Planning our next vacation is sometimes the only thing that gets us through those rainy days and cold winter months. What makes it better is having a credit cards for airlines that allow you to earn miles for every dollar you spend. And what’s best is if that same card gets you other travel perks, like priority boarding, airline miles and useful discounts. But, is an airline credit card right for you, and is the airline partner attached to your favorite card issuer the right place to fly?
With so many credit cards packing hefty travel rewards, figuring out which cards fit your lifestyle and finances just right can be overwhelming. That’s why Benzinga did some of the heavy lifting for you. Make your life a little easier and use Benzinga’s list of the best credit cards for airlines as your starting point.
From airline-specific credit cards to cards designed to meet the needs of travelers, you’ll find a crowded pool of options to choose from. So many options put you at an advantage, making it possible to find a card that checks all the boxes on your must-have list.
Whether you’re looking for a low-cost card or one that pulls out all the stops for its cardholders, the following cards are the best in their unique categories.
Best for Luxury Travel Perks: Luxury Card
- securely through Luxury Card's websiteRegular APR
For Titanium, Black and Gold Cards: Ongoing Purchase APR 21.24%, 25.43% or 28.24%; Balance transfers 21.24%, 25.43% or 28.24% based on your creditworthiness (posted within 45 days of account opening) (APR varies with Prime Rate); Cash Advance 30.49% (variable based on Prime Rate)Rating:Read Review
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If you’re always traveling, comfort and convenience are likely at the top of your priority list. Luxury Card strives to deliver a first-class, executive-level suite traveling experience to its cardmembers.
Luxury Card is a heavy metal card with an extensive range of rewards, perks and bonus features. You’ll pay high annual fees but your purchases earn you up to 2% back on your purchases in travel and 1% cashback rewards with the Titanium Card. You also enjoy 2% cashback value with the Gold Card and 1.5% cashback value with the Black Card. Unlock VIP access to over 3,000 properties and hotel brands worldwide that partner with Luxury Card through the Luxury Card Travel program.
As a Luxury Card cardholder, you have direct access to your Luxury Card Concierge. This is a digital personal assistant that can take care of loose ends big and small, from tightening up itineraries to shopping for gifts.
- The card is designed to look and feel as luxurious as possible, giving you that status symbol you’re looking for
- If the card has partners where you tend to stay, you can save quite a lot of money
- Interest rates may seem higher than you would expect for a card of this type
- Cash back value on the card might not be as high as you expected
Best Welcome Bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card
If you’re willing to pay a moderate annual fee and slightly higher APR, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card is well worth its cost in travel rewards. These include but are not limited to:
- 3x points on dining out
- 2x points on travel expenses, like airfare, hotel stays and so forth
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions when redeeming points for travel
- Redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards to get a 25% boost in redemption value
Plus, you get 60,000 points if an individual spends $4,000 within the first three months. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
Other useful cardholder perks include 1x points on all purchases and discounts on stay-at-home (while daydreaming about a tropical getaway) lifesavers like DoorDash deliveries with an activation date of 12/31/2024.
- The bonus threshold is relatively low
- You can easily calculate how much your bonus points are worth
- Limited time offers, while lucrative, may not apply to every cardholder
- Many travelers may not want to book their trips with Chase just to get the perceived discounts or rewards that are offered
Best for Cash Back: Chase Freedom Flex℠
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ card is a strictly cashback card that happens to be perfect for travelers. You earn between 1% and 5% cash back on every purchase, but it's especially great for frequent fliers because you earn the maximum rate on all travel purchases. You also get a generous intro APR.
This is a great card to cover your trip expenses, too, because you get boosted points for dining at restaurants, getting carryout delivered to the hotel room and on Lyft rides.
Other perks include handy travel protections like trip insurance, travel emergency assistance services and auto rental collision damage waiver. If you apply today, you’re eligible for a few sign-up offers if approved.
- Chase has a large network of banks where you can get service, and being a Chase customer makes it much easier to manage your account
- The card offers rewards on everything that is travel related
- If you don’t travel all that often, you may want a different card that provides higher rewards for non-travel-related purchases
How to Compare Credit Cards
We know you’re on the hunt for travel reward cards, but your preferences and the present state of your finances will also direct your decision-making. From how much a reward point can buy you to the totality of the loyalty program, there’s quite a lot to consider.
