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If you want to use travel rewards to save money on flights, an airline credit card is a must. You can choose between credit cards that earn airline miles, or cards that earn more flexible rewards points that you can transfer to various frequent flyer programs.

Find the right airline credit card for you

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Best card if you’re not loyal to one airline

60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Best new airline credit card

70,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Best card for American Airlines flyers

50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

$99, waived for first 12 months

Best card for United flyers

50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Best card for Southwest flyers

50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Best premium card for flexible travelers

75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

You can find the best airline credit card for you by zeroing in on the benefits you want. Here are our top picks.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Compare the best airline credit cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card


Intro offer

60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 5x points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out. Earn 3x points on select streaming services. Earn 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs). Earn 2x points on other travel. Earn 1x point per dollar on everything else.

Chase Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card


Intro offer

60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 5x points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out. Earn 3x points on select streaming services. Earn 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs). Earn 2x points on other travel. Earn 1x point per dollar on everything else.


Rewards

Earn 5x points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out. Earn 3x points on select streaming services. Earn 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs). Earn 2x points on other travel. Earn 1x point per dollar on everything else.


Intro offer

60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent

Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application.

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Regular APR

18.24% – 25.24% Variable

Editor’s Rating

4.8/5

Our editor’s ratings analyze fees, bonuses, rewards, and benefits to highlight the simplest and most valuable credit cards available.

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Chase Aeroplan® Credit Card


Intro offer

70,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 3x points for each dollar spent on grocery stores, dining at restaurants, and Air Canada directly. Earn 1x points for each dollar spent on all other purchases.

Chase Aeroplan® Credit Card


Intro offer

70,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 3x points for each dollar spent on grocery stores, dining at restaurants, and Air Canada directly. Earn 1x points for each dollar spent on all other purchases.


Rewards

Earn 3x points for each dollar spent on grocery stores, dining at restaurants, and Air Canada directly. Earn 1x points for each dollar spent on all other purchases.


Intro offer

70,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

18.74% – 25.74% Variable

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Citi Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®


Intro offer

50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening


Rewards

Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1x mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.


$99, waived for first 12 months

Annual Fee

Citi Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®


Intro offer

50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening


Rewards

Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1x mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.


$99, waived for first 12 months

Annual Fee


$99, waived for first 12 months

Annual Fee

On Citi’s website


Rewards

Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1x mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.


Annual Fee

$99, waived for first 12 months


Intro offer

50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

18.99% – 27.99% variable

Editor’s Rating

4.45/5

Our editor’s ratings are primarily based on 3 things: simplicity, affordability, and value. Our credit card editor takes those factors into account, and comes up with a rating to best reflect how the card performs in that criteria – relative to other products we’ve reviewed.

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American Express Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card


Intro offer

65,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months from account opening (offer ends 11/9/22)


Rewards

Earn 2x Miles on dining at restaurants worldwide, and for takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 2x Miles on groceries at U.S supermarkets. Earn 2x Miles on Delta purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1X Miles on all other purchases


$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Annual Fee

American Express Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card


Intro offer

65,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months from account opening (offer ends 11/9/22)


Rewards

Earn 2x Miles on dining at restaurants worldwide, and for takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 2x Miles on groceries at U.S supermarkets. Earn 2x Miles on Delta purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1X Miles on all other purchases


$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Annual Fee


$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Annual Fee

On American Express’s website

This card is a great pick for frequent and occasional Delta flyers who want elite-like perks without paying an exorbitant annual fee. Cardholders receive a free checked bag, priority boarding, and inflight discounts on Delta flights, but if you’re looking for upscale benefits like airport lounge access, you’ll want to look at Delta’s premium cards instead.


Rewards

Earn 2x Miles on dining at restaurants worldwide, and for takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 2x Miles on groceries at U.S supermarkets. Earn 2x Miles on Delta purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1X Miles on all other purchases


Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $99


Intro offer

65,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months from account opening (offer ends 11/9/22)


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

18.74%-27.74% Variable

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Chase United℠ Explorer Card


Intro offer

50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.


$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

Chase United℠ Explorer Card


Intro offer

50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.


