Best Airline Cards

Overview:

  • Earn rewards with your everyday spend and get a little closer to your next flight.
  • Bonus offer – new card holders may be eligible for welcome bonuses of up to 75,000 points.
  • Enjoy additional travel perks like travel insurance, waived foreign transaction fees, and airport lounge access.
  • Terms vary by partner offer. Please see each bank’s application for terms and conditions.
  • Clicking View Cards will take you to CreditCards.com to compare Airline Credit Cards from participating partners.

What are airline rewards credit cards?

Airline rewards credit cards are credit cards that offer airline rewards such as airlines miles that can be redeemed for free flights, upgrades and other great perks. The best airline cards may be connected to certain airlines such as American, Alaska (Virgin American), Delta and United, for example. For every dollar you spend with airline credit cards, you earn airline rewards that you can redeem for airline travel, hotel stays or other airline rewards.

The best airline credit cards also come up with signup bonuses, which may offer bonus points or bonus miles if you spend a certain amount of money in the first few months of having your best airline credit card. You also may qualify for bonus miles in certain spending categories in addition to base earnings. Many of the best credit cards for airline points or best credit cards for airline miles do not charge a foreign transaction fee, which can help when you with international travel.

Here are the best airline rewards credit cards of 2020:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card helps you earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1 point per dollar spend on all other purchases. With no foreign transaction fees and 1:1 point transfers at leading airline and hotel rewards programs, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great option to earn rewards and redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Current Bonus: $60,0000 Bonus Points

Annual Fee: $95, but waived first year

Regular APR: 15.99% – 22.9%

Great Benefits: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has great benefits, including:

  • Earn $60,0000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • That means $60,0000 bonus points is valued at $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred was named “Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption.”
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, $60,0000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – so long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card helps you earn 1.25 miles on every purchase. With no annual fees and no foreign transaction fees, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card also offers 0% APR for 12 months.

Current Bonus: 20,000 miles

Annual Fee: $0
0% APR Period: 12 months

Regular APR: 15.49% – 25.49%

Great Benefits: The Capital One VentureOne Rewards credit card has great benefits, including:

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel.
  • Earn 1.25x miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture.
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime.
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Miles won’t expire for the life of the account and there’s no limit to how many you can earn.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card helps you earn 2 miles for every $1 at restaurants (worldwide) and 2 miles for every dollar you spend on Delta purchases. Plus, you can earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Current Bonus: 10,000 points

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 15.74% – 24.74%

Great Benefits: Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card has great benefits, including:

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2X miles per dollar at restaurants, now worldwide.
  • Earn 2X miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases.

American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card helps you get 4 Membership Rewards® points for every $1 you spend when you dine at restaurants worldwide. You can earn 4 Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, and then 1 Membership Rewards® point for every $1 on purchases at U.S. supermarkets thereafter.You also earn 3 Membership Rewards® points on flights that you book directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Current Bonus: 35,000 points

Annual Fee: $250

Regular APR: 15.99% – 22.99%

Great Benefits: The American Express® Gold Card has great benefits, including:

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new American Express® Gold Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points for every $1 you spend at restaurants worldwide.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points for every $1 you spend at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X for every $1 spent).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points for every $1 you spend on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • Receive up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.

United℠ Explorer Card

The United℠ Explorer Card helps you earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays. You also can earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United. Plus, you can earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Current Bonus: 40,000 points

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95 per year

Regular APR: 16.49% – 23.49%

Great Benefits: The United℠ Explorer Card has great benefits, including:

  • Receive 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your card in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee the first year.
  • Receive up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre Check™ Fee Credit
  • Receive 25% back on United in flight purchases
  • With the United℠ Explorer Card,check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $120 per round trip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket.
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your card anniversary.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card helps you earn 2 miles for every $1 you spend at restaurants worldwide and 2 miles for every $1 you spend on Delta purchases. You can also earn 1 mile on for every $1 you spend all other eligible purchases.

Current Bonus: 10,000 points

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 15.74% – 24.74%

Great Benefits: The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card has great benefits, including:

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of card opening.
  • No annual fee.
  • Earn 2X Miles per $1 spent at restaurantsworldwide.
  • Earn 2X Miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card can help you earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 you spend at grocery stores or grocery delivery services. You can also earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.

Current Bonus: 10,000 points

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 15.99% – 24.99%

Great Benefits: The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card has great benefits, including:

  • Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 you spend at grocery stores or grocery delivery services.
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 you spend on other purchases
  • Save 25% on in flight food and beverage purchases when you use your American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Cardon American Airlines flights.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card helps you get 2 points for every $1 you spend on Southwest® purchases as well as Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. You can also earn 1 point for every $1 that you spend on all other purchases.

Current Bonus: 40,000 points

Annual Fee: $149

Regular APR: 15.99% – 22.99%

Great Benefits: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has great benefits, including:

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 you spend on Southwest® purchases as well as Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 you spend on all other purchases.
  • Earn 7,500 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Receive a $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • Receive four (4)upgraded boardings per year when available.
  • Receive 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Are airline credit cards a good idea?

Airline credit cards are worth it if you are a frequent traveler and want to redeem your airline rewards points and airline rewards miles for travel.

