If you are a frequent flyer whether for official purposes or for enjoying vacations, there is some good news for you. You can get a few free flight tickets every year through your credit card. It depends on the card you hold, the amount spent, the spending pattern, etc. In this article, we will look at some ways in which your credit card can help you get free flight tickets.
Some credit cards give you a benefit on the payment of the joining fee. The benefit can be in the form of a travel ticket or a gift voucher. For example, the Axis Vistara co-branded cards offer a complimentary ticket as a welcome benefit. The complimentary ticket can be a business class, premium economy, or economy ticket depending on the credit card variant. You can use the ticket to book a one-way flight within India.
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Annual spend-based milestones
Some credit cards reward you for achieving specific annual spend-based milestones. For example, the American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card offers 15,000 bonus reward points on spending Rs. 1.9 lakhs in a card membership year. These points can be used for booking flight tickets.
Similarly, when the spends on the American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card cross Rs. 4 lakhs in the same year, you get additional 25,000 bonus reward points. These points can be used for booking flight tickets.
The Axis Vistara Card has the following annual milestone spends for free economy tickets.
|Amount spent in a year||Milestone benefit|
|Rs. 1,25,000||1 economy class ticket|
|Rs. 2,50,000||1 economy class ticket|
|Rs. 6,00,000||1 economy class ticket|
Thus, for an annual spending of Rs. 6 lakhs, you can get 3 economy class tickets free.
Co-branded travel credit cards: Earning air miles
Some co-branded credit cards give you air miles for every Rs. 100-200 spent with the credit card. For example, the Axis Vistara Card offers 2 Club Vistara (CV) points for every Rs. 200 spent. You can accumulate the CV points and later redeem them for booking Vistara award flights.
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Spend based offers
Some credit cards send you spend-based offers from time to time. For example, American Express sends spend-based offers to many users, regularly. A spend-based offer may read as: “Get a gift voucher worth Rs. 2,000 on spending Rs. 50,000 on your American Express Membership Rewards Credit Card (MRCC) between 15 February to 15 April 2023”. The gift voucher options include brands like Amazon, Flipkart, etc.
You can complete the spend-based offer and opt for Amazon/Flipkart vouchers, and then use them for booking flights.
Booking flight tickets and paying with reward points
Some credit cards allow you to pay for online transactions with their reward points. In this case, you can book flight tickets, either on the airline website or the OTA website and pay with credit card reward points.
For example, IDFC FIRST Bank allows you to pay with reward points for online transactions. So, you can use the reward points for paying online for flight tickets or any other purpose.
Redeeming reward points for gift vouchers
If your bank doesn’t allow you to use reward points for online transactions, don’t worry. You can always redeem the reward points for gift vouchers from brands such as Amazon, Flipkart, or online travel aggregators (OTAs), such as MakeMyTrip, Yatra, etc. You can then use the gift vouchers for booking flight tickets, either on Amazon, Flipkart, or the OTA website.
For example, HDFC Bank allows you to redeem points for gift vouchers from Flipkart, Amazon, OTAs, and 100s of other brands. The redemption rate is usually Rs. 0.25 per reward point. For premium cards, the redemption rate is Rs. 0.50 per reward point. Once in a while, the bank comes up with limited-time offers, wherein the redemption rate offered is higher at Rs. 0.70 per reward point.
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Redeeming reward points for booking flight tickets on the bank portal
Some banks provide separate portals for redeeming credit card reward points for various purposes. For example, HDFC Bank provides the SmartBuy portal for redeeming credit card reward points for booking flight tickets, hotel accommodation, gift vouchers, Apple products, etc.
When you redeem HDFC Infinia Credit Card reward points for booking flights through the SmartBuy portal, you get a value of Rs. 1 per reward point.
Transferring reward points to FFPs
If you are well-versed with airmiles, you can transfer your credit card reward points to frequent flyer programs (FFPs). The airmiles can then be used for booking award flight seats.
For example, for domestic flights, credit cards of Axis Bank and some other banks allow you to transfer reward points to Club Vistara (CV), the FFP of Vistara. Similarly, for international flights, HDFC Bank allows you to transfer reward points to KrisFlyer, the FFP of Singapore Airlines. American Express, Axis Bank, and HDFC Bank have multiple transfer partners for hotels and airlines. You can choose the transfer partner as per your requirement.
Transferring credit card reward points to FFP and then using them for booking award flight seats is one of the best ways of getting maximum value for your credit card reward points. Usually, the value derived is between Rs. 0.50 to Rs. 2.00 per reward point. On some occasions, you may get a value beyond this range.
Credit cards are a handy tool to earn free flight tickets
Many of us use credit cards regularly for our monthly expenses. However, if we try to put most of our need-based expenses on credit cards, and make the best use of offers on our credit cards, we can get a few flight tickets free of cost every year. It is up to you, whether you want to use these free flight tickets for work-related trips or leisure vacations.
Gopal Gidwani is a freelance personal finance content writer with 15+ years of experience. He can be reached at LinkedIn