Consumer Payment Card News

Card Miles

Reward credit cards offering air miles, and not affiliated with any airline, average 1.6 cents per mile, significantly less than the 2.5 to 3.0 cents per mile offered by credit cards sponsored by a specific airline. However, the non-affiliated air mile programs do offer lower redemption thresholds than the typical 25,000 miles needed to get a free domestic ticket. Overall, Diners Club offers the best value and the most flexibility of all the non-affiliated cards offering air mile options. Diners “Club Rewards” cardholders can convert their points-to-miles, effectively earning one air mile on any major U.S. airline for each dollar charged. American Express cardholders who earn double “Membership Reward points” can do the same but are limited in their choice of U.S. airlines. Discover cardholders can get a value as high as 2.2 cents per mile if they use their miles to fly to Canada or Mexico, otherwise domestic tickets carry a 2.0 cent per mile value and discount certificates have a 1.0 cent per mile value. Among VISA and MasterCard issuers, Fleet’s “Miles Edge” program ranks the highest in value while Capital One’s “Go Miles” and Bank One’s “Travel Plus” programs offer the least value. However, Capital One and Bank One programs do offer the lowest redemption thresholds of 9,000 miles and 5,000 miles, respectively.

                        REDEMPTION VALUE PER MILE

                 CREDIT  CARD                     VALUE             MINIMUM
                 Diners Club                       2.5 cents         25,000
                 American Express              1.2-2.5 cents         25,000
                 Discover Miles                1.0-2.2 cents         10,000
                 Fleet Miles Edge              1.8-2.0 cents         18,000
                 Bank of America Travel Plus       1.6 cents         10,000
                 MBNA WorldPoints                  1.6 cents         25,000
                 Capital One Go Miles              1.1 cents          9,000
                 Bank One Travel Plus              1.0 cents          5,000
                       Source: CardTrak (www.cardtrak.com)

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