Compare: Airline Credit Cards

airplane225There are many airline / travel credit cards on the market. Some are offered by specific airlines as part of their frequent flyer programs, while others offer travel “points” that can be used to pay for flights or to defray air travel costs.

Below we offer a listing of both types of airline credit cards, with a handful of the best airline travel cards listed first, then a lengthy list of credit cards associated with specific airlines…

  • Discover It Miles Card – Offers a simple formula: you get 1.5 points per dollar charged to the card, with each point being worth a penny. You then use your points to offset or completely pay for travel purchases via a statement credit. For example, 15,000 points equals $150 in travel expenses. You also have the attractive option to simply take your earnings in cash back and forget about the travel aspect altogether, meaning you essentially get 1.5% cash back on all of your purchases.
  • Blue Sky from American Express is a no-annual-fee points card that allows you to use points across any airline to offset your actual travel costs. You get 1 point per dollar and you can redeem in 7500-point increments for $100 statement credit against air or other travel purchases. In other words, if you have a $300 flight and 7500 points in your account, you could get a $100 credit that basically turns your flight ticket into a $200 cost. If you have enough points, you could get a flight completely free.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Though not marketed as an airline card, this one’s got plenty of air and travel benefits — including 1-to-1 point transfers to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and other frequent flyer programs. Earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases, 1 point everywhere else, plus 50,000 bonus points if you spend over $4000 in the first 3 months of having the card. Use points to pay or offset travel costs — at a 20% discount (for example, 40,000 points pays for $500 in travel expenses). No annual fee first year, then $95 per year.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – A large $450 annual fee, but some enticing airline/travel rewards could make it worth it for the frequent traveler, especially if you spend a lot on your card. You get 3 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Just as important, if not more so, you get $300 in travel reimbursements per year. There are other travel perks as well, such as airport lounge access. New cardholders have the potential for a 50,000-point bonus if you make at least $4000 in purchases with the card within the first 90 days of having it.
  • The Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit cards offer “miles” that generally equate to a penny per mile in airline/travel benefits. (For example, 10,000 miles equals $100 of travel benefits.) The card offers 2 miles per dollar on travel and dining purchases, 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases, plus a 50,000-mile bonus if you spend at least $3000 with the card in the first 90 days. The Arrival Plus card has an $89 annual fee, but that fee is waived for the first year.
  • Alaska Airlines Visa – Earn 3 miles per dollar on Alaska Airlines flights, 1 mile per dollar everywhere else. Use miles for Alaska Airlines flights or flights on Delta, American, British Airways, and other partner airlines.
  • Allegiant Air World MasterCard – Airline card earns points that can be redeemed at a rate of a penny per point — for example, 10,000 points earned equals $100 in travel rewards. Earn 3 points per dollar on Allegiant purchases, 2 points per dollar on dining purchases, and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Has a $59 annual fee.
  • American Airlines AAdvantage Credit Cards – American Airlines offers 3 different AAdvantage frequent flyer credit cards in partnership with Citi, including the Platinum Select, the Citi Executive Card, and the CitiBusiness Platinum Select Card. For most people, the Platinum Select or the CitiBusiness Platinum Select card will be the right choice, but frequent travelers may enjoy the perks of the Executive Card (including Admirals Club membership) even with its $450 annual fee.
  • Delta Airlines SkyMiles Credit Cards – Delta offers 3 different American Express frequent flyer cards. The Delta SkyMiles Gold credit card offers 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta flights and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. It has an annual fee of $95. If you are a frequent Delta flier, you might also be interested in the other Delta credit cards with higher rewards but also higher fees — the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card or the Delta Reserve Card.
  • Frontier Airlines World MasterCard – Straightforward frequent flyer card offers 2 miles per dollar on Frontier Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. $69 annual fee. There is also a no-annual-fee version that offers essentially half the miles of the standard card. (Our full review.)
  • Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard – Earn 2 miles per dollar on Hawaiian Airlines purchases, 1 mile per dollar everywhere else, plus other mile opportunities with various partners. 35,000 bonus miles if you spend $1000 with the card in 90 days. $89 annual fee. Also offers a business credit card. (Our full review.)
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards – Southwest Airlines offers 2 consumer credit cards and a business credit card. The base Rapid Rewards Plus Card offers 2 points per dollar on Southwest flights and 2 points per dollar on Rapid Rewards hotel & car rental partner purchases, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. (See the Southwest site to understand how points are redeemed.) The annual fee is $69. The Rapid Rewards Premier Card has a $99 annual fee and somewhat better rewards.
  • Spirit Airlines MasterCard – You earn miles for every dollar charged on this card, plus a 15,000-point bonus when you use the card for the first time — enough for 3 off-peak round-trip flights, although we are not sure what constitutes off-peak. $59 annual fee, but none for the first year.
  • United Airlines MileagePlus Credit Cards – In partnership with Chase, United offers 2 consumer cards and 2 business credit cards that allow you to add to your Mileage Plus frequent flyer point total. The base United MileagePlus Explorer Card offers 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, 1 mile per dollar on other card purchases. You also get your first checked bag free on United flights, and 2 passes per year to airport United Clubs. There is an annual fee of $95. The United MileagePlus Club Card offers greater rewards but a much larger annual fee of $450. (United business credit cards offer similar rewards to the consumer cards.)
  • Virgin America Credit Cards – Offers two credit cards that let you earn miles toward Virgin flights as well as perks such as free checked bags and no change/cancel fees. $49 or $149 annual fee depending on how many perks you want.