What is an Airmiles credit card?
An airmile credit card is a type of rewards card. Airmile cards give you travel points and perks in return for your spending. The more you spend, the more points you get.
You can swap your points for free or discounted travel or for days out. That’s why they’re often referred to as Airmiles credit cards.
There are different points schemes, such as Avios or Amex (American Express only).
You can collect Avios points through stores and banks such as Tesco, Lloyds TSB, and Marks and Spencer.
You can use Avios points for more than just flying. Redeem them on flights and hotel stays, or use them on gig tickets or theme park entry.
Some cards charge you an annual fee, though the card provider might waive it for the first year.
Airmiles cards are different to travel credit cards and airline rewards cards
Travel cards aim to give you the best rates on spending abroad. Plus, you’ll have the added protection of using a credit card.
You could save a lot of money on your overseas trips by using both an airmile and travel card.
Some airlines, like British Airways, also provide credit cards. These are sometimes called rewards cards or airline credit cards.
Airline cards give customers points and rewards based on every mile that they fly with that airline. You can also get points for normal spending on the card.
Plus, you’ll earn points if you book hotels and arrange car hire through the airline.
Compare airmiles credit cards
Not all airmile credit cards offer you the same thing.
As rewards for your spending, some airmiles credit cards give you:
- Airmiles or points to use on airline travel and packages
- Free flights and holidays
- Discounts on gig tickets, theme parks and other days out
You can compare Airmiles credit cards and airline credit cards with Uswitch.
What is the best Airmiles credit card?
There are lots of different schemes and reward plans from Airmiles credit cards. Compare deals using our comparison service.
The best Airmiles credit card is the one that fits your spending and lifestyle.
Do you want to use your points for gigs and day trips as well as flying? Or are you a frequent flyer who’d get the most benefit from the perks of an airline credit card?
The less you spend on your card, the longer it will take you to build up enough points for a flight. Even a short haul one.
When you do book a flight with your points, availability is likely to be more limited than if you were paying normally. And you still have to pay taxes, which are often the most expensive part!
Think about when and how you would use your points. If you do not think you’ll use them much on flights, you might be better opting for a cashback or other reward card instead.
Look out for sign-up bonuses. For example, extra membership rewards when you sign up or if you spend more than £3,000 in your first year.
These membership rewards can then be converted into flying miles or points too.
How do air miles credit cards work?
When you use your air miles card to make purchases, you build up points.
Points can be collected via stores and financial providers such as Tesco, Lloyds TSB, and Marks and Spencer.
There are 4 different Avios schemes, that all let you accumulate Avios points:
- British Airways Executive Club
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- Vueling Club
- Iberia Plus
You can join all 4 schemes and shift your points between them. But British Airways is the most commonly used.
You then ‘spend’ your points on flights and travel, in the same way as you’d spend money.
If you do not have enough points for a return flight, you could use your points to go one way. You’d then need to pay by cash or credit card for the return journey.
Remember, you still have to pay for the tax, so even your ‘points flight’ will not be completely free.
You can often upgrade your flight using your points. So you could pay with a credit card for economy flights, but use your points to fly business class. For frequent flyers, this is a decent perk.
Some cards are dedicated to a single Airline like British Airways credit cards or Virgin Atlantic cards.
How to turn reward points into travel savings
When you fly or spend money on your air mile card, you accumulate loyalty points. You can then combine these to put towards a flight, hotel or another trip.
You may be able to add an automatic setting which means you do not have to manually convert the points.
Some credit cards give you different points which you can exchange or convert to Airmiles.
For example, Tesco Clubcard lets you go online and exchange your Clubcard voucher points for flying miles. Once you’ve converted your Clubcard points into Avios, you cannot swap them back.
With Tesco, you could convert your Clubcard points into British Airways Executive Club Avios points.
Every £1 you spend at Tesco gets you 1 Clubcard point. 250 points gives you £2.50 of Clubcard vouchers. This equates to 600 British Airways Executive Club Avios. So, to get £2.50 worth of vouchers, you need to spend £250.
If you’re a member of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club loyalty scheme, you can swap your Tesco Clubcard points for flying miles. In this case £2.50 of vouchers is equivalent to 625 flying miles.
Likewise, £5 in Tesco vouchers gives you £15 to spend via Hotels.com.
Because it takes a lot to build up points, these cards are well suited for big spenders.
How does an Avios credit card work?
Avios is a rewards scheme that is linked to airline frequent flyer clubs. It works in a very similar way to supermarket and loyalty cards, such as Nectar and Tesco Clubcard.
The value of your Avios points varies depending on how and where you spend them. They do not have a fixed value.
Sometimes they’re worth more if you are taking advantage of a special promotion.
You can move or combine Avios points from different sources in order to build up enough to exchange for flights or holidays.
Pros and Cons of an airline credit card
You can get some fantastic benefits from an airline credit card, especially if you’re a frequent flyer.
- Access to exclusive airport lounges
- Priority boarding
- Air miles
- Loyalty points for discounts
The downsides of an airline credit card include:
- Yearly fees
- Higher than normal interest rates
For example, your card may have an annual fee of £150. If this is more than the amount you’d save on a flight, then it may not be worth it.
By using our comparison service, you can find the right card to match your needs.
Should I get an Airmiles credit card?
You should only get an airline credit card if you know you’ll be able to pay off the balance in full every month. This is because they charge high interest rates on your balance.
Some cards also come with hefty annual fees of up to £150, though these cards normally offer higher rates of reward.
If you’re looking to borrow and pay it off slowly, you might be better off getting a credit card with the lowest interest. See our list of top 0% purchase credit cards and low APR deals for more.
How do I collect airmiles?
One of the best-known ways to earn Airmiles or Avios is to make regular flights with the same airline.
But airline credit cards are another great way to get Airmiles. And you earn those points with your regular spending.
If you have an airline credit card you can collect Airmiles whenever you make an eligible purchase on your card.
You’ll earn a set number of points depending on what you spend. For example 1 Avios point for every £1 you spend on the card.
Most airline credit cards will allow you to earn Airmiles for virtually any purchase on your card. The standard exceptions include foreign exchange and any spending over your credit limit.
Some airline credit cards offer you bonus miles when you activate the card or make your first purchase.
You can also earn bonus Avios points for hitting certain spending triggers. For example, if you spend £10,000 in the first year of card use. If that’s the case, an airline credit card is only right for you if you spend a lot.
Some airline rewards schemes also let you earn Airmiles by opening a linked savings account. These sometimes work by paying ‘interest’ in miles instead of cash.
Finally, some store reward cards allow you to convert your loyalty points into Airmiles (for example Tesco Clubcard points).
Does Uswitch compare all the credit cards on the market?
Uswitch compares credit over 100 credit cards from all of the major banks and credit card providers.
We do not compare all the credit cards available in the UK because some card providers offer direct-only deals or exclusives with our competitors.
There are also credit cards that are only available to people in member organisations and clubs.
What does it mean if a card is listed as an “advertisement” or “promotion”?
We sometimes receive payment from card providers to display their cards in prominent locations.
These are adverts and are designed to be distinct and separate from the other cards on our comparison tables. We hope this makes it clear which cards are top-of-table deals and which cards are paid for promotions.