Credit card miles earned through airline credit cards can be used towards future travel purchases. Although airline credit cards typically have reward systems that allow you to earn airline miles through travel purchases, you might also be able to earn miles through your travel credit card. Depending on your credit card's reward program, you can very quickly rack up points and miles for travel rewards. Some credit cards even offer double-points if you purchase things in certain categories.
How do I earn credit card miles?
You can earn airline miles in the following ways:
- Hotel and flight purchases: Credit card miles can be earned through flight and hotel bookings and sometimes even through car rentals and dining. For example, your mileage points can be accrued at a rate of 1 mile for every $1 spent on travel. If your travel credit card is part of a loyalty program with a specific airline chain, you might also increase to 2 miles for every $1 when you book directly with that chain. Airline credit cards may also offer elite member statuses through which you can earn extra miles often up to 11 miles for every 1 dollar spent.
- Dining and travel: Travel-related expenses such as dining, car rentals, and gas can also earn you rewards. If you're booking train tickets and paying your restaurant bill on your general credit card, you could be earning approximately 1 mile for every $1 spent. On a travel or airline card, this number could translate closer to 2 miles for every $1 spent. In some cases, booking directly on your credit card company's reward platform could mean a 25% increase in redemption value, so your points would be worth 1.25 cents rather 1 cent per mile.
- Everyday spending: Everyday purchases from grocery and department stores can also lead to credit card mile earnings on your general, travel and partner credit cards. Although you may not earn as many miles with everyday purchases (you may earn 1 mile for every dollar spent as opposed to 2 miles you would have earned on travel-related purchases) it's an opportunity to add miles for when you need them for travel redemption in the future.
- Bonus sign-ups: Travel cards typically offer generous sign-up bonuses (such as 30,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,500 in the first three months) when you sign up and use your card. If you travel frequently and enjoy flexibility when booking travel, you can turn your earnings into a customized travel experience for your needs.
- Adding an authorized user: Some credit card companies offer bonus reward points if you add an authorized user to your credit card account. Purchases by authorized users on your card are also eligible for mileage earnings.
What is the best credit card for airline miles?
Depending on your lifestyle, these cards can help you earn miles:
Airline credit cards
If you frequently fly with the same airline, you may find an airline credit card beneficial as many of them award between 2-5 miles for every $1 spent on airfare with that specific airline. Keep in mind that while the earning potential for miles may be higher when using an airline credit card, you'll typically have to redeem your miles with the same airline.
Travel credit cards
Frequent travelers who make many flight, airline or hotel purchases throughout the year may find value in a travel credit card. Travel credit cards may offer a higher value redemption than traditional credit cards when you make travel-related purchases. You could earn 2-5 miles for every $1 spent on airfare, travel, car rentals, and hotels. Travel credit cards offer flexibility when it comes to earning and redeeming points as you are not limited to a specific airline. However, your mile earnings may be less than what you may have earned with a loyalty program through an airline credit card tied to a specific chain.
General credit card
Traditional credit cards that offer miles may award them at a rate of 1 mile for every $1 spent. Some credit cards may not offer mile points directly but may offer the option to convert your cash back or reward points into miles for travel redemption, or can be used directly to book travel or hotel rooms.
Are credit card miles worth it?
Whether credit card miles are worth accumulating will depend on their redemption value as well as any fees you may have incurred while earning and accumulating your miles.
If you are an occasional traveler, you may be able to earn miles at a steady pace through everyday spending. When strategizing on ways to accumulate miles, it's important to be cautious of your spending habits and overall budget. You may also have to pay interest fees and charges in cases where you carry a balance from one billing cycle to another. In order to maximize your miles earned, make sure that you aren't paying more in credit card debt and interest rates than you would have paid on a flight. Some travel credit cards carry higher interest rates and annual fees than general credit cards. However, these rates and fees may be worth it to frequent travelers who make efforts to keep their balances low and make on-time payments to avoid late fees and high interest.
If you have a general reward or travel credit card, the value of your points will vary as well as how many points you earn from specific purchases. Loyalty credit cards may offer generous mile earnings and special offerings for members who achieve elite member statuses. By considering your spending habits and travel needs, you can pinpoint which credit card is best for you when it comes to earning credit card miles.