Everyone wants a free flight to paradise,
and we'll charge our way there if we have to. Attach
air miles to a credit card and people will spend an
average of $25,000 a year.
"We all work our tails off and travel
is our getaway," says Chris Theoharides, president
of Advantage Consulting Group in Massapequa, N.Y.
"People love the idea of free travel."
Banks know this, and that's why there
are hundreds of air-mile credit card offers flooding
the marketplace. Finding a deal that's right for you
takes some work.
“People love the idea of free travel.”
"Spend a few minutes.
Do the math, and figure out if this
card is going to earn you something
worthwhile," says Gerri Detweiler,
author of "The Ultimate Credit
the good from the bad
There are plenty of so-so offers mixed in with the good
ones. So be careful. If one card doesn't seem so great,
keep on shopping. There are tons of offers to choose
More than 35 air-mile credit cards are
linked to specific airlines and specific frequent flier
programs, according to Randy Petersen, editor and publisher
of Inside Flyer Magazine and producer of the Web site WebFlyer.
These types of cards have been around
since the late 1980s. You typically earn one air mile
for every dollar that you spend. The miles you earn
with your credit card are automatically added to your
frequent flier account with the airline.
You earn additional miles when you use
your credit card to make purchases at airline partners,
such as hotels and rental car agencies, clothing stores,
office supply shops and even long distance phone service
Partner lists seem to go on and on. A
typical frequent flier program has more than 80 partners.
Delta Skymiles, for instance, boasts more than 90.
With the Delta
Skymiles card from American Express, you earn two
air miles for each dollar you spend at supermarkets,
gas stations, drug stores, home improvement stores and
the U.S. Postal Service.
Of course, you can also earn air miles
the old-fashioned way -- by flying. Let's say you book
a flight on Delta with your Delta Skymiles card. You'd
earn from 500 miles minimum to 150 percent of mileage.
It's a great way to rack up air miles.
The price of the perk
The downside of airline credit cards is the price. Annual
fees range from $25 to $180. They also tend to have
higher-than-average interest rates.
Bankrate tracks the best of the frequent-flier
credit card deals. Go to our credit
card rate table to explore the choices currently