$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Annual Fee


$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

On Chase’s website

The United Explorer card is the best all-around credit card for United flyers, offering a generous range of benefits for a modest annual fee. Cardholders receive a free checked bag, priority boarding, and inflight discounts on United flights, plus two one-time United Club airport lounge passes each year.


Rewards

Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.


Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95


Intro offer

50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

18.74% – 25.74% Variable

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Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card


Intro offer

50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card


Intro offer

50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.


Rewards

Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.


Intro offer

50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

18.24% – 25.24% Variable

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Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card


Intro offer

50,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account


Rewards

3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases. Unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card


Intro offer

50,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account


Rewards

3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases. Unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases

On Bank of America’s website


Rewards

3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases. Unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases


Intro offer

50,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

18.24% – 26.24% variable

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Barclays JetBlue Plus Card


Intro offer

80,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days

Barclays JetBlue Plus Card


Intro offer

80,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days


Intro offer

80,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days


Recommended Credit

Excellent


Regular APR

18.24%, 22.24% or 27.24% based on your creditworthiness


Intro APR

0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening

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American Express Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card


Intro offer

95,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months from account opening (offer ends 11/9/22)


Rewards

Earn 3x Miles on Delta purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1X Miles on all other purchases.

American Express Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card


Intro offer

95,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months from account opening (offer ends 11/9/22)


Rewards

Earn 3x Miles on Delta purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1X Miles on all other purchases.

On American Express’s website


Rewards

Earn 3x Miles on Delta purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1X Miles on all other purchases.


Intro offer

95,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months from account opening (offer ends 11/9/22)


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

18.74% – 27.74% Variable

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Capital One Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card


Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Earn 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel. Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases.

Capital One Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card


Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Earn 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel. Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases.


Rewards

Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Earn 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel. Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases.


Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Recommended Credit

Excellent


Regular APR

19.99% – 26.99% Variable

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American Express The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express


Intro offer

100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership


Rewards

Earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 per calendar year. Earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

American Express The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express


Intro offer

100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership


Rewards

Earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 per calendar year. Earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

On American Express’s website


Rewards

Earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 per calendar year. Earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. 1 point per dollar on other purchases.


Annual Fee

$695

See Rates and Fees

Show more


Intro offer

100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Editor’s Rating

4.75/5

Our editor’s ratings analyze fees, bonuses, rewards, and benefits to highlight the simplest and most valuable credit cards available.

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The best airline credit card reviews

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points that you can use to book travel directly through the Chase Travel Portal, which gives you access to virtually every airline. You can also transfer Chase points to various airline and hotel partners, including United, British Airways, JetBlue, and Hyatt

This card offers a very strong lineup of perks and rewards in exchange for a relatively moderate annual fee. You’ll earn 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 2x points on all other travel purchases. The card also offers 3x points on dining.

Travel includes everything from airfare to parking to hotels, while dining includes restaurants, delivery services, and even some bars. The Chase Sapphire Preferred also offers one of the best welcome bonuses among consumer credit cards, and you get some valuable travel coverage as well, including trip delay insurance, primary car rental insurance, and purchase protection.

If you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and find that you’re a fan of earning and redeeming travel points, remember that you can always upgrade to its higher-end sibling, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, after your first year.

The Reserve has a $550 annual fee, but it also offers up to $300 in annual travel credits that apply to virtually any travel purchase and earns 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after earning the $300 travel credit). You’ll earn 3x points on other travel and dining purchases with the Reserve.

Read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card:

The Aeroplan® Credit Card is Chase’s first-ever co-branded card with Air Canada’s Aeroplan program, and it comes with a number of novel benefits. Along with a welcome bonus offer of 70,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, new cardholders receive automatic Aeroplan 25K Elite Status for the remainder of the first calendar year, plus the following calendar year.

Cardholders also get a free first checked bag on Air Canada flights, the ability to re-earn (or step up) elite status by hitting spending thresholds, and up to $100 reimbursement for the Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS application fee every four years. 

Starting later in 2022, the Aeroplan® Credit Card will have the option to redeem up to 50,000 Aeroplan points per year toward any eligible travel purchase via Chase Pay Yourself Back at a rate of 1.25 cents each. Qualifying travel will include airfare (on any airline), car rentals, hotels, rideshares, and much more.

