Best Credit Cards for Airline Miles

Photo Courtesy: iStock | Woman on the beach making contactless credit card payment

Credit cards that rack up airline miles can be an excellent addition to the wallet of a frequent traveler. But which one should you choose? The best airline credit cards come with many benefits, including complimentary companion passes, free in-flight Wi-Fi, boarding priority, waived checked-bag fare, and lounge access. Before you apply for one of these credit cards, you have some choices to make about what sort of card is best for you. 

First, take into account your spending habits and what you’re looking for when it comes to card perks, for example many cards offer big incentives for spending large sums of money in the first few months. This can be a great thing to take advantage of if you have upcoming costly purchases and the ability to pay off those balances right away. Secondly, you should decide what type of rewards card you want: a general travel card or a co-branded credit card. Co-branded credit cards are offered by specific retailers, like airlines or hotel companies, in partnership with a credit card processor. These cards tend to come with bigger rewards, but the rewards can only be claimed through the co-branded retailer. If there’s a certain airline you love to fly with, this could be a good type of card for you. General travel cards accumulate rewards points that can be used at a variety of retailers, though the perks often aren’t as significant. A general travel card is a good way to go if flexibility is what you’re after. Here is a list of the 10 best cards for airline miles available today.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Photo Courtesy: Chase Bank

This general travel rewards credit card enables cardholders to earn points on any dining or traveling purchase. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card redemption options are also transferable and very flexible. The annual fee is $550 with a welcome bonus of 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. 

Membership rewards include 10X points on hotels and cars, Chase Dining purchases, and Lyft rides. Members also receive 5X points on flights booked via Ultimate rewards, 3X on dining and travel, and 1X per $1 spent on other purchases. There’s also a $60 yearly DoorDash credit, $300 travel credit per year, and an application credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Platinum Card From American Express

Photo Courtesy: American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express is a high-return travel reward card that offers frequent travelers high potential rewards rates. The annual fee is $695, and the welcome bonus offers 100,000 membership rewards points after the cardholder spends $6,000 in the first six months. 

The membership rewards include 5X points earned on trips booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel with purchases up to $500,000 per year, prepaid hotels booked via Amex, and 1X point per dollar on eligible purchases. Cardholders are also eligible for $200 airline credit, uber and hotel credits at select hotels, a statement credit worth $85 for TSA precheck or $100 for Global Entry for five years, and access to various airport lounge networks.

American Express Gold Card

Photo Courtesy: American Express

The American Express Gold Card is one of the best general travel cards on the market, with an annual fee of $250. The welcome bonus is 60,000 points after the cardholder spends $4,000 in the first six months. 

Membership rewards include 4X points at U.S restaurants and supermarkets with purchases up to $25,000 annually, 3X on flights booked on Amextravel.com or direct airlines, and 1X on other purchases. Also, cardholders receive $120 dining credits at selected restaurants annually with no foreign transaction fees.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Photo Courtesy: Capital One

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is among the best picks, with a low annual fee of $95. The welcome bonus is 60,000 points after cardholders spend $3,000 within three months. The membership welcome rewards include 5X points on rental cars and hotels booked via Capital One Travel and 2X points on other eligible purchases. Other card perks include no foreign transaction fees, an application credit for TSA, Global Entry or PreCheck, and no blackout dates for award flights.

Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

Photo Courtesy: American Express

For Delta Flyers, Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card is the best credit cards for travel rewards. The annual fee is $250 with a welcome bonus of 50,000 points after the cardholder spends $2,000 in the first three months. The membership reward points include 3X points on direct hotel purchases and qualifying Delta purchases, 2X points on U.S restaurants and supermarkets, and 1X miles on any other purchases. Other rewards include a 20% discount on inflight purchases, waived checked-bag fare, priority boarding, and no foreign transaction fees.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Photo Courtesy: Chase Bank

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers a great value with an annual fee of $149 and low threshold for the welcome bonus. The welcome bonus comes with 40,000 points after cardholders spend $1,000 within 90 days. 

Membership rewards include 3X points for Southwest purchases, 2X miles on commuting, local transit and rideshare, cable, internet, phone services, select streaming, and 1X miles on other purchases. Other perks include a 20% discount on inflight purchases, a $75 Southwest travel credit every year, reimbursement of four upgraded boardings, and no foreign transaction fees.

United Explorer Card

Photo Courtesy: United Airlines

The United Explorer Card has one of the most affordable annual fees of $95. The welcome bonus comes with 50,000 points when the cardholder spends $3,000 in the first three months. Also, membership rewards include 2X points on hotels, dining, and United purchases and 1x points on other eligible purchases. 

Moreover, cardholders get a free checked bag, a 25% inflight discount, priority boarding, application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and annual complimentary United Club passes for two.

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

Photo Courtesy: American Airlines

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard is ideal for families who frequently travel together. The annual fee is $99, and the welcome bonus is 50,000 miles after the cardholder spends $2,500 in the first 90 days. 

Membership rewards include 2X points for gas, restaurant, and approved American Airlines purchases and 1X points for other purchases. The cardholder will also benefit by having a $125 American Airlines flight discount after spending $20,000 annually, a free checked bag, and a 25% inflight discount with priority boarding.

JetBlue Plus Card

Photo Courtesy: Jet Blue

The JetBlue Plus Card has one of the best card rates, with a standard annual fee of $99. The welcome bonus is 40,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. An additional bonus of 5,000 points is also accredited yearly. A membership reward includes 6x miles on JetBlue purchases, 2x miles on grocery stores and restaurants, and 1x miles on other purchases. 

Other benefits include priority boarding, free changes and cancellation, two free checked bags, and complimentary alcoholic drinks after spending $50,000 annually. There’s also a 50% discount on select flights.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card

Photo Courtesy: Alaska Airlines

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card is only offered by Alaska Airlines and has an affordable $75 annual fee. The welcome bonus is 40,000 points after spending $2,000 in 90 days. The cardholder also earns a membership reward of 3X points on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1X on other purchases.

The Alaska Airlines card is one of the cards that offers companion passes. A few weeks after you qualify for your welcome bonus, Alaska Air will issue you a companion pass that can be used to book a second ticket for coach travel on any flight operated by Alaska Air. These tickets will continue to be issued annually.  Also, this is the only card that offers free checked bags for up to 6 people traveling together; so if you like to travel with friends, you stand to benefit a lot with this card.

Benefits of Cards With Flying Rewards

Photo Courtesy: iStock
ADVERTISEMENT

With all of these cards, there is no maximum number of reward miles you can collect. If jet-setting is a priority for you, applying for one of the above cards and racking up points can have a significant impact on your travel budget, which can help you to explore even more destinationsAirlines will often reward members with more than just miles too.Cardholders often receive seat upgrades, extra legroom, and priority boarding, so you can get to where you’re going in in comfort. 

ADVERTISEMENT

MORE FROM ASKMONEY.COM