The best airline credit cards of May 2022

By
Madison Blancaflor
and
Christina Ly
Editor
Nick Ewen
Updated
May 23, 2022
This page is a marketplace where our partners can highlight their current card offers. The reviews and insights represented are editorial, but the order in which cards appear on the page may be influenced by compensation we may receive from our partners.

Airline credit cards can be an excellent addition to your wallet if you fly frequently with a certain airline. Here are the best credit cards for airline travel offered by our partners.

OFFER ENDING 6/1
Best for total value
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
2 - 5X points
details
  • 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x 3x on dining.
  • 2x 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
80,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
80,000 points
60,000
$95

Why We Chose It

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Offering an excellent return on travel and dining purchases, the card packs a ton of value that easily offsets its $95 annual fee. Cardholders can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Chase or transfer points to one of Chase’s 14 valuable airline and hotel partners. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on dining including eligible delivery services and takeout
  • The current sign-up bonus on this card is quite generous. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance.

Cons

  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee.
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
ELEVATED BONUS MILES OFFER
Best for easy-to-use rewards
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
2 - 5X points
details
  • 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
75,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
75,000 miles
$95

Why We Chose It

When it comes to simplicity and strong rewards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a solid choice for most travelers. You’ll earn earns 2x miles on every purchase with no bonus categories to memorize, making it an ideal card for those with busy lives. Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Pros

  • This flexible rewards card delivers a solid sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles, worth $1,388 based on TPG valuations and not provided by the issuer.
  • You'll earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, which means you won't have to worry about memorizing bonus categories.
  • Rewards earned are versatile as they can be redeemed for any hotel or airline purchase for a statement credit or transferred to 10+ travel partners.

Cons

  • A couple of partners' transfer ratios are mediocre at a less than 1:1 ratio
  • Capital One airline partners do not include any large U.S. airlines.
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4/5
1 - 5X points
details
  • 5X Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
  • 1.5X Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
  • 1X 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
120,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
120,000 points
$695

Why We Chose It

The Business Platinum Card from American Express is a great card for frequent travelers looking to add a touch of luxury to their business trips. While the card does come with a high annual fee, you’re also getting a ton of valuable benefits in return. They include generous annual travel credits, unparalleled lounge access that includes Amex Centurion Lounges and more. Read our full review on The Business Platinum Card from American Express.

Pros

  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years.
  • Up to $400 annual statement credit for U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required).
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels; access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection (enrollment required).
  • Extended warranty protection; International Airline Program; and Cruise Privileges Program.

Cons

  • Steep $695 annual fee.
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 minimum spend for smaller businesses.
  • Limited high bonus categories outside of travel.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, 0% Intro APR for 12 months from the date of the account opening on purchases eligible for Pay Over Time. After that, your APR will be 14.99% to 22.99% based on your credit worthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in value per year for statement credits on select purchases with your Card, including up to $400 with Dell Technologies, up to $360 with Indeed, up to $150 with Adobe and up to $120 on wireless telephone purchases. Enrollment required.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year toward baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Best new premium travel credit card
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
2 - 10X points
details
  • 10X Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5X 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
  • 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
75,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
75,000 miles
$395

Why We Chose It

If you can maximize the up to $300 statement credit toward Capital One Travel, the Venture X’s annual fee effectively comes down to $95, the same annual fee pegged to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Add in a 10,000-mile bonus every account anniversary (worth $185, according to TPG valuations) and lounge access, and the card may become the strongest option out there for a lot of travelers. Read our full review of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

Pros

  • 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary

Cons

  • $395 annual fee
  • Up to $300 back in statement credit annually only applicable for bookings made through Capital One Travel portal
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Escape the airport crowd and recharge before your flight with unlimited access to all-inclusive amenities at the Capital One Lounge and at 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges worldwide
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
NEW PLATINUM EXCLUSIVE OFFER
New Platinum exclusive offer
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
5X points
details
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Earn 100,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
Earn 100,000 points
$695

Why We Chose It

The Amex Platinum is unmatched when it comes to travel perks and benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and annual statement credits are important to you, this card is well worth the high annual fee. Read our full review of the Platinum Card from American Express.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and more than $1,400 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more.
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The $695 annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning bonus rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee credit and other statement credits can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for international airlines
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • 3X Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • 1X Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
60,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
60,000 points
$95

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier Card is one of the best starter travel rewards cards due to its gracious amount of bonus spend categories. You’ll not only earn triple points on air travel and hotel, but also on restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations — offering plenty of opportunities to earn on your everyday purchases. Best of all, your points are flexible and can transfer to a variety of frequent flyer programs in every airline alliance. Finally, enjoy an annual $100 hotel savings benefit through Citi on single-stay bookings of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees). Read our full review of the Citi Premier Card.

Pros

  • Earns 3 points per dollar on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more booked through thankyou.com).
  • Points transfer to 15 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee.
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 60,000 Points are redeemable for $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4.5/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • 1X Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
100,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
100,000 points
$95

Why We Chose It

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card’s sign-up bonus is among the highest we’ve seen from Chase. Plus earn points across the four bonus categories (travel, shipping, advertising and telecommunication providers) that are most popular with businesses. The card comes with travel protections, shopping protections and will also have primary coverage when renting a car for business purposes for you and your employees. Read our full review of the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

Pros

  • One of the highest sign-up bonuses we’ve seen — 100,000 bonus points after $15,000 worth of spend in the first three months after card opening.
  • Access to the Chase Ultimate Rewars portal for points redemption.
  • Reasonable $95 annual fee; bonus categories that are most relevant to business owners.
  • Primary car insurance; and perks including cell phone and purchase protection.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance; trip delay reimbursement

Cons

  • High spending needed to get 100,000-point sign-up bonus.
  • Subject to Chase's 5/24 rule on card applications.
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
Best for earning Alaska Airlines miles
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.
  • 1X Unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
$100 Statement Credit + 40,000 Bonus Miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
$100 Statement Credit + 40,000 Bonus Miles
$75

Why We Chose It

There’s a lot to love about this card, in part due to its highly valuable loyalty program: Alaska Airlines MileagePlan. Whether you’re a loyal Alaska flyer or a points maximizer looking to diversify your rewards portfolio, this card has a lot to offer. For starters, you’ll receive Alaska’s Famous Companion Pass each year for $121, free checked bags for you and up to six guests on your itinerary, 50% off Alaska lounge day passes and more. Plus, Alaska has joined the oneworld alliance, opening up endless redemption opportunities. Read our full review of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card.

