Best Airline Credit Cards

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: 6 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 November 2019

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:


40,000 Alaska Miles Offer

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $75
on Bank of America's secure site
Why we like this card

This card allows you to earn 40,000 Alaska miles after qualifying purchases, which are very valuable due to their current award chart. Great for Alaska Airlines and past Virgin America frequent fliers as the card allows you to earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and you will receive a companion fare offer which can be useful.

Read our Review

Current Offer
• NOW - 40,000 Bonus Mile + Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ Offer.
• Get 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
• Save with a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation.
• Get Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ every year! EACH YEAR on your account anniversary get a companion fare from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska flights booked on alaskaair.com with no blackout dates.
• Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. And, your miles don't expire on active accounts.
• NEW! Enjoy 50% off day passes at the Alaska Lounge and 20% back on all Alaska Airlines inflight purchases when you pay with your new card.
• Redeem miles with no blackout dates on any of Alaska's 1,200 daily flights or choose from over 900+ destinations with more than a dozen global airline partners. Plus, get exclusive access to discounted redemption levels when you redeem miles for hotel stays at over 400,000 properties using Alaska Airlines Hotels.
• Plus, no foreign transaction fees and a low $75 annual fee.

on Bank of America's secure site

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 70,000 points

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $199
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

This card allows you to earn 70,000 Rapid Rewards® points which is over half of what you need to earn within a calendar year for Southwest's Companion Pass.

Read our Review

Current Offer

  • Earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
  • Inflight WiFi Credits
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® Fee Credit
  • Employee cards at no additional cost, earn points on employee spending.
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 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 35,000 bonus miles

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $195 ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Terms and limitations apply.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

The American Express Membership Rewards cards are generally a better option for accruing Delta SkyMiles, but if you need the MQMs this card is worth considering. The MQD requirement for the qualification year will be waived if you make at least $25,000 in Eligible Purchases in that year with your Delta SkyMiles Credit Card.

Card Details

  • Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Check your first bag for free and save up to $60 on a round trip Delta flight.
  • Find room for your carry-on and settle into your seat sooner with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding.
on American Express' secure site

Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles

United℠ Explorer Business Card

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

This card is great for road warriors as you earn 2 United miles per $1 spend on categories that you tend to have the most expenses on, plus priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation on United-operated flights, a free checked bag, and two one-time United Club℠ passes each year.

Read our Review

Current Offer

  • Earn up to 100,000 after qualifying purchases.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Plus, 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open

Card Details
Earn 2 miles per $1 at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores and on United purchases. Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

on Chase's secure site
Limited time offer! Earn up to 65,000 Bonus Miles

United℠ Explorer Card

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
Limited time offer! Earn up to 65,000 Bonus Miles. 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 total on purchases in the first 6 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:

Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Limited Time Offer Ends 12/4/2019
Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $595
Terms Apply
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

While the annual fee is high the card comes with lots of benefits that help negate the annual fee, and this is a great welcome bonus on this card.

Read our Review

Current Offer

  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Terms Apply
on American Express' secure site
Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points

American Express® Business Gold Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $295
Terms Apply
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

Earning 4X Membership Rewards® for small business expenses is an awesome return, and we especially like that it automatically applies to the categories you use most in a billing cycle, rather than having to choose just one or two each year.

Read our Review

Current Offer

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*
  • MORE REWARDS: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month**
  • **4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*
  • AIRLINE BONUS: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
  • PAY OVER TIME OPTION: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.*
  • Access to the Working Capital Terms program: get additional funding beyond what you can spend on Business Gold with this flexible funding solution designed to pay U.S. based vendor invoices directly when cards are not accepted.*
  • *Terms Apply
on American Express' secure site

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 17.49% - 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

on Citi's secure site
Earn 10,000 bonus miles

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
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 introducing 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 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Card Details
• Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.
• Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
• 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.

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:

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0
on Capital One's secure site
Why we like this card

Capital One points are most useful for domestic economy flights, particularly if you have to travel over peak dates, but the new airline transfer option means these miles can be great for international travel as well.

Current Offer
20,000 Miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

Card Details

  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74% - 23.74% variable APR after that
on Capital One's secure site
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
20,000 Miles

Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0
on Capital One's secure site
Why we like this card

Capital One points are most useful for domestic economy flights, particularly if you have to travel over peak dates.

Current Offer

  • Earn unlimited 1.5X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
  • Earn a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles - equal to $200 in travel - once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠ using a Spark Miles Select card
on Capital One's 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.

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *