Best Airline Credit Cards of February 2024

CREDIT CARDS - TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
The best airline credit cards offer a wide variety of benefits and perks. This guide can help you choose the one that most suits your lifestyle and financial needs.
Updated Feb. 25, 2024
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Best Airline Credit Cards

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The best travel credit cards provide plenty of opportunities to earn rewards for discounted trips and vacations. With the best airline credit cards, it’s easy to learn how to fly for free using the points and miles you’ve earned.

If you’re a travel enthusiast and interested in applying for a new card, here are some terrific options from multiple credit card issuers.

The best airline credit cards

In this article

The best airline credit cards of February 2024

Card name Excellent for Welcome offer Rewards rate Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
4.9
 
Overall value Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases $95
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
4.1
 
No annual fee Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases $0
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
5.0
 
Chase luxury travel Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases $550
The Platinum Card® from American Express
5.0
 
Amex luxury travel Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on purchases on your new card in the first 6 months 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases $695 (Terms apply)
United Quest℠ Card
4.6
 
United Airlines travel Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open 3 miles per dollar spent on United purchases; 2 miles per dollar on dining, select streaming services, and all other travel; plus 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases $250
JetBlue Plus Card
4.7
 
JetBlue Airlines travel Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases (and paying the annual fee) in the first 90 days 6X points on JetBlue purchases, 2X points at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchases $99
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
4.8
 
Southwest Airlines travel Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening (limited time offer) 3X points on Southwest purchases; 2X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; plus 1X points on all other purchases $149
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
4.3
 
American Airlines travel Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases; and 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases $99 (waived first year)
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
4.6
 
Delta Air Lines travel Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months 2X miles on qualifying Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S supermarkets; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases $150 (waived first year) (Terms apply)
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
4.8
 
Overall value for small business Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening 3X points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year; and 1X points per $1 on all other purchases $95
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
4.8
 
Amex luxury business travel Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on Amextravel.com; 1.5X points on eligible purchases at U.S. suppliers of construction materials and hardware, U.S. retailers of electronic goods, U.S. providers of shipping, software and cloud systems, and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to $2 million per year, then 1X); and 1X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases $695 (Terms apply)
Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
4.7
 
Southwest Airlines business travel Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening 4X points on Southwest purchases; 3X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; 2X on rideshare, social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services; plus 1X points on all other purchases $199
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
4.9
 
Delta Air Lines luxury business travel Earn 110,000 bonus miles after spending $12,000 in purchases in your first 6 months (offer ends 3/27/24) 3X miles for eligible purchases made directly with Delta; 1.5X miles on eligible transit, U.S. shipping, and U.S. office supply store purchases, plus all eligible purchases after you spend $150,000 in purchases in a year $650 (Terms apply)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Excellent for overall local and international travel value

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You can also earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases.

Why this is best for overall local and international travel value

With a low $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you access to the flexible and valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Because your Ultimate Rewards points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through the Chase travel portal, the 60,000-point welcome offer can go a long way toward flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and more. You'll also receive a $50 annual hotel credit on stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and an annual 10% points bonus on each card anniversary.

Couple that with the rewards you’ll receive from everyday purchases like dining and travel and you’ll be well on your way to loads of discounted trips. Even better, there are no blackout dates when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and you can always transfer points to more than a dozen Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, including JetBlue Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines.

Check out our Chase Sapphire Preferred review for more information.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Excellent for no annual fee

The Bank of America Travel Rewards is a simple credit card that can help you earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

You can also earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases using the Bank of America Travel Rewards. This card has a $0 annual fee.

Bank of America Travel Rewards cardmembers may benefit from its intro APR offers on purchases and qualifying balance transfers:

  • 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases (then 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR)
  • 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (then 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR)

Why is it best for no annual fee

The Bank of America Travel Rewards doesn’t offer luxury travel benefits. However, it comes with a $0 annual fee and charges no foreign transaction fees.

This makes it easy to keep it year after another while using it locally and abroad. Additionally, you might boost your earnings by 25% to 75% if you qualify for one of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards® program tiers.

