenever you purchase a ticket online. The airline may have a login system to access your membership account first.
- Your credit card: You simply have to sign in to your rewards card account and head to the rewards section of the website. There, you'll be able to cash in your points for various rewards, such as flights, hotel stays, gift cards, cash and more. If you're a Chase cardholder, Chase Ultimate Rewards® makes redeeming your rewards easy.
Now you can get on your way to stepping up your travel game with airline miles. Credit cards can help you earn miles quickly depending on how you spend, especially once you understand the rewards programs that travel cards offer. However, if you don't have a credit card, you can use airline loyalty programs to earn miles on your flights.