Air miles credit cards

Compare credit cards offering air miles [1]

  • Our results table helps you find details of each card's benefits and shows how you earn miles
  • Use smart search to find the cards you're likely to be accepted for before you apply
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What are air miles?

Air miles are a reward point that you earn when you use a special type of credit card. They don’t relate to any distance you’ve travelled but instead you collect them as you spend.

These reward points can be redeemed against all sorts of travel-related services and experiences.

The cost of air travel can really add up but using air miles can help you to get free or discounted flights and money off your travel expenses.

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What is an airline miles credit card?

An airline miles credit card is one that’s partnered with an air miles reward point scheme, like Avios.

Letting you collect points every time you use your card, you can use the air miles you build up to get money off flights and things like hotels and car hire.

An airline miles credit card is ideal for people who travel a lot and who can benefit from the discounts and perks that air miles offer.

What do air miles credit cards offer?

There are several air miles cards to choose from and each comes with a different rewards and fee structure.

Some air miles credit cards can offer:

  • Introductory bonus points with a minimum spend in the first three months
  • One point for every £1 spent on the card
  • Bonus points if you refer a friend
  • Rewards like a companion ticket if you spend £10,000 or more per year
  • The ability to spend your points on a network of airline partners
  • Discounts on experiences like concerts, tours and theme parks
  • Priority boarding and access to airport lounges

How do air miles credit cards work?

For every pound you spend when you use your card - which could be anything from paying for your weekly grocery shopping to buying a TV - you’ll earn air miles.

Sometimes you can get bonus points if you buy flights with your card.

Depending on how many air miles you build up, you can use them to get free or discounted flights and holidays.

You can also access other travel perks like flight upgrades and airport lounge access, as well as using your points to pay for hotels, car hire and duty-free items.

Some air miles credit cards have annual fees that you’ll need to pay - these cards offer more air miles and benefits than standard cards. Of course, you’ll need to decide whether the rewards and benefits you receive are worth the annual fee.

Advantages of air miles credit cards

They come with a range of benefits, including:

  • Air miles can save you money on flights and travel and help you access handy perks
  • Most cards will offer you introductory bonus points when you sign up
  • Adding supplementary cardholders allows you to pool your air miles
  • You can earn extra air miles when you buy flights with your card
  • You can usually convert points from other reward schemes into air mile points
  • Some cards offer free companion vouchers to provide two-for-one airline travel

Disadvantages of air miles credit cards

Consider the following before applying:

  • If you’re not a frequent traveller, this type of card definitely isn’t worth it
  • They usually charge an annual fee
  • You may be tied to a certain airline or network of airlines, which means you could be missing out on good flight deals
  • There may be a high interest rate, so you’d need to pay the balance off in full each month
  • Air miles can usually only be used on travel-related spending, rather than reward points which can be used on everyday spending

How to choose the best air miles credit card for you

It can be hard to decide which card might work best for you, so before you make a decision read our hints and tips.

  1. Check where you can use your card

    These cards work best when you use them often and for everyday purchases, so check which retailers will accept your card

  2. Consider the airlines you’re most likely to use

    Each card is linked to a network of airlines, so make sure your card is connected to an airline you’re likely to use

  3. Compare the introductory bonus

    This can vary widely between cards, so make sure you compare cards and keep a lookout for promotional offers

  4. Decide where you’d like to travel

    Points between cards aren’t always worth the same amount, so if you’ve got a destination in mind check how far the air miles will get you

  5. Make sure you pay the balance off each month

    If you don’t pay the balance in full each month, the interest you’ll pay will cancel out the value of the points you’ve earned

  6. Consider supplementary cardholders

    They can help you collect points when they use the card, although you’ll still be responsible for paying off the balance on the account

  7. Look at the annual percentage rate (APR) and annual fee

    Be aware of what the card might cost you and how much you’d need to pay back if you incur interest

Alternatives to airline credit cards

Reward cards

Earn reward points and vouchers just by using your card for everyday spending

Cashback credit cards

A cashback card will pay you back between around 1% and 5% of what you spend on the card

Travel credit cards

Designed for spending money abroad, a travel credit card makes it cheaper to use your card when you’re overseas

Balance transfer credit cards

These allow you to consolidate your debts from different credit cards onto one card, with reduced interest to pay for a time

0% purchase credit cards

If you want to spread the cost of a large purchase, these cards will let you borrow money with no interest for a set period

How to compare air miles credit cards

  1. Select type of card

    Choose the type of card that will suit your needs best

  2. Your details

    Provide some personal details, like your name and age

  3. Property details

    Let us know where you live and the type of property you live in

  4. Details about your finances

    Tell us about any debts and credit cards you may have

  5. Browse cards

    Compare cards to find the right one

"This type of card is great if you're a frequent flyer and a high spender,"

"Choose your plastic wisely and make it work for you. Remember to play the credit card game - don't miss a payment, and, if possible, pay the balance at the end of every month, or you'll end up paying more money in interest payments. One slip up could damage your credit score.

