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 the best 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.
Best Airline Miles 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.
Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® Visa Signature® Card – The Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® Visa Signature® Card rewards cardholders with 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of card ownership. Those miles can be redeemed for a round-trip domestic ticket anywhere American flies. Cardholders who fly on American also enjoy perks such as priority boarding with Group 1 privileges*, first eligible bag checked free, and a 25% discount on eligible in-flight purchases*. Every year you are a member you will receive a $100 flight discount, which balances out the annual fee of $95, which is waived for first 12 months*. You earn double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and you can also earn a 10% bonus on your redeemed AAdvantage® miles each year, up to 10,000 bonus miles.
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. This card was even awarded the Smarter Travel Editor’s Choice Award for Best Travel Awards Card for Domestic Use. New cardholders can earn up to 25,000 bonus Starpoints® – 10K after your first purchase and another 15K after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Cardmembership. That’s enough for a weekend getaway to a Category 4 Hotel like the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, or six free nights at a Category 2 Hotel. Cardholders can also redeem points for flights or Starwood Hotel stays – with no blackout dates. 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 30,000 bonus miles toward Award Travel after you spend $500 on the Card within the first three months of Cardmembership. Cardholders can check their first bag in for 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 and 20% off in-flight savings to use toward meals, beverages, and movies. 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 points after you make $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months you own the card. These points can be redeemed for a $100 statement credit. There is no annual fee and you have access to unlimited travel options: travel with any airline, hotel, cruise, car rental and travel package – with no blackout dates.
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