1. Home
  2. Beginner's Guide
  3. Choosing a Credit Card

Choosing a Credit Card

TL;DR There are dozens of cards on the market. Pay-with-points, airline co-branded and flexible-transfer each have their pros/cons. Work backwards from your goals to build out your personal earning strategy.

Disclaimer: The content on this website is for informational purposes only. AwardAce is not an investment, financial or legal advisor.

Flexible-Transfer cards

These cards let you earn points on one card, yet also allow you to transfer them to a myriad of airline partners. For example, when earning points on a Chase Sapphire, you are welcome to transfer them to United MileagePlus or Southwest Rapid Rewards. This flexibility makes them a great option to those new to the game.

Examples: Chase Sapphire, Citi ThankYou, AMEX Starwood card.

Why It's Good
  • Relationships with multiple programs open up many redemption opportunites.
  • Bonus spending categories can help you earn more miles on regular spend.
  • Can often also be used like a pay-with-points card.
Why It's Not
  • Transfers are not always instant.

Unsure what programs are supported by the major transfer partners? Our program database lets you filter by partners of American Express, Chase, Citi and Starwood Preferred Guest.

Airline Co-branded cards

These cards are usually associated with a single loyalty program, with a lot of great benefits: free checked bags, priority boarding and (in some cases) business lounge access. Often you will earn double miles by charging flights to that card—a solid benefit for those loyal to a single airline. Co-branded cards are a good idea when you know of a specific redemption that you want to book.

On the downside, these cards lock you into spending your points with a specific program. Most miles will expire after some period of inactivity, so it's best that you develop some sort of general plan before diving into an airline-specific card.

Examples: Chase United MileagePlus, Citi Executive AAdvantage, Gold Delta Skymiles.

Why It's Good
  • Gives card-holders unique travel benefits.
  • Spending bonuses when purchasing tickets with airline.
Why It's Not
  • Can only earn and redeem points with a single program.

Pay-with-points cards

This type of card is straightfoward: earn points and spend them by applying them to your credit card travel purchases. For example, if you earn Capital One Venture card's 40,000 point bonus, you can apply that towards $400 worth of travel purchases (given the company's 1 point = 1 cent conversion rate).

Examples: Barclaycard Arrival, Capital One Venture.

Why It's Good
  • No need to find award availability.
  • Can apply points towards hotel bookings.
  • Earn frequent flyer miles on flights (since they are technically paid with cash).
Why It's Not
  • Value of each point is fixed, for better or worse.
  • Generally a viable option for Economy redemptions only.

Cash-back cards

These kind of cards rebates a fixed 1-2% of your everyday spend back to you as cash back.

Examples: Chase Freedom, Discover It.

Why It's Good
  • What's better than actual cash back in your pocket?
  • Don't have to redeem for travel get benefit.
Why It's Not
  • Rate of return will always be fixed (for better or worse).

Next: Strategy to Spending Points »

Searching Award Options