Are 'airline' credit cards worth it?

Hello!

As the title says really.

I've been using a 0.5% cash back credit card but wondering if I could make my purchases go further.
I love my holidays and I have seen various airline credit cards advertised, whether its avios, virgin, Amex or barclaycard to rack up points, how competitive are they really?

I cant seem to get my head round the rewards side of it and what the points are worth, but I know I can easily (sadly) manage the £10k spends for these companion tickets. Also struggling to understand how the 'fee' versions of these cards compare in this as well.

Are they worth the hassle or am I better off just sticking with my cash back credit card for now?


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Comments

  • WillPS
    WillPS Posts: 3,018
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    If you are looking from a pure Money Saving point of view, and you wouldn't normally consider flying in anything other than economy, then no they aren't worth it IMHO.

    If you want to experience upper classes of air travel then doing so with miles is likely to be a relatively cheap way of doing that - although you need to plan it quite carefully and often pretty far in advance.

    As an aside, if you go down the Avios route then you always have the option of paying out via Nectar, it works out as 0.67p per Avios. I collect Avios even though I have no intention of redeeming them for air travel - the Barclaycard free card would beat your 0.5% so would be a relatively risk free 'toe in the water'.
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 9,024
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    Perksy5 said:
    Are they worth the hassle or am I better off just sticking with my cash back credit card for now?
    Depends on how you want to value these things... as said above, they only make economic sense if you are travelling in higher classes of travel but then working out the cash value of the points can get unrealistic because you'd have never paid the cash price.

    As an example, once managed to bag some First flights back from the far east, cash price would have been over £10k per ticket which would equate to over £0.10 per point but I'd never have paid £20k+ for a pair of one way tickets. 

    If you book your holidays well in advance, like travelling in higher classes of travel then they can be worth it... if you dont then Nectar are an option or maybe look at Chase with 1% cashback
  • artyboy
    artyboy Posts: 800
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    ... or go for the Amex Platinum credit card (the £25/year one) and get 1.25% cashback, plus the introductory 5% rate, plus a £35 referral bonus (and if you ask for a referral on here, you'll be swamped with offers!).

    Honestly... I'm an amateur fanatic when it comes to airline miles and status, but I just can't be bothered with the hoops I'd need to jump through to get substantially more value out of an ' airline' credit card. And the BA one in particular comes with a big fee if you want one that gives you a voucher for anything other than an economy flight.

    So, I keep it simple with CCs, go for straightforward cashback, and earn my Avios in other ways...
  • Perksy5
    Perksy5 Posts: 141
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    artyboy said:
    ... or go for the Amex Platinum credit card (the £25/year one) and get 1.25% cashback, plus the introductory 5% rate, plus a £35 referral bonus (and if you ask for a referral on here, you'll be swamped with offers!).

    Honestly... I'm an amateur fanatic when it comes to airline miles and status, but I just can't be bothered with the hoops I'd need to jump through to get substantially more value out of an ' airline' credit card. And the BA one in particular comes with a big fee if you want one that gives you a voucher for anything other than an economy flight.

    So, I keep it simple with CCs, go for straightforward cashback, and earn my Avios in other ways...
    How else would you earn your Avios if not by the credit card route?
    Also is avios the best one? What about the virgin Atlantic points as an alternative?

    Just curious why one would choose one over the other etc.
    Thanks!
  • artyboy
    artyboy Posts: 800
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    Perksy5 said:
    artyboy said:
    ... or go for the Amex Platinum credit card (the £25/year one) and get 1.25% cashback, plus the introductory 5% rate, plus a £35 referral bonus (and if you ask for a referral on here, you'll be swamped with offers!).

    Honestly... I'm an amateur fanatic when it comes to airline miles and status, but I just can't be bothered with the hoops I'd need to jump through to get substantially more value out of an ' airline' credit card. And the BA one in particular comes with a big fee if you want one that gives you a voucher for anything other than an economy flight.

    So, I keep it simple with CCs, go for straightforward cashback, and earn my Avios in other ways...
    How else would you earn your Avios if not by the credit card route?
    Also is avios the best one? What about the virgin Atlantic points as an alternative?

    Just curious why one would choose one over the other etc.
    Thanks!
    I'm not a Virgin expert so can't really give you pros and cons there. But as for Avios earning... well there's:

    - flying (obviously)
    - rewards from packaged bank accounts (my set up with Natwest nets me about 25k Avios per year - Barclays also have an Avios rewards account)
    - Earning from the BA shopping portal (basically like TopCashback or Quidco)
    - Transfer nectar points to Avios (400 Nectar points is worth 250 Avios although note it's not as good a rate if you want to swap back!)

