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Best airline rewards credit cards of September 2019 from our partners

Last Updated, September 18, 2019

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers from our partners. How we make money.

Best airline rewards credit cards

Airlines are vying for your loyalty any which way they can get it. Some offer lower prices, others entice with the offers of more leg room, priority boarding, deals with partner hotels and car rental companies – you name it, they'll offer it.

One way into your air travel heart that they have found includes partnering with financial institutions to offer credit cards tied to airline loyalty programs and rewards. This is nothing new, but it continues to evolve. Lenders are upping the ante daily, trying to lure qualified new card members into their ranks. Some advice:

  • Plan a budget: To assess various credit card offers and their associated rewards, you'll need to know how much you plan to spend monthly and yearly in order to apply for the one that will reap you the most rewards.
  • Find an angle: Do you want to be brand loyal or can you only afford flexibility with how you earn rewards and where you spend them?
  • Most importantly, don't fall for the first offer you receive: Do your research, starting with reviews of our top picks for the best airline rewards credit cards.

BEST AIRLINE REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

FLEXIBLE AIRLINE CREDIT CARDS | AMERICAN AIRLINES CREDIT CARDS | DELTA AIRLINES CREDIT CARDS |
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CREDIT CARDS | UNITED AIRLINES CREDIT CARDS | BRITISH AIRWAYS CREDIT CARDS |
CREDIT CARDS FOR OTHER AIRLINES | AIRLINE CREDIT CARDS FOR BUSINESSES

BEST FLEXIBLE AIRLINE CREDIT CARDS

Though the cards in this section aren't branded airline cards, they'll still earn you rewards on travel purchases — and since the rewards earned with these cards offer flexible redemption options, you won't be limited to booking travel with just one airline. These cards can be a great option for anyone not loyal to a particular travel brand.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Why We Like It: Thanks to a newly increased signup bonus that's worth $750 when redeemed for travel, this card is a hard one to overlook. It earns two points on travel and dining out and one point on all other purchases. Plus, points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to a number of airline and hotel travel partners making it a great option for those not loyal to one particular airline brand.

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account membership. Points are worth 25% more when redeemed through Chase's travel portal, meaning, the signup bonus alone could be worth $750.

The Rewards: Earn two points on travel and dining purchases and one point on all other purchases. Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

The Annual Fee: $95

Added Perks: Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, cruises, and more when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus, this card has no foreign transaction fees, making it great for international travel, as well as a number of other benefits such as car insurance and travel and purchase coverage.

Credit Needed: Good/Excellent

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: This card offers the flexibility to redeem your rewards to cover the cost of any flight on any airline at any time. Recently, however, it also added the flexibility to transfer your miles to 12 travel partners, meaning you might be able to make your rewards go even further than by simply redeeming them to cover a travel purchase.

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on your new card within the first three months. That's worth up to $500 in flexible travel or you can transfer those miles to one of the 12 travel partners and possibly make the rewards go even further.

The Rewards: Earn two miles per $1 spent on every purchase, every day, plus, earn 10 on hotel bookings made at hotels.com/venture. Read our full Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card review.

The Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Added Perks: Cardholders are eligible for up to $100 every four years to cover your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Mastercard® Black Card™

Why We Like It: This metal credit card exudes luxury. Beyond that, there isn't a traditional points-dump bonus, but the bonus is ongoing when you redeem your points for airfare; keep reading to find out what we mean.

The Bonus: Your points are worth more – 2% or $.02 each – when redeemed for airfare. That means that 25,000 points are worth $500 in airfare. That's a significant bump in value over other flexible travel credit cards and could definitely go a long way toward helping you offset the annual fee. Furthermore, the value of your points is also elevated when you redeem them into a U.S. bank account; in that case they're worth 1.5% or 1.5 cents each, meaning those 25,000 points are worth $375 if you redeem them for cash.

The Rewards: Earn one point for every $1 you spend on all your purchases. Then, as mentioned above, enjoy extra value depending upon how you choose to redeem your points: they're worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed into a U.S. bank account or for statement credit and $.02 each when redeemed for airfare. In either case, you're receiving more value for your points than is typical. Read our full Mastercard® Black Card™review.

The Annual Fee: $495

Added Perks: As a luxury card, this card comes with a number of luxurious benefits such as a $100 annual travel credit that can be used for airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades, etc.; a $100 statement credit that covers the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®; enrollment in the Luxury Card VIP Travel program which provides perks such as room upgrades, complimentary food, beverage, and spa credits, special car rental privileges, cruise privileges, charter services, and more. The VIP program also gets you into more than 1,000 lounges at airports in more than 500 cities. Additionally, cardholders can take advantage of access to a 24/7 luxury concierge who can help with booking travel, securing tickets, making reservations, conducting research and more.