Pros

  • Free checked bag for you and up to six guests on your reservation.
  • Several Alaska discounts, including 50% off Alaska lounge day passes and 20% back on in-flight purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • $75 annual fee.
  • Not the best everyday rewards rate, as you'll earn 3x miles on Alaska purchases and 1x on everything else.
  • Limited Time Online Offer! $100 Statement Credit + 40,000 Bonus Miles.
  • Get a $100 statement credit, 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™. Every year on your credit card account anniversary you'll receive a companion fare which allows you to book a companion flight from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska Airlines flights booked on alaskaair.com.
  • Free checked bag for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation - that's a savings of $60 per person roundtrip!
  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. And, your miles don't expire on active accounts.
  • With oneworld® Alliance we've expanded our global reach to over 900 destinations worldwide, bringing you more airline partners and more ways to earn and redeem miles.
  • Flexibility with no blackout dates on Alaska Airlines flights when booking with miles or a companion fare.
  • Plus, no foreign transaction fees and a low $75 annual fee.
  • This online only offer may not be available elsewhere if you leave this page. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for occasional Delta flyers
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4/5
1 - 2X points
details
  • 2X Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 1X Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
40,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
40,000 miles
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

Why We Chose It

The Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex provides valuable elite-like benefits for causal Delta flyers including a first checked bag free and priority boarding. It can easily justify getting and keeping this card. Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card.

Pros

  • First checked bag free for you and up to eight companions.
  • Main Cabin 1 priority boarding.
  • 20% back in the form of a statement credit on in-flight purchases (not including Wi-Fi).

Cons

  • Doesn't make sense if you don't fly Delta.
  • There are better Delta cards if you want lounge access or a boost to earn elite status.
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at U.S. Supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • $100 Delta Flight Credit: After you spend $10,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, receive a Credit to use toward future travel.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for United business travelers
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
4/5
1 - 2X points
details
  • 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, dining (including eligible delivery services), at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting
  • 1X Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99

Why We Chose It

If you’re a business owner, the United Business card offers excellent benefits for United flyers while charging a low $99 annual fee (waived the first year). Read our full review of the United Business Card

Pros

  • Earn 2 MileagePlus miles per dollar on United Airlines purchases, dining, gas stations, office supply stores and on local transit and commuting and 1 mile per dollar on everything else.
  • First checked bag free for you and one companion on your reservation.
  • Two United Club one-time passes each cardmember anniversary.
  • Travel protections including primary rental car insurance and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

Cons

  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Only provides lounge access twice per card member year.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Receive a 5,000-mile "better together" bonus each anniversary when you have both the United℠ Business Card and a personal United® credit card.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, dining (including eligible delivery services), at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, employee cards at no additional cost - miles earned from their purchases accrue in your account so you can earn rewards faster.
  • Enjoy a free first checked bag - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip (terms apply), 2 United ClubSM one-time passes per year, and priority boarding privileges.
  • $100 United® travel credit after 7 United® flight purchases of $100 or more each anniversary year.
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
3/5
1 - 2X miles
details
  • 2X 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1X 1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases
50,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
50,000 miles
$450

Why We Chose It

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is the best for those who fly American Airlines and want Admirals Club lounge access. It also gives you helps you earn and maintain elite status and comes with priority perks. Read our full review of the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

Pros

  • Earn a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after spending $5,000 on the within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Offers Admirals Club lounge access.
  • Priority check-in, airport screening, boarding and a free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions.
  • 25% discount on inflight food and beverages.
  • Receive a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Fee Statement Credit.

Cons

  • No travel protection benefits.
  • Miles redemption limited to American Airlines and its Oneworld partners.
  • 25% inflight credit doesn't include Wi-Fi.
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® Bonus Miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible mile earned from purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 16.74% - 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Best for Southwest Airlines business travelers
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
3/5
1 - 4X points
details
  • 4X Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 3X Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services.
  • 1X 1X points on all other purchases.
80,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
80,000 points
$199

Why We Chose It

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card is ideal for business travelers and loyal Southwest flyers interested in hitting A-List status or earning a Companion Pass. Read our full review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card.

Pros

  • 9,000 points on each cardmember anniversary.
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit (up to $100).
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings a year.

Cons

  • $199 annual fee means only those loyal to Southwest will truly benefit.
  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® Fee Credit.
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
3.5/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • 2X Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 1X Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
50,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
50,000 miles
$250

Why We Chose It

The Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex is a good choice for Delta loyalists who need a little help reaching their elite status goals. This card offers some useful perks including an annual companion pass and your first checked bag free on Delta flights. Read our full review of the Delta Skymiles Platinum Amex.

Pros

  • Earn bonus Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) and an Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver when you hit specific spending thresholds with your card within a calendar year.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year.
  • Fee credit for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry.
  • First checked bag free.

