Use this guide to compare frequent flyer credit cards and learn more about them, including how these cards work, tips for earning and using points, features to compare when you’re looking at frequent flyer credit cards and insights to help you choose the right card for you.
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
Purchase interest rate
Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
The American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card offers a low interest rate on purchases. Earn 20,000 Membership Rewards bonus points when you apply online and spend $750 in the first 3 months of Card membership. This offer is available to new Card Members only.
Annual fee: $149 p.a.
Purchase rate (p.a): 2.99% APR for 6 months (reverts to 19.95% APR) on purchases
Frequent flyer credit cards, as the name suggests, earn you points when you use them for eligible purchases. These cards earn a set number of points for every dollar spent (e.g. 1 point per $1), which is known as the earn rate. This means the more you pay using your plastic, the more points you earn. Depending on the type of rewards credit card you use, there are different ways to earn and redeem air miles. Some cards credit points are linked directly to your air miles account and others allow you to transfer points to a variety of eligible air miles accounts.
Is a frequent flyer credit card right for me?
If you are interested in a frequent flyer credit card, make sure you weigh up these pros and cons. Please keep in mind these factors may vary depending on the card.
Benefits of choosing a frequent flyer credit card
Allows you to redeem flights and travel upgrades faster. Earning points on your everyday spending means you can reach your rewards goals faster.
Providers often include sign-up bonus points. Some credit cards offer introductory bonus points as an incentive for new customers. These offers boost your points balance so you can redeem them for rewards such as flights and holidays faster.
They offer a large range of rewards. You can use your points to redeem for rewards including flights, hotels, online shopping and other lifestyle benefits.
Travel perks. Travel comfortably with perks such as flight vouchers, access to airline lounges and complimentary travel insurance.
Risks when choosing a frequent flyer credit card
High interest rates. Frequent flyer credit cards often come with less competitive interest rates than other cards. They are mainly suited to cardholders who pay their balance off each month so that the accumulated interest doesn’t outweigh the value of the rewards.
Higher annual fees. As well as high interest rates, frequent flyer cards often come with higher annual fees than no frills options.
Temptation to spend. If you struggle to repay your credit card on time, a rewards card might tempt you to spend for the sake of points, when you should be reigning in your purchases.
Offer requirements. Frequent flyer credit cards that come with introductory offers may have specific spending requirements you need to meet to enjoy these benefits. For example, you may need to spend $750 on your Card within your first 3 months you have a card to get bonus points.
How can I compare and find the best air miles credit card for my needs?
The frequent flyer credit cards on the market give you a chance to compare options and find one that suits your individual goals and circumstances. Go through the checklist below to find out which factors you should consider when looking at credit cards that earn air points.
The frequent flyer programme. Choosing the right credit card that earns points will help you to maximise your rewards.
Points earning rate. Check the standard rate of points you will earn for each $1 spent on the card. Be aware that a different earn rate could apply for certain types of spending (i.e. overseas purchases) or during promotional periods. There are usually some transactions that won’t earn points, such as cash advances, so make sure you check restrictions for the cards you are comparing.
Reward values. Consider the types of rewards you want to claim, the amount of points you will need and how much spending that requires. Check how these values measure up, so you can apply for the card that offers the greatest value based on your spending and reward goals.
Annual fee. Ideally, the annual fee should cost less than the rewards and any complimentary extras on the card that you intend to use.
Promotional rates and features. Frequent flyer credit cards sometimes have promotions for new customers, such as accelerated points earning rates during the first few months. These benefits can add value to the card that you choose, but make sure you read the terms and conditions for details of the requirements and honeymoon period so that they work for you (and not the other way around).
Complimentary extras. Reward and frequent flyer credit cards often come with a selection of complimentary extras such as hotel discounts, airport services and business lounge access. The value of these perks can be used to offset the cost of the annual fee – as long as you know you will actually use them. They can also be handy to have available just in case you ever need them.
How to earn and redeem points with a credit card
Points or miles are a key factor when choosing and using an frequent flyer credit card, and there are two main options to consider:
1. Direct earn cards. These credit cards are partnered with an airline rewards programme, earning points that are credited directly to your associated air miles account. For example, the American Express Airpoints Platinum Card earns 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $59, while with the ANZ Airpoints Visa Platinum Card you earn 1 Airpoints dollar with every $75 dollars spent.