Credit Needed: Excellent

Discover it® Miles

Why We Like It: Discover it® Miles goes above and beyond with its bonus rewards program in your first year as a cardholder. With no annual fee and Discover MATCHNG all the miles you earn during your first year – that match effectively means you’ll earn three miles per $1 for the first year on all your purchases; that’s well above the earning rate of even most cards with annual fees.

The Bonus: Discover matches all the miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 miles in your first year, at the end of the year Discover will match that number and you’ll be looking at 70,000 miles.

The Rewards: Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. Read our full Discover it® Miles review.

The Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

American Express® Gold Card

Why We Like It: The rewards are strong with this card. Not only can you earn three points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, but there's also an opportunity to earn four points on restaurant purchases worldwide as well as on U.S. supermarket purchases, up to $25,000 per year (then one point per $1). Furthermore; there's a 35,000 point bonus for new cardholders who use the card to make $2,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership and you can receive up to $100 in statement credits each year to cover incidental fees on one pre-selected airline. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser. Terms apply.

The Bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first three months. Terms apply.

The Rewards: Earn four points at restaurants worldwide as well as at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases annually, then one point), three points for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, and one point on all other purchases. Terms apply. Read our full American Express® Gold Card review.

The Annual Fee: $250. Terms apply.

Added Perks: Enjoy a $100 airline fee credit (in the form of statement credits) to cover things like check bags or in-flight meal services on one pre-selected airline. Take advantage of up to $10 total in statement credits monthly when you use your card at The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, Grubhub, Seamless and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required). Terms apply.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent


BEST AMERICAN AIRLINES CREDIT CARDS

If you are a frequent American Airlines traveler you'll make the most of your rewards by enrolling in the company's frequent flyer program, AAdvantage®. As an AAdvantage® member, you'll not only earn miles on American Airlines flights, but also on those operated by any of 13 Oneworld alliance carriers and nearly a dozen non-alliance partners.

You can learn all about the numerous perks and rewards of the American Airlines AAdvantage® program in our American Airlines AAdvantage® program guide.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

Citi is a CardRatings advertiser

Why We Like It: American Airlines has extensive partnerships making these miles quite valuable if your travel passions are far-flung. Plus, with redemption options starting at just 7,500 miles, the welcome bonus alone can take you far.

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 on your card in the first three months of account opening.

The Annual Fee: $99, waived for first 12 months*

The Rewards: Earn two AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Also earn a $125 American Airlines flight discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your card membership year and renew your card. Read our full review the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®.

Added Perks: There are no foreign transaction fees and your first checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation. Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights and receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

Why We Like It: No-annual-fee airline rewards cards are rare, so this one caught our attention. And not only is there a welcome bonus for new cardholders, but you can earn bonus rewards on more than just a branded flight, which is another rarity among airline cards.

The Bonus: Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® miles and receive a $50 statement credit after you make $500 in purchases within the first three months. That's a low spending threshold for any welcome bonus, but especially so for a card with no annual fee.

The Rewards: Rack up two miles for every $1 spent at grocery stores as well as on your American Airlines purchases. You'll earn one mile per $1 on your other purchases. Read our full American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card review.

The Annual Fee: $0*

Added Perks: You'll save 25% on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


BEST DELTA AIRLINES CREDIT CARDS

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Why We Like It: Priority boarding, a free checked bag, a nice welcome offer and more make this a card worth considering if you're a frequent Delta flyer. Terms apply.

The Welcome Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 in purchases within your first three months. You'll also earn a $50 statement credit when you make a Delta purchase in the same time frame. Terms apply.

The Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.Terms apply.

The Rewards: Earn two miles for every eligible $1 spent directly with Delta and one mile per $1 on all other eligible purchases. Terms apply. Read our full Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express review.

Added Perks: Save money as your first checked bag is free on Delta flights. You'll also skip the battle for overhead bin space thanks to priority boarding. Terms apply. 

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent


BEST SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CREDIT CARDS

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Why We Like It: A card that allows you to work toward bringing a friend along on your flight for FREE (except for taxes and fees) is a winner in our book. Add some of the additional perks and money-saving features in and this card really takes off.

The Bonus: Earn up to 60,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.

Companion Pass is the gold standard of rewards air travel. Earn a pass in a given year and it means a friend can fly free with you for the remainder of that year as well as throughout the following calendar year. You can earn a pass by taking 100 one-way flights in a year or by accruing 110,000 points, which is where a credit card comes in. Points earned through your card purchases count toward your Companion Pass threshold.

