When You Should(n’t) Use Airline Co-Brand Credit Cards To Pay For Airfare

All of the larger airlines in the U.S. offer co-brand credit cards. These cards, which provide extra benefits to cardholders, range from ones with no annual fee to premium cards costing up to $450 per year. While you’d think that using a co-branded card would be the best choice for earning points with your flight purchase, that’s usually not the case. For most airlines, you don’t earn any extra points for airfare purchases for having a more expensive card either.

In most cases, instead of using a co-brand card, it’s better to use a card that earns flexible points like Membership Rewards, Thank You Points or Ultimate Rewards. These cards provide the opportunity to earn more points as well as the flexibility to use points on multiple airlines. You’re able to transfer points from these programs into your airline mileage account when you need them.

Here are the earnings multiples on airfare for the main flexible points cards from each bank:

American Express (Membership Rewards)

  • Platinum card ($550 annual fee) – 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • Gold card ($250 annual fee) – 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel

Chase (Ultimate Rewards)

  • Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee) – 3x points on travel worldwide (including airfares purchased from airlines or travel agencies/websites)
  • Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee) – 2x points on travel worldwide (including airfares purchased from airlines or travel agencies/websites)

Citi (Thank You Points)

  • Citi Prestige ($495 annual fee) – 5x points on purchases at airlines and travel agencies
  • Citi Premier ($95 annual fee) – 3x points on purchases at airlines and travel agencies

The AMEX Platinum and Citi Prestige both offer 5x on airfare but the AMEX card only counts purchases direct from the airline or their website. When I had both cards, I used the Citi Prestige because I valued the additional travel insurance coverage but I know people would rather earn Membership Rewards than Thank You points. Of the $95 cards, the Citi Premier earns the most points on airline purchases at 3x.

So how many miles will you earn by using an airline co-brand card to purchase airfare and when does it make sense to do so? I’ve indicated which airlines are partners of one (or all) of the flexible currency cards so you can compare earnings potential between cards.

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The Reasons We Didn’t Fly on Ryanair and Probably Never Will

We like to poke fun at Ryanair on here every once in a while. After all, looking at how Ryanair operates gives us a welcome break away from being upset about how United, Delta and American are constantly one upping each other with customer unfriendly policies.

I’ve shared the time when the CEO called the customers a bunch of whiners because they didn’t pay for seat assignments. Sharon found what might be the funniest customer complaint letter ever written by a passenger after their experience with Ryanair agents at the airport when they were running late for a flight.

The airline was previously in the news over their decision to cut over 2,000 flights from the schedule over a six week time period. The airline said the cancellations were to increase on-time performance of the airline but it was quickly figured out the cancellations were because they didn’t properly schedule for pilots’ vacations. Even the company CEO has said this situation was handled poorly, while at the same time saying that it was the correct decision to make.

Cancelled Flights board

There was one time when we could have taken a Ryanair flight. Here’s why we considered it (for a split second) and why we still didn’t fly with them.

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The Prices For Flights Drive Me Insane

I’ve booked a fair amount of airfare over the years and always try to get the best price for the flights I want. At first, I used a program called Easy SAABRE (anyone else remember that one?), that linked into the same system used by travel agents to book flights. I remember the amazement in my travel agent’s voice when I’d call her and feed her the flights I wanted to take and told her what the price should come out to be.

Alas, the days of IBM PC computers, 2400 baud modems and airlines changing fares once a week are long gone. Now prices can change from one second to the next, depending if there’s a difference of any one of many factors that go into the formula the airlines use to set their price.

So how do you beat the system?

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Allegiant Introducing 9 Nonstop Routes To/From Florida

Allegiant Air announced today that they are expanding its service out of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) to include nine new year-round destinations. To date, it’s one of the airline’s largest expansions out of a single airport.

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Problem With A TSA Officer, Customs Agent Or Airline? Here’s Where You Can Complain

It’s been said over and over again – flying is stressful. You’re stuck in crowds for a long period of time, there can be delays or other issues that may or may not have an explanation, or a whole myriad of other things that can make you feel ready to punch a wall. On top of that, the TSA officer is confusing your elderly parent-in-law who has dementia, the Customs agent is barking orders with her head turned so you can’t understand them, and the airline employee who has been unreasonable about whether or not your carry on will fit in the overhead is now becoming irate. You can’t do much about the first few examples but here’s what you can do about the latter ones:

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