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If you travel with any frequency you’ll probably want to apply and hold on to some travel credit cards which issue you miles or points for your purchases, as well as provide some important travel benefits which you can use to elevate your trip.

In the US, we have a wide selection of available credit cards – whether that’s a bank card earning you transferable points or an airline card, the choices are endless – which is why many people apply for many cards and hold on to them for a long time.

Transferable Bank Points Credit Cards

The best type of credit card you can have is one that earns you points in a bank program which then can be transferred to several airlines or hotels. The points transfers are usually instant so you’re able to move them around as you wish when booking your trip.

There is a wide selection of these credit cards from many banks including American Express, Chase, Citi, Capital One, etc. – each of these banks has their own loyalty program and every bank has different transfer partners available and some airlines and hotels allow transfers in from multiple bank programs.

There are several different cards available with bank programs – each with their own set of benefits and earning power. The more expensive the annual fee on the credit card, the more benefits are offered and more points are earned. You’ll want to carefully have a look at what cards are available to you and which ones will work best with your travel plans. Remember that you can usually have multiple cards with the same bank and therefore your earning and travel card strategy may be spread across multiple cards.

Airline Credit Cards

Most airlines have a credit card whereby you can earn miles directly in the airline’s frequent flyer program for your everyday purchases. Some airlines have different cards available, each with their own set of benefits – depending on how high the annual fee is, the more benefits you could receive.

Benefits of holding on to an airline credit card usually include things like a free checked bag, priority boarding, more award availability, and others. The one big downside of using an airline credit card instead of a transferable points bank credit card, is that with an airline credit card, the miles you earn stay in the airline’s loyalty program and you can only redeem them on the airline or partner airlines – so you can’t transfer points to other frequent flyer programs.

There are a few premium airline credit cards with high annual fees that feature lounge access and other priority services, and depending on how frequently you fly with that particular airline, the credit card with the most travel benefits could make sense for you.

Hotel Credit Cards

Hotel credit cards are just as important, as they also provide a number of benefits. There are several hotel chains out there and most of them do have their own credit card – or a selection of a few cards, ranging from entry-level to luxury.

Hotel credit cards work similarly to airline credit cards in that you earn hotel points for your spend and the cards also come with a number of benefits – such as entry-level hotel elite status, a free night each year, more points earned, etc. Depending on the hotel chain, they may have only one credit card available, however there are some chains that have several cards from which guests can select from.

The biggest benefit of a hotel credit card is the entry-level elite status and free night certificates. The elite status can get you a room upgrade, late check-out, and sometimes even free breakfast. The anniversary free night certificate can be worth a lot – especially if the annual fee isn’t that high. We regularly book hotels that cost over $300 with an annual free night from a credit card with only a $100 fee.

All in All

Whether you fly once a week or once a month or once a year, it makes sense to have some sort of credit card that earns you miles or points for your purchases as then you can redeem these rewards for flights and hotels and plan a fantastic trip.

Those who travel more frequently will most likely have multiple credit cards with travel benefits and will use them to their fullest – maximizing points earned and benefits available.

Even if you aren’t necessarily a frequent flyer and only fly once a year, it still makes sense to have some card that earns you miles as then you can potentially redeem them for your getaway. Earning miles is always better than not earning them and there are plenty of cards out there that earn you miles and points and don’t have an annual fee – in which case you should definitely consider using one of these as the points earned will only get you closer to your next holiday.

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.