Categorized | Credit Cards

Best Airline Credit Card – Top 5 Revealed

Woman using her credit card

Waiting at the airport seems to be an unavoidable curse for some. While waiting at the airport, though, you have probably seen the advertisements for airline credit cards. If you are unaware of exactly how airline credit cards work, and wondering which choices are the best airline credit cards, we are here to help.

Deciding if an airline credit card is right for you, will depend heavily on how much you travel. If you travel for work or often for pleasure, then you might see some reward in having an airline credit card. However, in order to get the best rewards, you need to make sure you are getting the best airline credit cards.

Product FAQ

We have prepared a list of FAQs to help you better understand better how the best airline credit cards work, and which one would be best for you. Credits cards of all types can be tricky if you do not take the time to educate yourself.

1. What Is an Airline Credit Card?

2. What Do Airline Credit Cards Do?

3. How Do Airline Credit Cards Work?

4. Where Can You Apply for Airline Credit Cards?

How We Reviewed the Best Airline Credit Cards

American Express Business Card and a padlock

Photo by Ryan Born on Unsplash

We reviewed the best airline credit cards according to a certain set of criteria. First, we examine the cards features. Each of the credit cards will have a specific list of features. These features are created by the airline or the credit card company to make it as attractive as possible. However, certain features are more attractive to some people than they are to others. You will need to evaluate the features carefully to make sure the features of these cards will be beneficial to you and your particular lifestyle. Not every card is made for everyone.  We also look at the pros and cons of each card, as well as the fees associated with the card. Last of all we will share with you where you can apply for each of the best airline credit cards on our list.

Overall Price Range

A person is holding a debit card

Each of the selections on our list of best airline credit cards will have certain fees attached to it. You will need to evaluate these fees and decide if these fees are justified by the rewards you will be getting by using the card. There is a range of fees for these cards.

What We Reviewed

  • Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card
  • United Explorer Card
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express

Delta skymiles

Image source: American Express

Features

This card has some great features if you are a frequent flyer. For starters, the card offers 2 miles per every dollar spent. That is a good rewards ratio for an airline credit card. In addition, if you spend $3000 in the first 3 months, you earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles and 40,000 bonus miles. Customers also enjoy free checked bags, priority boarding, and deals on insurance. However, there is a downside, as this card comes with a whopping $450 annual fee. You will need to evaluate if the amount of traveling you are doing with Delta will justify this annual fee.

PROS

  • Great miles per dollar rewards program
  •  Introductory bonus miles after first $3000 spent
  •  Additional travel perks

CONS

  • $450 annual fee
  • High purchase APR at 17.74%-26.74%
  • Best rewards are for extremely frequent flyers

Rates and Fees

This card carries a $450 annual fee and a purchase APR of 17.74%-26.74%

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Image source: Southwest

Features

It is important to note that Southwest offers three different choices of the best airline credit cards. We are reviewing the Premier card only. There are slight differences in the three cards, so be sure to read carefully when applying to make sure you are applying for the card you want. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card offers 2 miles per every dollar spent with Southwest or with partner hotels and car rentals. For those who must travel quite a bit, this can add up to some serious free miles over time. This card also offers a great introductory bonus of 40,000 miles after your first $1000 spent in the first 3 months. You also earn 3,000 miles on each anniversary. If you are looking for more perks, you might want to check out the other best airline credit cards offered by Southwest.

PROS

  • Annual fee of only $99          
  •  Introductory bonuses
  • Simple rewards program

CONS

  •  Only offers free mile bonuses
  • High APR at 17.99%- 24.99%

Rates and Fees

This card carries a $99 annual fee. The purchase APR is 17.99%-24.99%

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card

Alaska Mileage Plan

Image source: Alaska

Features

This is truly one of the best airline credit cards if you wish to travel with Alaskan Airlines frequently. This card offers the best introductory offer around. As a signup bonus, you automatically receive a welcome bonus of 25,000 bonus miles with no minimum purchase required. This is just your welcome to the club. In general, Alaskan Airlines offer 3 miles per $1 spent on airfare and purchases with a specific listing of restaurants and other establishments. The rewards program is a bit complicated. If you are willing to strategize, though, you can sometimes earn up to 5 miles per $1 depending on where you spend and when you spend. No denying though, you will need to spend some time planning carefully if you want to get the full benefit. Another great, sought-after benefit is the annual Coach Companion ticket for only $99.  

PROS

  • 3 miles per $1 spent  
  • $99 Coach Companion Ticket annually
  • 1 free checked bag for up to 6 people in your party

CONS

  • Maximum rewards must be planned carefully
  • Earned miles must be used wisely

Rates and Fees

This card carries with it an annual fee of $75. The purchase APR is 16.74-24.74%

United Explorer Card

United explorer

Image source: United

Features

This card is one of the best airline credit cards because it is simple to use and easy to understand. The United Explorer Card offers a straightforward 2 miles per $1 spent on airline purchases, 2 miles per $1 spent at select hotels and restaurant and then 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. This makes the card a good deal, even for everyday use, if you are hoping to allow your credit card use build up some miles for you. The card offers 1 free checked bag for you and a companion, no foreign transaction fees, and a sign-up bonus.

PROS

  • Simple rewards program  
  • Rewards for everyday purchases
  • Two United Club One Time Use passes per year
  • Primary car rental insurance

CONS

  • Restrictive checked bag program
  • Restrictive mileage reward redemption

Rates and Fees

This card carries no fee for the first year and $95 dollars after that. The purchase APR is 17.99%-24.99%.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

American Airlines

Image source: American Airline

Features

Although this card carries a pretty hefty annual fee, you might find it is still a value if you travel often and with companions. This is one of the more generous cards when it comes to checking bags. This card allows a free checked bag on domestic flights for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you. This alone could justify that annual fee if you often travel with your family or companions. You will also be granted Admirals Club access when traveling for yourself and at least one guests traveling with you. Many customers find that the lack of foreign transaction fees is also a big plus. The rewards program on this card is 2 miles for every $1 spent on American Airline purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.

PROS

  • Generous checked bag program    
  • Simple rewards program of 2 miles per $1 spent
  • Additional perks and no foreign transaction fees

CONS

  • High annual fee
  • High APR
  •  Transfer fees

Rates and Fees

This card carries an annual fee of $450. The purchase APR is 17.74%-25.74%

The Verdict

If you are looking for a card that offers maximum rewards and you are willing to strategize in order to earn those rewards, then the Alaskan Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card is definitely one of the best airline credit cards. You should note that this card will require planning on your part in order to reap maximum benefits. If you are looking for a straightforward, easy-to-use card that will earn you free miles even when using it on everyday purchases, then you might want to go with the United Explorers Card.

Before applying for an airline credit card, you should evaluate if you are really going to use it enough to justify the fees and interest rate. There are several regular credit cards that also offer airline perks. If you only travel occasionally, one of these cards might better suit your needs. However, for those who are traveling several times a year, an airline credit card can definitely rack up some great rewards.

Featured image: Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

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