An air miles credit card is a type of rewards card. Air miles 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 discounted plane tickets, seat upgrades, hotel stays or experiences. That’s why they’re often referred to as air miles credit cards.
There are different points schemes, such as Avios, Virgin Atlantic and Amex (American Express).
Sainsbury's also lets you swap your Nectar points for Avios and vice versa. You can turn your Tesco Clubcard vouchers into Virgin Points too.
You can use Avios and other points for more than just flying. Redeem them on holidays and hotel stays, or use them on gig tickets or car hire.
Some cards charge you an annual fee, though the card provider might waive it for the first year.
Air miles can be spent on more than just plane tickets.”
Travel cards aim to give you the best deals 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 air miles card and a 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 pound they spend with that airline. You can also get points for other spending on the card.
Plus, you can earn points if you book holidays and arrange car hire through the airline.
Travel cards save you cash when abroad, air miles cards get you there for less.”
Source: Defaqto and Uswitch data, correct as of December 19, 2022
When you use your air miles card to make purchases, you build up points.
Extra Avios points can also be collected via stores such as Sainsbury's by converting your Nectar points, The Wine Flyer and The Bicester Collection.
There are five different Avios schemes, and these all let you accumulate Avios points:
British Airways Executive Club
Aer Lingus AerClub
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
You can join all five schemes and shift your points between them. You can also add to your Avios points by converting your Nectar points.
You then ‘spend’ your points on flights and travel, in the same way as you’d spend money.
If you don’t 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 card for the return journey.
Remember, you still have to pay the taxes and charges, so your points flight won’t be completely free.
You can often upgrade your flight using your points, so you could pay for an economy flight 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.”
There are lots of different schemes and reward plans from air miles credit cards. You can compare deals using our comparison service.
The best air miles credit card is the one that fits your spending and lifestyle. Some air miles credit cards give you:
Air miles or points to use on airline travel and packages
Cheaper flights and holidays
Discounts on gig tickets, theme parks and other days out
So, ask yourself if 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?
Remember, when you do book a flight with your points, availability is likely to be more limited than if you were paying normally as not all seats will be bookable in this way and you will be limited to the airlines your points work on. You also still have to pay taxes.
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 three months.”
One of the best-known ways to earn air miles such as Avios is to make regular flights with the airlines that are part of the scheme.
Airline credit cards are another great way to get air miles as you can earn points from your regular spending whenever you make an eligible purchase on your card.
You’ll earn a set number of points depending on what you spend. For example, you might earn one Avios point for every £1 you spend on the card.
Most airline credit cards will allow you to earn air miles 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 £3,000 in your first three months of card use. If that’s the case, an airline credit card may only be right for you if you spend a lot.
Some airline reward schemes also let you earn air miles by opening a linked current account.
Finally, some store reward cards allow you to convert your loyalty points into air miles (for example, Sainsbury's Nectar).
When you fly or spend money on your air miles card, you accumulate loyalty points. You can then combine these to put towards a flight, hotel or something else.
Some credit cards give you different points that you can exchange or convert to air miles.
For example, the Sainsbury's Nectar scheme lets you exchange your Nectar points for Avios. There’s even an automatic setting so you don’t have to manually convert the points.
Every 400 Nectar points is worth 250 Avios, while every 300 Avios is worth 400 Nectar points.
If you’re a member of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club loyalty scheme, you can swap your Tesco Clubcard points for Virgin Points. You can turn every Clubcard point into two Virgin Points, so £1.50 of Clubcard vouchers is equivalent to 300 Virgin Points.
For £5 in Tesco vouchers you can get £10 to spend via Hotels.com, while American Express Membership Rewards points can be swapped for Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points on a 1:1 basis.
Because it takes a lot to build up points, these cards are well suited to big spenders.”
You should only get an air miles credit card if you know you’ll be able to pay off the balance in full every month. This is because they charge relatively high interest rates on your balance.
Some cards also come with hefty annual fees of up to £250, though these cards normally offer higher rates of reward.
If you’re looking to borrow money and pay it off slowly, you’ll be better off getting a credit card with a low interest rate. See our list of top 0% purchase credit cards.
Avios is a rewards scheme that is linked to airline frequent flyer clubs. Avios credit cards work in a very similar way to supermarket loyalty cards, such as Nectar and Tesco Clubcard.
The value of your Avios points varies depending on how and where you spend them. They don't have a fixed value. Sometimes they’re worth more if you’re 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, holidays and other things.
When we use the term ‘most popular or ‘popularity’ on Uswitch in reference to credit cards, these cards are ranked by the number of clicks they have received on the site in the past 30 days.
The most clicked on cards are at the top, with the least at the bottom. This reflects how popular they are with visitors to Uswitch.com. Consequently, this is a good table to look at if you’re interested in seeing which cards most people think are worth getting.
We compare over 100 credit cards from all of the major banks and credit card providers.
However, we do not compare all the credit cards that are available in the UK.
This is because some credit card providers have offers that are only available exclusively through their own website or branch, or through other comparison websites - in the same way some credit cards are exclusively available through Uswitch.
There are also many credit cards that are only available to people in member organisations and clubs.