credit card + no annual fee + frequent flyer miles?

Got yet another credit card application in the mail, and this one made me look twice and do some research. While I’m not the consumer-reports kind of guy that does comparison shopping nor bargain hunting, and I easily get lost in the details, I occasionally look at (part of) the fine print. I’ve been using a credit card that earns American Airlines frequent flyer miles but has an annual fee. Figured I wouldn’t mind switching for the same miles-for-dollar dealy and lose the annual fee (and APRs are non-issue for me b/c I pay off the card each month; the card company still makes good money on every transaction in what they call a ‘discount rate’).

The snail mail offered a Capital One Go Miles Ultra Card is saying 7.9% Fixed APR + no annual fee + reward miles usable on over 100 major airlines + up to three miles per dollar purchase. I look on their website and it says 11.9% with $39 annual fee. (these are the people with the recent TV ads about winning a private island)

And then checking on the web, there’s another one credit card called the Chase Travel Rewards Platinum MasterCard, with one point for every dollar charged, no annual fee.

Search engines turned up lots of competing noise to offer more credit cards for different fine print deals. I turned to Google Groups (as an aside, found a great airline info FAQ), fastest search on newsgroups to hear what real people are saying, and what the buzz really is. So the sense of it I get is that these alternative no-annual-fee miles-for-dollar credit card programs don’t give you real airline miles, and enroll you in some kind of travel program and involve some redemption process. Details are sketchy; or I’m getting lost in the fine print. Those travel programs do give you added flexibility in more airline choices, or redeeming points for hotel or car or other things, but it sounds like to me that the redemption thing isn’t as carte-blanche as the few bullet points on the mailer paint it to be.

Hit the eject button. I’ll stick with what I’ve got.

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