Best Air Miles Credit Cards

Learn all about air miles credit cards.

Updated: May 21, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

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Reward credit cards aren't a new concept. For years, people have been earning rewards like nectar points, shopping vouchers, and even cash back for simply making purchases with their credit cards.

Some rewards credit cards have specific points you can earn and redeem, and an air mile credit card is no different.

Air miles credit cards are ideal for keen travellers.

An array of credit cards are available to you that reward you with air miles just for making your regular everyday purchases. Air miles can make all the difference to your travelling plans, from discounted flights to upgrades. So, more air miles means more travelling adventures.

In this article, you'll learn all about air miles credit cards, how they work, the pros and cons, and we'll introduce you to the six best air miles credit cards.

Card NameScoreDetails
1. British Airways American Express Credit Card★★★★★Click Here
2. Barclaycard Avios Credit Card★★★★★Click Here
3. Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card★★★★★Click Here
4. Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card★★★★★Click Here
5. Barclaycard Avios Plus Card★★★★Click Here
6. American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card★★★★Click Here

What Are Air Miles Credit Cards?

An air miles credit card is a reward credit card that runs a loyalty scheme that pays you in air mile points. Depending on which company you go with, the points may be called different things, such as Virgin points or Avios points.

Earned air miles allow you to get money off travel expenses such as flights, upgrades and other travel-related perks. All you have to do is make purchases with an air miles credit card to earn points. You can save these points and use them at a later date.

Air Miles Credit Cards: Pros and Cons

Like any credit card, an air miles card has its own pros and cons.

In this section, you'll learn all the information you need to help you make sure air miles credit cards are the right option for your needs.

Pros

✔️ Bonuses: many credit card providers offer a sign-up bonus to help you accumulate air miles quickly. Some companies run promotion days that allow you to earn more bonus points.

✔️ Perks: some air mile credit cards come with a free companion ticket, allowing you to bring an extra person on the flight. If you’re a solo traveller, you can trade in the companion ticket for discounts with an airline.

✔️ Complimentary airport lounge access: some air mile credit cards give you free access to airport lounges and priority boarding, making travelling all that little bit more comfortable.

✔️ Earn for regular spending: if you use your credit card for everyday purposes, you can switch to an air miles credit card and earn points for everyday purchases making the most of your money.

✔️ Redeeming points for other perks: air miles can often be exchanged for rewards like days out, or hotel stays so you can make the most of your travels.

✔️ Merge your air miles points: if you've already got an air miles card but are looking for a new one, perhaps one with a better offer, some providers allow you to merge your air miles so you can have them all in one place.

Cons

❌️ Annual Fee: some air miles credit cards have hefty annual fees, and depending on how much you travel, sometimes these cards aren't worth it because of the fee alone. However, you'll probably get your money's worth if you like to fly a lot.

❌️ Not a completely free flight: saving up enough air points may cover the cost of a flight or two. However, you may still have to pay taxes and other charges for the flight and services.

❌️ Terms and Conditions: it's essential to check all T&Cs as some cards may restrict your use of your accumulated air miles.

❌️ Flight availability: flight availability can be limited when booking a flight using air miles. Booking in advance can help improve limited flight availability.

Best Air Miles Credit Cards — Reviews

We have compiled a list of the 6 best air miles credit cards.

1. British Airways American Express Credit Card

British Airways American Express Credit Card

British Airways American Express Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £700
Representative % APR (variable)
30.0% APR
  • Collect 1 Avios for every £1 spent on purchases.
  • Invite friends, get rewarded.
  • No annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 30.0% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 30.0% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

  • Annual fee: No fees.
  • Sign-up bonus: Get 5,000 bonus Avios points if you spend a minimum of £1,000 in the first three months.
  • APR: 30% variable.

Representative APR example: a 30% variable purchase rate, with a 30% representative APR with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

The British Airways American Express Credit Card allows you to earn one Avios point for every £1 spent on your credit card.

Additionally, once you have this card, you can earn bonus air miles ranging from 4,000 to 90,000 for inviting a friend to apply for a rewards credit card with American Express. When you add your first Supplementary card to your account, you can earn an extra 1,000 Avios.

You can get a companion voucher when you spend £12,000 each membership year on the card. You can use the voucher to bring a friend along with you on a flight, or if you're travelling solo, you can use it for a 50% discount on the Avios price you pay for the flight.

You can apply for a credit card and receive a decision in as little as 60 seconds, and you can check your eligibility before you use it to prevent any impact on your credit rating.

On top of outstanding rewards, you'll benefit from purchase and refund protection, American Express experiences, Global Assist, and travel accident insurance up to £75,000 on public transport when you buy your ticket with your card.

2. Barclaycard Avios Credit Card

Barclaycard Avios Credit Card

Barclaycard Avios Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £50
Representative % APR (variable)
28.9% APR
  • Collect 1 Avios for every £1 you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Free Apple subscriptions.
  • No annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 28.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 28.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

  • Annual fee: £0.
  • Sign-up bonus: New Barclaycard members collect 5,000 Avios points when you spend £1,000 in the first three months. If you're already a Barclaycard member, you'll get a bonus of £1,000.
  • APR: 28.9% variable.

Representative APR example: a 28.9% variable purchase rate, with a 28.9% representative APR with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

With the Barclaycard Avios Credit Card, you collect 1 Avios for every £1 you spend on the credit card. When you spend £20,000 on your card within 12 months, you can choose an upgrade voucher for a British Airways cabin to use on an Avios Reward Flight booking, or you can have a 7,000 bonus Avios points.

Avios is the British Airways Executive Club's reward currency, so that you can spend Avios points on flights, upgrades, hotel stays, car hire, and more.

On top of great air miles rewards, Barclays gives you up to five months free of Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Ftiness+, Apple News+, and Apple Arcade for free. You’ll also gain access to Barclaycard Entertainment, where you can save money on selected live events, festival presales and other customer-only perks.

If you already bank with Barclays with Premier Banking, you can switch on Barclays Avios Rewards to collect even more Avios through your everyday banking using your direct debit card with a £12 monthly fee.

3. Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card
Credit Limit
Subject to status
Representative % APR (variable)
26.9% APR
  • Earn Virgin points.
  • Spend £20,000 in a year to unlock exclusive benefits.
  • No annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 26.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 26.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

  • Annual fee: None.
  • Sign-up bonus: None.
  • APR: 26.9% variable.

Representative APR example: a 26.9% variable purchase rate, with a 26.9% representative APR with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

The Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card allows you to earn 0.75 virgin points for every £1 you spend on everyday card purchases and 1.5 virgin points for every £1 you spend with Virgin Holidays or Virgin Atlantic.

When you spend £20,000 a year on your card, you unlock exclusive benefits such as companion vouchers for flights and seat upgrades.

Although this credit card has no annual fees, there is a foreign exchange fee. As part of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, you can work up the Red, Silver and Gold tier system, earn more rewards, and have a more comprehensive selection.

With this card, you can benefit from fee-free balance transfers for the first six months. Additionally, you benefit from cashback deals with Virgin Money Back.

4. Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card
Credit Limit
Subject to status
Representative % APR (variable)
69.7% APR
  • Earn Virgin points.
  • Spend £10,000 in a year to unlock exclusive benefits.
  • £160 annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 26.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 69.7% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

  • Annual fee: £160.
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 15,000 bonus virgin points if you make a purchase using your Reward+ Card in the first 90 days.
  • APR: 69.7% variable.

Representative APR example: a 26.9% variable purchase rate, with a 69.7% representative APR with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card allows you to get 1.5 Virgin Points for every £1 you spend on everyday card purchases, and you can earn 3 points for every £1 spent with Virgin Holidays or Virgin Atlantic. Additionally, if you spend at least £10,000 a year on your air miles credit card, you'll unlock exclusive benefits like upgrades and companion flights.

With this card, you can benefit from fee-free balance transfers for the first six months. However, a foreign exchange fee may be applied for transactions made abroad.

Your Reward+ card gives you access to free global Wi-Fi through Boingo, so you'll have access to over one million hotspots worldwide, including inflight access at selected aircraft and airlines.

5. Barclaycard Avios Plus Card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £50
Representative % APR (variable)
78.9% APR
  • Airport lounge membership.
  • Collect 1.5 Avios for every £1 you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Free Apple subscriptions.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 28.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 78.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

  • Monthly fee: £20.
  • Sign-up bonus: New Barclaycard users can collect 25,000 Avios points when they spend £3,000 in the first three months.
  • APR: 78.9% variable.

Representative APR example: a 28.9% variable purchase rate, with a 78.9% representative APR with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

The Barclaycard Avios Plus Card has a higher APR rate. However, the rewards are high too. For every £1 spent on the credit card, you'll earn 1.5 Avios points. If you spend at least £10,000 on the card within 12 months, you can benefit from a British Airways card upgrade and a 7,000 bonus Avios points.

On top of higher rewards, you'll gain access to Airport Lounge Membership which allows you access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide at a discounted rate. Additionally, you can take advantage of up to five months of Apple subscriptions such as Apple TV+, Apple Music, Apple Fitness+, and more.

You’ll also gain access to Barclaycard Entertainment, where you can save money on selected live events, festival presales and other customer-only perks. You can also add cardholders for free.

If you open the Barclaycard Avios Plus for £20 a month and switch on the Barclays Avios Rewards as a Premier Customer for a £12 monthly fee, they'll give you £5 back into your current account every month.

6. American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £700
Representative % APR (variable)
74.2% APR
  • Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £3,000 in your first three months of Cardmembership.
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access.
  • Annual fee £160 (£0 for the first year).

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 30.0% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 74.2% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

  • Annual fee: £160.
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 25,000 membership rewards points when you spend £3,000 in the first three months of card membership; the offer ends on 8th August.
  • APR: 74.2% variable.

Representative APR example: a 30% variable purchase rate, with a 74.2% representative APR with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

With the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card, you can get 3 points for every £1 spent on American Express Travel, 2 points for every £1 on purchases made directly with airlines and 1 point for every £1 spent on everyday spending.

