Home > 2013 > Credit Cards

Do You Need to Re-Evaluate Your Airline Miles Credit Cards?

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

The past few months have brought some disappointing news to award travel enthusiasts.

In August, Delta airlines announced that business class awards to many international destinations will increase 20-25%, for travel beginning after May 31, 2014. In September, Southwest lopped about 17% off the value of its points, for all travel booked after March 31, 2014. Finally, United waited until the morning after Halloween to announce the scariest program change of the year: Miles required for international award tickets in business and first class just went up by as much as 87%. And for the first time, travelers will have to pay more miles for award tickets on United partners’ flights than they would on flights operated by United. These changes apply for award flights booked after Jan. 31, 2014.

How These Changes Affect Credit Card Users

When credit card users receive frequent flier points and miles for spending, the value of these awards points and miles depend on how many are needed for an award flight. So when an airline increases the number of miles needed for an award ticket, it decreases the rewards returned from its award cards.

Here is how the outlook appears for some of the major airline miles credit cards.

United Explorer and Club Cards From Chase

Although these cards are an excellent way to earn rewards in the form of United MileagePlus miles, you’ll soon need more miles to get where you want to go. For example, a business class award flight to Europe on a partner airline like Lufthansa that requires 100,000 miles will soon require 140,000. A first-class award on a partner carrier to the Middle East that costs 150,000 miles will soon require 280,000 miles at the lowest mileage redemption rates.

Even though the changes are largely confined to international awards in business and first class, these awards are the most valuable way to redeem miles. Cardholders who are planning award trips to these destinations might want to consider booking whatever they can before the price increase takes effect on Jan. 31, 2014.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Program

Many of the credit cards that are part of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program have the ability to transfer points to airline partners such as United and Southwest. These cards include the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Plus and Palladium cards. This program is affected by both Southwest’s and United’s frequent flier award devaluation. However, Ultimate Rewards points can still be very valuable when transferred to other travel partners such as Virgin America, Hyatt, Amtrak — and British Airways, which is an American Airlines partner.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Cards From Chase

Chase offers four different credit cards in partnership with Southwest airlines. Southwest used to offer a dollar’s worth of airfare for 60 points, but will be asking 70 points starting for travel booked after March 31. This equates to a value of about 1.4 cents per point. On the other hand, those who hold Southwest’s Companion pass receive double the value from their points and can still earn competitive rewards.

Delta SkyMiles Cards From American Express

Delta increased the number of miles required for business class awards to destinations in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and southern South America, for travel on or after June 1, 2014.

Other Programs to Consider

Whether or not you’ll be affected by these changes, there are many airline miles programs also worth checking out, including these:

  • Capital One Venture Rewards or the Barclaycard Arrival both offer double miles that are worth one cent each toward travel rewards on any airline.
  • Cardholders of American Express Membership Rewards or the Starwood Preferred Guest program can earn miles in a flexible point system that can then be transferred to Delta SkyMiles, or one of several other different frequent flier programs.

As the airline industry consolidates and becomes more profitable, carriers are increasingly raising the price of award tickets. However, the credit card industry remains extremely competitive, and cardholders can look for the cards that earn the most valuable miles. By taking the time to re-evaluate which airline miles you earn with your credit cards, you can continue to earn the most award travel from your spending.

Compare airline miles credit cards on Credit.com.

At publishing time, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, and Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team