Cons

  • Doesn't make sense if you don't fly Delta.
  • $250 annual fee.
  • SkyMiles aren't the most valuable airline currency.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
3.5/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases.
  • 1X Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
50,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
50,000 miles
$550

Why We Chose It

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is the premier choice for Delta loyalists who value an accelerated path to elite status, Delta SkyClub lounge access, an annual companion certificate and strong earning rates on Delta purchases. Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card.

Pros

  • Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) waiver when you spend $25,000 in a year on the card.
  • A companion certificate that can be used for a domestic first-class, Delta Comfort+ or domestic main cabin round-trip flight. -
  • Exclusive lounge access.

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee.
  • Limited reward earning rates outside of Delta purchases.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn up to 60,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) With Status Boost® per year. After you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 15,000 MQMs up to four times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Receive a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+® or Main Cabin round -trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government-imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Complimentary access into the Delta Sky Club® for you when travelling on a Delta flight.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book a Delta flight with your Reserve Card.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
3.5/5
1.5 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta.
  • 1.5X After you spend $150,000 on your Card in a calendar year, you earn 1.5 Miles per dollar (that’s an extra half mile per dollar) on eligible purchases the rest of the year.
60,000 miles
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
60,000 miles
$550

Why We Chose It

If you’re a high-budget business owner and fly Delta often, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card is an elite airline card with a sleuth of benefits. While the card does come with a high annual fee, the impressive benefits including exclusive Delta SkyClub and Amex Centurion lounge access, airport, free checked bags, priority boarding and a fast track to Delta’s elite Medallion flying status by spending a considerable amount on the card. Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card.

Pros

  • Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) waiver when you spend $25,000 in a year on the card
  • A companion certificate that can be used for a domestic first-class, Delta Comfort+ or domestic main cabin round-trip flight
  • Exclusive lounge access

Cons

  • Limited reward earning rates outside of Delta purchases
  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 60,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • With complimentary access into Delta Sky Club®, you can relax before your Delta flight, or find downtime between connections. You'll also receive two Delta Sky Club One-Time Guest Passes each year so you can share the experience with others when you're traveling together.
  • When you purchase a Delta flight with your Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card, you will receive complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge or Escape Lounge - The Centurion® Studio Partner.
  • After you spend $150,000 on your Card in a calendar year, you earn 1.5 miles per dollar (that's an extra half mile per dollar) on eligible purchases the rest of the year. If your purchase qualifies for a category that has a higher mileage accelerator, only the higher accelerator will apply (ex. you would earn 3X miles on purchases made directly with Delta instead of 1.5X).
  • Plus enjoy 3X miles per dollar on all eligible Delta purchases.
  • With Status Boost®, earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to 4x per year getting you closer to Medallion Status.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for Spirit Airlines loyalists
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
2.5/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3 points per dollar spent on eligible Spirit purchases
  • 2X 2 points per dollar spent on eligible dining and grocery store purchases
  • 1X 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
60,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
60,000 points
$0 Intro Fee for the first year; after that, Annual Fee will be $79

Why We Chose It

The Free Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard is a great card for frequent Spirit flyers. The sign-up bonus, priority boarding and waived redemption fees are great perks if you regularly fly Spirit. You can even use the card to earn Spirit elite status and an a nnual companion discount, and the card also unlocks the ability to pool points, and as a cardholder, your points will never expire. Read our full review of the Free Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard.

Pros

  • Earn bonus points on Spirit purchases and at restaurants and grocery stores
  • Low spend ($5,000) required for the anniversary bonus ($100 Companion Flight Voucher)
  • Zone 2 boarding plus 25% rebate on inflight purchases
  • Ability to pool points with up to eight friends and family members
  • Waived redemptions fees for a primary cardholder
  • Points never expire as a cardholder
  • Points earned from spending can help you earn elite status
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits — included extended warranty, damage and theft protection
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $79 annual fee (starting in year two)
  • Free Spirit points can only be used with Spirit Airlines
  • No airline partners
  • Does not cover bag fees for carry-on or checked bags
  • No waived fees for seat reservations
  • Limited-Time Online Offer! Earn 60,000 Bonus Points plus a $100 Companion Flight Voucher after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on eligible Spirit purchases; 2 points per dollar spent on eligible dining and grocery store purchases; and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive a $100 Companion Flight Voucher each anniversary after qualifying purchases.
  • Automatic Zone 2 Shortcut Boarding on all flights.
  • No limit to the points you can earn, no points expiration, and no redemption fees as the primary cardholder.
  • Get a 25% rebate on inflight food and beverage purchases when you pay with your card.
  • Reach Free Spirit Status by earning 1 Status Qualifying Point for each $10 in Net Purchases during a calendar year towards earning Free Spirit Silver or Gold status.
  • No foreign transaction fees and a low $0 introductory annual fee for the first year. After that it's just $79.
  • This online only offer may not be available elsewhere if you leave this page. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Apply now for Allegiant World Mastercard® at Bank of America's secure site
Best for Allegiant flyers
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip icon
2.5/5
1 - 3X points
details
  • 3X Earn 3 points per $1 on Allegiant purchases (air, hotel, and car rental)
  • 2X 2 points per $1 on qualifying dining purchases
  • 1X 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
15,000 points
details
Intro Offer tooltip icon
15,000 points
$59

Why We Chose It

The Allegiant World Mastercard is an excellent card for regular Allegiant flyers. It gives cardholders an elevated earning rate and “Buy One, Get One Free” airfare on certain vacation package purchases. They’ll also enjoy priority boarding plus a free beverage on every Allegiant flight. With service from dozens of smaller airports around the country to popular leisure destinations, the card can help save you money on your next vacation.