Here is a helpful rule of thumb regard the best airline credit cards:

  1. If you prefer to travel with a certain airline, you should find the best credit card with airline miles.
  2. Some of the best travel credit cards enable you to transfer points to many different types of partners such as airlines or hotels and provide more optionality. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is an excellent credit card that has multiple partners through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

This strategy will provide you with the most flexibility when it comes to choosing the best airline card.

Should I get an airline rewards credit card?

Deciding to get an airline rewards credit card is an easier task than it seems. If you are interested in the best airline credit cards, ask yourself how much you travel and the types of rewards that you would like. Here are some considerations when deciding to choose the best airline credit card for you:

1. How often you fly

Airline credit cards are for people who travel frequently. Therefore, the best airline credit card or airline credit cards will be for people who travel often for work or vacation. Analyze your spending. When it comes to airline rewards credit cards, determine how much you plan to travel and spend on airfare, hotels or other travel. If you travel frequently, then you will want to compare the best credit card for airline points, the best credit card for airline miles or even the best card for international travel. This way, you can save money when it comes to travel or vacations because you can use airline rewards instead. If you are not a frequent traveler, then you may prefer the best cash back credit cards or the best rewards credit cards.

2. You pay off your credit card balance each month

The best airline cards are for people who pay off their credit balance in full each month. If you plan to have a credit card balance each month, the interest rate with even the best airline credit cards can be costly. In fact, with the top airline credit cards, the interest rate can be higher than the airline rewards. Therefore, make sure to pay off your full credit card balance each month if you plan to have airline credit cards.

3. You like airlines rewards

Many of the best airline rewards credit cards offer rewards for hotel stays and airfare. That’s great news if you are interested in the best credit card for airline points or the best credit card for airline miles. Airline rewards credit cards can be redeemed at many leading airlines and hotels. With the best airline credit card for you, you can earn free flights, free hotel stays and other airline rewards.

4. How do you choose the best airline credit card?

When choosing the best airline credit card, there are several factors to consider. Airline rewards credit cards can be evaluated in several ways. The best airline card is the one that makes most sense for your personal situation. Choosing the best credit card for airline miles or the best credit card for airline points may mean you are a frequent traveler. That’s why credit the best airline cards can help you earn points or miles depending on your preference.

When searching for the best airlines rewards credit cards, make sure to evaluate points, miles, sign-up bonus, ongoing rewards, tier levels, annual fee, foreign transaction fee and other perks. In many cases, since most airline rewards credit cards have an annual fee, the rewards you receive often are more valuable than the annual fee. So the airline credit card can pay for itself in the form of benefits and rewards.

How should I use the best airline rewards credit cards?

1. Use your airline rewards credit cards when you travel

Your airline rewards credit cards will come in handy when you travel. First, you can earn more airline rewards when you travel and spend with your airline cards. With some airline rewards cards, you can earn additional bonuses when you spend money on that airline. Other airline rewards cards offer spending bonus on other non-travel categories. Second, the best airline rewards credit for you may also include travel benefits such as no foreign transaction fee and other benefits with airlines such as free checked bags, for example. Third, your airline credit cards may include free rental car insurance.

2. Choose your airline rewards credit cards with goals in mind

When you choose the best airline rewards credit card, make sure you have a goal in mind. Do you want to earn the best credit card for airline points? Do you want the best airline credit card for airline miles? Or perhaps you are most interest in the best airline card sign-up bonus. Overall, focus also on the ongoing rewards for the airline rewards credit cards you choose.

3. Fly off-peak to maximize airline rewards credit cards

If you are thinking about the best card for international travel, consider booking your airline during off-peak travel times. This will save you points and miles when redeeming. The best airline card may also benefit you if you travel mid-week and not during holidays to ensure the rewards are available.

4. Have a strong or excellent credit score to qualify for the best airline rewards credit card

The best way to be approved for top airline credit cards is to have a strong credit score or excellent credit score. If you have a strong credit profile, you will maximize your chance to be approved for the top airline rewards credit cards.  Credit card companies prefer customers with strong credit profiles to reduce their own risk. Therefore, you have a better chance to be approved for airline rewards credit cards.

Do the best credit cards for international travel protect you when you travel?

For the best cards for international travel, you can expect to consider the following when you travel internationally:

1. Travel to locations where the U.S. dollar is strong

This means to choose a location when the U.S. dollar is strong relative to the local currency. This will help you save money and maximize your benefits of airline credit cards.

2. Use your airline credit cards while you travel abroad

The best airline rewards credit cards should be used while you travel internationally. Typically, the best airline credit card will provide better currency exchange than changing your money at a bank or currency exchange kiosk in the country or at the airport. Plus, you will also earn more airline rewards with your best airline credit card when you spend more in the country you are visiting.

3. Use the top airline credit cards with no foreign transaction fee

Foreign transaction fees are incurred whenever you make a purchase in a foreign country. With the best credit card for international travel, you typically will have no foreign transaction fees, which will save you money. Many of the best airline rewards credit cards offer this benefit, and it saves you money when you travel abroad or make a non-domestic purchase. This is because even booking foreign airlines before your trip could result in a foreign transaction fee.

What can the best airline rewards credit cards be redeemed for?

You can redeem the best airline rewards credit card for many rewards and benefits. Some of these benefits include free airline travel, flight upgrades, airport lounge access, in-flight refreshments and more. So, choose the best credit card for airline miles or best airlines for airline points, depending on your preference. Airline miles are helpful with specific airlines for free flights, whereas points are more flexible to redeem for free flights or free hotel nights.

Safe travels!

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