In the world of travel, wisdom often comes with experience, and as the saying goes, ‘If I knew then, what I know now…’ We’ve all had those moments where we wish we could impart our current knowledge to our younger selves to make things smoother.
When I embarked on my travel journey over a decade ago, I yearned for insight into the intricacies of loyalty programs and the potential of credit card offers in the realm of travel.
With a well-devised strategy, I could have been an elite cardholder and a revered member of an airline’s loyalty program
So what we are going to learn today is what Airline credit card should be paired with what airline loyalty program.
Now, learning how to best apply points or miles can be a bit of work, like a game, so let the games begin!
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How to Choose an Airline Loyalty Program
When deciding which airline to align with you most want to choose the airline that has the largest presence in your area.
For example, If you live near a major hub for Delta Air Lines, such as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport or Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, it would be advantageous to focus on Delta’s SkyMiles program.
Being near a Delta hub means more flight options, more frequent departures, and potentially better award seat availability.
This proximity can make it easier to take advantage of last-minute deals and promotions offered by Delta.
Additionally, if you’re using a Delta co-branded credit card or a card that earns transferable points like American Express Membership Rewards, you’ll likely find more opportunities to earn and redeem miles for flights that are convenient for your location.
This approach ensures that your mileage earnings and spending are as efficient and beneficial as possible.
If you reside near a major United Airlines hub such as Chicago O’Hare International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, or Newark Liberty International Airport, aligning with United’s MileagePlus program could be highly beneficial.
United’s strong presence in these areas means you’ll have access to a wider range of flight options, frequent departures, and a variety of international connections.
This proximity also enhances the likelihood of finding available award seats and allows you to take advantage of unique United promotions and deals.
Furthermore, by using a United co-branded credit card from Chase or a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can accelerate your MileagePlus mile accumulation.
This strategy not only maximizes your earning potential but also ensures that your travel rewards align seamlessly with your most convenient and frequently used airline, enhancing your overall travel experience and efficiency.
The Cards to Compare & Pair
United MileagePlus Program with The Chase Sapphire Reserve®:
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is an excellent choice for those looking to maximize their United MileagePlus earnings.
While it’s not a United co-branded card, its flexibility and benefits make it a strong partner for the MileagePlus program.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transferred directly to United MileagePlus at a 1:1 ratio, allowing you to seamlessly convert your everyday spending into United miles.
I became a master at finding ways to triple my miles by using my card whenever possible. Even offering to pay the bill at dinner so that I could gain more miles.
Details on The Chase Sapphire Reserve®:
- Earn 60,000 Bonus Points: Just spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
- 10x points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- 5X Points: Earn quintuple points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (except hotel bookings eligible for the $50 annual credit) after your $300 travel statement credit is used.
- 3X Points on Dining and More: Triple points for dining at restaurants, eligible delivery services, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services.
- 2X Points on Other Travel: Double points on all other travel expenses, after your $300 travel statement credit is used.
- 1X Points on Everything Else: Standard point earning on all other purchases.
- Annual $50 Hotel Credit: Enjoy this perk each year.
- Complimentary 4th Night Stay: Available at Ennismore Hotel properties.
- Travel Insurances: Includes trip cancellation/interruption, delay reimbursement, baggage delay, and primary rental car collision damage waiver.
- Assistance Services: Access to travel and emergency aid.
- Excellent Credit Score Needed.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees: Ideal for international purchases.
- Generous Travel Protections: Comprehensive benefits for peace of mind while traveling.
- Reasonable Annual Fee: Balanced against the benefits provided.
- Flexible Rewards Program: Varied and adaptable ways to earn and use points.
- Annual Fee of $550: Additional cost to consider.
- Chase’s 5/24 Rule: Restrictions on approval if you’ve opened five or more credit cards across any issuer in the past 24 months.
Delta SkyMiles Program with the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- This card offers benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, and accelerated mile earning on Delta purchases.
- Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles: Available after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first six months of account opening.
- 15% Discount on Award Redemptions: Save on Delta flight redemptions.
- First Checked Bag Free: Valid for up to eight companions on the same reservation.
- Priority Boarding: Access to Main Cabin 1 boarding.
- 20% Inflight Discount: As a statement credit for inflight purchases.
- Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Fee Credit: Up to $100 credit.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees: Ideal for international use (see rates and fees).
- 3 Miles per Dollar: On direct Delta purchases and at hotels.
- 2 Miles per Dollar: At World Wide Restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and U.S. supermarkets.
- 1 Mile per Dollar: On other eligible purchases.
- Annual Companion Certificate: Receive a companion certificate each year.
- Linked Benefits: Checked baggage allowance and priority boarding linked to your Delta SkyMiles account (no need to book with the card).
- $250.*see rates & fees
- Good to Excellent Credit Score Needed
- Delta Perks: Including companion certificate and free checked bag.
- Bonus Miles: Earn more on Delta, hotel, dining, and supermarket purchases.
- Annual Fee: The $250 fee may not be worthwhile if you don’t frequently fly Delta.
The Versatile Card- The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card stands out as a veritable ‘wild card,’ offering unmatched versatility and adaptability.
This powerhouse of a card is like having a universal key to a multitude of airline loyalty programs, making it an ideal choice for those who value flexibility in their travel plans.
With the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you’re not anchored to any single airline; instead, you have the freedom to transfer your earned miles to a diverse array of airline partners.
This means whether you’re booking a last-minute domestic flight or planning an exotic international getaway, you can seamlessly convert your miles to fit your chosen airline’s loyalty program.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Details:
- Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles: Achievable after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account.
- 5X Miles: On hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
- 2X Miles: On all other purchases, with no limits.
- Up to $100 Credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck: Available every four years.
- Hertz Five Star Status: Enhanced rental car experience.
- Rental Car and Travel Accident Insurance: For added peace of mind.
- Capital One Dining Access: Exclusive culinary experiences.
- Complimentary Six-Month Membership to The Cultivist: For art enthusiasts.
- Good to Excellent Credit Score is Needed.
- Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Credit: Valuable perk for frequent travelers.
- Generous Lounge Benefit: Especially considering the modest annual fee.
- Simple Rewards Structure: Easy to earn and redeem miles.
- Multiple International Airline Partners: Flexibility in point transfer.
- Limited Lounge Network: Fewer options compared to some other premium cards.
Today, we’ve delved into the art of pairing the right airline credit card with the corresponding loyalty program.
It’s not just about travel; it’s a strategic game of points and miles. As you’ve learned, aligning your credit card with your preferred airline can unlock a world of benefits and rewards.
So, as you continue your journey through the skies, remember that knowledge is power. By prioritizing the airline you fly the most and leveraging the right credit card, you’re not just traveling; you’re winning the game of travel rewards. Safe travels, and may your future flights be filled with perks, upgrades, and unforgettable adventures
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.