If you’re a frequent traveler and you don’t already have a rewards credit card, you could seriously be missing out.
Yes, utilizing rewards credit cards certainly requires discipline, but you could be earning free flights, accommodations, and more. And who wouldn’t want to take advantage of free travel opportunities?
If you want to reap the most rewards, points-based cards are absolutely the way to go.
Airline Miles vs. Rewards Points
Often when people think of travel rewards, the first thought that comes to mind is getting an airline-branded credit card. However, that’s not your only option.
Airline cards are a great way to earn miles, but other rewards cards are often more flexible. Many budget travelers swear by cards like the Chase Sapphire, Citi Premiere, and the Platinum Card from American Express. With these cards, you earn points instead of miles, which can sometimes be even more valuable.
With cards that earn mileage, they’re mostly only good for flying on the respective airline. That, of course, is great if you tend to utilize the same carrier every time you fly.
Points, whether from Amex, Citi, Chase, Capital One, or some other bank, are simply more versatile. Often, they can be used on a variety of airlines or for accommodations with various hotels and resorts.
When you use miles, you’re stuck spending however many is required for your desired flights. With points, however, there’s the potential for spending less since you can use any of the bank’s transfer partners.
There’s just one caveat: once you’ve transferred your points, you can’t get them back. In other words, you should be certain you can book the flight or hotel you want before initiating a transfer.
If you thought the flexibility alone was a major perk, just wait – it gets better. Sometimes these banks and their partners will actually let you earn a transfer bonus. You just have to have good timing.
Citi and Amex, for example, tend to offer transfer bonuses several times a year. During these special promotional periods, you may be able to earn 10-30% or more in the form of a bonus.
These bonuses can be a great deal, since you get even more miles for the points you’re redeeming. For example, we’ve seen Amex offer 30% bonus when transferring points to Virgin Atlantic. From there, those points can be used to book flights on Delta Airlines.
Transferring points is not the only way to book a flight. Sometimes, you can book directly with points (without transferring them) and earn additional miles with the respective airline by doing so.
If you use miles, or transferred points, you won’t earn additional miles on your trip. However, when booking with points directly, they essentially work like booking with cash. So, yep, you can actually earn more miles while spending your points. Nice, huh? Though, to be fair, the best deals are typically found through transfers.
Whichever way you use them, rewards points are a fantastic way to ear free travel perks. They’re both valuable and versatile. So, if you qualify for a card where you can earn points, we definitely suggest getting one.