Pros

  • Earn bonus points on Allegiant purchases and dining purchases
  • Buy one, get one free airfare when you purchase a qualifying vacation package
  • Points never expire as long as there is an active account
  • Priority boarding and free beverage onboard

Cons

  • $59 annual fee
  • Doesn’t cover bag fees for carry-on or checked luggage
  • Points can only be redeemed on Allegiant flights and travel packages that include flights
  • Redemptions are at a fixed value of 1 cent per point
  • Limited routes for nonstop flight redemption
  • 15,000 Bonus Points online offer – equal to $150 off a future Allegiant trip, after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Buy one, get one free airfare — anytime you use your card to purchase a vacation package from Allegiant with 4 or more hotel nights or 7 or more rental car days on the same itinerary.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on Allegiant purchases (air, hotel, and car rental), 2 points per $1 on qualifying dining purchases, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • Points can be redeemed for airfare, hotels and car rentals on Allegiant.com.
  • No blackout dates, no destination restrictions and no minimum points redemption.
  • Complimentary priority boarding every time you fly Allegiant when you present your Allegiant credit card.
  • One free beverage every time you fly Allegiant when you present your Allegiant credit card.
  • No foreign transaction fees and a low $59 annual fee.
  • This online only offer may not be available elsewhere if you leave this page. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Best airline rewards credit cards of May 2022

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Card Best for Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus Earning Rate Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Best for total value 80,000 points
  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x on dining.
  • 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
$95
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Best for easy-to-use rewards 75,000 miles
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
$95
The Platinum Card® from American Express Welcome bonus Earn 100,000 points
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
$695
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card Best new premium travel credit card 75,000 miles
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
$395
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Best for occasional Delta flyers 40,000 miles
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Best for business travel perks 120,000 points
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
  • Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
  • 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
$695
Citi Premier® Card Best for international airlines 60,000 points
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$95
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® Best for Admiral Club access 50,000 miles
  • 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases
$450
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Best for regular Delta flyers 50,000 miles
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
$250
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card Best for earning Alaska Airlines miles $100 Statement Credit + 40,000 Bonus Miles
  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.
  • Unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
$75
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Best for elite Delta flyers 50,000 miles
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
$550
Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card Best for Southwest Airline Business Travelers 80,000 points
  • Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services.
  • 1X points on all other purchases.
$199
United℠ Business Card Best for United business travelers Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, dining (including eligible delivery services), at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card Best for high-spending business 60,000 miles
  • Earn 3 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta.
  • After you spend $150,000 on your Card in a calendar year, you earn 1.5 Miles per dollar (that’s an extra half mile per dollar) on eligible purchases the rest of the year.
$550
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Best for sign-up bonus 100,000 points
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
$95

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Sign-up bonus: 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening — worth $1,600, according to TPG valuations.

Rewards:

  • 5 points per dollar on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 3 points per dollar on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.
  • 3 points per dollar on select streaming services.
  • 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
  • 2 points per dollar on all other travel.
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Why it’s the best airline card for total value: We’ve long suggested the Chase Sapphire Preferred for those who are new to earning travel rewards because it lets you earn valuable, transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points with strong bonus categories and a reasonable annual fee.

It’s particularly useful as an airline credit card, since the points earned on this card can transfer to United, Southwest, British Airways and eight other airlines, along with three hotel chains — Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt and IHG Rewards Club. It’s also a Chase credit card that provides some great built-in protections if you use it to purchase your travel. When those points hit your account after three months, it will be like an early Christmas present to yourself.

Annual fee: $95.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred card review

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Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred.

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Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening This bonus is worth up to $1,388, according to TPG valuations.

Rewards: Earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. Earn 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

Why it’s the best airline card for simple rewards earning: Airline credit cards tend to offer a limited number of bonus categories. That can make it hard to justify using an airline credit card for everyday expenses. That’s where the Venture differs from airline cards — and it’s the card’s biggest strength. You’re earning a flat 2 miles per dollar across all purchases, which is great for anyone looking for a simple, one-and-done rewards credit card for all spending.

You can then use the miles earned to “pay” for any past travel purchases at a rate of 1 cent per mile or you can transfer miles to one of Capital One’s transfer partners, which includes 15 airline and three hotel partners. Cardholders also get a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application-fee credit every four years (up to $100), which is a rare benefit for a card with a $95 annual fee. 

Annual fee: $95

Related: Capital One Venture card review

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Official application link: Capital One Venture.

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The Platinum® Card from American Express

Welcome Offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership (valued by TPG at $2,000). However, be sure to check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for a higher 125,000-point welcome offer (offer subject to change at any time).

Rewards: Earn 5 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 each calendar year) and 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel. Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Why it’s the best airline card for welcome bonus: There’s tons of award travel possibilities with the new Amex Platinum welcome offer. Whether you prefer to fly on Delta Air Lines or want to transfer your points over to Air Canada Aeroplan or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (and beyond), there are so many options with what your points can really do. While Amex has recently increased the annual fee to $695 (see rates and fees), the Amex Platinum is still the king of luxury travel benefits with a mile-long list of annual statement credits. You’ll get up to $200 in annual hotel statement credits for Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with Amex Travel (a minimum two night stay is required), up to $200 in annual airline fee statement credits, on select prepaid hotel bookings with Amex Travel, up to $189 in statement credits each year on your CLEAR® membership, up to $300 in annual Equinox credits ($25 statement credit each month at Equinox), up to $200 in Uber Cash for U.S. services ($15 in Uber cash each month), up to $240 in annual digital entertainment statement credits (up to $20 back each month when you pay one or more of Peacock, The New York Times, Audible, SiriusXM, Disney+, Hulu or ESPN+), up to $100 in statement credits at Saks Fifth Avenue, up to $100 statement credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every four years and more.  Enjoy thousands of airport lounges worldwide, automatic Gold status with Hilton and Marriott, and elite status with car rental programs like Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees).

Related: Amex Platinum review

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Official application link: Amex Platinum.

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Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. 

