Branded travel cards are an effort to attract and reward consumers who remain loyal to a company. Airline credit cards are a great example.

When you use an airline credit card, you’re going to get special perks that are not typically available to other credit card users. And, the more you fly with that airline, the greater the value you’ll get from picking an airline credit card.

But, if you look at the airline credit cards that are available, you’ll notice that nearly all of them come with an annual fee of at least about $100. To some people, paying any annual fee is a bad move. With an airline card that matches your travel patterns, the annual fee may well be worth it.

Airline credit cards tend to offer free checked bags, priority boarding and airport lounge passes. If you add up the individual costs of these perks, you would have recouped the value of the annual fee. Then, there’s also the bonus miles that you earn when you purchase tickets through the airline with their branded credit card.

So, how do you know whether or not an airline credit card is right for you?

First, you should compare the card’s annual fee to the card’s quantifiable benefits. The costs of the first free checked bag and lounge passes can easily be determined by asking the airline. Although you may not get unlimited lounge passes, you’re likely to get unlimited fee waivers for the first check bag.

Then, look back at your previous flights to see if you could’ve taken advantage of these card perks. If the card benefits would’ve saved you a little money and provide a better travel experience, an airline card is going to look better and better.

Finally, think about the upcoming flights that you’ll take in the next six months to a year. Will you fly with this particular airline and use the airline card’s perks during these trips? You should estimate whether the value of the perks used that year will exceed the cost of the card’s annual fee.

If all signs tells you that an airline credit card is appropriate for you, get one! (Always remember that it is unwise to carry a balance on any type of rewards credit card. Make sure you are able to pay off the balance every month.)

The same approach can be used to evaluate whether or not hotel and other travel-branded credit cards are worth it.

Not picky about any specific airline, hotel or travel company? Read on and learn about other travel rewards credit cards…

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