As anyone who has a penchant for adventure knows, plane tickets don’t always come cheap. Of course, there is the wonder that is the budget airline and the odd flash sale to be grateful for… but in general, the biggest expenditure you will make when travelling is the price of the flight. Consequently, it practically goes without saying that if there’s any way to cut costs and have more cash to spend on the things that really matter (such as an extra glass of sangria or that extra special souvenir), the ardent traveller is going to want to know about it.
Cue the airmiles credit card, a nifty piece of plastic that rewards you for putting it to use by offering the chance to accrue money off your flights. Each time you use it, you earn a certain number of points or miles (depending on the scheme). Ultimately, these can be traded in for money off flights. In fact, if you choose the right one, you might even manage to land yourself a nice little bonus as an incentive for simply signing up.
Of course, it’s perfectly understandable to shy away from the idea of signing up to another oh-so tempting credit card - after all, it doesn’t seem all that long ago when the credit crunch had us in its grip. So, we’ve put together a brief guide to the airmiles credit card so that if you do choose to try it, you can boost those miles with peace of mind…
There are two main airmiles credit card schemes you can choose from here in the UK. The first category are those that subscribe to the Avios sceme; the second the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
There are a range of banks that offer Avios airmiles credit cards - choose.net rates Lloyds Bank as one of the best value. Lloyds Bank Avios requires, as many of the most lucrative do, an annual fee in return for 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 24 months as well as frequent promotions and flight upgrades after an annual spend of £7,000. Avios points are collected every time you use the card and can be used to pay for flights.
Both Avios and the Virgin Atlantic Flying Cub also work in conjunction with supermarket loyalty programmes. Tesco Clubcard points can be switched for frequent flyer miles and Sainsbury’s Nectar points can be used for money off Easyjet flights.
Members of an airmiles scheme will generally be able to log in to an online account where they can see how many miles they have accrued as well as view offers. Most will allow you to use your airmiles as part payment, so you don’t need to worry about accruing the exact amount for your flight. Your scheme will let you know whether you have a special number or portal where you need to make your bookings or whether you can just do it by calling up.
Although earning points for spending might sound like a deal that’s too good to be true, airmiles credit cards don’t work on a one-size fits all basis. Firstly, remember that an airmiles card is a rewards card, so if borrowing is your priority, you’d be better off investigating cards that offer the lowest interest rates and best balance transfers. Furthermore, as with any credit card, be sure you meet the minimum payment each month, otherwise the fees and interest you accrue could cancel out any rewards you are hoping for.
It’s also worth being aware that airmiles credit cards tend to be most suitable for high spenders who will really feel the benefit of the rewards offered. The BA Premium Plus Amex might offer you an excellent perk such as a companion ticket for points accrued, but you need to spend £10,000 per year on the card to be eligible for it. However, if you also earn miles the old-fashioned way, by flying regularly, a credit card that offers a companion ticket is effectively raising the value of these airmiles too.
Airmiles credit cards can work for you if you use them for everyday spending in a controlled and strategic manner, but once you’ve landed those cheap flights to your dream destination, don’t forget to book your travel insurance. Medical Travel Compared can help you compare deals to find the best plan for you circumstances.