Fly fair: The points, perks and pitfalls of airline credit cards

Meticulous planning is essential to maximize your rewards

ORLANDO, Fla. – The holiday season sees over half of Americans planning to travel, with a staggering seven million expected to embark on journeys to reunite with loved ones.

For these travelers, airline credit cards hold the promise of enhanced experiences, but are they worth the investment?

Booking a flight with earned miles or points is not synonymous with a free ride.

Travelers are still responsible for ticket taxes, fees, and surcharges. These additional costs can accumulate, so meticulous planning is essential to maximize your rewards.

Also, not all airline credit cards are created equal. NerdWallet’s top picks offer distinct advantages, catering to different preferences. From the flexibility and point transfers of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to the no-annual-fee option of the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card, there’s a card to suit every traveler’s needs.

Frequent flyers who accumulated points during the pandemic should exercise caution. Some airlines have adjusted their ticket prices to offset the surplus of earned points. Travel experts advise monitoring pricing trends and redeeming points strategically.

For travelers located near American Airlines hubs, having their affiliated credit card can be a game-changer. Enjoy perks such as free checked bags and priority boarding, enhancing the overall travel experience.

Certain travel cards, like the Chase Sapphire and Amex Platinum, encourage frequent use. The accrued points can then be redeemed for travel rewards with a variety of airlines, providing flexibility and choice.

With careful consideration and strategic planning, airline credit cards can significantly enhance your travel experience. However, it’s crucial to research and understand the terms and conditions of each card, as not all point systems are identical. By doing so, you can confidently embark on your journey, knowing you’ve made the most of your travel benefits.

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