Rewards: Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel and 2 miles per dollar on every purchase.

Why it’s the best airline card for new premium travel credit card: Versatility is key, and when you’re earning Capital One miles, you’ll get just that. With the Capital One Venture X, you have the option to transfer your miles to 15-plus airline and hotel loyalty programs. While you won’t get any airline-specific benefits, you’ll get an up to $300 annual statement credit toward travel bookings made through the Capital One travel portal. Plus, the ability to earn 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One travel and reimbursement for your Global Entry or TSA Precheck application are just as valuable for frequent flyers. 

Annual fee: $395.

Related: Capital One Venture X review

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Official application link: Capital One Venture X.

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Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Welcome offer: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first three months. 

Rewards: 2 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases, on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Why it’s the best airline card for occasional Delta flyers: The Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex card is the airline’s entry-level premium card, with an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $99 (see rates and fees). With this card, you’ll get a free checked bag, priority boarding on Delta flights, no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees) and 20% in savings on inflight purchases on Delta flights.

You’ll also earn a $100 Delta flight credit after you spend $10,000 in a calendar year. If you’re an occasional Delta flyer who wants a way to earn bonus miles while enjoying a few elite-status-like perks, this might be the card for you.

Annual fee: Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $99 (see rates and fees).

Related: Delta SkyMiles® Gold Amex card review

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Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex.

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The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Welcome offer: 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: 5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels on Amex Travel. 1.5 points per dollar on each eligible purchase in select business categories, as well as on each purchase  of $5,000 or more, up to 2 million per calendar year. 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Why it’s the best airline card for business travel perks: The Amex Business Platinum is a rewarding option for airline purchases in many ways. First, by redeeming your Membership Rewards points for first and business class flights through Amex Travel, you’ll get 35% of those points back (for up to 1 million points back per calendar year). Next, access to The Centurion Lounge Collection will enhance your airport experience no matter what carrier you’re flying. Finally, there are a few statement credits that will be useful, from the up-to-$200 airline incidental fees credit for the airline of your choice and up to $189 Clear membership credit for faster airport security. That’s just the tip of the iceberg — and business owners with a lot of travel should seriously consider applying for this card.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees).

Related: Amex Business Platinum review

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Official application link: Amex Business Platinum.

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Citi Premier® Card

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. These points are worth $1,020 based on TPG’s latest valuations.

Rewards: 3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels, gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Why it’s the best airline card for international airlines: With your Citi ThankYou points, you can transfer your points to Citi’s 15-plus airline loyalty partners, most of which are international airlines. If your award travel strategy focuses on snagging business- or first-class flights on international travel, then there’s no better card than the Citi Premier. You’ll also get a $100 hotel savings benefit once per calendar year when you book a hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) through thankyou.com.

Annual fee: $95.

Related: Citi Premier review

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Official application link: Citi Premier.

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Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else.

Why it’s the best airline card for Admirals Club: If you fly American frequently, this card is worth having for its perks. It comes with an Admirals Club airport lounge membership that gets you and your immediate family (or up to two guests) into dozens of club locations around the world when you have a same-day boarding pass for an eligible American Airlines or select partner airline flight. You can also add up to 10 authorized users — who receive the same benefit — at no additional charge.

You’ll get priority check-in, airport screening and boarding when flying American, a first bag checked free for you and up to eight companions on the same reservation and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100) every five years.

Annual fee: $450.

Related: Citi AAdvantage Executive Card review

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Official application link: Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

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Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first three months. 

Rewards: 3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta flights and Delta Vacations and purchases made directly with hotels, 2 miles per dollar on restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 1 mile per dollar on everything else.

Why it’s the best airline card for regular Delta flyers: For starters, you’ll enjoy a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application-fee credit (up to $100).

For those starting from scratch for elite status, you will still be able to use this card as a way to get Delta’s Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) requirement for elite status waived (up to the Platinum level) when you spend $25,000 on it in a calendar year. You can also earn 10,000 MQMs when you spend $25,000 in a year and another 10,000 MQMs if you spend $50,000 in a year (although you will no longer get the bonus miles that used to accompany the MQMs). So if you need a little help hitting your desired Medallion status, this card can help you get it.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees).

Related: Platinum Delta SkyMiles card review

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Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex.

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Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

Sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles, a $100 statement credit, and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) when you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account — worth $820, according to TPG valuations.

Rewards: 3 miles per dollar on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else.

Why it’s the best airline card for earning Alaska Airlines miles: There is a lot to love about the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card. First, you’re getting a solid sign-up bonus that includes a companion fare (which potentially adds hundreds of dollars in value). In addition, you get your first checked bag free, 50% off Alaska Lounge day passes and the companion fare (from $121) each year after your account anniversary. It’s a no-brainer for anyone who flies Alaska Airlines or its partners throughout the year. And remember, Alaska joined Oneworld, which will lead to even more earning and redeeming opportunities.

Annual fee: $75.

Related: Maximizing the Alaska Airlines Visa Companion Fare

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Official application link: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

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Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first three months.

Rewards: 3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.

Why it’s the best airline card for elite Delta flyers: The Delta Reserve Card is the airline’s most expensive, with a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees). The card comes with a free Sky Club lounge membership and two one-time passes for guests each year. You can also bring up to two guests for $39 per person per visit. Plus there’s now access to Amex Centurion Lounges.

You also receive a free checked bag and priority boarding for up to eight travelers on the same Delta flight reservation, no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees) and 20% in savings on inflight purchases on Delta flights.

This card can also help you achieve Delta Medallion elite status, since you’ll earn 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000, $60,000, $90,000 and $120,000 in a calendar year. Considering you get an MQD elite waiver (for up to Platinum status) after spending $25,000 in a year, this card could get you Delta Gold Medallion status without you ever having to step foot on a plane — or Platinum status if you can snag the above welcome offer and hit the $120,000 spending threshold.

