Q: I want a credit card that earns miles, but I only have fair credit. What is the best credit card that I can apply for that will earn me miles?
Most of the major airlines have partnered with major credit card issuers, like Chase, Citi and American Express. You've probably already noticed that those banks save their airline credit card offers for consumers with good to excellent credit. The strategy helps attract road warriors who use business credit cards to cover their travel expenses, significantly reducing risk for lenders. Yet, this practice often strands responsible consumers who have a few blemishes on their credit reports.
However, some competition for market share among discount and foreign airlines could help you find an airline credit card for fair credit. They're bringing a few banking partners along for the ride, too:
- AeroMexico Visa. Technically, you're earning "air kilometers" instead of frequent flier miles with this Mexican airline's credit card from U.S. Bank. Even if you're not planning a trip to Acapulco or Mexico City, you can still turn your travel purchases into free flights. AeroMexico's membership in the SkyTeam alliance means you can book travel and earn credit on code-share flights operated by Delta, KLM, and other global carriers. U.S. Bank offers three tiers of service: Visa Signature, Visa Card, and a Visa Secured Card for applicants with limited credit.
- Frontier Airlines World MasterCard. This airline sprang from a fleet spun off from Continental Airlines in the late 1990s, and later merged with Midwest Airlines. You might not have heard of them, but they survived bankruptcy and a near-acquisition by Southwest Airlines. If you live in any of the dozens of cities Frontier serves, an affinity card issued by Barclaycard can help you earn thousands of bonus points. Barclaycard often sends applicants with fair credit through a manual review process, resulting in a better chance of approval for this niche airline credit card.
As you rebuild your credit, you can use cards like these to enjoy many of the same perks and privileges as members of more mainstream airline affinity programs. Just prepare yourself for higher annual fees and finance charges that banks use to offset their risk. If flying a lesser-known airline isn't the way you like to travel, consider a cash back rewards credit card for fair credit. Your cash rebate could amount to more than the value of your loyalty credits, while freeing you to book travel on the least expensive flights.
- I use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa for personal and business flights. For everything else, I use Visa US Bank Flexperks card. I pay off my bill every month, have good credit and I fly a lot. Is there a reason I should switch from US Bank Flexperks to a difference rewards card such as American Express?
- Can you recommend a good card for visiting or living outside of the U.S.A.? Can I avoid foreign transaction fees? Will my information be safe?
- I want to get rid of my Sony Visa card and move to another rewards credit card. I'm thinking about airline credit cards, probably American Airlines, since I live in Dallas. I have a Starwood AmEx already, and I have very good to excellent credit. Thoughts?
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- About two years ago, I went through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Will I be eligible for an American Express again?