Most of my recommended credit cards are safe picks for everybody. In other words, their rewards programs are structured so that you can earn rewards without needing to fly a particular airline or shop at a certain store.
There may, however, be specific credit cards that can be more rewarding to you than cards with mass appeal. Example: airline loyalty cards.
If you regularly fly a particular airline, having the airline’s branded card can provide conveniences and savings that are well worth the annual fee that usually comes with these cards. And the Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® card is a solid example (affiliate — see footnote).
By itself, the AAdvantage Visa’s reward rate is average: You earn two AAdvantage® miles for every $1 you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases and one AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. (This is the kind of thing that the double-miles paying Captial One Venture card likes to tease in its ads).
The American Airlines credit card is about on par with other major airlines credit cards. I fly mostly Delta, for example, and have the Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card which has similar perks: free checked bags, priority boarding, and a free companion ticket every year you renew. Even if you only fly a few times a year, the checked bag savings can pay for the card’s annual fee; the other perks are gravy.
One caveat about airline credit cards, including the AAdvantage card:
These cards feature higher APRs and are not for carrying balances. Anything you charge to the card should be paid in full each month. In a perfect world, we’d never have to borrow money on a credit card. In the real world, however, sometimes we do use credit cards to float us through tough times. If you do, there are low APR credit cards designed for this that will save you lots of money.
Signing up just for the bonus
I know people who sign up for every credit card sign up bonus they can – rack up the miles, and then cancel the card. Some have even gotten the same credit card numerous times. If you have truly excellent credit, you can probably get away with it. But as a word of warning: all these credit card accounts — open or closed — will stay on your credit report for seven years. If you’re young and may still have mortgage applications or other serious credit needs ahead of you, all those accounts could muddy your credit score, and it may not be wise to jeopardize your credit report for a couple of free plane rides.
What do you think? Are you a fan of the AAdvantage card or another airline card?
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are my own. I may be compensated by credit card issuers for successful applications referred by this site. If you choose to support our free content in this way, thank you!
*Credit Karma users have received approvals with these TransUnion New Account credit scores. These approval metrics are only guidelines and approval is not guaranteed.