Read more about the Chase Aeroplan card:

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® gets you a free checked bag on American Airlines domestic itineraries, along with preferred boarding and discounts on inflight purchases.

It also earns 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and on restaurant and gas station spending (and 1 mile per dollar on everything else). We also like that the annual fee is $99, waived for first 12 months. If you spend $20,000 on the card in an account year and then renew your card, you’ll get a $125 American Airlines flight discount. 

Qualifying for elite status with American Airlines AAdvantage is now based on earning Loyalty Points. Along with earning Loyalty Points from flying and partner spending, you can earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent on co-branded American Airlines cards, including the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®.

Read more about the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select:

For the average Delta flyer, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card offers the best balance between a moderate $0 intro for the first year, then $99 annual fee and elite-like perks that can save you cash and improve your travel experience.

The card earns 2x miles on eligible Delta purchases, 2x miles at US supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. This makes the card a valuable option for everyday spending, not just for earning bonus miles on your Delta purchases. 

Other Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card benefits that make it a standout pick for Delta loyalists are a first checked bag for free and priority boarding on Delta flights, a $100 flight credit when you spend $10,000 or more in a calendar year, and 20% off inflight purchases as a statement credit.

Read more about the Delta Gold American Express card:

The United℠ Explorer Card offers the perks you’d expect from an airline credit card — a free checked bag (you need to pay for the United flight with your Explorer card to get this perk), priority boarding, discounts on inflight purchases, and bonus miles for purchases with the airline — but also some very valuable extras. 

If you have this card (or any other United card), you get expanded access to United’s lowest-priced “saver” awards, which could help you save miles on an upcoming flight booking. The United℠ Explorer Card also offers two one-time United Club passes each anniversary year, and an application fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS. 

Read more about the United Explorer card:

This is another instance where a higher annual fee is warranted due to the value you get. Thanks to annual benefits like $75 in statement credits for travel on Southwest and four upgraded boardings where available, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card could be well worth it if you’re a regular Southwest flyer.

The statement credit for $75 toward Southwest purchases each year effectively lowers the annual fee to $74 — lower than the annual fee for the next-cheapest Southwest consumer card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card ($99). 

Plus, the Priority card offers a bonus of 7,500 Southwest Rapid Rewards points each year after your account anniversary (you can use these points to book award flights), and you’ll get 25% off inflight purchases. If you fly Southwest more than once or twice a year, this card can easily be worth the annual fee.

The points you earn from any of the Southwest credit cards can help you qualify for the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, which allows a designated companion to fly with you for next to free (just pay taxes and fees) on paid and award flights.

Southwest is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so you can move points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card to Southwest instantly at a 1:1 ratio if you need to boost your balance.

Read more about the Southwest Priority card:

Alaska Airlines doesn’t have the largest route network among US carriers, but if you live in the Pacific Northwest or another area where the airline offers extensive service — or if you fly Alaska to Hawaii — this is a great card to have. 

The Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card not only offers a companion fare as part of its welcome bonus offer, but you can also get one each year on your account anniversary (also starting at $121). You can use this fare to bring someone along on an Alaska flight, with no blackout dates, and this benefit alone makes the card worth having if you frequently fly with this airline.

You also get the standard airline credit card benefits like a free checked bag, 20% off inflight purchases, and bonus miles on Alaska purchases — but in this case, it’s 3 miles per dollar spent on eligible Alaska purchases rather than the more standard 2x miles bonus on airline purchases available on other cards. 

Read more about the Alaska Airlines credit card:

The standout benefits of the JetBlue Plus Card are points earning — you get 6x points on JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1 point per dollar on everything else — and a 5,000-point bonus each year after your account anniversary. Cardholders also get a free checked bag and 50% off inflight purchases.

Beyond that, the card offers an incentive for big spenders: If you spend $50,000 or more on purchases on the JetBlue Plus card in a calendar year, you’ll get JetBlue Mosaic status, which gets you free drinks on board, waived change and cancellation fees, two free checked bags, and more.

