Analyzing mileage programs
Many cards offer promotional airline miles just for signing up. After a preset number of months, you can accrue perhaps half the miles needed for a domestic flight. After that, you earn additional miles by using the card to spend, spend, spend.
You'll pay for "free" miles
These are not free miles! You're buying them. The company has baited you with the introductory promotion, and now wants you to spend $10,000 or $15,000-often on a dollar-per-mile basis-to get to that magic "free trip" number.
A credit card balance that large isn't manageable for the typical college student. It significantly increases the chances of missed payments, which can trigger late fees and new interest rates as high as 21%. Plus, if you look at the cost of an airline ticket vs. what you may pay in interest and late fees, it probably doesn't make sense.
A mileage card issued by an airline might be a good choice for someone who travels a lot using a company expense account. College students who fall for the free-travel pitch, often will find it just isn't the great deal it was advertised as.