2. Indirect earn cards. These reward credit cards earn points that can be transferred to a wide range of air miles programmes. For instance, American Express Platinum Card earns 2 points for every dollar spent, which can then be exchanged for flights with 7 different airline reward programmes including Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. Unlike direct earn air miles credit cards, the point values of these cards may differ when transferred to an air miles account.
Using your points
Once you have earned enough points, you can redeem them for a variety of rewards. Here are some of the great redemptions you could make through your air miles programme. There are two main categories for rewards: 1) Airport/ flight benefits and 2) retail/ lifestyle rewards.
Airport/ flight benefits. Points can be used for reward flights, flight upgrades, lounge access and other loyalty scheme membership benefits. Flight rewards with the air miles programme’s associated airline usually provide a higher point value when compared to other rewards.
Retail/ lifestyle rewards. These rewards can benefit you at home or abroad. You can use points to book hotels, car rental or other travel experiences, as well as more general retail and lifestyle benefits including gift cards, food and wine, jewellery and other merchandise.
How to choose a frequent flyer programme
There are many frequent flyer programmes based around the world. However, there are only a handful of providers to choose from if you are interested in getting a New Zealand credit card that earns air points for airlines such as, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia. Here, you can compare frequent flyer programs based on credit card points earnings to help you one to suit your needs.
Frequent flyer alliances
Frequent flyer programs have networks of alliance airlines that allow you to earn and redeem points worldwide. Air New Zealand has “Strategic Alliance” agreements, which gives their members the ability to earn and redeem points on selected flights. You may also be able to make use of frequent flyer benefits on these carriers. However, certain circumstances may apply, so make sure you check their terms and conditions closely.
Air New Zealand’s strategic partners are:
Cathay Pacific – on flights between New Zealand and Hong Kong
Virgin Australia – for flights between New Zealand and Australia
Air China – on flights between New Zealand and Beijing
United – on flights between New Zealand and San Francisco
Singapore Airlines – for flights between New Zealand and Singapore
In addition, as a frequent flyer member you can also earn/redeem Frequent Flyer Dollars on all Star Alliance member airlines. This is the world’s largest airline association, with 28 different members, including Air New Zealand Air China, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Thai Airways, Lufthansa, SWISS and United. You can gain access to the Star Alliance network by becoming a member of one of these airlines’ loyalty programmes, and can boost your points with an indirect earning air miles credit card.
These alliances and partnerships give you more options for redeeming flights and flight upgrades. So even if you choose an air miles credit card that is linked to one airline programme, you may be able to use your points for flights with another airline through these partnerships. Credit cards have become one of the most popular ways to earn air miles, with both direct and indirect methods boosting your point balance.
Frequently asked questions about earning frequent flyer points
While the amount of air miles points you earn varies between credit cards, there are a number of ways you can maximise your rewards, including:
Earning points on everyday purchases. This type of credit card lets you earn points on day-to-day purchases including groceries, eating out and payments for some bills. The more you use your card for these purchases, the faster you will earn frequent flyer.
Bonus point offers. Some reward credit cards offer thousands of bonus points to new customers when they are approved for a card and spend a certain amount in the first few months. These additional points are often worth hundreds of dollars, and may even be enough for a free flight.
Spending with program partners. Some credit cards partner with airlines, retailers, or supermarkets to offer additional points when you use your card with them. Others offer higher reward rates for spending in certain sectors, such as dining or tourism. Check the credit card issuer’s website for details of participating partners, and try to shop with them more to boost your rewards.
Supplementary credit cards. Requesting an additional credit card means you can share your account with a partner or family member, giving them a chance to use it for their spending and boost your points balance.
Gold, platinum and elite cards. Gold, platinum and elite credit cards are more premium than standard options, and many offer more points per dollar and/or higher points caps as a result.
The number of points you can earn will be capped or uncapped depending on the credit card. Capped points allow you to earn points at the normal rate up to a specified amount during a given period, such as 7,500 points per statement cycle. After you have reached the points cap, you will either earn points at a reduced rate for the remainder of the period or be unable to accumulate points for the remainder of the period. Check your credit card terms and conditions for details of points caps and consider how likely it is that you will reach that limit. For example, if you got a card that earned 1 point per $4 up to 7,500 points per month, you would only be affected by the cap if you spent over $30,000 each month.
