If you spend a lot on your credit card, pay off the balance in full each month and love to travel, then an air miles credit card could be for you. 

Looking for something else?

What are air miles credit cards?

Air miles are a type of reward that you receive when you use certain credit cards. You can redeem these miles on flights, holidays, theatre tickets and spa days (among other treats), from participating airlines and companies.

You can also use your air miles to make your airport experience more pleasurable by spending them on valet parking, flight upgrades, priority boarding and access to VIP departure lounges. As a general rule, the more you spend on your credit card, the more air miles you receive. 

What airline credit cards are available?

Different cards work with different airlines; two of the most well-known air miles reward schemes include Avios and Virgin’s Flying Club.

You can earn and spend Avios with British Airways, Aer Lingus, flybe, Iberia and Kulula.com Alternatively, Flying Club miles can be earned and spent with Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Delta, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, South African Airways, ANA (Japan), Jet Airways, Air China, Hawaiian Airlines and SAS (Scandinavia).

Deciding between credit cards comes down to which reward scheme is most useful to you. For example, there’s no point choosing a credit card that rewards you with Virgin Flying Club miles if you only travel short-haul and throughout Europe.

What should I consider when choosing an air miles credit card?

Air miles credit cards are good if you spend a lot on them – the more you spend, the more miles you’ll earn. But you’ll need to consider that some credit cards will charge you an annual fee for the privilege of collecting air miles. For example, Virgin Atlantic charges for its Black credit card and there’s a pretty hefty fee for the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card.

Some air miles cards offer interest-free balance transfers, but it’s important that you clear the debt before the 0% period ends. Annual fees combined with interest rates mean that some air miles credit cards can have APRs as high as 76% (variable). So, if you don’t pay off balance transfers or monthly statements in full, then the cost of having an air miles card can often far outweigh the rewards.

If you have a lot of expenses at work, then check with your employer if you can use an air miles credit card – it could be a great way to earn miles. However, always check any tax implications because in some circumstances air miles are considered a benefit in kind. 

Do air miles mean all my flights are free if I redeem them?

Sadly, redeeming your air miles doesn’t mean you’ll pay nothing to jet off on holiday. In most cases your miles can only be used to pay for the basic cost of the flight and you’ll be expected to pay any additional costs and surcharges, such as government taxes.

Also bear in mind that flight availability may be restricted and you’re not always guaranteed to find the flights you want on the days, times or routes that you’d like. In this respect, it’s best to be as flexible as possible when it comes to redeeming your miles.

Is an air miles credit card right for me?

With their typically higher APRs, air miles credit cards aren’t for everyone. But if you’re happy to pay off your credit card balance in full each month and you enjoy travelling, then it could make sense to have a credit card that rewards you in a meaningful way.

But whatever you’re looking for in a credit card, from 0% on new purchases to cashback and other great rewards, start a comparison through us today.