Narrow your search from the wide range of travel cards to cards you are likely to be approved for. This protects you from unnecessary hard pulls showing up on your credit report. A hard pull is an inquiry into your history to check your eligibility to open up a new line of credit, which may have a negative impact on your credit score.
Often, merchants detail their borrower standards on their websites and allow you to prequalify to check your eligibility. Compare cards you’re pre-qualified for side-by-side using a loan comparison service like Credible.
At this stage, you can pare down your choices even further by comparing factors like annual fees and what type of protections the card offers. And, the annual percentage rate (APR), which is the interest rate you’ll pay on your balance, is also an important factor.
The main fee to pay attention to is the annual fee. Some cards are fee-free, some offer a $0 introductory fee, and some charge an annual fee off the bat. Keep in mind that credit cards with robust rewards programs may come with higher fees. What works best is up to you. If you’ll use your card frequently, you may get back enough in rewards to offset the fee.
The APR is another number to pay attention to. This is how much you’ll pay in interest as a percentage rate of your balance. The same thing holds true for APR as it does for annual fees — while a low-rate card is attractive, you may have to accept a higher APR fee for the best rewards. Your creditworthiness also plays a role in the rate you’re offered, so you may see higher rates if you have less than excellent credit.
Rewards usually look like earning points on your purchases in the form of miles, cash back, statement credits and so forth. Look for cards that earn at higher rates to make the most of your spending, but factor in how much it will cost you in fees and interest to use any given credit card. The rewards rate is important subject to change. Plus, an intro APR might help if you’re planning to travel soon, something you can’t get out of a debit card.
All of our partners offer great perks for being cardmembers. You’ll find discounts with your favorite merchants, priority boarding, pumped up points on travel purchases, free upgrades and much more. While perks may not be a make or break factor, they can be the thing that tips the scales if you’ve got multiple cards in your Goldilocks zone.
You also need to choose the right place to fly. Some travelers prefer American Airlines while others prefer United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines, Air France, etc. The airline partner is a big factor for more people, and it’s even more important if you have a business credit card.
Remember, a travel credit card should offer more than travel rewards. You want to engage in a flyer program that pays for TSA Pre-Check or offers reimbursement on certain international travel services. You could earn travel credits for every flight you take, and you might even earn bonus points that can be used with hotel partners or converted into miles rewards. Basically, you want to see how much you can get out of the card, especially if you travel often.
Your credit card can do much more than buy your flights and book your hotel. Many merchants go the extra mile to protect their customers. Look for cards with protections like rental vehicle insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and lost baggage coverage.
Credit Card Responsibility
There are a few rules to follow when using credit. Mainly, keep your balances as low as possible and don’t get caught by snowballing interest on high-rate cards. If you choose a high-rate card, be sure you don’t spend more than you can pay off in a reasonable amount of time.
It's best to pay as much as possible toward your balance each month — minimum payments won’t cut it if your balance is high and interest is stacking up. This also keeps your line of credit open and free to use when you need it. And you’ll earn more when you spend more — you can only do if you keep your available credit high and your balances low.
If you handle your credit use carefully, you’ll build a respectable credit profile, opening up access to credit when you need it now and in the future.
How to Apply for a Credit Card
The credit card application process may differ slightly from card to card, but you can generally count on following a path similar to this:
- Find cards you are likely to be approved for by visiting merchant websites or using a loan comparison service.
- Prequalify when possible.
- Fill out an application with the card issuer.
- Accept your offer when approved.
- Fund your card or put down a security deposit if it's a secured card.
- Start spending and earn points!
Are there credit cards for flying?
Some credit cards, like the ones mentioned above, are specifically designed to reward people with points or miles for every dollar they spend. These points can then be applied to airline charges and fees.
How do you earn airline miles with a credit card?
The simplist way to earn airline miles with a credit card is to sign up for a credit card that offers miles for every dollar you spend. As the miles add up, you can apply them to airline purchases when you are ready to travel.
How many points will buy a plane ticket?
The number of points you need to buy a plane ticket depends on how you plan to travel and where you will go. If you want to purchase a domestic airline ticket, you should plant to spend between 6,000 and 30,000 points. For international destinations, you will have to spend between 30,000 and 50,000 points.