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Finding the best air miles credit card

What is an air miles credit card?

Airlines offer reward schemes in partnership with credit card providers making it easy to earn frequent flyer miles or points through everyday spending. Most air mile schemes offer travel rewards which can later be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, and car hire. Air miles or reward points are earned on everyday spending and travel. But spending on travel associated with a named airline generally earns the most air miles.

These cards are particularly useful for frequent flyers and can offer excellent value for money compared to other reward schemes. Paying off the entire balance before accruing interest is vital to get the best value out of an air miles credit card, and cards with a high APR may not be a good idea if it's likely the outstanding balance will rollover. Some cards offer 0% APR on purchases for a set length of time, allowing more space to pay off a balance before interest is charged. For more details about finding the best air miles credit card read our full guide here.

How to find the best scheme

Using an air miles credit card to purchase travel expenses will generally earn the greatest number of air miles. This may include flights, car hire and accommodation. It may be necessary to fly with a particular airline or their partners to earn the most points.

It's a good idea to make sure any fee charges will be outweighed by the benefits from the reward scheme. Likewise it's important to be aware of extra costs from paying interest on an outstanding balance. Other features to check for include: if points can be spent on other rewards; and if it offers 0% purchase or balance transfer deals to spread costs over time.

Earning more air miles

To earn the most air miles, it's best to choose a card that's compatible with airlines and/or shops already used. This is so that it won't be necessary to change current spending habits just to earn more. Many cards offer bonus air miles for a limited time on all spending or once a certain level of spending is reached.

Air miles will be earned when a flight is purchased, but even more points can be earned by claiming on the flight itself. And aside from the named airline, some cards offer extra air miles for flying with the airline's partners so it's worth checking if there are any. Some supermarket reward schemes have the facility to convert reward points into air miles or money off flights.

Perks for frequent flyers

Air miles credit cards can offer free upgrades or tickets for companion flyers after a certain level of spending is reached. And many offer frequent flyer program membership when issued with a named airline. Frequent flyer membership may either be automatic or require additional registration. The main perks of frequent flyer programs include priority check in, access to airport lounges and free flight upgrades. As they usually have tiered membership levels, regular flyers are likely to benefit most from these programs and get access to the best perks.

Avoiding interest and fees

The more spending on a card, the more points earned, so it can be beneficial to use the card for as much day to day spending as possible. But this is only a good idea if the full outstanding balance is paid back at the end of each month. Equally, frequent flyers will benefit the most from an airline's reward scheme if the entire balance is routinely paid off before any interest is charged.

While some providers charge particularly high fees, these can still be worth paying for those who spend a lot on travel - especially on long-haul or business class flights. Savings from cheaper or free flights will often outweigh any fees, but only for those who would usually pay for flights in the first place.

Redeeming air miles points

Air miles can usually be redeemed online from the provider's website where there'll be details of what they can be spent on. This may include flights with the named airline and any partner airlines, as well as hotel stays, car hire, airport parking and brochure holidays.

Compare air mile credit cards