What is an air miles credit card?

You could earn free Avios reward flights – or other free flights – by spending on an Avios rewards credit card or air miles rewards credit card.

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air miles credit cards

What are air miles?

Air miles are points which can be spent on flights and other services offered by your airline. 

For example, if you have an Avios rewards credit card, you can spend your Avios points on flights with British Airways. With the American Airlines credit card, you can collect AAdvantage miles to spend on American Airlines flights. If you have a different air miles rewards credit card, then you can spend your points on rewards flights elsewhere.

How do I get Avios reward flights and air miles rewards? 

With an Avios rewards credit card or air miles rewards credit card you can collect air miles every time you spend money on your credit card. 

Every air miles card earns you points for flights with a specific airline. There’s more information below on which card earns you airmiles for which airline. If you have a preferred airline then you could base your choice of air miles rewards credit card around this. Perhaps you have a preference based on where they fly to, or their service.

Are air miles rewards cards the same as frequent flyer miles cards?

An air miles card isn’t quite the same as a frequent flyer miles card. 

Frequent flyer miles cards offer loyalty points when you fly with a particular airline. Air miles rewards credit cards let you earn points on your spending, which can then be spent on flights.

Who can you collect air miles with?

Updated 18 January 2021
British AirwaysAvios
Virgin AtlanticFlying Club Miles
EmiratesSkywards Miles
LufthansaMiles & More
United AirlinesMileagePlus
American AirlinesAAdvantage miles
EtihadEitihad Guest Miles

What else can you use your air miles card reward points for?

Some airlines let you swap your air miles card reward points for other benefits? Depending on which air miles card you have, you could swap your points for:

  • Hotel stays

  • Package holidays

  • Flight upgrades

  • Hotel upgrades

  • Car hire

  • Travel insurance

  • Airport lounge access

  • Airport parking

  • Holiday tours

  • Hotel transfers

  • Cases of wine

  • Theatre tickets and experience days

  • Theme park tickets.

You can also convert points from other reward schemes like Clubcard or the Shell Drivers' Club. Then you can put these converted points towards your Avios reward flights or other free flights.

Should you get an Avios rewards credit card or air miles rewards credit card?

Earning free Avios reward flights or other free flights is an excellent benefit. So an Avios rewards credit card or air miles rewards card can be great for some people. But you should only get an air miles credit card if you’re able to pay off all of what you spend each month.

If you leave a balance on the card then you’ll have to pay interest, which is likely to cost more than your air miles are worth. So it might not be a good idea to get an Avios rewards credit card or air miles rewards card if tend to carry over a balance on your credit card on a regular basis.

If you need to use a credit card to spread the cost of your spending or make a big purchase, think about getting a 0% purchases card instead.

You also need to spend enough money on your card to collect enough air miles for a flight. So, if you don’t use your card very often, there might not be much point in having one. That said, the Avios rewards credit card – for example – lets you put your points towards your Avios reward flights and top up with cash. This essentially reduces the price of your flights, rather than giving them to you for free.

If you do get an Avios rewards credit card or air miles rewards card, you could use it for frequent, planned purchases. For example, fuel or supermarket shopping. Just make sure you pay it off in full at the end of each month.

How do I claim free Avios reward flights or other free flights?

  • Take out an Avios rewards credit card or alternative air miles rewards card

  • Start spending on your card

  • Buy flights using your new card – this may give you extra air miles

  • Buy from the airline's partner companies to earn extra air miles

  • Convert points from other reward schemes like Clubcard or Shell Drivers' Club.

  • Log in to your air miles rewards card site, and find the flight you’d like to book.

Air miles points usually take a day or two to be added to your account, but can take up to 35 days. This depends on where you’ve used your card.

Choose the right air miles rewards credit card

To get the right air miles rewards credit card, you need to consider:

  • Whether you know where you want to fly. If only one airline flies there, look at cards that offer air miles for that airline. Then choose the card that will earn you the most air miles, including any bonus air miles you could earn.

  • Whether you’re more flexible: Work out how far you could fly using the air miles you’re likely to earn in your first year. Every scheme’s different and points aren’t always worth the same amount. So avoid comparing how many points you'll earn per pound and look instead at how far the points you’ll earn could get you.

Compare air miles credit cards to check their interest rates and annual fees.

Amex, Visa or MasterCard?

Most air miles cards are American Express rather than Visa or MasterCard.

Amex cards are not accepted for payment everywhere but they usually offer more air miles per pound you spend than Visa or MasterCard.

Some providers offer an Amex card with a second Visa or MasterCard so you can use the secondary card as a backup in places that do not accept Amex.

The differences between Visa and MasterCard are minor, so choose the card that offers most air miles.

Should you avoid air miles credit cards with annual fees?

It depends on whether you will earn air miles points worth more than the fee you need to pay. For example:

  • With one card you might earn one point per £1 you spend and pay no annual fee

  • With a different card you might get two air miles per £1 spent with an annual fee of £24

It would only be worth taking out the second card if it would earn you air miles worth an extra £24 or more than the first card.

Get the most from your air miles credit card

Set up a direct debit to pay your credit card bill in full each month.

If you miss the payment date you will be charged interest, which may be more than the air miles you earn.

Air miles you've earned may also be cancelled out if you are charged late payment fees or exceed your credit limit.

How to manage your credit card

Find the best credit card for you, whether you're looking for 0% card for balance transfers or purchases or day to day spending and rewards