Airline credit cards - how much do I need to spend?Which? explores how often the rewards outweigh the fees

18 July 2014


Airline credit cards allow customers to earn rewards in the form of discounts with airlines or hotels.

Cardholders typically accumulate points every time they make a purchase on their credit card, eventually building up enough to reduce the cost of flights, merchandise or accommodation.

However, a lot of these cards come with hefty annual fees and the reward schemes tend to vary tremendously. Many will only be suitable for heavy spenders or frequent flyers.   

So, before applying for these credit cards, it's important to work out whether you will use them enough to justify their expense.

The Which? credit card comparison tables let you search all available cards from all available providers to choose the best deals based on quality of service as well as cost and benefits.

Which? Comparison Table: Best credit cards for travel rewards - our tables are updated in real-time.

How often do I need to use an airline credit card? 

The amount of money you need to spend to be eligible for cheap flights is dependent on your choice of credit card and the reward scheme associated with it.

Many airline credit cards offer enhanced introductory deals, but require a hefty spend for customers to be eligible for similar rewards thereafter.

For example, the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card offers 25,000 Avios to customers who spend £3,000 in the first three months. That's enough to secure a free return flight from London to Cairo, excluding the cost of certain taxes and fees.

The card then pays 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent, subject to certain conditions. So, you would have to spend at least £6,000 just to be eligible for a £35 return flight to certain European destinations.  

Is an airline credit card right for me?

If you're a regular traveller, it's likely you'll benefit from doing most of your everyday spending on an airline credit card, not least because many airlines offer additional points when you spend money on flights.

But, if you don't fly abroad very often, you might be better off with a credit card that offers general cashback features with a lower annual fee.     

Ultimately, it's important to consider whether the amount of money you will save on travelling is higher than the amount spent on fees associated with the card.  

Which Comparison Table: Best credit cards for cashback on your spending - all available deals compared.

Should I borrow money on an airline credit card?

If you're looking to borrow money without paying off the balance in full at the end of the month, then an airline credit card is less likely to be the best choice for you.

Many of these cards have a high representative APR and are therefore far more expensive to borrow from than others.

Those looking to borrow large amounts of money over an extended period of time will be better opting for a credit card with a lengthy 0% interest deal.

Which Comparison Table: Best credit cards for 0% purchase deals - compare the best deals on the market.

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