Airline credit cards are associated with specific airline carriers. These credit cards come with multiple points, rewards, cash back, and miles programs, all of which help you get lower prices on flight deals and more. For example, some airline credit cards also offer discounts on certain hotel stays and rental car purchases.
How Airline Credit Cards Work, and Which Are The Best Airline Cards For You: When you make purchases on an airline credit card you receive whatever bonuses the account offers. Many times the cash back you earn is convertible into miles, which accrue until you earn a free flight. Miles, cashback, and points are commonly higher when you purchase flights with the airline affiliated with your credit card.
These cards are excellent choices for travelers who frequently fly with the same carrier all year long. Currently, two airline credit cards are highly popular with consumers. The Delta SkyMiles Reserve (Amex) and CapitalOne Venture One have some of the best features and perks, including free extra bags, first-class upgrade options, priority boarding status, and more.
Travel Rewards Clubs 101: When you join a travel rewards club (aka travel rewards program) you are granted certain benefits and bonuses pursuant to air travel. Most of these programs are affiliated with only one airline, which means your benefits are limited to flying with one carrier. For example, if you join the JetBlue TrueBlue program your benefits only apply to JetBlue Airlines (and its affiliates).
The Southwest Rapid Rewards only benefits people flying on Southwest. Still, no limits are imposed on how many travel rewards programs you are eligible to join. Technically, you are free to join a rewards club for every airline on which you fly. Please note: While some of these programs are free to join, others charge fees. For example, the Free Spirit program (Spirit Airlines) costs $59.95 for year one and $69.95 each subsequent year. With this membership, you are enrolled in the $9 Fare Club, which gets you significantly reduced prices on fares, baggage charges, and vacation packages.
Revealing the “Hidden City” Money-Saving Secret: Airlines do not want travelers to know about this money-saving tip. What is a “hidden city?” A hidden city is a layover city where a traveler deboards the plane instead of at the flight’s final destination. A direct flight from Baltimore, MD (BWI) to Denver, CO (DEN) might cost $300+ direct. But a flight from BWI to Las Vegas, NV (LAS) with a layover in Denver might cost only $147. If you book the LAS flight and deboard the plane in Denver, you save 50% on your ticket.
This strategy is perfectly legal and highly effective at saving you money. Still, it is best to be discreet and:
- Avoid using frequent flyer accounts/miles on hidden city trips (they will not count anyway when you do not check in for the second leg of the flight).
- Travel light (checked bags will be sent to the final destination city and not the layover/hidden city).
- Prepare for cancelations due to inclement weather or other delays.
- Book return flights separately to avoid potential proof-of-return-ticket requirements.