10 Best airline credit cards

Airline credit cards are an efficient and easy way to save money when travelling. As such, some major benefits of airline credit cards are free flights, bonus miles and special flight prices.

In this article, we are going walk you through the best airline credit cards of 2016. We will show you the pros and cons of each one, how to apply for them, and, of course, which cards are the most suitable for different kinds of travel needs.

What to Look for When Choosing Airline Credit Cards

Here are the major criteria we are going to use to describe and compare our best airline credit cards list.

  • APR (annual percentage rate of charge) – is the interest rate, calculated as a total yearly, rather than monthly, percentage.
  • Intro rate – is the interest rate paid in the first stage of a loan, usually not lasting for more than one year.
  • Bonus miles – after spending a certain sum of money on buying plane tickets or other services, you will receive bonus miles. You can exchange them for a free plane ticket when you’ve accumulated a certain amount. Note that the term of “bonus miles” is not a universal constant. This means that the face value of each bonus mile accumulated on your card can bring you a different benefit depending on the flight company’s policy.
  • Bonus terms – each credit card is unique in how these bonus miles can be gathered. Most of them have an expenses threshold.
  • Foreign transaction fee – a type of fee which you will need to pay when the credit card is not used at a U.S-based retailer. The foreign transaction fee is not usually higher than 3%, but this depends solely on the bank’s credit card policy.
  • Penalty rate – if a transfer is not paid within a certain times frame, then the cardholder will have to pay penalty interest.

Best Top 10 Airline Credit Cards

1. Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles – American Express

Description

Gold Delta SkyMiles® from American Express is a great choice for business and family trips, as the first bag will be checked in for free each time you fly with Delta Airlines, thus saving up to $200 per four family member.he Gold Delta SkyMiles® has zero foreign transaction fees, so you will have one less thing to worry about at the end of the month, when the bill comes in. However, should you fall behind on your payments, the Delta SkyMiles® has an APR interest penalty rate of 27.24%.

APRIntroRateMileage (points per dollar)Annual FeeExtra Advantages
15.49% – 19.49%(Variable)None2:1 for purchases made with Delta)1:1 (all other purchases) Settle in early using Priority BoardingNo capacity on spending

50$ statement after you make a Delta-related purchase within the first 90 days

$0 for the first year, then $95.
  • Pros
    • No intro fee.
    • Great for family trips, thanks to the first free bag check-in policy.
    • $50 statement purchase for all Delta-related purchase
    • No foreign transaction fees.

    Cons

    • The fee for the second year is $95.
    • Limited ways to earn mileage (purchases made directly with Delta or other purchases).
    • High penalty interest rate (27.24%).

Bottom Line

Gold Delta SkyMiles® from American Express is a good choice if you need to travel by plane on a regular basis. With the free first bag check-in feature you can save up to $200 on your bags, this is one of best airline credit cards for families.

Apply for the Gold Delta SkyMiles® here.

2. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Description

With Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ you will be able to accrue bonus miles simply by dining or purchasing plane tickets from partners such as United Southwest Airlines, Hyatt, British Airways, and United. This airline credit card has no intro fees, and you will get a $300 annual credit for travel expenses.

Furthermore, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ you will be able to access the services of over 900 airports from all over the world and get 50% more value when you want to redeem your bonus miles for car rentals, hotels, airfare, and cruises. To apply for this card, you will need a credit score of at least 720.

 

APRIntroRateMileage (points per dollar)Annual FeeExtra Advantages
16.24% – 23.24% (Variable)None1:1 (for leading airlines and hotels)3:1 (dining and travel)$450$100 reimbursement every four years for paying a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck with your credit card.Special car rental privileges, compliments of Silvercar, Avis and National Car Rental.

No blackout dates or restrictions.

Pros

  • No intro rate.
  • $150 reimbursed if you pay your TSA Precheck or Global Entry bills with this credit card.
  • Over 900 airport lounges and car rental services can be accessed.
  • No blackout dates/travel restrictions

Cons

  • Requires an excellent credit score.
  • High annual fee compared to others (see Gold Delta SkyMiles® from American Express).
  • Not recommended for domestic travel, since you cannot take full advantage of this credit card’s benefits.

Bottom Line

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is widely considered one of the best airline credit cards for business on the market, since you can access many benefits.

Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ here.

3. JetBlue Plus Card

JetBlue Plus Credit Card

Description

This airline credit card was designed to make plane trips fun and affordable for you and your family. With the JetBlue Plus Card you can save more than 50% on cocktails, movies, food, and you will not have to worry about blackout date on the JetBlue Airlines. Another great benefit of using the JetBlue Plus credit card is that you will have a 0 percent on balance transfers for twelve billing cycles, if you perform this operation within 45 days after opening your first account.

