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Thread: Credit Cards with Air Miles?

  1. #1
    Member G3_Guy's Avatar
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    Default Credit Cards with Air Miles?

    So I've talked to a few folks here in AK who have credit cards they use to collect points/miles. They use these miles to travel back to the states to visit family or to take vacations when needed. Two cards in particular I've heard mentioned are the Venture Card and the Alaska Airlines Card. I wanted to post and see if any of you did this as well. What do you think about the two cards mentioned? Are there others you like more? If so, why? Please let me know as I would like to start with one of these soon as I'm sure my wife and kids will want to visit family in the lower 48 from time to time.

    Thanks in advance!

    Brian M.
    G3 Guy
    "...with God all things are possible." - Mark 10:27

  2. #2
    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    I've been using the AK Visa card for years. I was able to redeem miles for 3 trips south this year and will take one north in late fall.

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    We've used the AK Air CC for years... two advantages as we see it... each year we each get a $50 companion ticket (which now costs $100) and usually enough air miles for one or sometimes 2 tickets "outside".. The wife usually burns up the airmiles when school gets out in the spring to go outside to see grandkids.. I buy a regular ticket and 1 companion ticket for our Christmas trip outside... The disadvantage is, the AK Air CC costs you $75 a year "membership"... where as some of the local bank cards (AK USA Visa) don't charge anything for their CC's if you have any accounts with them and you can earn air miles on them... Shop around, see what would best suit your needs...

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Ak Airlines. Worth the little expense they charge as the benefits far outweigh the cost of the card.
    BK

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkmail View Post
    Ak Airlines. Worth the little expense they charge as the benefits far outweigh the cost of the card.
    BK
    I especially like their policy of free beer and wine on the flts between Bend and Portland, OR...!!!!!

  6. #6
    Member TWB's Avatar
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    +1 ak air. Not many other credit cards give you something in return. Though if I spend another $14k with USAA I get an iPod

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old John View Post
    I especially like their policy of free beer and wine on the flts between Bend and Portland, OR...!!!!!
    Do they even have time to serve a drink on that short of a flight?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anchskier View Post
    Do they even have time to serve a drink on that short of a flight?
    Oh yes...and then some. We fly on the Horizon flights (now some are run by SkyWest, I think) whenever possible. On an hour flight they'll come through with the beer and wine at least three times, sometimes more - all without extra charge.


    As for the cards, we've had two of the AK Air Visas for years now. We fly for free on miles once a year and fly for significantly reduced rates on our other trip due to the companion fare. Just this week we signed up for a Delta American Express to go along with it. The deal is basically the same - a $99 companion fare in addition to the miles (and the annual fee). I'm basically just doing it for the offer of 50,000 free miles if I spend a set amount in the first three months. We almost always fly Alaska, but I've had 20,000 miles sitting in my Delta account for 10 years now, so I might as well bump that up a bit and make use of the miles. I'll cancel after this year if it doesn't seem to work as well as the AK Air card, but at the same time, it'll be nice to have a card that I can use at Costco (which only accepts AmEx).

  9. #9
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    My family uses the AK Air Visa for all cash purchases. It takes dicipline to make sure you pay it off every month, but it's worth it. Groceries, fuel, electric bill, phone bill, heating fuel bill, borough property taxes, truck and car registrations, insurance payments, and just about everything else will take Visa as payment. We rack up two tickets a year in general, or three instate tickets (which we use for hunting trips). Now, my business is where we really score... 8 to 10 tickets a year. I can't even afford to travel that much so we help employees with trips, donate them to good causes like flying veterans to go fishing or high school students to get to competitions, or for business trips (rarely). We are the ones that the Visa company probably hates. We rack up miles without paying interest on anything. Good thing there are folks out there that aren't as fiscally responsible and keep the whole thing going
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    Member Derby06's Avatar
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    I too use the AK card. If I recall, you came from the east coast. One thing to keep in mind is AK Airlines only goes to Reagan National and Atlanta on the east coast. Your companion pass is only good on AK air, so if they don't fly to where your going, things may not work out.
    You can get creative though--I flew 3 of us to DC for basically the price of one ticket. (One miles ticket, one companion pass, and one full price ticket) Vacation was in NC, but 2 nights hotel and week rental car saved ALOT of ticket money and the family got to see DC too....

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    We are the ones that the Visa company probably hates. We rack up miles without paying interest on anything. Good thing there are folks out there that aren't as fiscally responsible and keep the whole thing going
    I'm right there with you. Use the card for everthing possible and pay it off in full every month. Been flying to Hawaii and other places at least once a year on miles, plus taking advantage of the companion fares with friends for other trips. Can't remember the last full price ticket I bought was, and I go out of state at least 3 times a year.

  12. #12

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    Brian, a few things to consider from a financial perspective before choosing any credit card.

    Avoid applying for credit until you've gotten any big purchases out of the way, especially a mortgage if you plan to buy a house. Any credit inquiries will lower your credit score and it takes quite a while for your score to recover from opening a new card or from cancelling an old card. The reduction in credit score can potentially raise loan costs enough to wipe out any savings from the airline miles.

    Be aware that airline miles are rarely a good deal. They used to be worth about 2 cents a mile but these days they are usually worth less than 1 cent a mile. Run the numbers (or get help from someone who knows how) and you'll see the offers are not worth much. You can save even more with careful shopping and flexible scheduling than with so-called "free" miles. Think about it, if the miles programs weren't highly lucrative for the credit card companies, they'd cancel those programs.

