How To Use Credit Cards To Earn Travel Points

Article written by guest contributor *JETLAGGED, Feb 5, 2019.

Would you like to book airline flights for next to nothing?


Well you can! If . . . . you know how to strategically use credit cards.

Here’s how:

Did you know almost every major airline has a credit card associated with its frequent flyer program? If you are not already established as a frequent flyer member for that particular airline, applying for the credit card that is associated with their frequent flyer program will automatically enroll you (that is, if you’re approved).

The typical enticement is after you make a minimum purchase within a certain amount of time, you will be awarded a pre-determined amount of points that can be redeemed to book flights. Example: With Alaska Airlines, after you receive your credit card and you spend $2,000 in the first three months, you will be awarded 40,000 points.

The bonus of these cards is you can get double and sometimes triple points for certain purchases. For instance, American Airlines gives you two points for every dollar spent at eating establishments and Jet Blue Airlines will award you three points for every dollar spent on Jet Blue ticket purchases or other things directly related to Jet Blue.

The catch? These cards often come with somewhat higher interest rates. My suggestion would be to manage your purchases and pay the balance off every month to avoid keeping a running balance (which results in lingering interest fees).

On average, I catch 20-30 flights a year. At least 6-8 of those flights are free (not considering the taxes and airport fees that can’t be avoided). I’ve flown round trip to NYC from L.A. for about $22. Not bad.

Another bonus to using credit cards associated with frequent flyer programs are perks like having priority boarding. If you use an American Airlines credit card to book a flight, you, plus up to five people (whose flights you also booked with the credit card) can check your first bag for free for each leg of the trip. That’s a $50 savings for each person (round trip).

So again, if you’re disciplined, you can use certain credit cards to help you rack up points that can be redeemed to book flights for next to nothing. Most of your purchases would likely be for everyday things you’re probably already charging for anyway (gas, food, etc).

( *Jetlagged is a seasoned traveler who has been flying since the age 4 and has so far flown to 5 of the 7 continents. He can usually be found with a glass of whiskey in one hand and a good cigar in the other).

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