Best Airline Cards

Credit Card

Company

Credit Needed
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
JPMorgan Chase
Good or Excellent
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card:
Capital One
Good or Excellent
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
American Express
Good or Excellent
American Express® Business Gold Card
American Express
Good or Excellent
United Explorer Card
Chase Bank
Good or Excellent
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
American Express
Good or Excellent
American Airlines
American Airlines
Good or Excellent
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest
Good or Excellent
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
Citibank
Good or Excellent
Clicking “Compare Cards” will redirect you to CreditCards.com’s secure website. Please note that the credit cards referenced on Make Lemonade may not be available on Creditcards.com’s website.

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

Annual Fee

$95

APR

15.99% – 22.9%
Variable

Credit Needed

Good or Excellent
  • 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® Venture® Rewards Credit Card:

Annual Fee

$95

APR

15.49% – 25.49%
Variable

Credit Needed

Good or Excellent
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre?®.
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs.
  • Miles won’t expire for the life of the account and there’s no limit to how many you can earn.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Annual Fee

$0

APR

15.74% – 24.74%
Variable

Credit Needed

Good or Excellent
  • 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

Annual Fee

$250

APR

15.99% – 22.99%
Variable

Credit Needed

Good or Excellent
  • 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

Annual Fee

$95

APR

16.49% – 23.49%
Variable

Credit Needed

Good or Excellent
  • 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

Annual Fee

$0

APR

15.74% – 24.74%
Variable

Credit Needed

Good or Excellent
  • 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

Annual Fee

$0

APR

15.99% – 24.99%
Variable

Credit Needed

Good or Excellent
  • 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

Annual Fee

$149

APR

15.99% – 22.99%
Variable

Credit Needed

Good or Excellent
  • 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!

Summary of Best Airline Cards

Credit Card
Best For
Annual Fee
Intro Bonus
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Sign-up bonus
$95
80,000 points
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Annual bonus points
$99
40,000 points
United Explorer Card
United and Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application credit
$95, waived first year
40,000 miles
Capital One® Venture Rewards® Credit Card
Airline transfer partners
$95
100,000 miles
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Delta and free checked baggage
$99, waived first year
50,000 miles
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Annual travel credits
$149
40,000 points
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUpSM Card
American Airlines
$0
10,000 AAdvantage® miles and a $50 statement credit
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
No annual fee
$0
10,000 miles
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest and overall value
$69
40,000 points
Discover it® Miles
First year bonus
$0
Matches the miles you earned at the end of the first year
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
No foreign transaction fee
$95
50,000 Avios
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
Business travel
$99, waived for first 12 months
65,000 AAdvantage® miles
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
Best for airline flight perks
$99, waived for first 12 months
50,000 AAdvantage® miles

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