To qualify for the lowest tier, you need a $20,000 three-month average combined balance of Bank of America bank accounts and/or Merrill investment accounts. The remaining two tiers require $50,000 and $100,000 three-month average combined balances.

Check out our Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card review for more information.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Excellent for Chase luxury travel

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the big brother to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

You can continue earning with 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases.

Both the Preferred and the Reserve offer DoorDash perks so you can enjoy some local food while you travel.

Why this is best for Chase luxury travelers

The $550 annual fee may seem steep, but the Sapphire Reserve’s perks and benefits can be well worth the cost. Each year you receive a $300 annual travel credit and your points are automatically worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

With the flexibility of Chase’s transfer partners, it’s easy to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for the exact flights you want. In addition, you also receive complimentary Priority Pass membership, a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit, and access to both travel insurance and Chase purchase protection.

Check out our Chase Sapphire Reserve review for more information.

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Excellent for Amex luxury travel

The The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the best travel credit cards. New cardmembers are eligible for an excellent welcome offer: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on purchases on your new card in the first 6 months. You can also earn 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Why this is ideal for Amex luxury travelers

The Amex Platinum has a $695 annual fee, but it also comes packed with amazing benefits. Each year, you’ll receive up to $200 in Uber Cash and up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits. Select benefits require enrollment.

You’ll also receive free Priority Pass membership and Amex Centurion Lounge access for enhanced airport experiences. Additional benefits include TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursement, Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, Hilton Honors Gold status, and travel insurance. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

You can also transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to any of the airlines and hotels partnered with American Express. With more than a dozen to choose from, these Amex transfer partners include airlines like British Airways, Emirates, and Virgin Atlantic.

Check out our American Express Platinum Card review for more information.

United Quest℠ Card: Excellent for United Airlines travel

To fly United with points, consider the United Quest Card. When you use this rewards card, you earn 3 miles per dollar spent on United purchases; 2 miles per dollar on dining, select streaming services, and all other travel; plus 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. You can also earn 70,000 bonus miles and 500 premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Why this is best for United travelers

If United Airlines is your airline of choice, the United Quest Card gives you ample opportunity to earn airline miles and offers enough benefits, including an annual United purchase credit of up to $125, to easily offset the $250 annual fee.

You’ll receive a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit and 25% back on United in-flight purchases. You also receive your first and second checked bag for free on United flights, for both you and one companion. Priority boarding and complimentary premier upgrades on award tickets are also available.

If you prefer a card with a lower annual fee, the United℠ Explorer Card is also a good option for frequent flyers on United. It offers similar benefits and its annual fee is smaller, at $95 (waived first year). Another United Airlines card is the United Club℠ Infinite Card, which has a $525 annual fee and gives you United Club lounge access.

Check out our United Quest Card review for more information.

JetBlue Plus Card: Excellent for JetBlue Airlines travel

The JetBlue Plus Card elevates your experience when flying JetBlue. Cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases (and paying the annual fee) in the first 90 days. Continue your earning with 6X points on JetBlue purchases, 2X points at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Why this is best for JetBlue travelers

JetBlue travelers with the JetBlue Plus Card get 5,000 bonus points after each account anniversary, your first checked bag free, and 50% savings on in-flight purchases. That should be more than enough benefits to cover the $99 annual fee, but you also have the opportunity to earn Mosaic benefits by spending $50,000 on your card in a calendar year. Mosaic benefits include two free checked bags, no change or cancellation fees, early boarding, and complimentary alcoholic beverages onboard.

Check out our JetBlue Plus Card review for more information.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Excellent for Southwest Airlines travel

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is a top choice for travelers flying Southwest with points. Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening (limited time offer) and earn 3X points on Southwest purchases; 2X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; plus 1X points on all other purchases.

Why this is best for Southwest travelers

With your Southwest Priority Credit Card, receive a $75 annual Southwest travel credit and 7,500 anniversary points each year. In addition, you get four upgraded bookings every year (when available), and 25% back on in-flight purchases.