The Annual Fee: $149

The Rewards: Receive two points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and those with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners. Earn one point per $1 on your other purchases. Read our full Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card review.

Added Perks: Enjoy a $75 Southwest travel credit each year as well as up to four upgrade boardings, when available. You'll also receive 7,500 bonus points each year after your account anniversary.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Why We Like It: This card offers new cardholders the opportunity to earn a nice chunk of points toward earning that Companion Pass. Plus, as with other Southwest card options, all your purchases count toward earning that pass.

The Bonus: New cardholders can earn up to 60,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.

The Annual Fee: $99

The Rewards: Receive two points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and those with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners. Earn one point per $1 on your other purchases. Read our full review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

Added Perks: The lower annual fee means fewer, but still valuable, perks. There isn't an annual travel credit with this card, but you will receive 6,000 bonus points each year after your account anniversary.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Why We Like It: We're just stepping down in annual fees here, but we're still liking a card that offers a bonus with enough points to get you well on your way to that "free travel" we discussed above.

The Bonus: Earn up to 60,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.

The Annual Fee: $69

The Rewards: Receive two points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and those with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners. Earn one point per $1 on your other purchases. The key with these Southwest cards is really how much you fly Southwest and whether that's enough for you to offset the lowest annual fee or the highest annual fee, which comes with additional perks/features. Read our full review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Added Perks: The annual fee is even lower than that of the card above so, as you'd expect, the perks have gone down a bit too. In this case, you'll receive just 3,000 bonus points each year after your account anniversary.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


BEST UNITED AIRLINES CREDIT CARD

United℠ Explorer Card

Why We Like It: We like a healthy bonus, but we like ongoing perks and features even more, and this card for the United Airlines-loyal set certainly has those in abundance.

The Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

The Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

The Rewards: Earn two miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel accommodations, two miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and one mile per $1 spent on everything else.

Added Perks: Receive up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® statement fee credit every four years as reimbursement for the application fee for either program when charged to your card. Also, get 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi onboard United-operated flights when you pay with your Explorer Card. Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket, enjoy priority boarding privileges, and visit the United ClubSM with two one-time passes each year for your anniversary. Read our full United℠ Explorer Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


BEST BRITISH AIRWAYS CREDIT CARD

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Why We Like It: British Airways Avios are valuable and the welcome bonus opportunity means you can rack up quite a few bonus miles in your first year as a card member. Plus, you'll be rewarded with a Travel Together Ticket each year you spend at least $30,000 on your card, so the "bonuses," of sorts, aren't restricted to your first year.

The Bonus: Earn up to 100,000 bonus Avios — 50,000 after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account, plus an additional 50,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 within your first year. Also, you'll receive 10% off British Airways flights that start in the U.S. when you book by March 31, 2020.

The Rewards: Earn three Avios per $1 spent with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and LEVEL; earn two Avios per $1 on hotel accommodations; earn one Avios per $1 on your other purchases. Read our full British Airways Visa Signature® Card review.

The Annual Fee: $95

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


TOP CREDIT CARDS FOR OTHER AIRLINES

The cards already mentioned on this page cover most of the best-known airlines in the United States, but that doesn't mean they're the only options. In fact, there are number of smaller airlines that offer credit cards with some excellent features and rewards-earning opportunities for the right customer. Additionally, a few of these are connected to larger airline networks, meaning that the loyalty miles you earn with these niche airlines just might be redeemable with some of the larger airlines that have more extensive networks. Here are a few options:

Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

Why We Like It: This is certainly a niche airline, but if aloha is a regular word in your vocabulary, it might be just right for you. Furthermore, this card partners with a number of airlines with larger networks, including JetBlue as well as Virgin Atlantic, so your reward miles could be used beyond just with Hawaiian Airlines.

The Bonus: For a limited time, earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 90 days. Additionally, you can take advantage of a one-time 50% companion discount on a coach ticket between Hawaii and North America and a $100 companion discount on travel between Hawaii and North America each year after your account anniversary.

The Rewards:  Earn three miles per $1 spent on Hawaiian Airlines purchases; two miles per $1 on gas, dining and grocery store purchases; and one mile per $1 on your other purchases.

The Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee first year, then $99

Credit Needed: Good/Excellent

Avianca Vida Visa® Card

Why We Like It: Another niche card, but one that could be just right for the right customer. In this case, Avianca Airlines is part of the Star Alliance of airlines, which means Avianca loyalty club members have LOTS of options for other airlines on which to redeem and earn rewards.