Read more about the JetBlue Plus card:

The three major legacy US airlines — American Airlines, Delta, and United — each offer a premium credit card with upscale perks (and annual fees to match). The most rewarding and useful of the bunch is the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, and if you’re a Delta loyalist, it could end up saving you a lot of money.

Although most other premium airline cards come with airport lounge membership, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is unique in that when you fly Delta, it not only offers Delta Sky Club access, but also entry to Centurion Lounges when you’ve used your Amex card to pay for your ticket.

Along with a welcome bonus of 95,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months from account opening (offer ends 11/9/22), you’ll receive a free first checked bag and priority boarding on Delta flights, an annual Delta companion certificate, and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit after you apply through any authorized enrollment provider. Cardholders can also take advantage of 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after they spend $30,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year (up to four times) and access to complimentary upgrades and upgrade priority.

This card charges a $550 annual fee, but it can be more than worthwhile if you fly Delta often and travel through airports with eligible airport lounges.

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card burst into the rewards card scene last year with an excellent welcome bonus offer and top-notch benefits that can be worth much more than its $395 annual fee. 

Among its perks: Priority Pass and Capital One airport lounge access, up to $300 in annual credit toward flights, hotels, and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, and a 10,000-mile bonus (worth at least $100 in travel) after each card anniversary.

Its annual fee is lower than similar premium cards, and it’s a solid choice if you’re not loyal to a particular airline. Cardholders earn a whopping 10x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 10x miles when booking on Turo (offer ends May 16, 2023), 5x miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel, and 2x miles on all other purchases.

You can redeem your miles at a rate of 1 cent apiece toward eligible travel purchases charged to your card (including airfare), or cash them in for flights, hotels, and car rentals through Capital One Travel. Capital One also offers over a dozen airline and hotel transfer partners, including Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways, and Singapore Airlines, so if you prefer to redeem rewards for award flights, that option is there too.

Read more about the Capital One Venture X:

With a $695 annual fee, The Platinum Card® from American Express likely won’t make sense if you only travel once or twice a year. However, if you’re on the road frequently, the card’s many premium benefits — from airport lounge access to up to $200 in airline fee credits each year** — make it a useful pick.

The Platinum Card® from American Express earns a spot on our list of the top airline rewards cards because it earns 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel (starting January 1, 2021, the 5x points will apply up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). That’s one of the highest earning rates available on flight purchases. The Amex Membership Rewards points you earn let you book flights directly through Amex Travel, or you can transfer them to more than a dozen airline partners to book flight awards.

Even if you’re not traveling right now, the Platinum Card is still worth considering, as it’s offering a lucrative welcome bonus offer and comes with Uber (including Uber Eats) Cash credits**, Saks credits**, digital subscription credits**, Equinox credits**, Walmart+ membership credits**, and SoulCycle At-Home Bike credit you can still use if you’re staying close to home.

Read more about the Amex Platinum card:

How our list compares to other publications

Personal Finance Insider draws on the advice and experience of its own credit card experts, but we know that research is an important part of the hunt for your next credit card. With that in mind, we’ve compared our top airline card recommendations with those from other authorities in this space.

We included a checkmark under each publication name if it recommended a given card in any of its top airline credit card coverage. For more information on why some of our recommendations differ, see our section on popular airline cards that just missed the cut.

How we chose the best airline credit cards

Personal Finance Insider chose the top airline cards based on the value each card offers in relation to its annual fee. To make sure we were considering the best airline credit cards from every perspective, we also researched the recommendations and methodology of top airline card lists from other websites, including CreditCards.com, NerdWallet, and The Points Guy.

In many cases, each publication had a different pick for the best credit card for a given airline — and in that situation, we arrived at our selection by returning to the question of which card offers the most value in return for its annual fee, excluding benefits that require spending extra money to unlock.

Note that we focused on credit card options for flying with major US airlines — including the “big three” of American, Delta, and United, as well as smaller popular carriers like Alaska, JetBlue, and Southwest. If you frequently fly with another airline like Frontier or Hawaiian, you may want to look into its co-branded credit card options.