This card can also help you get Southwest A-List status quicker or earn the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, which allows you to bring a designated guest along for free (excluding taxes and fees) on Southwest flights. All of these benefits come at a reasonable cost of $149 a year.

Check out our Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card review for more information.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Excellent for American Airlines travel

The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard offers high-quality benefits for frequent American Airlines customers. Cardholders can earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months. For rewards, you’ll earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases; and 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.

Why this is best for American Airlines travelers

American Airlines travelers with this card can take advantage of benefits like getting your first checked bag free, preferred boarding, and 25% savings on food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights. With only a $99 (waived first year) annual fee, these benefits can easily provide enough value if you’re a frequent flyer on American.

Check out our Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard review for more information.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: Excellent for Delta Air Lines travel

The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card offers top perks for travelers who prefer to fly Delta and earn lots of rewards. Cardholders can earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 6 months. You can also earn 2X miles on qualifying Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S supermarkets; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. The Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex has a $150 (waived first year). Terms apply.

Why this is outstanding for Delta Air Lines travelers

Delta fliers can get a lot of value from this card’s benefits. Your first checked bag is free on Delta flights, and you get $200 Delta flight credit after spending $10,000 in a calendar year. You also receive priority boarding, 20% savings on in-flight purchases, and car rental insurance. If you’re traveling abroad, don’t worry about extra costs on purchases because the Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex has no foreign transaction fees.

Check out our Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card review for more information.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Excellent for overall business travel value

For business travelers, the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card provides incredibly valuable rewards and benefits. Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening of card membership, plus earn 3X points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year; and 1X points per $1 on all other purchases.

Why this is best for overall business travel value

Small business owners who travel frequently can use the Ink Business Preferred to quickly rack up rewards on common business expenses. Because Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth 25% when redeeming for travel through Chase, the 100,000-point sign-up bonus and other points you earn can help cover upcoming travel costs. You can redeem your points for flights in the Chase travel portal or transfer them to one of the many Chase hotel or airline partners. The high-value rewards and benefits of this card should easily outweigh the $95 annual cost.

Check out our Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card review for more information.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Excellent for luxury business travel

For luxury business travelers, The Business Platinum Card from American Express has you covered. Cardmembers can earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months. In addition, you can earn 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on Amextravel.com; 1.5X points on eligible purchases at U.S. suppliers of construction materials and hardware, U.S. retailers of electronic goods, U.S. providers of shipping, software and cloud systems, and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to $2 million per year, then 1X); and 1X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

Why this is great for luxury business travelers

The $695 annual fee (terms apply) seems steep, but the Amex Business Platinum has the benefits to warrant the cost. Receive up to $400 annual Dell statement credit, $200 annual airline fee credit, Priority Pass and Centurion Lounge access, and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursement. And once you arrive at your destination, take advantage of your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite and Hilton Honors Gold statuses. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Easily one of the best benefits, though, is that if you use your Membership Rewards to pay for all or part of an eligible airline fare, you get 35% of those points back. This works on up to 1,000,000 points per calendar year.

Check out our American Express Business Platinum Card review for more information.

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Excellent for Southwest Airlines business travel

For Southwest business travelers, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card is a fantastic option. Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Also, earn 4X points on Southwest purchases; 3X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; 2X on rideshare, social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services; plus 1X points on all other purchases.

Why this is best for Southwest business travelers

The amount of Southwest points you can earn with this card is staggering, so the $199 annual fee isn’t too concerning. If you’re a small business owner who frequently flies Southwest, there’s no better option.

In addition to earning rewards, you also get four upgraded bookings per year (when available), free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, in-flight Wi-Fi credits, and 9,000 anniversary points each year. Plus, you can use this card to earn A-List status or a Southwest Companion Pass.

Check out our Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card review for more information.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card: Excellent for Delta Air Lines business travel

If you often find yourself on Delta flights, consider using the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card. With this card, you can earn 110,000 bonus miles after spending $12,000 in the first 6 months. Additionally, you can earn 3X miles for eligible purchases made directly with Delta; 1.5X miles on eligible transit, U.S. shipping, and U.S. office supply store purchases, plus all eligible purchases after you spend $150,000 in purchases in a year.

