Airline credit cards are a great way to save money and get better service when flying with your favorite airlines.
Not all airline cards are created equal, of course, and the habits you develop with your airline credit card decide if you earn your way to free flights around the globe.
Today we are going to answer some frequent questions about airline credit cards and help you understand what you need to know to get the best results.
With so many great airline credit cards available, it may be overwhelming to choose the right one for you. When you consider the most important criteria, however, it is easy to get down to a list of the best cards for your needs:
Now that you know the main criteria to consider, you can zero in on the best airline credit card for you.
Some of the best airline credit cards include the United MileagePlus Explorer, American Airlines AAdvantage Mastercard, and Southwest Visa. But the very best travel cards do not come from an airline at all.
You can view our list of the best airline credit cards here. For airline-branded cards, our favorites include credit cards from United, American, and Southwest Airlines.
For even better rewards, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclays Arrival Plus cards.
The best travel rewards come from two elite tier cards: Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum. These cards carry a $450 and $550 annual fee respectively.
Both cards include benefits like travel lounge access, extensive travel and purchase protection benefits, and valuable rewards currency.
At a lower price point, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclays Arrival Plus, both of which have a fee around $100 per year.
The value of airline credit cards depends a lot on your personal finances, spending habits, and credit history.
If you can use a card for regular daily spending and pay it off in full every month before the due date, you’ll most likely get much more value from rewards than the cost of an annual fee.
If you can’t stay on top of credit card bills, however, the interest charges may outweigh the benefits. Further, if you don’t have the credit to qualify, you may not be approved for some of the best airline credit cards.
The easiest credit card to use for redeeming air travel rewards is either the Barclays Arrival Plus or the Capital One Venture card. Barclays Arrival Plus, for example, gives you an option to redeem points for any travel purchase.
To redeem, make a purchase with the card at any major airline, hotel, cruise, train, or travel agency. Then login to your Barclays account to redeem by reimbursing yourself for the purchase as a statement credit.
That effectively removes the charge from your account before you have to pay it.
Southwest may offer the best credit card for free checked bags, as you get two free bags on any Southwest flight. But you get that even without the credit card.
United MileagePlus Explorer offers a first bag checked free for you and a companion. The AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard offers a free checked bag for you and up to four companions. That may be the most valuable offer to get a discount on baggage fees.
Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express may be the best airline branded card with no annual fee. It offers decent rewards for regular spending, plus a discount on in-flight purchases on Delta flights.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated April 16, 2019 but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.