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How Do Credit Card Miles Work?

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How do credit card miles work

Flying can be super expensive nowadays and with the cost of living going up and up, going on a vacation can seem like a distant dream. But… not if you take advantage of credit card miles. 

They’ve certainly received lots of recognition, and for good reason. From excellent sign-up bonuses to perks, travel rewards cards are worthy of your attention. And while it’s not as easy as registering for a card and getting free travel, you can easily get free flights once you know how the miles work.

In this guide, we’re going to show you how these cards work and what you can expect from them. It pays to explore your options and compare rates. With a little research, you can be sure to get a card that provides excellent rewards and rates.

Don’t jump on the very first deal you come across. Take the time to compare all of the various cards out there to ensure that you get one that suits you. In doing so, you can be sure to get your money’s worth.

Credit Card Miles: What Are They?

Credit card miles are awarded to customers who spend money using a specific travel companies credit card (usually an airline). Reward points are typically referred to as “miles.” However, “miles” don’t really correspond to the distance traveled. On the contrary, it shows the customer’s consumption amount. 

Every time you buy something with your airline card, you will earn a specific number of miles. This number is based on how much you spent. 

Top-rated airline credit cards generally provide 1 mile for every $1 spent on daily shopping and bonus miles for specific purchases. For example, some cards give you 2 or more points for every $1 spent in certain categories such as gas, grocery, travel, etc. 

When it comes to cards that provide miles, there are two main types; generic travel cards and co-branded airline cards. 

Generic Travel Cards

Generic travel cards earn points or miles and can be used for various travel purchases. These include flights, hotels, and usual transportation and tourism. Some have transfer partners, including multiple airlines, so you can convert your points into airline miles.

Co-Brand Airline Cards

These airline cards are provided by credit card companies (such as American Express or Chase) in combination with airlines (such as United, Delta, or Southwest). Moreover, co-branded cards can earn you extra miles when you make purchases with an airline.

And the miles you earn can usually be used only for a specific airline. Also, they may provide you with travel benefits, such as free checked baggage or priority seats.

Credit Card Miles: What Are They Worth?

All of the various airline and rewards card programs come with different ways to redeem your card miles. As such, the value of the miles you earn from each airline rewards program is different. On average, however, 1 point is worth $0.01.

How Many Miles Total A Free Flight?

Your card miles value depends on which plan you’re on. Some plans provide fixed-rate miles worth $0.01 for travel redemption. Therefore, a $100 flight requires 10k miles, a $300 flight requires 30k miles, a $400 flight requires 40k miles, etc.

Please note that certain airline companies offer redemption options that are flat-rate based on your flight distance, while other companies redeem points according to how much your flight costs.

International and round-trip domestic flights in economy class on these airlines usually start with 25k or 30k card miles. Short-haul trips, like flights from Seattle to San Francisco, can be much cheaper if the airline offers discounts according to distance.

Round-trip international flights to Europe usually start at 60k miles, while round-trip flights to Asia typically start at 70k miles. However, they generally require 80k miles or more. 

First-class and business class flights will cost even more on top of this. So if you plan to travel abroad, make sure that you look for the best international travel credit cards.

Earning Extra Miles

The idea behind using high-quality credit cards to earn points and miles is rather simple. You can earn more miles when you spend more money. In fact, there are many ways you can earn flight miles through these credit cards. When you know how these cards work, you stand to earn a lot more points.

Choosing The Right Card 

For starters, it’s important that you find an airline card that suits your buying habits. If you usually fly a lot with a specific airline, it might be a good idea to get a credit card from that airline. If you divide your expenses among several airlines or do not frequently travel by air, then getting a universal travel credit card might make more sense.

You must also decide whether you will pay an annual fee. If you’re hesitant to get a card with an annual fee, remember that annual fee credit cards may help you earn award miles faster.

Sign-up Bonuses

Check the sign-up bonus when picking a credit card. These are award miles that you can earn when spending up to a certain amount of money on your card within the first couple months of getting it. The amount you get and the time you have varies from card to card. 

Alaska airlines credit card

For example, with the Alaska Airlines credit card, you can get a bonus of 30,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days!

Referral Programs

Your rewards card may have a program that earns you points with referrals. You can use your unique link to recommend your card to your friends. If they are approved to use the card, you will receive bonus miles in your account.

Combining Cards

Spending enough and like to get travel rewards, you might want to get multiple travel credit cards. For instance, you can combine your airline card and a general travel card. In doing so, you can transfer points to the airline and get the most benefit based on the items you buy. 

Redeeming Miles

The redemption system for the various rewards programs is different. However, almost all reward cards have a unique portal that lets you redeem rewards. You can usually access the portal by logging into your frequent flyer or card account. But it depends on whether you are earning income through a frequent flyer or travel credit card.

After logging in, you can find the correct redemption option. For most plans, redemption is not possible on certain dates or the fee is much higher than usual. Check out these tips to help you make the most of your redemption.

Book your flight in advance. Whenever possible, it is essential to look for redemptions a few months early. Not only can this assist you in choosing a date with a lower exchange cost, but booking at the last minute usually incurs additional costs.

Be flexible. Here is an excellent way to get the most out of your mileage. If you have the flexibility to choose your dates, you can easily avoid expensive and popular dates to book options that are low-cost.

Fly with friends. Frequent flyer plans often have flight partners. So you can redeem miles through airline partners. If you cannot find cheap flights through major airlines, please consider searching some of their partner flights. You may be able to book with them using your miles instead.

Research transferrable partners. If you earn transferable points, be sure you research the flight price with each partner before you book the flight. Doing so will enable you to get the lowest cost. You can then you can transfer your points to that airline and make a reservation.

Key Takeaways

Card companies love to attract new customers by offering special promotions, and airline card and miles are no different. It’s important that you consider your options when choosing the right card. Don’t rush into getting the first card or offer you see.

You can likely find a much better deal if you just do some research. What’s more, you want to compare as many cards as you can. In doing so, you can see which ones offer the best deals by comparison. You want to get your money’s worth with extra mile cards.

Since you’re typically going to be spending money to earn miles, you want to make sure you get a good rate that gets your money’s worth. Also, be sure to check the rewards and extra perks offered by the numerous cards out there.

You can usually bag great deals for being a new customer, so it pays to explore your options. In the end, a little research goes a long way and ensures that you get the most suitable card for your needs.

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