Why this is ideal for Delta business travelers

Delta flies all over the world, so it’s an ideal airline for business travelers heading to different destinations. With the Delta Reserve Business Amex, you’ll receive access to Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta. You’ll also receive your first checked bag free, complimentary upgrades, priority boarding, annual companion certificates, travel and baggage insurance, and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit. If you often travel for business on Delta Air Lines, that should be more than enough benefits to make up for the $650 annual fee (terms apply).

Check out our Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card review for more information.

How do airline and travel credit cards work?

Airline and travel credit cards work like rewards credit cards but may offer airline-specific benefits or travel-related perks. These cards typically earn points or miles that can be redeemed for flights, hotels, rental cars, and other travel-related expenses.

Airline rewards credit cards

Pros Cons
  • May provide free checked bags or priority boarding
  • May offer travel insurance and purchase protection
  • Offer an opportunity to earn elite status
  • Rewards can be tied to a specific airline
  • Rewards may expire or be devalued over time

Some airline credit cards offer big sign-up bonuses for cards connected to their frequent flyer programs. You can use this card type to earn enough points or miles for free flights by meeting the spending requirement after you get approved for the card.

Then, it’s up to you to continue using the card to earn rewards on purchases. Typically these cards will earn you more on travel purchases.

Using an airline credit card can help you reach elite status with the airline's loyalty program. Elite status may provide benefits such as free checked bags, priority boarding, increased points earning, or free in-flight Wi-Fi.

However, some miles you earn may expire if you don't have any qualifying mileage activity on your account for a while. And rewards tied to a specific airline may not always help your travel plans, especially if the airline doesn't fly where you need to go.

Travel rewards credit cards

Pros Cons
  • Often have a high level of redemption flexibility
  • May provide travel perks such as lounge access
  • Typically have no foreign fees
  • Often require a good or excellent credit score
  • Doesn't typically offer an intro APR

General travel rewards credit cards are cards that are not affiliated with a specific airline. These cards offer flexible rewards that can be used for various travel-related redemptions. Two examples are travel rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Platinum.

These cards allow you to earn points that aren't tied to any particular airline, and you can typically transfer your points to a number of partner airlines and hotels.

General travel cards are often considered the best airline credit cards because of their flexibility. They typically don't charge you foreign transaction fees. However, these cards may require that you have a good or excellent credit score to get approved.

What’s the best credit card for airline miles and travel rewards?

The best credit card for airline miles and travel rewards depends on your situation. Each card has different rewards, features, and benefits, so the best fit for each person will vary. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you compare credit cards:

  • Do you frequently fly a specific airline? If you live near a major airport for Delta, United, Southwest, or other airlines, you might benefit from a credit card that earns rewards for that airline. Choose between a co-branded card or one that allows rewards point balance transfers to your airline's loyalty program.
  • Are you interested in flexible rewards? For flexibility with airline options, consider a general travel rewards card like Chase Sapphire Preferred. The best cards may earn rewards that are transferrable to several airline loyalty programs or have redemption options such as statement credits or cash back.
  • Do you want premium travel benefits? If you value annual travel credits, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursement, and airport lounge access, consider a premium travel card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express. They may seem expensive, but their rewards and benefits can be enough to offset the higher annual costs.
  • Do you want to earn travel rewards on everyday spending? To earn award travel with your daily purchases, you can get a card that rewards you for spending in bonus categories that match your spending habits. Some cards offer extra rewards for dining or delivery services, while others reward you for gas or groceries. You can also benefit from welcome bonuses some cards offer for new cardmembers.
  • Where do you want to travel? Choose a credit card that aligns with your travel destinations. If you want to fly to Europe, it may not make sense to get a Southwest credit card, as Southwest doesn't fly there.
  • What travel perks will you use? Check which benefits each airline credit card offers and see which ones you would actually utilize. A common and useful benefit is getting a free checked bag when flying. If you can avoid baggage fees because of a credit card, you've already saved money. Some cards may also be a part of the Visa or Mastercard networks, which can provide additional travel benefits.