With an airline credit card, not only will you earn miles on every purchase you make, but you can also earn a welcome bonus offer that will jump-start your frequent flyer account balance. Depending on the card you choose, you can also get benefits like a free checked bag, priority boarding, or an airline companion ticket.

There isn’t simply one best airline credit card; the right option for you depends on what airline you fly, whether you’re a loyalist or want flexibility, how you want to use your miles, how much of an annual fee you’re comfortable paying, and several other factors.

You’ll also want to consider airline partnerships — for example, it could make sense to get an American Airlines credit card if you want to redeem miles for award flights on Oneworld partners like Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Alternately, a card like the Aeroplan® Credit Card can make sense even if you don’t fly Air Canada, because you can redeem Aeroplan points for flights on Star Alliance airlines including United and Lufthansa.

Popular airline credit cards that just missed the cut

To keep things simple, we limited our list of the best airline credit cards to one definitive pick per airline, plus a few top options that aren’t affiliated with a particular airline. However, if you’re open to doing some deeper comparison-shopping, these cards are also worth a look.

Airline credit card frequently asked questions (FAQ)

There isn’t one “best” airline credit card or one type of airline mile that’s categorically better than the others, because it depends on which airline is most convenient for you.

For example, if your home airport is small, you could have limited options when it comes to which airline you fly, so you’ll likely want to earn whatever miles you need to fly from your hometown.

If you live near a large airport where your airline choices are plentiful and you have more options for loyalty, you may want to investigate how much different airline miles are worth. We recommend checking out Insider’s 2022 guide to points and miles valuations, which attach a value (in cents) to the major airline currencies based on the types of award flights you can book through each.

You’ll see that Delta miles are generally worth less than Alaska miles, but keep in mind all points and miles are only valuable if you can use them — so if you don’t travel to destinations served by Alaska or its airline partners, earning its miles probably isn’t your best bet.

If you’re loyal to a particular airline, it could make sense to apply for one of its co-branded cards. For instance, United offers the United℠ Explorer Card, which gets you benefits like a free checked bag and priority boarding on United. 

If you aren’t loyal to a particular airline and you simply book with whichever carrier is offering the cheapest airfare, an airline co-branded card may not be the best option. You could consider a travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express instead. This way, you’ll earn points that can be used to book airfare through Chase and Amex, respectively, as well as through specific airline transfer partners affiliated with the two programs.

Airline credit cards that earn you miles in a particular frequent flyer program require you to add your frequent flyer number to your card account. You’re usually asked to do this during the credit card application process. Then, you’ll earn miles on all your eligible credit card spending, and those earnings will be reflected in your frequent flyer account.

You’ll be able to access the miles you earned from your credit card directly through your frequent flyer account and use them to book award flights.

Airline credit cards earn you miles in a specific frequent flyer program, such as Southwest Rapid Rewards or United MileagePlus. These airline co-branded cards are best for travelers who are loyal to one carrier, because your main option for using miles will be for flights on that airline or its partners.

Travel rewards cards, on the other hand, earn transferable points — rewards that you can transfer to a variety of airline and/or hotel partners. With travel rewards cards, you aren’t locked into using your points with only one airline, but you also won’t get airline-specific benefits like a free checked bag or priority boarding.

Many airline miles expire, but there are some notable exceptions. Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United miles never expire, but with other programs like American Airlines AAdvantage, miles do expire if you don’t have any qualifying activity within a certain period (18 months, in the AAdvantage program). Keep in mind that earning miles from using a co-branded airline credit card counts as qualifying activity and can prevent your miles from expiring.

All of the options listed above are personal credit cards, but if you have a small business (even freelancing or a side-gig), you could qualify for an airline small-business card. Most major US airlines offer at least one business version of their cards, and many offer lucrative welcome bonuses, spending categories geared to business owners, and top-notch perks.

Some of our favorites include:

United℠ Business Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, plus, earn an additional 75,000 miles after you spend $20,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months. Read our United Business card review.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening. Read our CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card review.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: Earn 85,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of card membership (offer ends 11/9/22). Read our Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business card review.

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Read our Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance card review

Alaska Airlines Business Credit Card: Earn 70,000 miles and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. Read our Alaska Airlines Business card review.



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