The details of bonus point offers available on frequent flyer credit cards vary depending on the specific promotion. But some of the most common requirements include:
New customers. Most bonus point offers apply to people who don’t have existing credit cards with the provider. Some providers also specify that you must not have had an active account with them in the past 12 months to be classified as a “new customer” that is eligible for bonus point offers.
Promotional period. You usually have to apply for the card within a set timeframe in order to be eligible for bonus points.
Spending requirement. If you are approved for a card with a bonus point offer, you may be required to spend a certain amount on the card within a given period of time. For example, $15,000 of purchases within 2 months of card approval.
If you meet these conditions, you are usually able to take advantage of a points bonus and boost your air points balance.
In most cases, you can cancel the credit card with no additional fees or charges after receiving your bonus points. However, you may be charged the annual fee, or a percentage of that fee based on how long the account has been active. If your credit card has a waived annual fee for the first year and you cancel within the first 12 months, you may be able to avoid this. Check with your provider to find out if fees will apply.
Usually points are only earned by making eligible purchases, and not for balance transfers or cash advances.
The list of transactions that do and don’t earn points when you use a frequent flyer credit card vary between providers and products. But some of the most common exclusions are:
Cash advance transactions
Purchasing foreign currency
Payments to mutual funds
Keep in mind that not all cards have the same exclusions, so it is important to check the terms and conditions for full details of what individual frequent flyer credit cards do and don’t count as an “eligible transaction”.
This is possible with a credit card reward programme that allows you to transfer reward points to air miles points, including American Express Membership Rewards, which can be used for the 15 airlines that are part of the oneworld alliance. Make sure you check the transfer rate for these cards though, as you may “lose” points when exchanging them to different air miles programmes. Alternatively, if you have a direct earn frequent flyer card, the associated airline partners and alliances let you use your points to travel with other airline partners.
Did you forget to quote your air miles number at the time of booking or have your points not appeared in your account?
While credit card and airline reward programmes all have their own specific steps for redeeming or transferring points, the following steps can be used as a guide for most of online reward point redemptions:
Log in to your reward account
Check your point balance to see how many points you have to use
Select the “Redeem” option
Choose the type of redemption you want to make (e.g. “flights”)
Select the specific option you want (e.g. single flight from Auckland to Christchurch)
Follow the prompts to book or secure the reward
Confirm the redemption
The value of your poimts varies based on the types of rewards you redeem. Usually, air miles points go further when redeemed for airline rewards such as flights or upgrades, when compared to gift certificates or other rewards. For example, a Premium Economy return flight from Auckland to Brisbane with Qantas costs 30,000 Asia Miles, while a $100 Farmers gift card costs 17,000 points.
Credit card and frequent flyer reward programmes offer a wide range of rewards that you can claim using your points, including:
The amount of points required varies between redemptions, and not all of them are equal. For example, a Premium Economy return flight from Auckland to Brisbane with Qantas costs 30,000 Asia Miles, while a $100 Farmers gift card costs 17,000 points. The different amounts of points required for each redemption has a direct impact on the value of your rewards, so comparing these costs before you use points will help you get more out of them in the long run.
If you are transferring credit card rewards points to an air miles programme, the conversion rate may not be 1:1. Often a reduced conversion rate is provided since you have the flexibility of earning both rewards and air miles benefits.
Now you know more about how frequent flyer credit cards work; their potential benefits and pitfalls; and what to consider when comparing them. This will enable you to make an informed decision about the next credit card you apply for, so you can choose one that really works for you.
Sally McMullen is Finder's credit cards and frequent flyer editor by day and a music maven by night. She's also one half of the Pocket Money podcast. Her byline can be spotted on Yahoo Finance, Dynamic Business, Financy and Mamamia as well as Music Feeds and Rolling Stone. Sally has a first-class Honours degree in Communications and Media Studies (majoring in Journalism and Professional Writing) from the University of Wollongong.
If you do a large amount of travelling and spend quite freely on your card, have you thought about exploring the world of air miles credit cards? If you like the idea of being rewarded for your spending, then these cards might be suitable for you.
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