Airline Credit Cards

If you're a frequent flyer, get a card that rewards you for spending on flights! Airline credit cards offer generous rewards and perks like free checked bags or airport lounge access with specific airlines. These offers from our partners will have you racking up miles in no time. If you're looking for general travel rewards, check out our travel credit cards.

See airline credit card offers from our partners below. If you're looking for general travel rewards, check out our travel credit cards.

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
Apply Now at Citi's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.24% - 25.24%* (Variable)
Annual Fee
$95, waived for first 12 months*
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply Now at American Express's
secure site
Terms Apply
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
16.99%-25.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
See Rates & Fees

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

1,163 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • Bags fly free® and no change fees
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.24% - 24.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$69
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Special Introductory Offer: Buy 1 ticket, get 1 for just the taxes and fees with Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ Offer.
  • Get 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening.
  • Enjoy another Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ every year! That's right, annually for $99 (plus taxes and fees from $22) on your account anniversary valid on Alaska and Virgin America flights booked on alaskaair.com
  • Save with a free checked bag on Alaska and Virgin America flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation.
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. No foreign transaction fees.
  • There are two types of cards: the Visa Signature® card and the Platinum Plus® card. The card you receive will be determined by several factors including your income and credit history.
  • The benefits and bonus miles above apply to Visa Signature cards only. The Annual Fees, benefits and bonus miles for Platinum Plus® cards are different.
  • For more information on the differences, see the Features section accompanying the application.
Apply Now at Bank of America's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
16.24% - 24.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
$75
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios.
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • In addition to the bonus Avios, you will also get 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Chip Technology allows you to use your card for chip based purchases in Europe & beyond, while still giving you the ability to use your card as you do today at home.
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.24% - 24.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • 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 guests with you*
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year*
  • 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*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
Apply Now at Citi's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
16.99% - 24.99%* (Variable)
Annual Fee
$450
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply Now at American Express's
secure site
Terms Apply
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
16.99%-25.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
See Rates & Fees

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

1,937 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions, Bags fly free® and no change fees
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.24% - 24.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$99
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • Limited time offer - ends 3/15/18
  • 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $100 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Your miles don't expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.24% - 24.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for First Year, then $95
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit

Compare Airline Credit Card Offers

Updated: February 20, 2018

CreditCards.com's Best Airline Credit Cards of 2018

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card
  • British Airways Visa Signature® Card
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
  • Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

What our experts are saying

Lisa Gerstner, contributing editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
Favorite airline card: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card
“With an annual fee of $75, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card folds in a host of enticing benefits for flyers at a lower price than similar cards from other airlines, which often charge about $95.”

Johnny Jet, travel expert
Favorite airline card: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card
“They give you a [discounted] companion ticket each year with no blackout dates. Also, Alaska’s miles are worth more than American’s.”

Holly Johnson, personal finance expert
Favorite airline card: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
“While all three cards on the list are strong options for someone trying to rack up airline miles, the Citi AAdvantage card pulls out ahead in terms of value.”

Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com
Favorite airline card: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
“It's got a strong sign-up bonus, gives you a free checked bag for you and four of your travel companions and also gives you preferred boarding on American flights. That all adds up to a pretty good deal.”

Daniel Ray, Editor-in-Chief at CreditCards.com
Favorite airline card: British Airways Visa Signature card
“There can be a high learning curve with this card. You need to learn its network of partners and how to reduce or avoid the dreaded ‘carrier surcharges,’ but once you do, you’ll be able to sort the program’s money-saving features from its pricey ones.”

Welcome to the World of Airline Cards

If you don’t mind sticking with the same airline for all or most of your travel, a good airline credit card can help you cash in on your loyalty and earn special perks for repeat travelers.

Many airline cards offer free checked bags, priority boarding and free or sharply discounted companion tickets. Some airline cards also offer extra bonuses on everyday spending, making it easier to rack up miles when you aren’t traveling. But to get the most value from an airline card, you typically need to fly often in order to earn enough miles to recoup the card’s annual fee.

When comparing airline cards, watch out for restrictive redemption policies, stingy rewards seating and miles with a low redemption value. A good airline card should combine a high value rewards program with enough exclusive perks to make it worth your loyalty. Here we look at:

  • Airline co-branded cards vs. general-purpose travel cards
  • How much are miles worth?
  • How many miles do you need for a flight?
  • Benefits of airline cards
  • Typical rates and fees on airline cards
  • Is an airline card right for you?
  • Can you transfer miles between airlines?

So, whatever your travel goals, we’ll help you decide if an airline card works best for you:

Airline co-branded cards vs. general-purpose travel cards

Airline Co-Branded CardsGeneral-Purpose Travel Cards
Build creditBuild credit
Typically an annual feeSometimes no annual fee
Generous rewards for brand loyaltyRewards for most spending
Partnerships with other brandsFly any airline
Sign-up bonus, ongoing rewardsSign-up bonus, ongoing rewards
Often free first checked bagNo blackout dates
No foreign transaction feeNo foreign transaction fee

How much are miles worth?

