The unexpected downside of always flying business class

On most airlines, flying business class gives you more comfortable seats, the option to check bags for free, early or priority boarding, and other perks. While flying business class certainly has its advantages, it does come at a cost. Business class seats usually cost about three to four times as much as economy class seats.

While there are many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider. Here’s one surprising drawback that you may not have thought of.

This is one of the biggest, unexpected downsides to flying business class.

Business class travelers will naturally spend more on their flights than their peers in cheaper seats, and because they’re paying a higher price when traveling in business class, it often makes sense for them to apply for an airline-branded credit card.

And here’s where a surprising but big drawback of business class comes into play: While these credit cards typically offer great perks, many of them are virtually useless if you’re already flying business class.

Airline-branded cards often have higher annual fees, but they come with great perks that can make your travels more enjoyable. However, if you purchase a business class ticket, you can access many of the extra perks. For example, airline-branded cards often come with the following perks:

Airline lounge access Priority check-in and screening Free 1st checked bag Upgrade from Economy Class to Business Class or First Class seat

However, business and first class tickets usually already come with priority boarding and free checked baggage service. Plus, you won’t be able to upgrade your seat since you’re already sitting in business class, of course. And when you travel international first class, your ticket also gives you free access to airline lounges.

Why is this such a disadvantage?

The overlap in rewards offered by elite travel cards and business or first class seats is a big drawback because it can make elite travel cards less valuable for frequent business class flyers, as these cards often offer hefty rewards to the same travelers who purchase more expensive seats.

If a card has a $695 annual fee (or close to that, like many elite travel cards) and you don’t get to redeem even half of the rewards, it’s hard to argue that it’s worth applying for. At the same time, if you’re spending money on business or first class flights, it’s hard to argue against applying for the card that offers the most bonus miles on tickets you purchase.

Essentially, you’re deciding between giving up some of the best credit card rewards programs, or paying high annual fees just to have access to those programs, without taking full advantage of most of the benefits that make those cards worthwhile.

Ultimately, you’ll need to do the math and see if the card benefits you actually use justify the card’s annual fee.

Unfortunately, even if you decide the card is still worth it, you won’t be able to take full advantage of the perks that others get for what you pay for. This is a downside to always flying business class, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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