4 Features to Look for in an Airline Credit Card
Airline credit cards have steadily been gaining popularity in the past few years. Airlines and other companies related to the travel industry benefit as customers utilize their services more frequently; brand loyalty is strengthened as well. Consumers with a good credit history gain by obtaining greater value from their credit cards. Fundamentally, airline credit cards operate in a similar manner; purchases charged to the credit card earn travel points for the card holder, these points can be redeemed in various ways, for example contributing toward free travel, hotel stays, service at a car wash, etc. Four key features to consider while selecting an airline credit card are given below.
Low Interest Rate: The cost of credit is measured in terms of the annual percentage rate (APR). A good credit profile helps to obtain a low APR, i.e. prime + 4%. Most credit cards offer a “variable rate” plan in which the APR changes with certain economic indicators. The interest rates vary with the cards and are influenced by other offerings such as the grace period, annual fee, bonus points, etc. A card holder who does not carry a monthly balance need not really worry about interest rates; however, people who do carry their balances forward can select from a number of airline credit cards that charge a low interest rate. Some cards offer an introductory rate of 0% interest on balance transfers over a period of time, which is typically 12 months.
Preset spending limit: The spending limit in airline credit cards can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. The minimum monthly payment is liable to increase with higher spending limits. Some cards allow users to spend over the credit limit, the amount over the limit and the resulting penalty are settled in the subsequent month’s payment. Credit card bills can quickly balloon to unmanageable proportions. Therefore, inveterate spenders are well-advised to carefully consider the preset spending limit before settling on an airline credit card.
Compatibility with other frequent-flyer programs: It is important to check whether an airline credit card offers this feature; portability of miles points is desirable as it allows one the freedom to use the services of more than one airline for redeeming the points. By not being tied down to one airline, users have an increased number of destinations to choose from. Bank-sponsored airline credit cards offer greater compatibility with other frequent-flyer programs as compared to airline-sponsored credit cards that usually focus on a single airline.
Annual fees: There are several airline credit cards that do not charge an annual fee. Non-airline credit cards that allow users to accumulate miles are usually fee-free. The purpose behind fees is to try and defray the costs of the free miles and other freebies. The average annual fee for airline credit cards is around $ 70. Frequent fliers stand to gain more by using cards that charge a fee because with these cards the airline miles benefits are more as compared to cards that are free. Moreover, if the card is used for business-related travel, the annual fee can also be tax deductible.
A Love/Hate Relationship: How your credit score can open and slam doors for you
There are many ways to get ahead financially: attend seminars where you cut up your credit cards with hundreds of other people, participate in debt consolidation services that help you take out a home equity loan or refinance your home, or you can transfer debt on one credit card to another credit card with an introductory rate of 0% (which goes up to 12% six months down the road). The reason these methods don’t work is because we don’t concurrently cut our expenses while implementing these strategies. Even if we’re making more money, unless we cut expenses, we will continue to spend more money than we have and incur debt. Manage yourself and your money. Money is like food; we don’t eat only when we’re hungry, and we certainly don’t spend only when we need something.
Beware: Debt forgiveness can hurt you. The company that forgives your debt can issue a 1099C, which means the forgiven amount gets added to your taxed income.
When there’s a will, there’s another way:
Your credit score (also called your FICO or Beacon score) will affect the interest rate you’re able to secure. Credit scores range from 500 to 850. Where are you on the scale?
What’s in a number?
500 and below—your in serious trouble
650 to 680 you probably will have a difficult time getting credit, and if you do it will be at higher rates
How you got your credit score:
a) Payment history (35% of score). Make payments on time or early.
b) Amounts you owe (30% of score)
c) Credit history (15% of score). The longer you have credit, the higher your score can be.
d) New credit (10% of score). New credit cards.
e) Type of credit you have in use. Mortgages, Bloomingdale’s, etc.
There are three reporting services that can give you your score: Equifax.com, Experian.com and Transunion.com. At least once, do an experiment and order a report from all three. They probably will provide a complimentary report each year, per person. You will most likely find inconsistencies in the reports such as missing and incorrect information. Each time a credit report is run on you, your score is lowered by two or three points. You still want to shop around for a mortgage, but consider using a mortgage broker who runs one report to shop around the loan. If you go to five different banks, that can drop your score 15 points.