 

APRIntroRateMileage(points per dollar)Annual FeeExtra Benefits
12.24% – 25.24%None6:1 (JetBlue purchases)2:1 (restaurants and grocery stores)

1:1 (for other purchases)

$99No blackout dates on JetBlue Airlines Save up to 50% when purchasing cocktails, food or watching a movieZero foreign transaction fee

Check your first bag for free.

Earn a $100 credit statement each time you book a vacation through JetBlue Getaway

  • You can save up to 50% when shopping with this card.
  • No intro fee.
  • Check in your first bag for free.
  • No blackout dates.
  • Zero foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • High annual fee compared to others (see Citi Gold/AAdvantage World MasterCard for American Airlines)
  • Can only be used on JetBlue airlines, which means that it does not have a high coverage.
  • Does not cover car rental expenses.

Bottom Line

The JetBlue Plus card is a great choice for family trips. With this credit card you will be able to save up to 50% when you decide to shop or to dine. Still, since this card can only be used on the JetBlue Airlines, your options will be limited if you fly to an area that the company does not cover.

Apply for the JetBlue Plus Card here.

4. Citi Gold/AAdvantage World MasterCard for American Airlines

Citi Gold/AAdvantage World MasterCard for American Airlines

Description

Citi Gold/AAdvantage World MasterCard is one of the most affordable airline credit cards out there, eliciting no intro fees and no blackout dates on any award travels. With this credit card, you will be able to save up to 25% on food and beverages purchased in-flight. Furthermore, this credit card does not have a spending limit. However, compared to the other airline credit cards we have presented so far, this card has a foreign transaction fee of 3%.

 

APRIntroRateMileage(points per dollar)Annual FeeExtra Benefits
13.99% – 21.99% (variable)None1:1 (for any purchase)$50No blackout dates when traveling with American Eagle/Connection or AABest for frequent flyers.

Pros

  • Low annual fee.
  • No blackout dates.
  • 25% discount when buying food and beverages.
  • No spending limit.

Cons

  • Has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • Does not have a free bag check-in feature.
  • Does not offers so many benefits as the other (i.e. car rental, credit card statement)

Bottom Line

Citi Gold/AAdvantage World MasterCard is one of the best value credit cards for families who want to enjoy every moment of their trip abroad. And with the 25% percent discount, you and your family can enjoy each moment of your trip.

Apply for the Citi Gold/AAdvantage World MasterCard here.

5. Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card

Description

Whether you’re on a business trip or a relaxation cruise, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is a great way to save some money. Having won the best frequent-flyer affinity card award, this credit card offers a free checked bag for you and up to six passengers, the next time you travel with Alaska Airlines. Morever, each year your will receive a companion fare from $121.

 

 

APRIntroRateMileage(points per dollar)Annual FeeExtra Benefits
12.49% – 19.49% (Variable)None5:1 (using Mileage Plan Dining)3:1 (for Alaska airline tickets, vacation packages, cargo, and in-flight purchases)

1:1 (all other purchases)

$75No foreign transaction fees.No spend limit.

The card is chip-enabled, for an extra layer of security.

 

Pros

  • Small annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • Increased security.
  • First bag is checked in for free (you and up to six passengers),

Cons:

  • No food and beverage discounts.
  • No card rental coverage
  • Can only be used on flights books with Alaska Airlines

Bottom Line

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is a great choice if you like to fly with Alaska Airlines. In addition, the 7+ free check-in feature will definitely help you shave a couple of more dollars on your next flight, as the zero foreign fee policy.

Apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card here.

6. United MileagePlus® Club Card

United MileagePlus® Club Card

Description

The United MileagePlus® Club Card offers a $100 statement credit for making your first purchase. Furthermore, by applying for a United MileagePlus® Club Card, you will become an official member of the United Club℠.

This means that you and your travel companies will be able to take advantage of all the service this exclusive club has to offer, spanning from complimentary snacks and beverages to SPAs and obtaining a job.

 

APRIntroRateMileage(points per dollar)Annual FeeExtra Benefits
16.24% – 23.24% (Variable)None2:1 (United ticket purchases)1.5:1 (all other purchases)$450No foreign transaction fees.You can check in two bags for free.

Pros:

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No intro rate.
  • Total access to United Club’s® facilities.
  • You can check in up to three bags for free.

Cons:

  • Not advisable if there is no access to a United hub.  
  • Annual fees are higher compared to other cards.
  • No food and beverages discount.

Bottom Line

The United MileagePlus® Club Card remains a sound choice for those who seek a flexible airline credit card. With zero foreign transaction fees and unrestricted access to United’s Club facilities, this credit card is recommended for international flights.  

Apply for the United MileagePlus® Club Card here.

7. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Description

The Capital One® Venture ® Reward Card is a flat rate travel card which has zero foreign transaction fees and that can be used on any airline. Furthermore, you save some money when checking into a hotel by using this credit card.