    There are other ways as well, but like I said, I choose to keep it simple with credit cards and just take the cash.
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 9,024
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    Perksy5 said:
    How else would you earn your Avios if not by the credit card route?
    Also is avios the best one? What about the virgin Atlantic points as an alternative?

    Just curious why one would choose one over the other etc.
    Thanks!
    By travelling, converting other points (eg Tesco Clubcard), buying via various online sellers from links from the airlines site (think cashback site but points rather than cash), various other merchants links (eg car hire, uber etc can)

    Its mainly about where you want to travel to and who services that best and whos product you like better. BA, and their partners, have massive coverage of destinations and lots of direct flight options if you are London based (and not bad from some regional airports too). 

    I prefer VS' Upper Class to BA's old Club World (and similarly their respective lounges at LHR) but direct flight options are limited and fairly variable as the drop routes and create new ones seemingly more frequently... its annoying to be earning for that big holiday trip to somewhere and just before you hit the required target you hear the airline has dropped the route. 
  • jbrassy
    jbrassy Posts: 631
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    The best place to look at this kind of stuff is Head For Points: https://www.headforpoints.com/

    They will tell you the best way to collect and spend Avios points (as well as other airlines).

    Personally, I don't bother with airline cards and stick to cashback cards. Firstly, because I can easily put a value on the cashback whereas it's quite difficult to work out the monetary value of an Avios point. Second, if you collect Avios points, it effectively locks you into using BA. When I travel, I tend to use Skyscanner and use whichever airline offers best value, whether that's BA, Emirates, Etihad, etc.

    Like others have said, it ultimately depends on how much you value travelling in business or first class. Personally, I'm happy to suffer for a few hours in economy class and use the money I save on nicer hotels (where I spend more time) and experiences on holiday. However, I know friends who enjoy the first class experience. It all comes down to personal preference.
  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 46,727
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    I have BA Amex cards. As well as using for long haul flights in business, that would never be affordable if they weren’t reward flights, I’ve also used the for economy flights in Europe. The advantage is the cost in Avios is fixed, whereas peak travel particularly if booked last minute can be expensive. Reward flights on BA also have the advantage that they are refundable until the day before, which can be useful. Worst case you cash them out to Nectar and spend In Sainsbury’s.
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  • Marchitiello
    Marchitiello Posts: 1,266
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    artyboy said:
    Perksy5 said:
    artyboy said:
    ... or go for the Amex Platinum credit card (the £25/year one) and get 1.25% cashback, plus the introductory 5% rate, plus a £35 referral bonus (and if you ask for a referral on here, you'll be swamped with offers!).

    Honestly... I'm an amateur fanatic when it comes to airline miles and status, but I just can't be bothered with the hoops I'd need to jump through to get substantially more value out of an ' airline' credit card. And the BA one in particular comes with a big fee if you want one that gives you a voucher for anything other than an economy flight.

    So, I keep it simple with CCs, go for straightforward cashback, and earn my Avios in other ways...
    How else would you earn your Avios if not by the credit card route?
    Also is avios the best one? What about the virgin Atlantic points as an alternative?

    Just curious why one would choose one over the other etc.
    Thanks!
    I'm not a Virgin expert so can't really give you pros and cons there. But as for Avios earning... well there's:

    - flying (obviously)
    - rewards from packaged bank accounts (my set up with Natwest nets me about 25k Avios per year - Barclays also have an Avios rewards account)
    - Earning from the BA shopping portal (basically like TopCashback or Quidco)
    - Transfer nectar points to Avios (400 Nectar points is worth 250 Avios although note it's not as good a rate if you want to swap back!)

    There are other ways as well, but like I said, I choose to keep it simple with credit cards and just take the cash.
    To each their own but if you are indeed collecting Avios and like to travel, not maximising on credit card spend, where you can easily get an higher return then 1.25% per £ spent, is a missed opportunity. Even the £250 for the BA PP Amex is now a good value even for a solo traveller.

    Between myself and the wife we have duplicate earnings on many of the following products Barclays Avios Rewards, RBS Premier Rewards (same as Natwest), Nectar, BP Rewards, BA shopping portal (and some time Vueling version) but the bulk of our earning is made via Personal and business Credit /Charge Card spend 
  • dcfc67
    dcfc67 Posts: 395
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    i love my AMEX Gold card, free in year one then £160 a year after that so i cancel and wife has the card for a year then cancels and i re apply and so on

    You can add partner to your account without losing the bonus when she takes out a card if you want to max your points out

    current sign up bonus is 20000 points or avios or 25000 if you ger referred on a 3K spend in first 90 days.

    4 free lounge passes are useful, can only redeem 2 at a time though
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