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The Best Airline Credit Card Travel Perks

[Saturday, June 14th, 2014]

If you are a frequent traveler, you’re probably already aware of the money-saving benefits of using your credit card to pump up your frequent flyer miles balance. Spending money on a co-branded airline credit card is an easy way to earn lots of extra miles. But you may not realize all the other benefits you can get from your credit card. Make your next flight a breeze when you take advantage of all the best perks offered by airline credit cards.

  • Priority boarding – If your credit card offers priority boarding, you can skip the lines to get on board your flight. Don’t worry about listening to announcements about which seating zone is allowed to board when; you can be the first one to hand your boarding pass to the flight attendant and score the best spot in the overhead luggage bin.
  • Free bag check – Gone are the days when you could check a bag for free—unless you have a credit card that offers free baggage checking. The good news is, most airline credit cards do have this perk. One of the advantages of have a co-branded airline credit card rather than a general miles reward card is that you will often be eligible to check a bag for free, and so will your companions. Since bag check fees are usually $25 a pop, this can easily save you and your family upwards of $100 on your next flight.
  • VIP lounges–This is where paying an annual fee for a premium credit card can really be worth it. If your credit card issuer offers access to an airport VIP lounge, you’ll pass the time during your next layover in a most pleasant way. Charge your laptop, have a drink, read the newspaper, even get a massage, all in a private corner of the airport that’s open only to cardholders. American Express Centurion Lounges are some of the most luxurious airport lounges, and anyone with an American Express card can pay $50 for a day pass for access.
  • Companion passes – Many airline credit cards offer a free or reduced rate companion ticket once a year on the anniversary of your membership. Take advantage of this benefit and fly someplace warm with that special someone next time the cold weather hits. Or use it to score points with a family member who wants to tag along on your next adventure. Fly together for free, and both of you will be able to benefit from your credit card perks.
  • In-flight discounts – Almost every airline credit card gives a 10% or more discount on in-flight purchases made with their credit card. Order a meal, get Wi-Fi, enjoy a cocktail and take advantage of every in-flight entertainment option offered, all at a discount.

Many of these perks come only with annual fee credit cards, so consider what you’ll get before hesitating to apply for a card with an annual fee. The fee is usually well worth it, especially if you are a frequent traveler. And remember that choosing a credit card co-branded with your favorite airline is the best way to go. Travel rewards credit cards not associated with a specific airline will not offer these benefits.

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