Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
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Airline miles are in the news a lot this year, and the media has asked us to provide our take on the situation, so we thought it would be good to summarize our recommendations here.
All of the major airlines in the United States have raised the prices of some of their mileage awards this year, and Delta has confused people even further by saying you’ll only earn miles based on the dollars you spend on a ticket rather than the miles you fly starting in 2015.
The good news is the number of miles you earn on the ground isn’t changing. The airlines make billions of dollars from banks who buy miles from them to provide as rewards.
That means credit cards are more important than ever to helping you earn travel rewards. But where you earn them is important because not all miles are equal.
Here are some general guidelines on whether to earn cash rewards or airline miles based on the latest changes and our experience earning millions of miles:
You should earn cash rewards instead of airline miles if…
If you spend about $1,500 a month on a credit card you should expect to earn about $300 – $400 a year in travel rewards from the most lucrative cash rewards cards. They have no restrictions on what airline tickets you can book with them.
Two decent cards with cash rewards for travel are The Barclaycard Arrival (it earns 2x points on all spending), and the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card (it earns 1.5x points with no fees). You can see which is better based on your spending habits here.
You should earn airline miles if…
Chase Ultimate Rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are great for airline miles – you can transfer the points they earn into both United and Southwest miles giving you lots of flexibility.
Or, for more personalized results, you can see which rewards are best for your own spending using our CardFinder tool.
Just input your monthly spending, then input where you’d like to travel with your rewards (Hawaii, Europe, Asia, etc), and it will rank cards for you from a constantly updated database of dozens of cards. And it factors in the latest prices for awards announced this year.
And remember the key thing mileage enthusiasts know.
Don’t think you can only earn points in one program. Thanks to big bonus offers and transferable points it’s easy to rack up 50,000 – 100,000 points in a program, then move on and rack up just as many points in another.
You can see the latest list of deals here, with some offering 50,000 or more points. The most active mile earners apply for a couple of cards every few months, earning thousands of miles via bonus offers. There are dozens of cards available, so the offers keep changing and new opportunities to earn miles open up if you’re willing to put some time into it.
If you just want to ‘set it and forget it’ here are some recommendations on which miles to focus on earning based on the latest changes to mile prices and availability. These recommendations are based on the prices you can expect to pay most often, not just the lowest advertised price that can be hard to find.
Follow @MileCards on Twitter for the latest updates and new offers
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