Pros and Cons of Airline Credit Cards

The pros and cons of credit cards are relative to an individual’s travel habits. The frequency of your travels and loyalty to airlines may determine the choice of airline credit card to choose.

However, before your travel agent captivates you with well laid out perks for cardholders, do not rush; consider your travel preferences and style, and sign up for cards with the most pros as laid out below.

Pros of Airline Credit Cards

Priority Boarding

If boarding a flight first is important to you, consider an airline credit card. Another perk is that most airlines charge for checking bags hence, people struggle for a place in line for luggage space.

Basically, an airline credit card assures you of a space to put your bag above your seat.

Free Checked Baggage

Most airline credit cards waive cardholders’ baggage fee or offer credit that can reimburse you for baggage fees.

Some cards even cover the cost of baggage for others flying on the same reservation as you. Therefore, if you prefer group vacations, be on the watch out for this benefit.

Complimentary Seat Upgrade and Elite Status Qualification

Even if you pay an economy seat, you can be upgraded to a roomier seat, under their loyalty reward program.

Some perks need an elite status to qualify, but an airline credit card can help you achieve the coveted designation faster if you meet certain spending thresholds.

Discounts on In-flights Purchases

Most airline cards offer 20% – 25% discounts on meals, alcoholic beverages, and WIFI on flights.

Welcome Bonus

Consider signing up for an airline credit card when they are offering an elevated welcome bonus.

It is also wise to check past bonuses offered by the airline you are considering

Bonus Earning category

Go for cards that not only earn bonus points on travel spending but also on other major expenses such as gas stations to maximize your rewards.

Most importantly, study a card’s entire earning structure to ensure maximum reward.

Anniversary Bonuses

Some airlines credit cards automatically come with bonus points and other benefits after anniversary renewal.

Lounge Access

Some cards offer free lounge access or discounted lounge access, depending on cards’ annual fees payable.

Comprehensive Travel Protections

Purchase airline cards that safeguard you from trip interruptions or cancellation, baggage loss, insurance delay, and rental car insurance.

Waived Foreign Transaction fees

If traveling outside the country, ensure your airline card waives transaction fees. The typical discount ranges between 1% to 3%. There are also cards promising ‘no fee’ transactions.

Global Entry

If you are a frequent flier, ask for a credit card that provides statement credits on global entry and TSA precheck. This helps you speed through security screening, as well as Customs & Immigration.

Cons of Airline Credit Cards

Limits you to one airline

Although you can use rewards earned to purchase flights on partner airlines you are essentially limited to flying with one airline when using a particular card.

This denies you the freedom that comes with choosing from a wide variety of airlines.

Less Lucrative sign-up bonuses

In comparison to general travel cards, most airline cards offer less plush rewards.

Fewer opportunities to earn bonus miles

Most airline cards limit purchases to airline purchases only. This makes it hard to rack up bonus points to redeem for miles.

Complex reward redemption process

Airline cards impose unfavorable redemption processes. Such inconveniences include imposing travel blackout dates, travel dates, and restrictions on the number of reward seats available.

This makes it hard to find an open seat if and whenever you like.

Annual fees

Most credit cards charge an annual fee ranging from $75 to $99 yearly or more. A luxury airline card, on the other hand, charges from $550 upwards.

Some airlines waive the fee for the first year, and for those that do not charge an annual fee, their benefits are usually fewer.


To sum up, airline credit cards are ideal if one travels with a particular airline regularly. If you have irregular travel patterns then they might not work for you.

This is primarily because the benefits might be less than their costs. As such, a general travel card could be the ideal one despite the fact that it does not come with many travel perks.

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