Credit Cards The Basics

The Bread And Butter Award Of Credit Cards Remain Unchanged

bread and butter
Written by Charlie

The legacy airlines have now changed their award charts but one particular award, the bread and butter award of credit card companies, remains unchanged through it all.

Now that American Airlines has announced their award changes that will kick in next March, that makes all of the legacy US airlines devaluing their awards to some extent. Most of the charts for these airlines (or, in Delta’s case, just the awards since they don’t have a chart) have changed some part of just about every region. But, they have all left what I call the “bread and butter award” alone in these changes.

The Bread And Butter Awards Of Credit Cards Remain Unchanged

bread and butter

American Airlines new chart showing the unchanged amount of 12,500 miles one way domestically

bread and butter

The United award chart showing the roundtrip domestic ticket cost.

bread and butter

The Delta price for roundtrip domestic tickets (no chart for them!)

Walk through an airport, especially a hub airport for one of the big airlines, and you will see credit card kiosks open with someone trying to sign people up for that airline’s credit card. Their selling point (and that of flight attendants when they push them onboard) has always been – “Get enough miles for a free roundtrip ticket anywhere in the US!”

More Than Just A Roundtrip Domestic Ticket!

The savvy miles and points enthusiasts know that these credit cards are their entrance into more than just a domestic award. These cards and their bonuses can give you much more, like a one way to anywhere in the world, for starters.

But, the people that credit card companies want to target are those people who are going to apply for the card based on mass mailings, airport kiosks, airline websites and other places where the lowest airline credit card offer is displayed. For all three airlines, that means a normal bonus offer of 30,000 miles, which is 5,000 miles more than the saver level required for a roundtrip award in the contiguous 48 U.S. states. That is the bread and butter award for credit card companies and airlines.

The Ideal Airline And Credit Card Company Customer

Not only do credit cards like that offer and being able to use it for a “free roundtrip domestic ticket” chant, airlines like it as well. New miles and points users go online to book an award and they feel like they have won the lottery when they book a free flight using miles from one credit card and now they get to travel cross-country for FREE!!!! 🙂 Except, that ticket only cost $280 in the first place and they paid 25,000 miles and $11 in taxes and fees. Airlines would like everyone to use their miles like that!

Remaining Unchanged?

So, I honestly do not think we are looking at a change to these awards, the famous 25K domestic ticket, at least for a very long time. In fact, these airlines have even gone on to try and sweeten the domestic deals. United has an award for 20,000 miles roundtrip for destinations 700 miles away, Delta runs promo domestic awards, and now AA will charge 15,000 miles roundtrip for destinations under 500 miles away. Making these new customers think they get even more value from a 30,000 mile credit card offer is even easier now!:)

In the meantime, keep trying to educate your friends and family members and tell them when the better offers of 50,000 miles hit the web. An offer like that will give them almost enough (counting the minimum spending and some extra spending) for a roundtrip ticket to Europe from the US! Much better!

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.