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.

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

An Airport First, Another Rewards Program Devalued, Caution: Marriott, Don’t Do This On A Plane, & More!

Happy Sunday to all of our travel friends, both near and far! Here are some articles we’ve read from other bloggers (and other sources) that we think you may like, as well, so we’re passing them along.

Continue reading “An Airport First, Another Rewards Program Devalued, Caution: Marriott, Don’t Do This On A Plane, & More!”

Why You Need To Diversify Your Miles and Points Portfolio

As you may have read, we had a blowout trip through the American Southwest in 2017. For us, a fifteen night trip is an amazingly long time to be away from home. We could have stayed at the same hotel chain properties and worked our way towards some low level of status. However, it was much better for us to pick the best hotel for us in each location and use the most sensible form of payment, be it paying cash or using points. The same thing went for the flights, which were booked with a combination of cash and airline miles.

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This was possible because I had a stash of points in several hotel programs as well as had transferrable credit card points. Some of the rooms I paid for because the hotels either weren’t part of any point program or there was a promotion that made paying with cash a much better value than using points.

Continue reading “Why You Need To Diversify Your Miles and Points Portfolio”

How We Found A Reasonable Rate At A NYC Chain Hotel That Had No Resort Fee

Finding hotel rooms in Manhattan is always a challenge. The sheer number of options available could easily cause travelers to throw up their hands and roll the dice, taking whatever hotel Priceline picks for them. We’re not that type of traveler. We need to know the hotel we’re staying at, check to see if the hotel gets good reviews and still get to stay there at what we consider to be a reasonable price.

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Photo by Vlad Alexandru Popa on Pexels.com

For each trip, there are different factors that give me a hint of where to start looking. For this stay, we were going for four nights. If it was a five-night stay, I’d look at Marriott or Hilton properties because you get the fifth night free on reward stays. If I had the IHG Premier, I could look at one of their hotels since they offer a fourth night free on reward stays, but we’re keeping our Select versions of the IHG cards for now.

When I hear four-night hotel stay, there’s only one other thing that pops into my mind. Citi Prestige fourth-night free! All I need to do is find a hotel I like at a reasonable rate and I’ll get 25% of the room rate charges refunded. Granted, Citi doesn’t refund the taxes or any additional resort fees, so you end up saving less than 25% but still, that’s a great discount for a hotel in Manhattan. Continue reading “How We Found A Reasonable Rate At A NYC Chain Hotel That Had No Resort Fee”