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Looking for best frequent-flier deals

Dr. Don TaylorDear Dr. Don,
What credit card gives the best deal on bonus miles for flying?
-- High Flier

Dear Flier,
It depends on when, where and how you plan to spend these miles over time. If you always find yourself flying one carrier to get where you want to go, then you're looking for a credit card that maximizes your miles with that carrier. If you're an inveterate traveler looking for adventure, then you'll want some flexibility in how you can spend your miles with different carriers.

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Bankrate allows you to compare programs by using its credit card search for frequent flier mileage credit cards or rebate cards. If you tend to travel during peak times when free tickets are hard to come by, require extra miles for the exchange or are blacked out completely, then you should consider an affinity card that pays cash back rather than a mileage card.

Another concern is what becomes of the miles you earn if a carrier sheds that obligation in bankruptcy or by closing its doors. Keeping up with the industry's prospects to determine the airlines you expect to both be in business and honor your miles is a guessing game for most consumers. Aloha Airlines, ATA, United and USAir are currently in bankruptcy. An article on FrequentFlier.com discusses the bankruptcy concern in greater depth.

There are a host of Web sites that can help you put a finer point on your quest, including FrequentFlier.com and SmarterTravel.com.

-- Posted: March 30, 2005




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