    Also be aware that they do change and cancel the rewards programs regularly, so think about what it costs you to bank those miles, and don't assume you'll be able to get the reward you were originally promised. Take the time to educate yourself on credit and make sure you understand your card's terms and conditions before applying. Unless you fly really, really often, you're probably better off with the lowest total cost card than with the maximum rewards card. Look beyond the annual fee to the likely total of other fees, depending on your card usage.

    Finally, remember that almost all the card companies are related to the same banks that crashed our economy, so don't assume you can trust their promises (aka marketing tactics). I'm not saying not to get a card, I'm just saying caveat emptor, buyer beware. And BTW I'm not criticizing the airlines, the card terms and conditions are mostly dictated by the banks that issue the airline branded cards.

  13. #13
    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    I have them all as does the wife. AK Airlines and the Delta one. Some years we have flown up to 6 round trip flights on miles. I just completed another cross country move and yep when all is said and done another ticket which most of the costs I was reimbursed for so good deal in my opinion. Once I used AK Airlines miles to fly home at Christmas to MT, which was at that time 40K miles, well they over booked and I took an 8 hour layover for two free fly anytime tickets so even that trip turned out very well. Same for the wife who flew Delta miles from Kansas City to ANC in April, plane delayed and then they gave her a 200 voucher which we used in July. Ticket to AK was 25K miles but good deal with the extra voucher in the long run. I don't carry a balance on any card but they all work for what I use them for. Delta will also let you buy magazine subscriptions with your miles which will keep you current in their program if you are not using your credit card much.

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    Ak air also goes in and out of Newark, New Jersey.My boy and I leave this Thursday for a trip to Rasberry Island near Kodiak Island.Both tickets were gotten with air miles.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Be aware that airline miles are rarely a good deal. They used to be worth about 2 cents a mile but these days they are usually worth less than 1 cent a mile. Run the numbers (or get help from someone who knows how) and you'll see the offers are not worth much. You can save even more with careful shopping and flexible scheduling than with so-called "free" miles. Think about it, if the miles programs weren't highly lucrative for the credit card companies, they'd cancel those programs.
    I racked up 100,000 miles this year combined between my business and personal cards...for a whopping $100 in annual fees. If you pay off the card every month they are worth far more than you are saying. I am riding on the back of those that can't figure out how to manage their money. I used to be that guy, but I've got it figured out now. Even if they take away all my miles tomorrow I really only can be pissed about $100 and that's not even a tank of gas in my truck anymore.

    Alaska Airlines has changed their program about three times in the 15 years I have been using them, but I was notified well in advance of those changes. Do I like needing 45,000 to truely go anywhere in the states now? Not really since fuel makes up 2/3 or my c.c. prices and those high fuel prices more than make up the difference of need 45K miles now vs. 25K miles 10 years ago.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    I am riding on the back of those that can't figure out how to manage their money. I used to be that guy, but I've got it figured out now.
    Most people either used to be or still are "that guy" which was the reason for my post. It's true, everyone who successfully uses mileage programs is riding on the backs of the vast majority who get minimal benefits. Personal successes in gaming the system feel great, but they still don't make credit card miles a good deal for everyone.

    (Doesn't mean they're not a great deal for some people who spend heavily and fly a lot. My main concern was that G3_Guy just relocated and might need to apply for a mortgage soon.)

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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    I have the Bank of America Ak airlines card. I like the 50.00 companion fares they send out each year. I have a capitalone card I never use, but they give miles for any airline you choose. I'm not sure whats best I know the ak card is convient





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    Member Roger's Avatar
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    I'm with AKDoug I use our for business on everything rack up 6-9 tickets a summer.As far as fees call them up tell them you are going to change to another miles card unless they drop the fee or lower it. Works every time !
    PEOPLE SAY I HAVE A.D.D I DON'T UNDERSTA.....OH LOOK A MOOSE !!!

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    the funny thing is, everyone is so happy with the 'free' miles but don't realize that everything you buy now is more expensive because of these mileage programs....nothing is 'free' guys, you're just purchasing your tickets more slowly, a tiny bit at a time with every single purchase....vendors must charge more for the products that they sell to pay the high fees required to accept these cards....clearing houses and CC banks are making good money off of the programs, and they're marketed very well so most folks think they are getting something for nothing, but in reality, there's no free ride, or in this case, free airline ticket

    it would be nice if no one used them, but now everyone does, so if you want to get at least a little something out of paying more for all of your goods and services you must get a mileage card too, which is just making the issue worse.....I guess if I flew anywhere I'd probably have a mileage card too
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by tjm View Post
    the funny thing is, everyone is so happy with the 'free' miles but don't realize that everything you buy now is more expensive because of these mileage programs....nothing is 'free' guys, you're just purchasing your tickets more slowly, a tiny bit at a time with every single purchase....vendors must charge more for the products that they sell to pay the high fees required to accept these cards....clearing houses and CC banks are making good money off of the programs, and they're marketed very well so most folks think they are getting something for nothing, but in reality, there's no free ride, or in this case, free airline ticket

    it would be nice if no one used them, but now everyone does, so if you want to get at least a little something out of paying more for all of your goods and services you must get a mileage card too, which is just making the issue worse.....I guess if I flew anywhere I'd probably have a mileage card too
    The thing is, most of the money the CC companies are making is off of those who don't pay off their balances (interest is a killer). They offer these things knowing that a good number of the customers drawn in will not pay off the balance and they will more than pay for the added cost of the program by those new customers paying high interesting on a running balance. For those of us who pay off the balance, we are in the minority and thus are, for lack of a better way of saying it, an acceptable loss to them. I disagree that more people getting into the program is making it worse. If anything, they are making more money off of it, especially these days with the tougher economy and more and more people going further in debt.

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