If you’re loyal to one particular airline when you fly, then there’s no doubt you need to own an airline miles credit card. Credit card issuers have teamed up with the heaviest trafficked airlines in order to provide customers a rewards program specific to their needs. Whether you fly American Airlines, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta, Southwest, etc., airline rewards credit cards can make your flight a more enjoyable experience while saving you hundreds if not thousands of dollars each and every year.
Tips for choosing the best airline credit card: There are several factors to consider before choosing one of these credit cards. The first, is your preferred airline. Most airlines nowadays have a credit card partnership with a major credit card issuer, so start there. It is common to be able to get a free flight or other valuable perk when signing up for a new credit card (there may be additional requirements, such as meeting a minimum spending threshold to release the free flight).
What other perks do you receive? Free flights are awesome, and often worth opening a new account. But the best travel cards offer more than just a handful of bonus points. Common examples include free checked bags for you and your party, priority boarding, access to the airline lounge, double points on purchases, and more. You also want to look at whether or not you can transfer your points to another mileage program if you need to.
What is the annual fee – and what do you get for it? Some airline credit cards have an annual fee, but that may or may not be a deterrent, depending on how the rewards work out. For example, some of these cards will offer a free airline ticket or companion ticket each year you renew your card. This will essentially pay for itself each year. The savings from free checked bags can also help make up for annual fee.
How easy is this card to use overseas? The standard credit card in the US stores the credit card date on a magnetic stripe. Unfortunately, this won’t work in many overseas locations. Merchants in Europe and other places almost always require credit cards to have a a Smart Chip in order to process purchases. If you frequently travel overseas, then consider using a credit card with Smart Chip technology. You will also want to consider using a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees – often worth an immediate savings of 3% of the purchase price.
Sometimes the best airline card isn’t an airline card. I you aren’t a frequent traveler, then consider a travel/airline card that isn’t branded to a specific airline. Some of our featured travel credit cards offer great all around benefits and advantages, allowing you to recoup your annual fee (if there is one) and redeem your points and mileage more quickly.
Featured Airline Miles & Rewards Credit Cards
We’ve compiled the best airline miles credit cards below based on the offers that credit card issuers are willing to provide and if you own a card you feel deserves to be mentioned, leave a comment and we’ll be happy to add it on our list.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® rewards cardholders with 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening* Cardholders who fly on American also enjoy perks such as first eligible checked bag is free*, Group 1 boarding, and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*. Cardmembers earn Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases* and you can earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express – The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a frequent addition to many lists featuring the top travel and airline rewards cards. New cardholders can earn a Starpoints® bonus: earn up to 25,000 bonus points: 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Cardmembership. That’s enough for a weekend getaway to a Category 4 Hotel. Cardholders can redeem Starpoints for Free Hotel Nights: redeem Starpoints at over 1,100 hotels in nearly 100 countries worldwide – with no blackout dates. Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges. Cardholders can also earn Free Flights: redeem Starpoints on over 350 airlines with SPG Flights – with no blackout dates. There are no limits on the number of Starpoints you can earn. The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65. Terms and Restrictions apply.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express – Cardholders will earn 30K bonus miles after you make $1K in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months. Earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Cardholders can check their first bag free on every Delta flight – that’s a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four. Cardmembers earn Get 2X miles on Delta purchases and 1X miles for all other eligible dollars spent. Premium travel perks include Priority Boarding. There is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. Terms and Restrictions Apply.
Blue Sky from American Express – The Blue Sky from American Express is not tied to any specific airline, giving you the opportunity to consolidate all your rewards points with one card – making it easier to accrue points more quickly. New cardholders will earn 7,500 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months you own the card. Every 7,500 points that you earn can be redeemed for a $100 statement credit toward any airline ticket, any hotel stay, car rental or cruise. Cardholders can earn 1 point for virtually every dollar you spend on eligible purchases. There is no annual fee and you have access to unlimited travel options with no blackout dates. Terms and Restrictions Apply.
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