"Using these cards to pay for your long-haul flights is a great idea if used in the right way, but if you aren't a big spender and don't use your card that frequently, these cards might not be the right ones for you.

"Paying an annual fee might wipe out any value you earn on them. But if you're using a credit card every day and are often jetting off, give one of them a go - you might only have to pay airport taxes and charges to secure the holiday of a lifetime!"

Frequently asked questions

This really depends on how much you use the card and how often you travel. Air miles credit cards might be a good option if you’re a frequent flyer.

You’ll need to use your card regularly to make sure you earn enough points. And you should check your points can be used for the destinations and airlines you’re likely to need.

To get the most from your card you’ll need to spend quite a high amount on it. Typically spending £10,000 a year or more will get you the best rewards.

An air miles card isn’t worth it if you can’t pay the balance off each month or if you find yourself overspending, just to earn your reward points.

This will depend on your circumstances and lifestyle.

Air mile credit cards can come with high annual fees, especially ones that offer the best rewards. But if you travel frequently and are likely to spend £10,000 or more on the card, the perks and discounts might be worth it.

If you’re not a big traveller or would prefer more straightforward rewards that are easy to redeem, a cashback credit card could be a better option.

You’ll need to think about what you want to achieve with your card and whether getting cash back or enough air miles to reduce your travel costs will be more useful to you.

Not all credit cards will give you air miles, instead air miles credit cards are specialist cards that give you travel reward points with every pound you spend.

Different cards use different air miles point schemes, like Avios which is linked to British Airways and more than 20 other airlines, or the Virgin Atlantic scheme.

Some cards let you collect points for multiple schemes, like Amex rewards from American Express. But be aware that Amex cards aren’t as widely accepted as Mastercard and Visa.

Yes, you can take out corporate air miles credit cards for your business. These help you earn air miles for every business expense you put on the card.

If you’re a frequent traveller, a business air miles credit card is a great way to earn air miles and access some welcome perks and discounts when you’re travelling for work.

A business credit card is also a good way to help keep your business expenses separate from your personal spending.

A credit card can only be taken out by one person, but you can add supplementary cardholders - like family members, for example - to your credit card account.

Their spending on the card will help earn you air miles. But the responsibility for paying off the balance lies with you, so it’s best to set boundaries for any cardholders you add.

Yes, some cards don’t have an annual fee, but these tend to come with fewer rewards and benefits.

Certain cards will offer a fee-free period of 12 months before you need to start paying it.

If you know you’ll be able to earn lots of rewards in one year and have a destination in mind you can use your points towards, taking out one of these cards could be a good option.

You can get air miles credit cards that are co-branded with a particular airline like British Airways or Virgin Atlantic.

With these cards you can collect points that can be used with the airline or network of airlines linked to the card.

Many airlines offer a frequent flyer card as part of their free frequent flyer loyalty scheme.

Every time you book flights, hotels or purchase directly through the airline you can earn points towards free flights, benefits and discounts - using this scheme and your air miles credit card together can help you build up points more quickly.

Air miles credit cards help you build up points as you spend. With travel credit cards you don’t earn points, instead they’re designed to make spending abroad easier and cheaper.

Travel credit cards typically provide better exchange rates and offer lower transaction fees when you use your card overseas or if you’re shopping on foreign websites.

However, both types of card will give you protection when you use them to make a purchase, as well as providing you with cover for identity theft.

The main difference between credit card rewards and airline rewards is how and where you can redeem them.

Credit card rewards provide you with points or vouchers that you can spend at various shops and retailers. They offer more flexibility on where and what you can redeem with them.

If you have an air miles credit card, the air miles you earn can only be used to redeem travel-related discounts and perks with the airline or network of airlines linked to the card.

Yes, you can use your card when you’re overseas, but you’ll need to pay fees for any transactions and cash withdrawals you make, and these costs can really add up.

If you’d like the convenience and security of using a card when you’re abroad, an alternative option is to take out a travel credit card.

These offer zero or lower transaction fees and can often provide better exchange rates when you withdraw cash.

The value of your air miles will depend on your card and the level of reward programme you’re on.

Typically, you’ll get one air miles point for every £1 you spend.

What the points are worth and how far they’ll stretch will depend on the provider and what you choose to spend them on.

For example, after paying taxes and fees, you might get better value spending your points on a premium or business class flight than using it for an economy ticket - although it’ll take you longer to collect the amount you need.

Yes, depending on the card, air miles generally expire after one to three years of inactivity on the card.

To prevent losing the air miles you’ve been collecting, you’ll need to use your card or points at least once every 36 months.

One way to do this is by shopping through the airline’s shopping portal which may connect you to retailers you normally buy from. Or you can use air miles to book a reward flight.

[1]6 of 167 credit cards offer Air Miles (Defaqto, checked 12/04/2022 (Barclaycard Avios Card, Barclaycard Avios Plus Card, British Airways Credit Card, British Airways Premium Plus Credit Card, Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card; Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card)