Ask an Expert: Best Card for Airline Points?

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How do you earn rewards with an airline that has no frequent flier program?

A Money Talks News reader recently wrote in with the following question:

My husband and I are starting an agricultural business of organic produce, beef, and chicken. Read: lots of start up costs with building materials for a barn, barbed wire fencing, trailers, and so on. Of course, our personal credit cards are paid off each and every month.

What business credit card would you recommend to maximize airline points? We’re new to this concept and we obviously live in a rural area without access to major airlines. The closest airport only has small commuter planes exclusively with Great Lakes Airlines. My precursory research hasn’t found any points for or with this particular airline.

Also, while you’re at it, can you direct us toward resources or your posts for a primer on how to work the system, both in accumulation of points and redeeming airline tickets? Again, we’re new to this point system concept, but not at all about finance and credit responsibility.

Thank you,
Lorie

My response

Great question, Lorie. To start, Great Lakes is a carrier that is commonly referred to as a regional or commuter airline. And while it does sell tickets for its own flights, most passengers travel on Great Lakes as part of a code-share with a larger carrier such as United, Frontier, or US Airways.

Great Lakes does not offer its own frequent flier program, but when you fly with them you can earn miles in the program of the carrier you purchased your ticket from. Likewise, you can redeem miles from its code-share partners for use on Great Lakes flights. But since it only operates 19- and 30-seat turbo-props, you will probably find some difficulty obtaining award seats.

So you have two options…

  1. Get a credit card that is affiliated with Great Lakes’ code-share partners. So if your local Great Lakes flight routes you through Denver, you could get a business credit card from United or Frontier.
  2. Get a card that earns points in a flexible program where you could redeem points for miles on several different airlines or directly for travel. My favorite business cards right now are the Ink Bold charge card and Ink Plus credit card from Chase. These cards earn points in their Ultimate Rewards program that can be transferred to airline miles or hotel points in several different programs. Or, they can be used directly for the purchase of airline tickets.

Finally, here are a few articles that will get you started on working the system when it comes to points and miles:

(Note: While we attempt to be completely objective when reporting on credit cards, this site may be compensated by issuers when a reader applies for a credit card through the links within credit card stories or on our credit card search page.)

Stacy Johnson

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