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Frequent flyer credit cards

Get bonus points offers, flights, upgrades, lounge access and more when you spend on a frequent flyer credit card.

Frequent flyer (or “air miles”) credit cards are an easy way to earn points (or “miles”) on your everyday spending. We look at how frequent flyer credit cards work, who they’re best suited to and if they’re worth it to help you decide if it’s right for you.

How do frequent flyer credit cards work?

You can use a frequent flyer credit card to earn points or miles on everyday, eligible purchases. These cards are linked to an airline loyalty programme (such as Aer Lingus’ AerClub) and offer a set number of points per €1 you spend (such as one point per €1 spent). The more you spend on plastic, the more frequent flyer rewards you can earn.

Once you’ve earned enough points, you can redeem your points for flights, lounge passes, accommodation and more.

Is a frequent flyer credit card right for me?

A frequent flyer credit card can be a great way to reward your spending with points, but these cards often come at the cost of high annual fees and interest rates. Before you apply, you can decide if a card is worth it based on the bonus points offer, how many points you’ll earn per €1 spent as well as extra features (such as airline lounge passes or travel credits) compared to the annual fees. The value of these rewards and extra perks should exceed the cost of the card.

What are the benefits of having a frequent flyer credit card?

  • Redeem flights and travel upgrades. By earning points when you spend, you can get to your travel goals faster.
  • Introductory bonus points. Some credit cards offer bonus points as a perk for new customers. These extra points can boost your overall points balance so you can redeem rewards such as flights and holidays faster.
  • Wide range of rewards. Use your points to redeem a variety of rewards such as flights, hotels, online shopping and other lifestyle benefits.
  • Travel perks. Travel comfortably with flight vouchers, access to airline lounges and 24/7 concierge services.
  • Complimentary insurance. Save on stand-alone insurance costs and get peace of mind when travelling with complimentary insurance covers including travel insurance, flight delay protection and purchase security insurance.

What are the risks of having a frequent flyer credit card?

Frequent flyer credit cards have their perks, but these are the traps you should watch out for:

  • High annual fee. Many frequent flyer credit cards come with an annual fee that can add up to around €100. You need to make sure that the yearly value of the reward and extra perks of the card can outweigh these fees.
  • Promotional offers and spend requirements. You usually need to spend a specific amount in a set period to take advantage of bonus points offers. Before you’re enticed by the idea of thousands of bonus points, make sure that these spend requirements aligns with your budget and that you can still afford to pay it off in full.
  • Higher interest rates. Frequent flyer credit cards usually have higher purchase interest rates than standard credit cards, so they are best suited to cardholders who can pay off their balance in full each month. Otherwise, the interest you’ll collect could easily outweigh the value of the rewards.
  • Temptation to spend. If you do struggle to stick to a budget and pay your balance in full each month, the promise of frequent flyer points could tempt you to overspend. If this is the case, you might want to consider a low interest rate credit card instead.

Who are frequent flyer credit cards best suited to?

Frequent flyer credit cards are designed to suit regular spenders who usually pay their balance in full each statement period. This is because you’ll earn more points based on how much you spend, but your rewards won’t be outweighed by interest if you clear your balance each month.

They’re also designed to benefit frequent travellers who will make use of the extra features such as airline lounge passes, complimentary travel insurance and travel credits.

How do I find and compare the best frequent flyer credit cards?

You’ll want to look at the frequent flyer credit cards currently available in Ireland and find out how they align with your own goals and circumstance. Take a look at our checklist below to see what factors you should consider when shopping for a frequent flyer credit card:

  1. The frequent flyer programme. Is there a frequent flyer programme that you currently use for travel? Selecting a credit card where you can earn points for a frequent flyer programme you already use will help to maximise your rewards. If you don’t use any frequent flyer programme yet, which one are you most likely to travel with?
  2. Points earning rate. Check how many points you’ll earn for each €1 spent on the credit card. Be aware that a different earn rate could apply for certain types of spending, for example, on overseas purchases. There are typically some transactions that won’t earn any points at all, such as cash advances, so it’s best to check the restrictions when comparing cards.
  3. Reward values. Think about the rewards you’ll use the most, the number of points you’ll need to redeem those specific rewards and how much you will ultimately need to spend on your credit card to get there. Work out how these values differ between frequent flyer programmes so you can apply for the credit card that offers the biggest value based on your personal spending and reward goals.
  4. The annual fee. Any annual fee should ideally cost less than the rewards and other perks of the credit card that you plan to use. As soon as the annual fee outweighs the potential value of the rewards, you may want to look elsewhere.
  5. Promotional rates and features. New customers can sometimes benefit from introductory offers and promotions such as bonus points, 0% purchase rates, balance transfer offers or no annual fee for the first year. These offers can add real value to a credit card but you’ll need to pay close attention to the terms and conditions of any requirements so that you get the most out of them.
  6. Complimentary extras. Frequent flyer credit cards can often come with a variety of complimentary extras such global travel insurance, concierge services and airline lounge access. The value of these extras can essentially offset the annual fee, providing you actually make use of them.

How can I get approved for a frequent flyer credit card

Like all credit cards, you’ll need to meet eligibility requirements to receive approval for a frequent flyer credit card. The application criteria could include a minimum annual income amount, permanent residency in Ireland and your credit history details. However, you may find that some frequent flyer cards have higher income requirements than other options.

If you’re eligible to apply, you may also be required to provide documents including payslips and proof of identification. The credit card provider will then assess the details and documents you provide to determine if you’ll receive approval or not.

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