 

 

APRIntroRateMileage(points per dollar)Annual FeeExtra Benefits
13.24% – 23.24% (variable)None2:1 (all purchases)$59Save money when checking into any hotelNo blackout dates.

Pros

  • Great choice for international travel since it can be used to check in into any hotel.
  • Low annual fee.
  • Zero foreign transaction fees.
  • No blackout dates.

Cons

  • Limited rewards (i.e. does not cover discounts for food, beverages or car rental).
  • No free bag check.
  • No priority boarding. 

Bottom Line

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a great international travel companion, flexible, and it is specifically designed who have to travel by airplane on a regular basis.

Apply for the Capital One® Venture ® Reward credit card here.

8. Blue Sky Preferred Card from American Express

Blue Sky Preferred Card from American Express

Description

This airline credit card features among the top choices for travelers who do not have any flight company preferences, since it does not bind you to a specific airline. The best feature of Blue Sky Preferred card is that you will receive a $100 statement credit for any of your purchases. However, this credit card also comes with a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.

 

 

APRIntroRateMileage(points per dollar)Annual FeeExtra Benefits
17.24% – 22.24% (Variable)None2:1 (travel-related expenses such as restaurants and car rental)1:1 (airfare)$75Car rental loss and damage insurance.Blue Sky membership gives you access to music, sports, and theater events

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Pros

  • $100 annual statement credit for all your travel-related expenses.
  • No intro rate.
  • Low annual rate.
  • Many membership benefits.

Cons

  • No free bag check in;
  • Has a foreign transaction fee.
  • No Priority boarding.

Bottom Line

Among its airline credit cards competitors, the Blue Sky Preferred card offered by American Express is a good choice if you’re in for the rewards. However, keep in mind that this card also doesn’t come with a free bag check-in policy, which makes it a bit impractical for family trips, since you will be unable to save some money during this operation.

Apply for the Blue Sky Preferred Card from American Express here.

9. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Card

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Card

Description

The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Card is a great deal-breaker if you’re looking for ways to enhance your holiday experience. With this airline credit card, you will be able to save up to $200 on each trip if you opt for certain touristic destinations like Mexico or Caribbean.

 

 

 

APRIntro RateMileage (points/dollar)Annual FeeExtra Benefits
16.24% – 23.24%None2:1 (Southwest Airlines, Rapid Rewards®, and Car Rental Partners)1:1 (all other purchases)$99Bags fly for freeNo blackout dates

No seat restrictions

No foreign transaction fees

Pros

  • No intro rate.
  • You can check in the bag for free.
  • Save money on recommended vacation packages.
  • Zero foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • High annual fee.
  • Can only be used when flying with Southwest Airlines.
  • No credit card statements for travel-related needs (i.e. food or beverages).

Bottom Line

The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is great choice for those who want to spice up their summer vacation, by going to more exotic locations. Having a free bag check in policy, this credit card will help you save money (up to $200) for you and your family on your next flight.

Apply for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit care here.

10. BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card

BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card

Description

This credit card boasts zero annual fees and flexibility when it comes to booking plane tickets. With the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card you will receive 1.5 bonus points for each dollar you spend on flight-related purchases. Furthermore, you can also opt for a $200 credit statement for your travel requirements, which can be used on any airline.

 

 

 

APRIntro RateMileage (points/dollar)Annual FeeExtra Benefits
15.24% – 23.24% (Variable)None1.5:1 (travel-related purchases)NoneChip technology for increased securityNo blackout dates

No seat restrictions

Good flat cashback on all purchases

 

  • Pros
    • No annual fees;
    • Enhanced security thanks to the chip technology.
    • No foreign transaction fees.
    • No intro fee.

    Cons

    • No free bag check-in benefits.
    • No priority boarding.
    • Lacks additional services like car insurance, roar assistance, and access to entertainment.

Bottom Line

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card is a good choice for someone who’s looking for an everyday use airline credit card. With no annual and foreign transfer fees, this will allow you to make the most out of your business or family trip.

Apply for the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® here.

Which Airline Credit Card is Good for You?

To help you select the best credit card, we have prepared a small list which will help you figure out which airline credit cards are best for you.

Best Card for:CardAnnual Fee
Business TripsChase Sapphire Reserve℠$450
Family TripsJetBlue Plus Card$99
FlexibilityBankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card$0
Domestic TravelAlaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card$75

Conclusion

All in all, choosing the best airline credit card depends on many factor such as annual and intro rates, APR, and beneficts. Also, each airline credit card is designed to suit specific needs, be them business or family trips.

An airline credit card is a useful tool, and if you want to choose the right one, you should use the criteria listed above. Each of the airline credit card presented so far offers more in some area (i.e. benefit, APR, annual rate), but lacked in others such as no credit statements.

In the end, it is entirely up to you to choose the right credit cards for your needs. If you have any more questions about airline credit cards we’ve presented so far, then we encourage you to contact us.

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