There are a number of different types of travel reward credit cards on the market today, giving consumers a lot of different options on how to use their purchases to their advantage. Some of these travel reward credit cards translate directly into miles on airlines, while others give the consumer a laundry list of options on what to do with their reward points.
American Express was one of the first credit card companies to offer travel rewards with their credit cards, even if it was not directly. When American Express started giving points to customers that were equal to the amount of money spent using their cards, they established a rewards program that included a number of travel opportunities. These included free flights, hotel rooms and reservations at deluxe resorts if a high enough point total was accrued. Card members with gold or platinum cards were able to obtain points at a greater rate.
Once the popularity of these cards was established, card companies began to establish alliances with airlines around the world, offering travel rewards with their credit cards. Credit card companies like American Express teamed with airlines like Delta, while Citibank and Visa teamed with Continental Airlines. International airlines like Lufthansa and British Airways have also joined forces with credit card companies. With most of these travel rewards credit cards, every dollar spent by the consumer translates into points, or miles, accrued. When the point or mileage total reaches a certain level, the consumer can be eligible for free flights or upgrades from economy to business or first class.
Some travel rewards credit cards offer a number of points or miles upfront, so the consumer may get to totals for free flights or hotel stays faster. But some of the better travel rewards credit cards require the consumer to pay a substantial membership fee upfront before any points are accrued. The credit card issuers believe the ability accrue rewards faster will attract applicants in spite of the upfront cost.
Travel rewards credit cards are becoming increasingly popular, as card users look for more out of their credit cards. The opportunity to translate their grocery and gas purchases into an all-expenses paid trip is highly appealing to many consumers.