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What are some of the common credit cards for frequent flyers?

Peter Terlato avatar
Peter Terlato
- 5 min read
What are some of the common credit cards for frequent flyers?

Australians love to travel, both interstate and internationally. There are a number of credit cards that allow you to accrue frequent flyer points on purchases that can later be redeemed for significant savings on flights and other travel services.

The most beneficial credit card for you may not be ideal for another person. There are a variety of factors that can influence which frequent flyer credit card you choose. It’s sensible to consider how you’ll want to spend your points to determine the card you select.

You may want to exchange your frequent flyer points for their namesake, using them to book flights, procure premium economy and business class seat upgrades or cover the cost of mid-air services, such as food and drinks purchases.

However, there are many other ways to redeem your credit card frequent flyer points. These can include:

  • Hotel bookings and accommodation
  • Rental car bookings
  • Shopping and gift cards with affiliated retailers
  • Alcohol and dining experiences
  • Concierge services
  • Concert tickets and movies

For example, one card may not necessarily earn you the most points per dollar spent but it might offer specific redemption options that appeal to your preferences. 

You’ll also want to consider all the other features of the credit card you choose, including interest rates, fees and other charges, benefits, bonuses and offers. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to credit cards.

Some frequent flyers may wish to have a credit card that includes services such as complimentary lounge access, priority boarding, free travel insurance and extra baggage allowances.

Ultimately, the right credit card for you will depend on your individual financial situation and spending habits. You can compare your options, filtering your results to display the most applicable options.

Different credit cards for different airlines

There are a myriad of different partnerships and affiliations between financial institutions and airlines. Additionally, some credit card providers have their own rewards programs that allow you to redeem rewards points for frequent flyer points or miles.

You’ll also find that some airlines, like Qantas and Virgin Australia, offer their own branded credit cards. National Australia Bank (NAB) is the credit provider and issuer of Qantas Premier credit cards and Virgin Money credit cards.

Australia's largest supermarket retailers - Woolworths and Coles - also have credit card offerings that can earn frequent flyer points towards their respective rewards programs or airline partners.

You can scroll through the list of frequent flyer programs below to see which credit card providers offer the ability to earn nominated points with purchases: 

Some banks offer credit cards that accrue rewards points that can then be redeemed for select frequent flyer points through an internal rewards program:

Be sure to check that the credit card you want to sign up for is a card that earns rewards points for purchases.

A number of banks also offer business credit cards. These are cards that are used to make business-related purchases. Some cards enable users to accrue frequent flyer or rewards points through spending. Check the card’s terms and conditions to ensure that the benefits offered match your requirements.

Considerations for frequent flyer credit cards

Everyone's needs are different. When it comes to deciding on the frequent flyer credit card that’s best for you it may be worthwhile taking into account a range of factors that might influence your choice.

    • Which frequent flyer program is the credit card affiliated with? Some credit card providers have exclusive arrangements with certain frequent flyer programs. If you want to earn points for a specific airline, check that the credit card you’ve selected is aligned with your preferred frequent flyer program.
    • Can I transfer my frequent flyer points across different programs? In most cases, frequent flyer memberships and their subsequent benefits are exclusive to the airline that they are affiliated with. However, there are exceptions. Some global airline alliances, such as oneworld, allow member airline’s frequent flyers to exchange points for flights and attain parallel status across their entire carrier network.
    • Some credit cards include bonus points offers for new customers. For example, you might be able to earn 100,000 bonus frequent flyer points by signing up for a particular credit card. However, there may be minimum spend requirements and other conditions you’ll need to meet in order to successfully acquire bonus points. You might need to wait for a stipulated period of time before the bonus points are credited to your account.
    • Compare the points’ earn rate for different cards. Some credit cards may offer 1:1 frequent flyer points for dollars spent, while others may offer a different ratio. See card terms and conditions for clarification.
    • Check if there are any caps or expiration dates on points. Some credit card rewards schemes and frequent flyer programs have expiry dates for points, while some may enforce earning caps. For example, Qantas Points may expire if you don’t earn them or use them on eligible activities at least once every 18 months.
    • Compare card interest rates, fees and features. You might find a credit card that offers the frequent flyer earning capacity you desire but these savings may be negated by a high interest rate, exorbitant fees or a lack of features and perks. It’s sensible to compare all the different factors that make up a credit card so you can find the most ideal option for your financial situation.

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Product database updated 15 Jun, 2024

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Alex Ritchie before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.