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Chase unveils new airline card

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

Chase, AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines are taking off together with a new airlines rewards credit card.

The AirTran A+ Rewards credit card debuted Thursday and earns rewards that can be redeemed for any AirTran or Southwest flight. Southwest bought AirTran in 2011.

The card offers two "rewards dollars" for every $1 spent on purchases made directly with AirTran and Southwest and on all Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partner purchases. Cardholders get one rewards dollar for every other $1 spent.

Additionally, cardholders receive an anniversary bonus of two rewards credits -- not dollars -- every year. New cardholders who spend $1,000 within the first three months get 16 additional rewards credits along with two business-class upgrades after the first purchase.

Let me explain the difference between rewards dollars and rewards credits under this card's program. It's a bit tricky. You earn rewards dollars through your purchases. Once you rack up 1,200 rewards dollars, it can be converted into a rewards credit. Approximately 16 rewards credits, or 19,200 rewards dollars, will buy a round trip ticket, according to company spokesman Rob Tacey.

The card comes with a $69 annual fee.

Before you jump at Chase's new travel rewards card, or any new credit card for that matter, make sure it fits your financial lifestyle. Do you fly AirTran and Southwest often? Will the rewards you earn more than compensate for the annual fee? Do a little math, taking into account how much you normally spend each year with credit cards, and how often you book flights with the airline partner (or hotel partner).

And don't fall for sign-on bonuses if the spending threshold exceeds your budget. You don't want to end up financing your own rewards program by paying 15.4 percent in interest on rollover balances.

What travel rewards credit card do you carry?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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