You also receive a round-trip companion certificate every year when you renew the card, valid for domestic first class, Delta Comfort+ or domestic Main Cabin. Finally, you’ll now enjoy complimentary upgrades as a non-Medallion member and a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit.

Of course, this card is also eligible for the same limited-time benefits as the Delta Platinum.

If you’re a regular Delta flyer who wants the luxury perks, this is your card.

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees).

Related: Delta Reserve Amex card review

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Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Reserve.

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Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. According to TPG valuations, this bonus is worth up to $1,200.

Rewards: 4 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines purchases, 3 points per dollar on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases; 2 points per dollar on rideshare, 2 points per dollar on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable and phone services, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

Why it’s the best airline card for Southwest business travelers: If you’re a Southwest fanatic (like TPG’s own Benét Wilson), this card helps you rack up Rapid Rewards points along with the best lineup of Southwest-specific benefits among the airline’s five consumer and small-business cards. You’re getting four upgraded boardings each year (lowering your chances of getting stuck in an undesirable seat), 9,000 points every year on your cardmember anniversary, up to $100 every four years to cover your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment fee and 365 Wi-Fi credits per year.

This card comes with the highest annual fee of Southwest’s business credit cards, but at $199 it’s still incredibly affordable for anyone who frequently flies with Southwest. Since any points you earn on this card count toward the Companion Pass, you could be that much closer to at least one year’s worth of free flights for a friend or family member. And keep in mind that Southwest allows cardholders to earn unlimited TQPs through spending, meaning this card could help you earn a Companion Pass and A-List status.

Annual fee: $199.

Related: Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card review

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Official application link: Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business.

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United Business Card

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. 

Rewards: 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, dining (including eligible delivery services), at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Why it’s the best airline card for United business flyers: The United Business Card is an affordable option for business travelers who tend to fly with United and its partners. If you also happen to carry a consumer United credit card, the United Business Card is a great one to pair it with. Doing so will not only help you keep your personal and business expenses separate, but you’ll receive 5,000 bonus miles each year on your United Business Card account anniversary for carrying both cards.

The card’s other benefits include the ability to earn up to 1,000 Premier Qualifying Points based on spending in a calendar year to help you qualify for United elite status and access to expanded award availability when it comes time to redeem those MileagePlus miles. 

Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

Related: United Business Card review

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Official application link: United Business Card.

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Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership.

Rewards: 3 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1.5 miles per dollar after you spend $150,000 on your card in a calendar year, on eligible purchases the rest of the year. 

Why it’s the best airline card for high-spending businesses: If Delta Air Lines is your preferred carrier, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card can significantly enhance your travel experience both on the ground and when flying the airline.

You’ll be treated to elite-like benefits such as complimentary seat upgrades when available, access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying the airline and more. If you are trying to earn Delta Medallion elite status, this card provides you with the opportunity to earn valuable Medallion Qualification Miles through spending and help you move up the rungs of the elite-status ladder. Other key benefits include your first checked bag free, priority boarding and savings on in-flight purchases. and priority boarding. 

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees).

Related: Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex review

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Official application link: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business Amex.

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Ink Business Preferred

Welcome offer: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on shipping purchases, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines, Internet, cable and phone services, and travel each account anniversary year (then 1 point per dollar); 1 point per dollar on all other purchases..

Why it’s the best airline card for sign-up bonus: The Ink Business Preferred is a great business card no matter if you own a big business, a mom-and-pop shop or are an independent employee. That’s because, for just a $95 annual fee, cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 in the first three months of account opening — worth $2,000 for travel according to TPG’s valuations. You can transfer these points to Chase’s 11 airline partners for a huge stash of airline miles and trip opportunities. Plus, when paying for travel with your card (even if it’s just award taxes and fees), you’ll get important travel protections such as primary rental car insurance, extended warranty and trip insurance

Annual fee: $95.

Related: Ink Business Preferred review

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Official application link: Ink Business Preferred.

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CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®

Sign-up bonus: 65,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first four months of account opening.

Rewards: 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases, cable and satellite providers, gas stations, telecommunications merchants and car rentals; 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else.

Why it’s the best airline card for American Airlines business flyers: For a low $99 annual fee (that’s waived the first year), you’re getting a card that earns bonus miles across multiple categories and provides a few elite-type perks, such as a free checked bag, inflight discounts and priority boarding. You can also earn a companion certificate for domestic travel after $30,000 or more in purchases each card membership year and renewing the card (the account must remain open at least 45 days after your anniversary date). And now that American Airlines has joined other top U.S. airlines in eliminating most change fees, there’s even more reason to rack up on American Airlines miles.

Although you aren’t getting any luxury benefits such as Admirals Club access, this is a great option for anyone who travels on American Airlines for business.

The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: What credit score do you need to get the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard?

JetBlue Plus Card

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points after you spend $1,000 and pay the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.

Rewards: 6 points per dollar on JetBlue purchases; 2 points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else

Why it’s the best airline card for JetBlue flyers: If you’re looking to use credit card spending to hit elite status with JetBlue, the JetBlue Plus Card can help. You’ll earn JetBlue Mosaic elite status after you spend $50,000 each year with the card. 

The JetBlue Plus also comes with some nice benefits, including a free checked bag (which even applies on Blue Basic fares), an unlimited 10% rebate when you redeem points, a 50% discount on inflight purchases and 5,000 bonus points on your account anniversary — all of which could make this a long-term keeper in your wallet.The JetBlue Plus also comes with some nice benefits, including a free checked bag (which even applies on Blue Basic fares), unlimited 10% rebate when you redeem points, a 50% discount on inflight purchases and 5,000 bonus points on your account anniversary — all of which could make this a long-term keeper in your wallet.

