The fastest way to earn airline points is by signing up for airlines credit cards. In this monthly roundup, I’ll introduce you to the card I would get if I were on the market for a new card (which I think I always am).
You might want to read this before getting a new card: How does applying for multiple credit cards impact your credit score?
I would also suggest you sign up for a free credit report via Credit Karma. This way you can keep up with how the cards are impacting your credit score. I never recommend signing up for credit cards for points if you have credit card debt. Instead I’d suggest you check out this guide for getting out of credit card debt
The winners this month is (I decided to nominate three cards this month)…
1. American Airlines Credit Card 75,000 Points
I pointed out this offer in this post. It is active until Feb. 28, 2011. The only disadvantage is that you’ll need to spend $4,000 within the first 6 months. If you can swing it I’d suggest this card. Earlier this year my wife and I each signed up for a personal and business card. We got 150,000 points each.
American has cool features like one way air mile booking and discount off peak flights to Asia and Europe.
To sign up click here.
2. Continental OnePass Card: 50,000 Bonus Points
Here’s what you get with the Continental OnePass Airlines credit card:
- 50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase — enough for two round-trip reward tickets within the U.S. (excluding Hawaii) and Canada.
- A waiver of the $85 annual fee for your first year.
- 10,000 bonus miles annually when you spend $25,000 on your Card.
- Two miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased directly from Continental.
- One mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Redeem miles for car rental and hotel rewards in addition to flights — a Cardmember exclusive.
In addition, you get to enjoy these benefits:
- First checked bag free every time you fly when you purchase your tickets with your Card for flights operated by Continental only (a savings of up to $50 per round trip).
- Two Presidents Club® passes ($100 value) every Cardmember anniversary.
If you conservatively estimate the value of each point at 1%, then this is a $500 sign up bonus. Remember, if you’re married, each person can get a card.
Also, be sure that you first sign up for Continental’s mile promotion starting Feb 1st, 2011 to get extra bonuses when you sign up for the card.
You can apply for the card or get full details here.
Another option is to get 30,000 bonus miles and $50 cash back with the Continental OnePass Card. Get those details here.
3. Southwest Airlines: Get Two Free Flights
This offer for two free flights is no longer valid (check on March 8th, 2011). They do still offer a chance to get enough points for a free roundtrip with the Southwest credit card.
Typically when you sign up for a Southwest credit card you get a free roundtrip flight.
However, Southwest is offering (for a limited time) a chance to get enough credits for two roundtrip flights. If I were looking for free domestic tickets I’d go with the Southwest card because they have great availability for reward travel. You will need to pay the $59 annual fee (it is not waived for the first year). If the annual fee was waved I probably would have made this card the top recommendation.
Here’s the fine print:
You will qualify and receive your 2 Roundtrip Free Flight Awards after your first purchase/first use of the card. First purchase/first use includes purchases, balance transfers, or any checks that are used to access your account, and excludes cash advances. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for your 2 Roundtrip Free Flight Awards to post to your Rapid Rewards account. This one-time bonus offer is valid only for first-time Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards personal Cardmembers. Previous and existing Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards personal Cardmembers are not eligible for this bonus offer.
If your spouse already has a card then be sure that the other one gets one if you want in on this deal.
To get this promotion – click here.
I reviewed the card here. It’s a great way to get your hands on a free flight (that you can easily redeem), but you’ll need to be prepared to pay the $59 annual fee. Also, be aware that Southwest recently changed its point system.
Other Airlines Credit Cards I considered:
British Airways Visa – Earn 25,000 bonus BA Miles after your first purchase, plus an additional 25,000 bonus BA Miles when you spend $2,500 in the first 90 days.
This card would have been my second choice, but last year they offered 100,000 bonus points. In case something like that comes around, I’d rather wait and get it with a better bonus.
United Miles Plus Credit Card – 25,000 bonus miles when you spend $250 and extra 5,000 points when you add an authorized user. However, this card has an annual fee of $60 that is not waved.
Chase Sapphire Preferred – Earn 25,000 bonus points after you spend 3,000 in the first 3 months – that’s enough for a free flight! Points can also be used for other things. No annual fee for the first year.
Gold Delta Skymiles AMEX – Nothing to boast about – 25,000 bonus points. The only benefit is free checked bags with Delta.
AAdvantage CitiCard – 40,000 bonus miles. Once again, AA just did a 75,000 bonus point sign up, so another one might be coming. Best to wait and see.