The following post is by Kevin from CreditShout, a personal finance site dedicated to helping people save money with credit cards.
If you have to have a credit card (and many people do nowadays), why not get one that gives you something back? Airline credit cards are a hugely popular source of great travel perks that can increase your fun while lowering your budget every time you travel.
How you go about taking advantage of the benefits offered by the card will depend largely on the card you get, and the type of agreement that comes with it.
Trading in Points for Perks
With the majority of airline cards including most Continental Airlines credit cards, the quickest and easiest way to get perks is to rack up “miles” on the card.
Under the standard incentive program offered by most travel credit cards, each time you use the card, the amount you spent is translated into a point system, and the more points you earn, the more perks you can get. Trading in your points can get you things like seat upgrades, hotel discounts, rental car rewards, and more.
This means, of course, that the more you use your card, the more perks you’ll get. The point of most airline credit cards is that many people, particularly frequent travelers, use credit cards for convenience when purchasing airline tickets anyhow. So offering perks for doing so only makes sense and is a great way to draw in customers.
It’s key, then, when trying to earn some benefits, to use your airline card when you buy your tickets. Most airline credit card companies will give you a great return on what you spend- typically two “miles” for every one dollar spent on travel. There’s more, too: it’s usually not just the tickets that count for mileage, but any travel-related expenses. The credit card company wants you using the card while you’re on the road and in the air, and in return, you can rack up some major mileage points.
You should also think about choosing a card that offers you points for any type of spending, not just for travel purchases. This can allow you to get points faster than a card that offers you a bonus only for travel.
Aside from the points-for-purchases program, even more perks may be available to you so it is important to look into your cardholder agreement before you travel. Most airline credit cards have special sponsorship deals with various travel-related services and companies, and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you can get just by being a holder of the card.
Discounts, free upgrades, and other VIP-level service are common, provided you can show the card as proof at any of the listed affiliates. If your card agreement contract doesn’t give you a list of affiliate benefits, it’s worth a phone call to your credit card company to ask, since it’s rare for them not to have at least a few companies with whom they partner in order to offer these types of discounts. Sometimes you don’t even have to use the card in the purchase.
Some cards (like the Chase Ink Bold Credit Card ) also offer you “VIP assistance,” in some form or another. This is especially true for cards with annual fees. Under various card programs designed to make your life easier, you may be able to book travel directly through the credit card website by paying with points. You may even be able to buy tickets to special events early, get free travel insurance, or otherwise get some major benefits.
To find these programs or perks, consider a call to customer service or check out the online website for the travel card you carry. Benefits and perks for airline credit card holders are everywhere you look and everywhere you travel. While they’re designed to keep you using your credit card and thus making money for the card company, provided you handle the card responsibly, there’s no reason you can’t take advantage of the good deals and make your trip a little more luxurious.