Annual fee: $99.

Related: JetBlue Plus card review 

The information for the JetBlue Plus Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Airline credit cards with no annual fee

The best airline credit cards offer a panoply of perks that save travelers time, money and stress.

Those incentives typically include free checked bags, some measure of priority in the boarding process, the ability to earn multiple miles per dollar on airfare and other purchases. You’ll even find airport lounge access and Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application-fee reimbursements at the higher echelons. However, the airline credit cards that offer these advantages often charge annual fees ranging from $95-$450.

Sensing an opportunity to attract younger customers or those who might just be getting started with credit, as well as customers who prefer earning miles over elite-style benefits, several airlines have introduced new no-annual-fee credit cards with pared-down perks.

These cards may not offer the same rewards as their more expensive counterparts, but they are worth considering in some cases. For example, if you want to hang onto a credit card for several years without having to shell out an annual fee each year, a no-annual-fee card can be a good solution.

Airline card Sign-up bonus /Welcome offer Bonus value**
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card 10,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. $227.
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card 10,000 miles after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening $141.
JetBlue Card 10,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening $130.
United Gateway Card Earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. $242.

**Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

Sign-up bonus: 10,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases within three months of account opening.

Rewards: 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases and at grocery stores (including delivery services), 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Why you should consider it: The MileUp Card is a decent option to start earning miles in the AAdvantage program without having to fly frequently or pay an annual fee.

Though its sign-up bonus is low, applicants don’t have to worry about hitting high minimum spending requirements. Likewise, travelers who already enjoy travel benefits on American thanks to elite status but want a card that makes earning on tickets and grocery purchases easier might find this card useful.

Foreign transaction fees: 3%..

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Official application link: American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

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Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

Welcome offer: 10,000 miles after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: This card offers you double miles at restaurants worldwide as well as on all Delta purchases, including Sky Club membership or passes, Delta Vacations packages, seat upgrades and inflight purchases of food, beverages and audio headsets. You earn 1 mile per dollar spent elsewhere.

Why you should consider it: If you want a major mileage haul and benefits that mimic Delta Medallion status, you’re better off carrying one of the more premium Delta credit cards. However, if you already enjoy elite status or simply want to rack up miles on everyday purchases, including a bonus at restaurants, all without an annual fee (see rates and fees), the Blue version might be a good choice for you.

You’ll also now get access to Pay with Miles and there are no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).

Foreign transaction fees: None (see rates and fees).

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Official application link: Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card.

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JetBlue Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: 10,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.

Rewards: 3 points per dollar on all JetBlue purchases; 2 points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.

Why you should consider it: Both the JetBlue Card and the JetBlue Plus Card are great products. If you don’t mind paying a $99 annual fee, the JetBlue Plus offers several extra benefits, including a higher welcome offer, an anniversary bonus, redemption refunds, statement credits and a shot at Mosaic status.

If the majority of your spending is on non-JetBlue purchases and you prefer a card with no annual fee, you might as well get the regular JetBlue Card since it earns the same number of points on non-airline spending.

The information for the JetBlue Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

United Gateway Card

Sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, gas stations, local transit and commuting; 1 mile per dollar on everything else.

Why you should consider it: If you’re looking for an entry point into earning United miles, the United Gateway Card is a solid option. The sign-up bonus is a bit more valuable than many no-annual-fee cards out there, and you’re getting a solid rewards structure. Plus, you’ll get 25% back on inflight purchases and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

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Official application link: United Gateway Card.

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Is it worth renewing an airline credit card for 2022?

To answer this question, you simply need to work out if the value you will get from the card will offset the cost of paying for it in the first place. This applies only to cards with annual fees.

When making your decision, it’s worth checking to see if your card issuer has brought in temporary benefits or bonus categories in lieu of the usual travel related perks that don’t make much sense right now. Typically these will be related to spending in categories like groceries, gas and ordering in.

If you’re convinced there’s no value in renewing your card, it’s worth considering how long you’ve had the card before you cancel it. The longer you’ve had the card, the more chance there is that canceling could harm your credit score, undoing all the hard work you’ve put into building a strong score.

If all else fails, try calling your issuer to explain that you’re considering canceling — you might just be offered a retention offer or have your annual fee waived which will make the idea of renewing all the more enticing.

The difference between airline and travel credit cards

We included two travel credit cards — the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture — in our list because of their flexibility. Both of these cards are great for beginners, but luxury travelers who want to maximize airfare purchases should consider a card such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, which offers 5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel — which is capped at $500,000 per calendar year. The card has a 10% return on spending according to our valuations.

As a rule, credit cards that earn transferable points (such as Amex, Capital One, Chase or Citi points) get you a better return on spending. They don’t usually have airline-specific perks or a way to earn elite status on airlines, but they do allow you to transfer points to a specific carrier’s loyalty program.

How to maximize your airline credit cards

The simplest way to make the most of your airline credit card(s) is to study all the perks and benefits that come with these products and then use them. If you check luggage on flights, you can save $60 round-trip with the free checked bag that typically comes with these cards — or even more if you have travel companions.

If the card comes with statement credits, complete the spending required to get them. Use fee credits to cover expenses such as airport lounge access, seat upgrades or inflight food and beverage purchases.

For those chasing airline elite status, see if your credit card offers a way to help achieve it. If it does, consider doing the spending required to get it — but remember the TPG Golden Rule of paying off your credit cards every month to get the maximum benefit.

You should also take advantage of free companion certificates to take a friend or loved one on a trip with you.

Finally, don’t overlook benefits such as extended warranty coverage and purchase and return protection.

