More Airline Credit Cards Introduced as Competition Increases

July 20, 2011, Written By Lynn Oldshue

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If you are planning to book airline tickets, this is a good time to check out credit card offers. Competition continues to increase, and credit card issuers are using bonus miles and perks to attract new cardholders. Consumers can get free tickets, free checked bags, and free passes into the airport lounge.

The current airline rewards are the hottest thing in the credit card industry in a long time. Two new offers came out this week that will increase competition to an already heavily contested category. These offers can be an easy way to get a little extra for using a credit card, but you have to do your homework to find the best offer for your personal spending habits and travel needs. The annual fee and interest rates vary for these cards. If you get the wrong card, you can pay too much for rewards that you may not use.

United Mileage Plus Explorer Card from Chase and United Airlines

Today, Chase and United Airlines introduced the new United Mileage Plus Explorer Card. Cardholders and one traveling companion receive their first checked bag free–worth up to $100 per roundtrip. New cardmembers receive
25,000 MileagePlus bonus miles after the first purchase which may be enough for a free domestic ticket. In addition, cardholders receive 10,000 bonus miles with $25,000 in eligible spend each calendar year. Cardmembers receive two
United airport club passes on their membership anniversary date. You also receive priority boarding that allows you to board prior to general boarding, giving you earlier access to overhead space. The miles earned in this program will not expire as long as program members are MileagePlus Explorer Cardmembers. These benefits are also available on the Continental OnePass Plus Card (offered to Continental customers through 2011). The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard from Citi and American Airlines

Yesterday, Citi and American Airlines introduced the new Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard. The baggage charge is waived for cardholders and up to eight companions traveling under the same itinerary. Cardholders also receive priority check-in for airport screening and boarding plus unlimited access to lounges for cardmember and immediate family or up to two traveling guests. New cardmembers will receive 10,000 AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles after the first $40,000 in eligible net purchases made on the card within a calendar year plus 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage point miles after $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of cardmembership (which may be enough for a free domestic ticket). There are no foreign transaction fees and EMV chip technology will be added later this year for cardholders who use the card outside the United States, which is good news for frequent international travelers. Concierge service is provided for cardholders. The perks are good, but the costs are high–the APR is 15.24% and the annual fee is $450.

These cards follow aggressive promotions the have been offered on other cards in 2011. Earlier this month, Southwest Airlines introduced the Rapid Rewards Premier card from Chase which offers 50,000 points after your first purchase, enough for two free roundtrip flights to almost anywhere Southwest flies. Chase made a big splash in April when it offered 100,000 miles to new applicants for the British Airways Visa Signature Card. In March, Capital One promoted a “Match My Miles Challenge” on their Venture Card–it matched up to 100,000 miles a consumer had in any airline credit card rewards program once the new cardholder spent $1,000 in the first three months on the card.

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The information contained within this article was accurate as of July 20, 2011. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.

About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue