How to Earn Free Airfare with Credit Card RewardsReviewAdvice

How to Earn Free Airfare with Credit Card Rewards

One of the biggest complaints about the cost of travel is the fact that airfare is so darn expensive. Having a family obviously compounds the problem as well- the more tickets you have to buy, the higher the cost. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to take the sting out of the high cost of airfare, or even make it free in some cases. The bad news is, you might have to jump through a few hoops to get there.

Let's start with a one of the best airline travel rewards cards out there:

Citi Platinum Advantage MasterCard

The Citi Platinum Aadvantage World MasterCard offers a way to start racking up some serious points and miles. Start by spending $1,000 within three months of card ownership in order to meet the minimum spending requirement. You'll then be rewarded with 30,000 bonus AA miles- a fairly big haul depending on your travel plans. In addition to the bonus miles, you'll also earn 2 miles/$1 spent with American Airlines and 1 point/$1 spent on everything else. The $95 annual fee is also waived the first year.

While 30,000 miles might not sound like a lot, they can actually take you quite far. The following chart explains how many AA points are required for a one-way ticket to various destinations:


Off-peak Dates

Miles Required


January 12 - March 13 and August 22 - December 15


Caribbean and Mexico

September 7 - November 14


Central America, Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela

January 16 – June 14; September 7 – November 14


Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay

March 1 – May 31; August 16 – November 30



October 1 - April 30



October 15 - May 15


As you can see, 30,000 miles is more than enough for a round-trip ticket from the U.S. to the Caribbean or Mexico. It's even enough for a one-way ticket to many places in Europe!

How to Earn Free Airfare with Credit Card Rewards

Barclay Arrival World Plus World Elite MasterCard

Don't want to deal with redeeming miles at a specific airline? The good news is, you don't have to. The Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard allows you to sidestep all of the red tape and book with any airline of your choice. Start by spending $3,000 within 90 days of opening your account to earn 40,000 bonus miles. Keep in mind, you also earn 2 points/$1 spent on all purchases. That means that, once you're done meeting the minimum spending requirement, you'll net at least $460 in travel credit.

Once you're ready to redeem your points, you can simply book any flight with any airline you want. Most of the time, $460 is plenty to cover a domestic round-trip ticket within the continental United States. And since the $89 annual fee is waived on this card, you can try it out without too much of a commitment.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Looking for another creative way to score free airfare? The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers just what you need- Ultimate Rewards points. Start by spending $3,000 within 90 days of account opening to earn the bonus of 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points. More good news: You can earn an additional 5,000 points if you add an authorized user and they use the card to make a purchase within the first 90 days. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year and you earn 2 points/$1 spent on travel and dining and 1 point/$1 spent on everything else. But what do 45,000 Ultimate Rewards points get you?

First of all, Ultimate Rewards points are transferable at a 1:1 ratio to the following airlines:

  • British Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Southwest
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Singapore Airlines

That means your 45K UR points can easily turn into 45,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards miles or 45,000 British Airways Avios. If you don't want to mess with a specific airline, you can also redeem your 45,000 Ultimate Rewards points as $450 in cold, hard cash-back.

In addition to those options, Chase Ultimate Rewards offers a travel portal where you can use UR points to shop for airfare with any airline. Better yet, they offer a 20 percent discount when you use Ultimate Rewards points to pay your fare.

Airfare can be incredibly expensive, especially when you need to buy a ticket for more than just one person. That's why these types of rewards are so important- they're easy to earn and easy to use. Travel rewards also help families everywhere get where they need to go without wrecking the family budget. To some families, there is nothing more rewarding than that.

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