Popular airline rewards programs

Pretty much every major airline has a loyalty program that is free to use. Here are a few of the top programs for U.S.-based travelers:

  • Delta SkyMiles – While Delta does have an inconvenient dynamic award chart, Delta also frequently offers award sales on some routes. And with a number of great business and personal credit cards, there is a lot of reason to rack up Delta SkyMiles. Delta is part of the SkyTeam airline alliance, which means you can use your miles to book trips on a number of partner airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and Korean Air. But be warned — the carrier recently did a large devaluation of SkyMiles, to the disappointment of travelers.
  • United MileagePlus – United is another airline that offers a number of credit card options to fit the needs of essentially any traveler. It’s part of Star Alliance, which means you can use United miles to fly with partner airlines such as Singapore Airlines.
  • American Airlines AAdvantage – I live in a city with an American Airlines hub, so the AAdvantage program is especially valuable to me. While American Airlines doesn’t offer quite the same lineup of credit cards, there is still a lot of value in the overall AAdvantage program. As part of Oneworld, you’ll be able to book flights with partner airlines such as Cathay Pacific, British Airways and more.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards – Southwest is a fan favorite for North American flights and has a reputation for excellent customer service. It’s TPG Senior Credit Cards Editor Benét Wilson‘s absolute favorite airline, and with good reason. Plus, Southwest offers a Companion Pass benefit for loyal flyers that can save you thousands on flights each year.
  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan – Alaska Airlines currently earns the most valuable airline currency that TPG publishes valuations for each month. The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program may not be top-of-mind for those who don’t live on the U.S. West Coast, but there is a ton of value you can get from the program no matter where you live.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of airline programs, but it’s a solid overview of a few of the top programs in the U.S.

How much are airline miles worth?

There’s no hard and fast rule for how much an airline mile is worth, as it can be a rather subjective topic. At TPG, we use a combination of factors to determine how we value a mile or point. We take into consideration what would pay to buy the points or miles, the value we could get when redeeming them and variables such as award availability, change fees and cancellations.

Check out our points and miles valuations guide that TPG updates on a monthly basis to see a full list of the value of points across airline, hotel and credit card loyalty programs.

Here’s how we value airline miles in the above five most popular rewards programs.

Points Program Value (cents per mile) 
Delta SkyMiles 1.41
United MileagePlus 1.21
American Airline AAdvantage 1.77
Southwest Rapid Rewards 1.5
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 1.8

Do airline miles expire?

Unfortunately, your hard-earned airline miles can expire. However, as a general rule, if you’re earning or burning on a regular basis then you shouldn’t lose any.

Here is a list of some of the biggest airline miles programs and information on how to keep your miles from expiring.

AIRLINE REWARDS PROGRAM DO MILES EXPIRE? HOW TO STOP MILES FROM EXPIRING
Air France/KLM Flying Blue Yes Redeem or earn miles once every 24 months
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan No Accounts inactive for 24 months will be locked but can be reactivated by calling Customer Care.
American Airlines AAdvantage Yes Redeem or earn miles once every 24 months
British Airways Executive Club Yes Redeem or earn miles once every 36 months
Delta SkyMiles No Not required
JetBlue TrueBlue No Not required
Southwest Rapid Rewards No  Not required
United MileagePlus No Not required
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club No  Not required 

Frequently asked questions

Do you need an airline credit card?

Cobranded airline credit cards usually don’t offer the highest return on spending for airfare purchases, so if you’re simply looking to maximize your spending, you’d do better with a card that earns valuable transferable points. But airline credit cards are worth looking at for the airline-specific perks they offer.

Just about every type of traveler can take advantage of an airline card, whether you’re a beginner to the points and miles game or a seasoned frequent flyer.

Most airline credit cards include benefits such as a free checked bag, early boarding and sometimes even discounts on inflight purchases — which can be particularly valuable if you live in a hub city for one of the major carriers.

Airline credit cards of a more premium nature may also earn elite-qualifying miles for those pursuing airline status and even lounge access in some cases. Those who need a little help hitting elite status or want to enjoy elite status-like benefits while they work to hit a tier can benefit from an airline card and its perks.

In short, having an airline credit card can make your flight experience more enjoyable (and even less expensive) if you frequently fly with a specific carrier, but those who simply pick the cheapest fare available may be better served by a card that earns transferable points. Even those travelers could consider an airline credit card if they’re looking for miles to book a specific award itinerary for later this year.

How we chose the best airline credit cards

When we assembled our list of the best airline credit cards for this year, we took into account the extra value each card can bring to flyers with different travel needs and preferences. In this post, we’re looking at consumer airline and business airline credit cards, evaluating annual fees, travel perks, offer bonuses and spending requirements to compile the best airline credit cards.

At the end of the day, TPG staffers all have our favorites and there is no right or wrong preference. In fact, as you saw from the above list, most major airlines offer multiple cobranded cards to fit the needs of a wide range of customers.

Bottom line

Most airline credit card users will be better off paying an annual fee to reap many more benefits from their card, but there are some exceptions. For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card is a great choice for infrequent travelers and Delta flyers who want to earn double miles at restaurants.

Likewise, the AAdvantage MileUp Card lets you earn double AAdvantage miles at supermarkets and grocery stores. Even the no-annual-fee JetBlue card from Barclays offers you double points at restaurants and grocery stores, along with 3 points per dollar spent on JetBlue purchases.

Every one of the airline cards with an annual fee offers at least one unique benefit not available on any other credit card. So if one of those perks fits your travel needs, you’ll want to consider paying an annual fee for an airline card.

Of course, if you’re a regular flyer on one of these airlines, definitely take a hard look at a higher-end card to see if one of them can make your time in the air cheaper, more comfortable or more rewarding — or potentially all three.

Additional reporting by Daniel Ross.

Featured photo by Ryan Patterson for The Points Guy.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum, click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Blue Amex card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve, please click here.

Updated on 5/4/22.

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