At a Glance

When choosing a travel credit card, many people are faced with deciding whether to opt for a card that offers miles or points. Both options can provide significant benefits for travelers, but understanding the differences between the two is essential in making an informed choice. Let’s delve into the disparities between miles and points, discuss when to use each card type, and provide guidance on which option might best suit your travel goals.

In this article, you’ll learn:



The estimated number of people that have earned at least 1,000,000 frequent flyer miles in their respective rewards programs.

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Know your travel goals before deciding between miles or points

Before delving into the specifics of miles and points, it is crucial to identify your travel goals. Determine the destinations you wish to visit, the airlines or hotel chains you prefer, and the frequency of your travels. Understanding your travel habits and aspirations will help you make a more informed decision when choosing between a miles or points credit card.

Miles vs. points

Similarities Differences
High rewards earning rates based on spend categories Miles will need to be redeemed only through airline partners
The redemption option includes travel related items Points can often be redeemed for cash-back and statement credits
Points and miles can be redeemed with airlines directly Points are earned based on spend amount whereas miles are typically earned by distance traveled

When should you use a points credit card?

A points credit card is suitable for individuals who value flexibility and enjoy having options when redeeming their rewards. If you prefer to have the freedom to choose from a wide range of airlines, hotels, and other travel-related services, a points credit card can provide greater versatility. Additionally, if your travel plans involve a mix of airlines or hotels, a points credit card allows you to accumulate rewards across multiple brands.

When to use a miles-earning card?

If you are a frequent traveler who prefers to stick with a specific airline or hotel chain, a miles-earning credit card aligned with that brand might be the better choice. Using a miles-earning card, you can accumulate rewards tailored to your preferred airline or hotel, maximizing benefits such as free flights, upgrades, priority boarding, and more. However, it’s important to note that the value of miles can vary depending on the airline’s redemption policies and the availability of flights.

Which type of travel credit card is right for you?

Determining which type of credit card is right for your travel needs ultimately depends on your preferences and travel habits. Consider the following pointers:

1. Miles

  • Choose a miles-earning credit card if you primarily fly with one airline or its partner airlines.
  • Enjoy free flights, seat upgrades, priority boarding, and lounge access.
  • Benefit from airline-specific rewards programs and partnerships.
  • Make use of travel benefits, such as checked baggage allowances and travel insurance.

2. Points

  • Opt for a points credit card if you value flexibility and prefer to choose from various airlines and hotels.
  • Enjoy the freedom to use your points for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel-related expenses.
  • Benefit from transferring points to airline and hotel loyalty programs for increased redemption value.
  • Maximize rewards by taking advantage of promotional offers and bonus point categories.

When does it make sense to get both?

Sometimes it makes sense to get both a miles and points credit card. If your two primary expenses are travel and various categories such as food, entertainment, and more, and you only use one airline, having both cards in your wallet can help. You’ll essentially maximize your points by diversifying which credit card is used for specific expenses.

How to choose the best travel credit card

Deciding on a travel credit card for your wallet can feel like an impossible decision, especially considering how many options there are. The best way to pick the perfect card is to evaluate your current spending habits related to travel and compare those categories to the rewards categories offered by miles or points cards you are looking at. Additionally, don’t forget to factor the annual fee, if applicable, and smaller details such as foreign transaction fees into your decision.

Compare: Best Travel Credit Cards

Things to consider before you start collecting points or miles

Before diving headfirst into the world of points and miles, it’s important to consider the following factors:

1. Know your credit score

Credit card rewards programs often require a good credit score for approval. Before applying for a travel credit card, check your credit score and ensure it meets the card requirements you wish to obtain. Maintaining a good credit score is also essential for future financial endeavors.

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2. Pay the full amount of the bill

To fully benefit from credit card rewards, paying the full balance on time each month is crucial. Carrying a balance and paying interest on a credit card can quickly negate the value of any rewards earned.

3. Limit cash usage

Using a travel credit card for everyday expenses allows you to earn rewards faster. Use your credit card instead of cash for purchases to accumulate points or miles more efficiently whenever possible.


The choice between points and miles depends on your travel preferences and goals. Points offer more flexibility and can be used across various airlines and hotels, while miles are ideal for individuals loyal to a specific airline or hotel brand.

Sometimes, paying with credit card points does not earn additional miles. However, it’s essential to review the specific terms and conditions of your credit card and rewards program for accurate information.

Yes, using credit card points can be worth it, especially if you frequently travel and take advantage of the rewards program’s benefits. However, it’s important to consider the redemption value and associated fees when using points.

A miles card offers airline-specific benefits, including free or discounted flights, seat upgrades, priority boarding, and access to airline lounges. It caters to individuals who prefer a particular airline or its partner airlines.

Yes, in most cases you will be allowed to transfer your credit card points to a hotel or airline program, though not all travel cards offer this. Be sure to read the redemption options for a travel card you are considering to be sure it is possible.

The specific value of a single point or single mile translated into USD will vary from credit card issuer to credit card issuer. Additionally, the value will fluctuate depending upon which partner you redeem the points with. To know what the true value is, login to your redemption portal for your credit card and act as if you are going to redeem the points. The majority of card issuers tell you what the USD value equates to.