How to: Find the Best Frequent Flier Credit Card | CreditShout

How to: Find the Best Frequent Flier Credit Card

By Dawn Allcot / July 16, 2010
How to Find the Best Frequent Flier Credit Card

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Like anything related to finance (or shopping, or, well, practically anything!), the best frequent flier credit card for one person may not work well for another.

For instance, you wouldn’t want a Delta SkyMiles card if the airline lost your bags three times in the space of four trips. (Hypothetically speaking, of course). On the other hand, if you are a corporate executive with offices in New York and L.A. and take Delta’s red eye once a week, that might be the card for you.

If you fly a lot and know you’ll redeem the miles — but also want the option to get a statement credit instead — any number of frequent flier credit cards, including Discover’s or CapitalOne Venture Rewards, might be the best card for you.

Editor’s Note: Our current recommendations for travel rewards cards can be found in this Guide.

Factors to Consider When You Select the Best Frequent Flier Credit Card

Of course, when you select a frequent flier credit card, you’ll want to select an airline carrier that you use frequently — it flies to places you go, the prices are good, (yes, this matters even when you’re cashing in miles) and you’ve enjoyed the service on flights.

If you’re loyal to a particular airline, you can really rack up the points, benefits and even upgrades. If you don’t have any specific airline loyalty, your best choice is a general travel rewards card, like:

You’ll also need to consider your credit history and see what cards you can qualify for and, of course, the interest rate (the intro APR and what it will be after that) and the annual fee, if any. Here are some other things to think about.

Travel insurance – You’ll need to read the fine print in terms and conditions to find out the limits on travel insurance. You may also want to do some research or ask friends how easy it is to make a claim. Some types of travel insurance you want to look for include:

    • Lost or Damaged Luggage Insurance
    • Trip Cancellation Insurance
    • Travel Accident Insurance
    • Rental Car Insurance (Collision Damage Waiver or CDW)

You can read more about credit card travel insurance in this post: “How does credit card travel insurance work?”

Benefits

Benefits are nice when you’re on the road. You want:

      • Fraud liability protection in case your credit card (or your whole wallet!) is stolen on the road.
      • Warranty protection on all your purchases

You may also want:

      • Emergency road service
      • Emergency service when you travel, including the ability to have cash wired to you if your card is lost or stolen
      • Concierge service to book restaurant reservations, special experiences, and sporting events while you’re on the road
      • Waived baggage fees when you fly

Rewards

Let’s get down to what really matters with a frequent flier credit card or any travel rewards credit card: How do the rewards work and how easy is it to book a flight?

You may want to look for a card with:

      • No blackout dates
      • Companion airline tickets
      • First- or business-class upgrades when available
      • No restrictions on which airline carrier you fly
      • No expiration date on miles
      • No limits on miles you can earn
      • Ability to redeem miles for merchandise, gift cards, cash and more

Finally, look at the rewards structure:

      • How many bonus miles do you get when you sign up? Is a minimum purchase required on the card to earn those miles? How long do you have to make that initial purchase for your bonus?
      • How many miles do you earn for regular purchases?
      • How many bonus miles do you earn when you book a flight with your card?
      • Can you earn bonus miles in any other way?
      • How do miles translate into dollars? How many miles will it realistically take to purchase a flight?

With the answers to these questions in hand and a clear idea of what you need in a credit card, you can browse the websites of major credit card issuers like American Express, Discover, Citi, and CapitalOne to find the best frequent flier credit card with a low APR and no annual fee.

Or stay here at CreditShout and browse our credit card reviews to find the best frequent flier card for you.

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone. Additionally, the opinions of the commenters are not necessarily the opinions of this site

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