When you consider which frequent flier credit card program is best, ask yourself two questions: Will I be able to get benefits from the dominant airline(s) in my region? Which one will earn the quickest ticket with the fewest strings attached?
Airline-Sponsored Credit Cards
These allow you to focus on a single airline. If that airline has a hub in your city (or nearby), it may control most of the routes to potential destinations. This will make it convenient, efficient, and therefore economical in many cases.
Bank-Sponsored Credit Cards
These cards allow more flexibility, because the miles earned can be used on many airlines rather than just one. If you don't have a dominant airline in your region, these cards probably are your best bet. They have other advantages, too: sometimes the minimum mileage required for travel is lower than with airline-sponsored cards. But these cards usually come with more fine print, too.
Comparing Benefits and Terms
For many of us, picking a credit card that earns air miles won't turn on whether it's a bank or airline offering. We just want the best deal. Period. Here's a brief comparison of some popular cards.