Are airline rewards credit cards worth it?

Airline rewards credit cards typically offer rewards and benefits related to a specific airline or a group of airlines. They can be a great way to earn points or miles that you can use for economy or first-class flights, but they also come with some drawbacks and limitations. Whether they are worth it or not depends on several factors, such as:

  • How flexible you are: Airline rewards credit cards often have restrictions and limitations on how and when you can use your rewards. For example, you may face blackout dates, limited seat availability, expiration dates, or fees when booking or changing your flights. You also need to consider the terms and conditions of the airline or alliance, such as baggage allowances, cancellation policies, or customer service.
  • How much you value the perks: Airline rewards credit cards may offer additional benefits such as priority boarding, free checked bags, lounge access, travel insurance, or concierge service. These perks can enhance your travel experience and convenience, but they may not be essential for everyone.
  • How much you spend and pay: Some airline rewards credit cards may have high annual fees, so you need to make sure that the rewards you earn outweigh the costs to make the card you qualify for worth your money.

FAQs about airline credit cards

What are the best co-branded credit cards for earning airline miles?

Some of the best co-branded credit cards for earning airline miles include the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card, Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, JetBlue Plus, Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, and the United Explorer Card.

Although most of these cards come with an annual fee (some are waived for the first year), they also include generous welcome offers that allow you to earn thousands of bonus miles in your first few months as a cardholder.

How many miles do you need to get a free flight?

There is no universal answer for how many points you need for a free flight, as it depends on what points or miles you’re using and how they’re being redeemed. It also depends on your travel destination, the flight dates, one-way or round-trip travel, and the ticket class. 

Each airline also has a different award pricing system. For example, an economy award flight on American Airlines across most of the U.S. could cost 7,500 miles. However, a similar flight on Alaska Airlines might cost only 5,000 miles.

How do companion flights work?

Companion flights are flights where two people travel together on the same itinerary without having to buy two separate tickets.

For example, Southwest offers a companion pass that allows its holder to add a companion to their itinerary for a low cost. Alaska Airlines also offers a companion fare that allows a traveler to accompany another traveler without buying a separate ticket.

The exact terms and conditions of companion flights vary by airline, but they can often be a great way to save money on travel if the terms and conditions fit your travel plans.

Can you transfer miles between airlines?

You cannot typically transfer airline miles between different airline loyalty programs, but many airlines do allow you to redeem their points or miles with other operators within their airline alliance. For example, one partner of Alaska Airlines is Cathay Pacific.

That means you can use your Alaska Airlines miles to book award flights with Cathay Pacific if you call the Alaska Airlines reservations line. Check an airline’s website to see the additional airlines they partner with and whether you can use your points or miles to book flights with them.

Do airline credit cards get you into airport lounges?

Many airline credit cards provide premium benefits that can enhance your travel experiences. With cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Platinum Card from American Express, you receive complimentary airport lounge access. The Sapphire Reserve provides free Priority Pass membership, and the Amex Platinum provides both Priority Pass and Amex Centurion Lounge access.


Best airline credit cards: bottom line

Airline credit cards are helpful for frequent travelers who want to fly for free or cheap, avoid checked baggage fees, or simply save money on in-flight purchases. They can also elevate your airport experience with airport lounge access or priority boarding at the gate.

If you’re interested in a new airline credit card, be sure to look over our list of the best ones available. Read over the benefits of each card to see which one would be the best fit for your lifestyle and travel needs.

Methodology

To choose the best airline credit cards, we looked at various travel cards from top card issuers. We wanted cards for different purposes and from several issuers. This allowed us to choose a wide range of co-branded airline cards with different rewards and benefits.

We mainly included cards that offer multiple benefits and valuable perks. Many of the cards on our list offer sign-up bonuses, free checked bags, anniversary points, airport lounge access, and travel credit.

Although many travel rewards credit cards have high annual fees because of these benefits, there are also cards with lower annual fees that could be more valuable for some travelers. If you travel frequently and earn enough rewards, the benefits can more than pay for the annual cost.

Great for Flexible Travel Rewards

4.9

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Current Offer

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

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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