In our series on points and miles terminology, you’ve learned about the lingo used by airlines, frequent flyer programs and for award bookings. Here are the words you need to know to maximize your points and miles earning through credit cards.
(airline)-marketed: A flight that is available on a particular airlines website, even if it is actually flown on another airline. Credit card perks, such as free baggage and priority boarding, may or may not be available on all flights marketed by an airline.
(airline)-operated: A flight that is crewed by and flown on the plane of a certain airline. Codeshare flights are marketed by many airlines by only operated by one. Credit card perks, such as free baggage and priority boarding, may only be available on flights operated by the airline associated with the credit card.
Annual fee: A fee automatically charged each year one holds a credit card. Reward cards typically carry annual fees, though they are often waived the first year as part of a sign-up bonus.
Authorized user: An individual besides the primary account holder who is issued a credit card on the same account. Banks often offer additional points or miles when adding users to your account.
Blackout dates: Times of the year, such as holidays or popular vacation times, when award availability may be partially or completely restricted.
Bonus stacking: The act of combining one bonus, such as a credit card category bonus for additional miles on travel, with another, such as a co-branded credit cards bonus on purchases with the co-branded airline.
Category bonus: An additional number of miles issued by a credit card provider for purchases of a certain type, such as double miles on travel or groceries.
Chip technology: A microchip inserted into a credit card that adds an increased level of protection against fraud, either from duplicating the card or from the card being used by unauthorized users if stolen. Credit card chips come in two types, one requiring a pin and another verified by signature. Many countries require credit cards with chips for purchases at automatic machines like subway or train ticket kiosks.
Co-branded card: A card that is issued through a joint collaboration between a bank and an airline, hotel or other brand with a loyalty program.
Credit inquiry: A request for your credit report. These can come from mortgage lenders, banks issuing credit cards, or other parties, and they remain on your credit report. Too many credit inquiries in a short amount of time are frowned upon by banks.
Credit limit: The maximum amount one can spend on a credit card. Banks often limit the total amount of credit they will give an individual for all cards through that bank, so if you have too much credit on other cards, they may not issue you a new one.
Credit report: A history of your credit card and loan usage that includes your current number of accounts and credit inquiries, amount of credit, and your history of payments. Banks use this to determine your credit worthiness.
Credit reporting agencies: The three companies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, that issue credit reports used by banks to determine whether you are eligible for a new credit card. Different banks make inquiries at different credit reporting agencies, so it is best to distribute your credit card applications evenly.
Credit score: A snapshot of your credit worthiness that takes into account different aspects of your credit history in a weighted formula. Also known as FICO score, for the formula used to issue these numbers.
Credit worthiness: A determination by a bank of how trustworthy you are as a borrower.
Double dip: The act of earning points or miles in more than one way on the same purchase.
Earn rate: The number of points or miles awarded for each dollar spent.
Foreign transaction fees: A percentage charge imposed by credit card companies when your credit card is used abroad or for a purchase through a foreign merchant.
Minimum spend: The amount of money one must charge to a credit card to earn the bonus miles promised by a credit card company when a new account is opened or during special promotions.
Price per mile: The cash value of an award divided by the number of miles required to procure it. A common valuation of award redemptions. Also known as cents per mile.
Promotion: A limited time offer by an airline, hotel, credit card company or other party for additional points or miles on purchases. Also frequently abbreviated to promo.
Reconsideration line: A credit card call center that handles requests to overturn a declined credit card application or situations in which the credit card company needs additional information to successfully process a credit card application.
Reward card: A credit card that offers rewards in points, miles or cashback, based on customer spending.
Shopping portal: A third-party online shopping website that allows you to earn bonus points on purchases through vendors like airlines, department stores, Amazon and more.
Sign-up bonus: A number of miles or points, typically in the tens of thousands, given for free by a credit card company when a new account is opened. It is often associated with a minimum spend, though sometimes the bonus is given after the first purchase with the new credit card.