Airline credit cards: The low down

Airlines including Virgin, British Airways and easyJet put their names to credit cards with which you can earn free flights to destinations all over the world - if you spend enough.

But would the rewards offered by these cards work for you? We investigate.

What are airline credit cards?
An airline credit card works a bit like a cashback credit card. However, instead of earning cash every time you spend, you earn miles or points that can be converted into air miles and put towards free flights.

The reward schemes available with these cards vary, but you could typically expect to spend £6000 to earn a free flight to Paris.

Most companies allow you to top up your miles with cash if you haven't saved up enough to reach your chosen destination.

However, not all flights are free. You often have to pay taxes and other charges on reward flights, so don't forget to check the small print.

Remember too that there is often limited availability and restrictions on reward flights, so you will get the most out of your airline credit card if you are able to be flexible about your travel dates, and that you will only have a limited period to redeem your points.

And last but certainly not least, only take out a card of this kind if you can clear the balance in full every month.

Which airlines offer credit cards?
British Airways, BMI, Easyjet, Flybe, Ryanair and Virgin all offer airline credit cards that allow you to collect miles as you spend.

The airline reward schemes may also allow you to add miles from other relevant reward schemes, such as the one offered with the Tesco Clubcard credit card.

Which are the best airline credit cards?
According to the comparison website MoneySupermarket, the best airline credit card on the market at the moment is the American Express British Airways Premium Plus card.

It offers automatic enrolment into the British Airways Executive Club as well as 18,000 Avios (air miles) if you spend £3,000 in the first three months - that's enough for two return flights to Paris.

There is, however, a hefty £150 annual fee to take into account, while anyone who fails to clear their balance in full each month will pay interest at 19.9%.

If £150 a year sounds a bit steep, you could also consider the Lloyds TSB Premier Duo Avios Credit Card, which allows you to collect Avios on almost all spending, plus double Avios on overseas purchases.

It is available with an annual fee of £50 and an interest rate of 13.95% or with no annual fee and a 17.95% interest rate.

For those keen to avoid an annual fee altogether, the Virgin Atlantic White card, with which you earn Virgin air miles, and the British Airways American Express card are also worth a look.