With an airline mile credit card you can fly first class, around the world. I’ve always been fascinated with air travel. My first flight was on a Boeing 777 when I was only 8 years old and I still remember having to walk by all the first class and business class passengers on my way to the back. I was happy just to be on the plane at all but I did wonder why everyone at the front of the plane had it so much better than us in the back.
My legs actually didn’t even reach the seat in front of me but everyone else looked like they were having a tough time with the confinement. Since that day, I have made it a mission in life to fly business or first class as often as possible.
The only difference between me and normal passengers, though, is that I don’t pay extra for it. Instead, I rack up hundreds of thousands of airline miles and points that can be redeemed for those business and first class seats at a fraction of the cost. My secret: airline credit cards.
If you received a credit card airline miles offers you may wonder how it differs from a traditional credit card. Airline credit cards are just like regular credit cards that you use every day but they’re linked to a specific airline. So when you make a purchase with your airline credit card, instead of getting 1% cash back or points deposited into your account you get airline miles deposited into your frequent flyer account. Normally, you provide your frequent flyer number when you apply for credit card airline miles offersand that’s how the two are linked.
Airline cards are sometimes referred to as co-branded cards since the card is usually sponsored by a credit card issuer. One example would be the Citi AAdvantage (American Airlines) card which gets you 1 AA Mile for every dollar you spend. So if you spend $10 on your Citi AAdvantage card, you’ll earn 10 frequent flyer miles with American Airlines.
One of the cool parts about an airline mile credit card is that even though you earn miles through your credit card, the points are actually deposited into your frequent flyer account. So if you ever decide to cancel your card, you’ll still retain the points in your frequent flyer account.
Since your card is also linked to your frequent flyer account, every time you make a purchase the new miles will reset the expiration date of your miles. Most airline miles expire after 1 year of inactivity and the only way to reset your clock is to fly and get miles deposited or spend money on an airline credit card.
Some of the best airline cards will offer certain fringe benefits in addition to a large sign-up bonus. One of my favorite cards is the United Explorer Card since it comes with free first checked bag, priority boarding, no international transaction fees and 2 United Club Passes every year.
There are a few ways you can rack up miles with an airline mile credit card but if you want to fly business class for free like I do you’re going to need a lot of points. The best strategies for racking up miles involve spending money on your card, flying often for work or personal travel and enrolling in lucrative sign up bonus offers.
This is probably the easiest way to rack up miles since we all spend money every day. I keep at least one airline card in my wallet at all times so that I can pay for pretty much everything with my card.
Most airline cards offer 1 mile per dollar spent but make sure that you also sign up with your airline’s dining program. All you have to do is link your card once and then you’ll get bonus miles every time you eat or drink at your favorite restaurants and bars.
Another cool way to earn points for purchases you already make is when you do online shopping. Instead of buying directly from a retailer’s site, use an online mileage mall and you will automatically get bonus miles for every dollar you spend. Those miles can add up quickly!
One of the perks of business travel is that even though your employer pays for your ticket you still get to rack up the frequent flyer miles. These miles are actually more lucrative than regular miles from credit card spend because they will help you attain elite status faster. Elite status can get you free upgrades, early boarding, free checked baggage and more.
If you’re not a business traveler though, you can still earn a lot of miles for personal travel. When you book a flight with your co-branded airline card on that same airline you’ll often receive a 2-3x miles bonus for the credit card purchase and you’ll get miles added for the actual miles flown.
I don’t fly much for work and I don’t like to pay for airline tickets so this is my preferred method of racking up airline miles. Airlines know that travelers have a lot of options when it comes to flying and one method of enticement that they like to use is large sign-up bonuses. All this competition is a great thing because in just the last few years alone, we’ve seen sign-up bonuses top 100,000 miles several times with the average offer hovering around 25,000 – 50,000 miles.
Perhaps best of all, some people worry that credit card airline miles are taxable, but they are not. In fact, so many people had this worry that the IRS actually specifically wrote an announcement in 2002 to say that airline miles are not something you get taxed on. So go ahead and rack up those miles!!
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