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Airline Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

Updated on November 1, 2010

Airline Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

The credit card industry is ever-evolving, and the more the industry progresses, the more variety of credit cards are being offered. In a sense, the credit card industry is becoming more and more “niche-specific”, as companies are realizing nowadays that the average consumer is a much more complex creature than to be given only a few options to work with. In the current credit card market, cards with travel-based incentives are a huge draw, specifically cards for different airline programs. Some of the most sought-after cards in this arena are airline cards with no annual fee, for obvious reasons; although we all love to charge our hearts out with no care for tomorrow, the thought of that annual fee looming over your head can really put a damper on your day. The interesting thing about it is that some cards that carry annual fees actually offer a better deal overall than cards that don’t carry annual fees. One thing to always keep in mind is that the credit card companies are not in this business to starve themselves, so no matter what deal they offer you, they have already factored in a way to still achieve a profit from what they’re doing. And this is not to say that that’s necessarily a bad thing, because they are offering a service that people obviously desire, but it’s just an observation. But no matter what particular card you decide to go with—and there are quite a few out there such as the Miles by Discover Card, the Capital One Orbitz Platinum Visa Card, and the American Express Preferred Rewards Card—at the end of the day it is still necessary for you to really take the time to “read the fine print”, as some of these deals are not always what they’re cracked up to be.

Image courtesy of Microsoft Office Clip Art
Image courtesy of Microsoft Office Clip Art

Most airline credit cards with no annual fee (or with an annual fee for that matter) operate on some type of points system in order to earn bonuses or rewards. For instance, with some card companies, every dollar you spend earns you a point, or some sort of point equivalent that can eventually be converted into “currency” of a sort, because it gives you purchasing power if you redeem the points. Most of the airline credit cards available today offer to give you points based on how many miles you travel by airplane. You can oftentimes redeem the points for traveling airfare, hotel room nights, merchandise, gift cards, or other goods based on their restrictions and program stipulations. The things that you need to take note of to look out for are the different restrictions that are laid out in the “fine print” but that are not often emphasized when you first apply, such as whether or not you will have to deal with seat restrictions on airplanes, blackout dates, and whether or not the miles or points will expire at some time. Also be aware that if you’re considering an airline card with no annual fee, there’s normally a tradeoff of some kind to make up for the annual fee, such as a higher overall interest rate, or stiffer penalties for late payments or over-limit charges. Also pay very close attention to whether or not the APR they’re offering is an introductory APR or not, and if it is, find out when that introductory period is over, because many times once that period is finished, they will really stick it to you from that point on. All in all, no matter what particular airline credit card you choose, the phrase “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) definitely comes into play here. It is strongly suggested that you do your homework and make an informed decision before you commit to any credit card.


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