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- Air travel can be a hassle, but having an airline credit card has helped me avoid the parts I don’t like, such as standing in security lines and lugging around a carry-on.
- My United Explorer Card covers the expense of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, and gives me free checked bags on United flights. Other perks like two one-time United Club passes each year give the whole airport experience a bit more polish.
- With these perks, flying feels like a nicer experience all around, and definitely makes up for the $95 per year fee.
- See Business Insider’s list of the best rewards credit cards you can get »
As a millennial, I’m certainly not old enough to have experienced the golden age of air travel first-hand.
While I heard stories about how nice air travel used to be from my parents, I never really understood it. For me, there was always a bit of a hassle involved. Travel has always meant economy tickets, budget airlines, and crowds. It meant hauling a carry-on through the airport to avoid a fee, and never wanting to be a minute earlier at the gate than I had to be.To think that flying was once a luxury blew my mind.
Then, I got an airline credit card.
Now, it’s starting to make sense. I got the United Explorer card, and I have to say that it’s been pretty nice since I’ve had it. It’s made up for the $95 per year fee, because I travel fairly often, and I make use of the benefits as much as I can. This card has helped fix some of the things that irk me most about flying these days.
Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
Being in lines all day is incredibly annoying, so I’m getting TSA PreCheck and Global Entry for free
I find the lines to be the most annoying part of traveling these days. After standing in a customs line at midnight after a 12-hour flight, I got fed up with lines once and for all, and started looking into Global Entry. I found out that my United Explorer card will reimburse the $100 application fee once every four years.
So, I’m applying for Global Entry, which also includes TSA PreCheck. With that reimbursement, it will be free. Hopefully, that will mean less time in line, and more time for last-minute packing.
Checked bag fees are now a thing of the past for me
I can’t stand being nickle-and-dimed for checked bag fees at the airport. So, paying to check my bag isn’t high on my priority list. My loathing of surprise fees is only equaled by my hatred for lugging a carry-on through the airport. While carry-on only travel is having a moment right now, I’m not a light packer, nor am I good at keeping track of two bags at all times while running through the airport. I’d rather just check one of my bags. With my card, it’s free.
Even when I buy basic economy tickets, I get one free checked bag with the card. It makes life simpler when I can carry just what I need and leave the rest to the airline. Not having my hands full is a luxury in itself.
The two United Club passes each year make travel more comfortable
I never got an upgrade until I was a cardholder. While I’m still waiting on that elusive first-or business-class upgrade that some frequent travelers talk about, I did get a nice upgrade to economy plus once. It’s not much, but I’m seeing it as a start.
Airline lounges are new to me since getting my credit card, too. I get two one-time United Club passes each year with the Explorer card. While I can’t say that they’re revolutionary, they are a nice perk, especially when I just need a space to work, focus, or just escape the crowds for a few minutes before my flight. I get two free lounge passes per year, and having that option definitely upgrades the experience.
At the gate, I always get to skip that line of people queueing up. My tickets always board in group one or two, making it easy to pass that line. I’ll take any chance to skip a line I can take. It sounds like a little thing, but it really does help.
I never knew that an airline credit card would be helpful beyond the miles-earning aspect. But I found that it actually upgraded the whole experience. While traveling still isn’t the five-star experience it used to be, having an airline credit card has helped flying feel a little more luxurious.
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