Should You Get a Travel Rewards Card or an Airline Credit Card?

iQuanti: Travel and airline credit cards both offer you ways to earn rewards for your travels — rewards you can use to save on future traveling.
However, each serves a different purpose and type of traveler.
Below, we’ll explore their pros and cons so you can help figure out which type of card is best for you.
Pros of Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Flexibility
The best travel credit cards reward you on every travel-related purchase. Everything on the trip — airline, hotel, rental car, restaurants, and more — can help you earn points.
Redemption is also quite flexible. You can redeem points for future travel expenses, but you may even be able to cash out your points for non-travel transactions such as buying gift cards or using them while online shopping.
Broad Perks
Travel cards come with broad travel perks. Some of these include airport lounge access, an annual travel credit, free TSA Precheck, and more. Airline cards offer perks as well, but they’re much narrower as they’re typically confined to one airline.
Cons of Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Lower Earning Potential
Travel cards offer more chances to earn, but you typically earn a flat rate of 1-3x points on purchases. Airline cards may have variable rates and could reward you a lot more for your loyalty.
Hefty Annual Fees
Both airline and travel cards tend to have annual fees. However, travel cards generally have more, especially as you climb into more elite cards. These fees can be worth it with the perks for frequent flyers, but it depends on how often you fly and if you often use different airlines.
Pros of Airline Credit Cards
High Rewards on Your Favorite Airline
Airline credit cards can offer excellent rates on all purchases relevant to flying with them, from booking a ticket to buying in-flight meals and more. It’s perfect if you frequently fly with one airline.
Plenty of Airline Perks
Airline cards also offer a host of other perks for your loyalty, like free checked bags, seat upgrades, and priority boarding.
Cons of Airline Credit Cards
Less Flexibility
Airline credit cards offer plenty of good stuff within the specific airline you chose, but nowhere else — whether at another airline or another type of travel purchase. Some travel credit cards will even offer rewards for non-air travel, which can include everything from public transportation to gas.
Narrower Perks Elsewhere
All the other flight perks might be nice, but some travelers don’t care too much about these. If you don’t care for the other flight-specific perks, you may not get as much value out of an airline card.
The Verdict: Travel Rewards vs. Airline Cards
The verdict here is fairly simple — are you loyal to one airline or not?
Travel rewards cards are best if you’re less loyal to airlines and prefer maximum flexibility in your free or discounted travels.
However, if you prefer a specific airline, the airline card is the way to go. They can offer much higher rewards, plenty of perks, and accelerate elite status membership — all assuming you consistently use that specific airline, of course.
Either way, you get a lot of free things. If you can get both, however, that could offer the most potential for free travel and other perks.
Source: iQuanti, Inc.