The Bonus: For a limited time, earn up to 40,000 bonus miles. Receive the first 20,000 miles, the standard bonus, after making your first purchase and then earn another 20,000 miles after spending at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. New applicants need to enter the promo code SB4060 when applying in order to be eligible for that second 20,000 miles after qualifying purchases.

The Rewards:  Earn two LifeMiles per $1 spent on all Avianca purchases and one mile per $1 on everything else.

The Annual Fee: $59

Credit Needed: Excellent,Good

Alaska Airlines Visa® Signature

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

Why We Like It: This card is known for its companion fare, which cardholders receive each year after their cardholder anniversary and can be used for Alaska flights booked directly on the airline's website. The benefit offers you a base fare of $99, plus taxes and fees that start at $22. You also get discounts on in-flight purchases, Alaska Lounge day passes, and a free checked bag for you and up to six guests on your itinerary. If your travels often have you flying with Alaska Airlines, this could be a great fit. Furthermore, while not officially a member of the oneWorld airline alliance, Alaska Airlines does partner with those airlines, which include American Airlines, British Airways and many more, so your reward miles could land you on other airlines to reach other destinations as well.

The Bonus: Receive 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ after you spend at least $2,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

The Rewards:  Earn three miles per $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and one mile per $1 on everything else.

The Annual Fee: $75


BEST AIRLINE CREDIT CARDS FOR BUSINESSES

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Why We Like It: Because this card doesn't require brand loyalty to reap its benefits, small businesses can be fiscally savvy by shopping around for the best rates and prices while still earning rewards that can be spent wherever they choose.

The Bonus: Earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $4,500 on your new card in the first three months of opening your account.

The Rewards: Rack up two miles per $1 spent on every purchase, every day. Read our full review of Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business.

The Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Added Perks: Add employee cards for free; track your expenses with quarterly and year-end summaries, downloadable purchase records and a mobile app to manage purchases. Save money with no foreign transaction fees, car rental insurance, purchase protection, roadside dispatch and lost luggage reimbursement. Plus, receive up to a $100 credit for one Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business

Why We Like It: The Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business credit card is the no-annual-fee version of the card above. Yes, your bonus opportunity and ongoing rewards rate are a bit lower, but you don’t have to worry about offsetting an annual fee.

The Bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from opening an account.

The Rewards: 1.5 miles per $1 spent on every purchase, every day. Read our full review of Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business.

The Annual Fee: $0

Added Perks: Take advantage of a 0% intro APR on purchases for nine months (then, 15.24% - 23.24% (Variable)). You’ll also save with included auto rental insurance and no foreign transaction fees.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card

Why We Like It: With upgrades, companion travel rewards and access to airport lounges to make your business travel a bit more comfortable, it's hard to not like this card. Although there is a high annual fee, the on-the-go and Delta-loyal business will likely have no trouble offsetting that fee given the perks, features and rewards available. Terms apply.

The Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases with your new card in the first three months of account membership. Terms apply.

The Rewards: Earn two miles per $1 spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn one mile on every eligible $1 spent on other purchases. Terms apply. Read our full Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card review.

The Annual Fee: $450.

Added Perks: Receive a companion certificate good for a domestic first class, Delta Comfort+® or main cabin round trip each year when you renew your card (that will go a long way to offsetting that annual fee). You’ll also enjoy complimentary access to Delta Sky Club® lounges and a discounted rate of $29 per guest (up to two) any time you fly on Delta. You also rest easy with priority boarding, save money with your first bag checked free and no foreign transaction fees, and save time with 24/7 concierge service. Terms apply.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

Why We Like It: The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express is packed with rewards and bonuses. If you travel often via Delta Airlines and use your card monthly, it won't be hard to make the benefits offered, including in-flight discounts, upgrades, and several opportunities to earn bonus miles, more than offset the annual fee. Terms apply. 

The Bonus: Earn 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 MQMs after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase on your new card in the same time frame. Terms apply. 

The Rewards: Earn two miles per $1 spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn one mile on every eligible $1 spent on other purchases. Miles don't expire. Terms apply. Read our full Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express review.

The Annual Fee: $195.

Added Perks: Save with no foreign transaction fees, priority boarding, your first checked bag free, 20% off in-flight purchases, baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, and roadside assistance. Terms apply.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Why We Like It: This is a favorite of ours, in part, because of the all-important Companion Pass, which allows a passenger of your choice to travel with you free for the remainder of the year in which you earn the pass as well as for the entire calendar year after that. Given the high bonus as well as the opportunity for all your employees’ spending on the card to count toward earning that Companion Pass, we see this as an excellent business card for the annual fee.