You can benefit from earning an extra 9,000 membership rewards points if you invite a friend and they're approved for an American Express Rewards card. You can earn up to 90,000 loyalty points annually for referring a friend.

With this rewards credit card, you can take advantage of four complimentary Priority Pass airport visits a year, giving you access to over 1,300 airports globally. Additionally, you can get a points boost of 2,500 every time you spend £5,000 on the card and earn up to 12,500 bonus points per year.

As a gold card member, you’ll gain access to exclusive experiences such as cocktail making masterclass with Casamigos and behind-the-scenes Q&A with The Athletic at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. You can also take advantage of an exclusive Deliveroo benefit to get £5 back on your order twice a month. 

How to Choose an Air Miles Credit Card

If you're a frequent flyer, an air miles card may be exactly what you need.

To ensure you choose the best air miles credit card, consider the following attributes:

  • Airlines: not all air miles credit cards are eligible for all airlines, so you should check this before applying. If you've got a preferred airline to fly with, you'll want to ensure your chosen air miles card points are compatible with that airline.
  • APR rates: you want to look for a card that allows you to pay as low-interest fees as possible. However, if you pay back your credit balance on time and in full every month, you shouldn't have to worry too much about APR rates, but it's always something to be wary of if you miss payments.
  • How often you travel: if you're a keen traveller who flies multiple times a year, you can reap the many benefits of an air miles card. If you fly only once a year or once every two years, there may be a better travel card for you. The idea is that you save more money on flights than what you pay for the card's annual fee.
  • Annual fee: if you plan to use your card to make everyday purchases, you'll quickly rack up those loyalty points, but if you don't use your card often, you could end up paying a high fee for something you won't see the benefits of. Ensure you get your money's worth.
  • Earning limits: some air miles credit cards limit how many air miles points you can earn monthly. Usually, the limit matches your credit limit, so if your credit limit is £5,000, you can only earn points on that £5,000.
  • Credit score: some reward credit card companies require an excellent credit rating, so this is something to be aware of when checking your eligibility for a credit card. Most companies provide an eligibility checker you can use before filling out an application that doesn’t harm your credit file.
  • Travel location: check which airlines accept the air miles you collect. For example, if you fly a lot within Europe, Avios Points would be the most suitable choice as they are compatible with several airlines that operate in that region. Some airlines have an alliance with partner airlines which means you may be able to use your points on different airlines, but it's always important to check this beforehand.

Before you dive right into applying for the first card you see, look at a wide range of air miles credit cards to ensure you find the one best suited to your needs. Look at the best cards we recommended and any others you may come across whilst researching.

How Does an Air Miles Credit Card Work?

Air miles credit cards work much like any other credit card. You use the credit balance to pay for items and then pay back the balance each month to avoid paying interest.

What makes an air miles credit card different is that you earn air miles, or points, for making purchases. The amount of air miles you earn will depend on the provider. The idea is you collect air miles and use them for travelling.

There are three parts to using your air miles care: earning points, maximising points, and spending points.

Earn Air Miles for Spending Money

You must use your air miles reward card to earn points for shopping. You could use your card for everyday purchases, and as long as you pay back the balance each month, you can continue to earn air miles. You collect points and use them at a later date- it's that simple!

 It’s important to know that most credit card providers only allow you to earn points for the amount of your credit card balance, so if your credit limit is £5,000, you can only earn points on that £5,000.

For example, if you go over your credit limit, you won’t earn points on anything over the limit.

The standard points earned is around 1 point per pound. Some airline credit cards may offer a higher or lower point earning rate. You can only earn airline points for certain credit cards for specific airlines, so it's good to check if you can redeem your points with your preferred airline.

Maximising Air Miles

To ensure you earn the maximum points, you can add another cardholder to your credit card so they can earn you additional points when they spend on the card. Yes, you can add cardholders, which is excellent for shared households.

The more you use the card, the more reward points you'll earn. To maximise your air miles further, try to cover any business expenses on your credit card and then claim costs back from your company.

Watch for promotions run by your card provider to earn extra air miles. Most companies will reward you for referring a friend, but only if they're accepted. So, you can collect air miles simply by inviting your friends to invest in an air miles card.

Many companies offer a sign-up bonus, so watch for a great deal when filling out your application for extra points.

Redeem Points for Cheaper Travelling

Once you've saved enough air miles, you can use them to pay towards flights, upgrade your seat, or pay for day trips or hotel stays.

Some air miles cards give you lounge access to make travelling more glamorous and comfortable. Most providers allow you to redeem a companion ticket so you don't have to travel alone so that a companion can enjoy your credit card benefits too.

Contact your card provider and reward loyalty service to redeem your air miles.

Final Thoughts

Aim to use your air miles credit card as much as you can to ensure you earn as many air miles as possible. Using your credit card as much as possible will help build your air miles just in time for your next travelling adventure. You can create the trip of a lifetime with a whole bunch of air miles!

Remember to repay your card balance on time each month to continue earning air miles and making the most of your future travelling adventures.

Happy spending and earning travel rewards!

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