Miles and points values vary widely, from less than $0.01 to more than $0.02. Here are the major airline and card issuer programs’ valuations, according to ThePointsGuy.com.

Miles ProgramJan 2017 (Cents)Jan 2018 (Cents)
American AAdvantage1.51.4
American Express Membership Rewards1.91.9
Bank of America Premium Rewards1.01.0
Barclaycard Arrival Miles1.01.0
British Airways Avios1.51.5
Capital One1.01.0
Chase Ultimate Rewards2.12.1
Citi Thank You Points1.61.7
Delta SkyMiles1.21.2
Flying Blue1.31.3
Frontier1.11.1
JetBlue1.21.3
Southwest1.51.5
United1.51.4
Virgin Atlantic1.31.5

How many miles do you need for a flight?

Miles are not equal – the value depends on the airline, the trip, the date and the type of seat. For example, take a look at the below, gleaned from CreditCards.com research:

Delta Trips TakenPoints CostCash Cost
Domestic Flights - main cabin

LAX - JFK - April 15, 201725,000$301
Omaha - Dallas (DFW) - April 15, 201712,500$105
Domestic Flights - first/business

LAX - JFK - April 15, 201775,000$1,018
Omaha - Dallas (DFW) - April 15, 201725,000$196
International Flights - main cabin

Atlanta - London – Jan. 15, 201730,000$1,840
Atlanta - Johannesburg – Jan. 15, 2017110,000$4,156
Atlanta - Tokyo – Jan. 15, 201795,000$1,334
International Flights - first/business

Atlanta - London – Jan. 15, 201787,500$7,722
Atlanta - Johannesburg – Jan. 15, 2017225,000$9,614
Atlanta - Tokyo – Jan. 15, 2017160,000$7,532

Benefits of airline cards

  • Access to airport lounges
  • First checked bag free
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Priority boarding
  • Companion airfare
  • Annual miles boost
  • In-flight savings
  • Baggage insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Roadside assistance
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Extended warranty
  • Purchase protection
  • Shopping portal

Typical rates and fees on airline cards

  • Purchase APR – You’re charged if you carry a balance.
  • Cash advance APR – Interest is charged if you take out cash.
  • Penalty APR – If you are late, you can be charged interest.
  • Balance transfer APR – Some cards offer 0% intro APR.
  • Annual fee – Can be waived first year.
  • Minimum interest charge – This varies by airline.
  • Foreign transaction fee – Can be up to 5%, but often waived.
  • Cash advance fee – Can be $10 or 5%.
  • Late fee – Can be up to $38.
  • Overlimit – Typically waived, but can cause membership to be revoked.
  • Returned payment – Can be up to $38.

Is an airline card right for you?

  1. Do you have good or excellent credit? Most airline cards require better credit.
  2. Do you have a favorite brand? If you are loyal to a specific brand, an airline card might be a good choice. Otherwise, a general-purpose travel card may be your best bet.
  3. How often do you travel? If you don’t travel much, you may be better off with a general-purpose travel card or a cashback card. Also, check and see if there are no foreign transaction fees.
  4. Do you pay in full each month? If you don’t plan to pay in full each month, an airline card may not be a good choice because of interest charges. Instead, consider a balance transfer card for paying down debt.
  5. Do you mind paying an annual fee? Annual fees are often a tradeoff for richer rewards, so if you plan to take full advantage of the card, an annual fee may be worth your while.

Can you transfer miles between airlines?

While airline partnerships usually allow you to earn and redeem miles while flying on partner airlines, you typically can’t directly transfer miles from one airline to another, says The Points Guy. You can’t mix and match multiple airlines’ miles, says Million Mile Secrets. So, you can use American Airlines rewards to book a British Airways awards flight, but you can’t use 2 or more airlines’ rewards to book that flight.

Recap: Our Best Airline Credit Cards of 2018

CardWelcome BonusBonus RequirementRewards Rate
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®30,000 Bonus MilesMake $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account openingEarn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express30,000 Bonus MilesSpend $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 monthsEarn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card50,000 Bonus PointsSpend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is openEarn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card30,000 Bonus MilesMake $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account openingEarn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airline and Virgin America purchases
British Airways Visa Signature® Card50,000 Bonus AviosSpend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account openingEarn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®50,000 Bonus MilesSpend $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express10,000 Bonus MilesSpend $500 in purchases within the first 3 monthsEarn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants and purchases made directly with Delta
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card50,000 pointsSpend $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account openingEarn 2 per dollar on eligible Southwest® purchases

Join the Discussion

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See the online credit card applications for details about the terms and conditions of an offer. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's web site.

* For additional rates, fees and costs see issuer's website for detailed pricing and terms.