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

The Rewards: Earn two points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and one point per $1 spent on all your other purchases. Read our full review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card.

The Annual Fee: $99

Added Perks: You’ll receive 6,000 bonus points each year after your card member anniversary. Enjoy no blackout dates when you redeem points, no seat restrictions, no change fees and no foreign transaction fees. And, as per usual with Southwest Airlines, your bags fly for free.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card

Why We Like It: As we mentioned with the consumer version of this card above, the Companion Fare option is fantastic, especially given the low annual fee this card requires.

The Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 base fare plus taxes and fees starting at $22) after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. You'll also enjoy a companion fare on Alaska flights booked directly through the airline each year after your cardholder anniversary.

The Rewards: Earn three miles per $1 spent on qualifying Alaska Airlines purchases and one mile per $1 on all your other purchases. Read our full Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card review.

The Annual Fee: $50 for the company and $25 per card

Added Perks: Save with a free checked bag for you and up to six guests on the same reservation and enjoy discounts on in-flight purchases.

Credit Needed: Excellent


HOW TO COMPARE AIRLINE CREDIT CARDS

As you review airline credit cards, you need to take into account several factors, including:

  • Airline loyalty: Do you have one airline you love or are you open to using different carriers? Some cards will only earn miles for a specific airline while others accrue points that can be redeemed for travel on multiple airlines.
  • Everyday spending: Some credit cards offer reward points only in specific categories of spending, such as travel, dining or groceries. Select a card that will allow you to maximize your rewards based on what you normally buy.
  • Annual fee: Airline credit cards can sometimes come with pretty hefty fees, however, these pricier cards usually come with valuable perks such as free checked bags, airport lounge access and travel credits. If you travel regularly, these benefits can easily offset the cost of the fee. However, if you tend to take a single trip each year, you may be better off with a low or no-fee card.

Remember, it’s important to choose a card that matches your lifestyle; not the other way around. By taking these factors into consideration, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision, choosing a card that works for your lifestyle and spending habits.


CAN YOU TRANSFER MILES BETWEEN AIRLINES?

The short answer is, sometimes. Many airlines are part of an alliance. There are three major alliances most people are familiar with: Star Alliance, OneWorld and SkyTeam. Each includes one U.S. legacy airline. United is part of Star Alliance, American Airlines is a member of OneWorld and Delta is a SkyTeam carrier.

One perk of alliances is the ability to book reward travel on multiple airlines. For instance, Delta SkyMiles may be used for reward travel on partner airlines within the SkyTeam alliance, such as Air France and KLM. So in this case, yes, you can transfer miles, as long as you’re transferring to an airline within the same alliance.

Another way to transfer miles is to use a travel credit card that is not connected to a specific airline. Some card issuers have their own rewards programs, such as Membership Rewards from American Express or Ultimate Rewards from Chase. Points earned in these programs can be used to book travel directly or can be transferred to a partnering airline. Just be aware that once points are transferred, they can't typically be transferred again to a competitor airline.


HOW TO MAXIMIZE AIRLINE REWARDS

Selecting the right credit card is only the first step in earning free travel. You also need to know how to maximize airline rewards. To do that, follow these basic strategies:

  • Stick with a single loyalty program: Select your favorite airline and try to concentrate your travel with that carrier. Most major airlines have loyalty programs which provide elite status to frequent flyers or those who earn a certain number of rewards miles. Gaining status is a good way to earn additional perks such as free upgrades, checked bags and bonus reward miles.
  • Use all mile-earning opportunities: Airlines let customers earn miles in multiple ways. They can gain them from flying, buying items through an online portal or using a co-branded credit card. Use all available options to maximize your airline reward miles
  • Don't be afraid of stops: While non-stop flights are convenient, stopping along the way can help speed your journey to elite status. Some programs will let you earn status based on qualifying segments. A segment typically refers to each leg of your flight so multiple stops can result in multiple segments.
  • Look for discounted award travel: Some airlines let customers redeem for award travel at a reduced rate. For instance, United has Saver Awards on certain routes with extra availability, and American Airlines has reduced mileage awards to select cities for those with co-branded credits cards.
  • Be flexible: Many airlines use dynamic award charts that may change how many miles you need to redeem for flights depending on when you want to travel. Check multiple dates before locking in your award flight.

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured in this post, please visit the following links: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees); Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees); Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card (See Rates and Fees); American Express® Gold Card (See Rates and Fees)

Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

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