Best Airline Credit Cards for Miles & Points

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile at a Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. We choose our OMAAT Picks based on the combination of benefits the card provides, and the ability to earn outsized rewards. Thanks for your support!

Updated: 3 days ago

Airline-specific cards can be great for the perks, and the best airline credit card will give you benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, and in-flight discounts. However, you can often earn more miles by using a flexible points card and transferring the points to your airline program as needed. We’ll cover both, so you can find the top airline credit card for your situation.

Airplanes

The Best Airline Credit Card Offers of April 2020

We’re pretty passionate about airline miles, having earned and redeemed millions of them ourselves, and helping clients redeem more than half a billion points over the past decade. And during that time, we’ve learned which credit cards give you the best bang for your buck, whether that’s earning airline miles directly, or taking advantage of rewarding cards that let you convert points to miles.

In general, it makes sense to get the credit card for your primary airline, the carriers that serve your local airport, or really any airline that you fly more than once or twice a year. The benefits of the cards easily outweigh any annual fees, plus you can typically earn tens of thousands of airline miles just for applying for the card and meeting a minimum spend. Here are the best airline reward credit cards available today:



Earn up to 100,000 bonus Avios

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $95
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

British Airways has a distance-based award chart which is extremely lucrative for short-haul travel, as awards outside North America start at just 4,500 Avios one-way. Given that short flights are often disproportionately expensive when paying cash, I’ve found Avios to be invaluable.

Read our Review

Current Offer

  • Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Plus earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on your purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL
  • 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations, plus 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 10% off British Airways flights starting in the US when you book by March 31, 2020
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Simply tap to pay with your contactless British Airways Visa Signature Card. Just look for the contactless symbol at checkout. It's fast, easy and secure!
on Chase's secure site


Earn 40,000 points

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $149
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

Read our Review

Current Offer
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Card Details
2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

on Chase's secure site

Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $250
Terms Apply
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

Current Offer

  • Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles. Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 20,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 4/1/2020.
  • NEW! With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free and Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights.
  • NEW! Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • NEW! Earn 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • 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.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site

Foreign Transaction Fee:
Annual Fee:
Terms and limitations apply.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card
on American Express' secure site

60,000 bonus miles

United℠ Explorer Card

Limited-time offer | offer ends 4/2/20
Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

This card comes with some worthwhile benefits for United flyers, especially the PQD waiver for $25k in annual spend.

Read our Review

Current Offer
60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Card Details
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

on Chase's secure site

See more credit card offers from these airlines:

What Is The Best Airline Credit Card For Miles?

We are constantly asked about the best credit card for airline miles, and the answer may surprise you. I’ve flown well over 100 different airlines, and personally fly an average of 400,000 miles a year in international first and business class — and most of that has been made possible by leveraging airline miles.

So you can believe me when I say I know the best airline credit cards for miles, and that it usually isn’t actually an airline card — instead, you’ll earn more points more quickly with a flexible points currency issued by one of the major bank credit cards. Depending on the card you choose, you can maximize your mileage earning with cards offering big category bonuses. We try and earn at least two miles for every dollar we spend, which is pretty easy these days. With a combination of various cards, we’re maximizing our miles by earning:

  • 5x points on flights, restaurants, and certain hotels
  • 4x points on dining worldwide, and U.S. supermarkets
  • 3x points on travel, restaurants, shipping, Internet, cable & phone, advertising, and gas stations
  • 2x points on everyday purchases

The specific categories vary by card, so if you tend to cook at home you’ll want to consider a card that offers bonuses on groceries or supermarkets, while someone who eats out will do better with a card offering a bonus on restaurants. As you’re doing your research, think about what purchases you make most frequently, whether your budget will allow you to meet the minimum spend to earn the welcome bonus in time, and what your travel goals are.

In addition to the airline credit cards, you’ll want to consider our top picks for other rewards cards that let you earn the most airline miles:

The Best Airline Credit Card With No Annual Fee

For the most part, in order to take advantage of all the potential perks and rewards that come with using an airline credit card, you’ll be paying at least a moderate annual fee. After all, these benefits have to be paid for somehow! That being said, if you don’t fly quite enough to justify the cost of an annual fee, but still want to earn miles, there’s a tie for the best airline credit card with no annual fee available today:

Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
Annual Fee: $0
on Citi's secure site
Why we like this card

Read our Review

Current Offer
• 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 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
• Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
• Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights
• The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

on Citi's secure site
Earn 15,000 bonus miles

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

No Foreign Transaction Fees
Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0
Terms Apply
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

While it might not be the best option for the savvy traveler, it’s nice to see an airline with a no annual fee credit card. People often want to have a card from a brand they like, and lots of people like Delta. For a no annual fee card, the card is more generous than I was expecting.

Current Offer

  • Earn 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Expires 4/1/2020.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • NEW! 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.
  • NEW! 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.
  • Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site

Most people, however, can do a bit better by choosing a non-airline card. If you aren’t flying enough to where the annual fee would be offset by free checked bags, in-flight discounts, etc., you’d probably be better served by a flexible points card. You’ll usually earn more points for every dollar you spend, and those points can be used towards paid tickets (so you can earn more miles!), or transferred directly to your airline miles account when you’re ready to use them:

Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7%
Annual Fee: $0
The card details for the Amex EveryDay have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

If you make frequent transactions in a month the Amex EveryDay cards are a great option. In addition to accruing points in bonus categories, these cards offer an additional incentive based on how many times the card is used in a month. This can be quite lucrative, especially as these cards accrue Membership Rewards points. Membership Rewards points can be transferred to airline partners for the best value, or used to pay for all or part of your flight, prepaid hotel, vacation or cruise through amextravel.com.

Current Offer
Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Card Details
2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 1x points on other purchases. Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.

on American Express' secure site


If you’re serious about finding the best airline credit card for miles, most individuals will actually want to look beyond the airline they fly most often. Airline credit cards offer some fantastic perks, and you should definitely take advantage of the in-flight benefits and the great welcome bonuses on the cards. For long-term spending, however, you can earn even greater rewards by choosing a card that earns flexible points on the purchases you make most often.

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Comments
  1. I have an AA Executive Elite MASTERCARD FROM CitiBank. The travel protection benefits are completely misleading. I recently had a travel delay of approximately 2 hours from Zurich to Philadelphia. As a result, I missed my connection. As a result of destination change 3 months prior to departure, American did not automatically put me on the next available flight from PHL to BDL (Hartford, CT). I was on standby for the last flight of the night, for which I did not clear. American offered me a hotel voucher for a particular hotel, but the hotel was sold out, and the voucher was not honored. There were no available flights for another 24 hours, so I booked Amtrak from Philadelphia to my final destination of Springfield, MA. I submitted a reimbursement request with the credit card insurance carrier. The claim was denied because the originating flight delay was a delay of less than 6 hours. This is a completely useless benefit with regard to any flight delay that causes a missed connection. So any flight delay later in the day that causes a missed connection will never result in a reimbursement benefit. A one hour delay later in the evening can result in being stranded and an overnight stay in the connection city. Have you done any analysis of the various travel insurance benefits being offered by different credit cards. I’m discouraged, as this is a $450 annual fee card. I believed that I had travel protection; turns out I did not.

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