BACK

Courtesy of American Airlines

Products

A tale of two issuers: Picking the right co-branded credit card

Many airline and hotel loyalty programs offer cards with more than one issuer – here’s how to choose

Summary

When your favorite hotel chain or airline offers a credit card with more than one issuer, it can be hard to know which one is best for you. Consider factors like benefits and acceptance before applying.

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers; and please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

If you are a loyalist of a particular hotel chain or airline, you might have considered applying for a co-branded credit card with your favorite loyalty program. These cards make it easy to stockpile points or miles on more purchases and even come with perks like priority boarding, automatic elite status or complimentary breakfast.

But what do you do if more than one card issuer offers a co-branded credit card with the program? Marriott Bonvoy is one of the first programs that comes to mind, as it offers competitive cards through both Chase and American Express. Beyond evaluating each card’s terms and benefits, there are many factors to consider when choosing a co-branded credit card – including who issues that card.

Decide which card rewards are right for you

Regardless of card issuer, one of the most important things to consider when applying for a credit card is that it suits your spending habits. The card should have a rewards rate that complements your spending, hotel or airline benefits that align with your travel habits and an annual fee that fits into your budget.

Before choosing a card based on issuer, take a look at all the co-branded cards available for your favorite loyalty program and see which options are best for you.

Co-branded credit cards from multiple card issuers

CardRewards rateAnnual feeOther things to know
American Airlines AAdvantage: Citi-issued cards
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
  • 2 miles per dollar on grocery store and eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
$0*
  • 10,000 miles and $50 statement credit if you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • 25% savings on in-flight purchases
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World EliteTM Mastercard® 
  • 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2 miles per dollar on gas station and restaurant purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
$99, waived for first 12 months*
  • 50,000 miles if you spend $2,500 in first 3 months
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines flight discount each year you spend $20,000 and renew your card membership
  • 25% savings on in-flight purchases
  • First checked bag free
  • Preferred boarding
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM Mastercard®
  • 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
$450
  • Admirals Club access
  • Up to $100 credit for TSA PreCheck/Global entry
  • Priority check-in and priority boarding
  • 25% savings on in-flight purchases
  • Free checked bag
American Airlines AAdvantage: Barclays-issued cards
Aadvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
  • 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
$99
  • 50,000 miles and a companion certificate (bring a companion starting at $99 plus taxes and fees) if you make a purchase in the first 90 days and pay the $99 annual fee
  • Anniversary companion certificate each year you spend $20,000
  • 25% savings on in-flight purchases
  • Free checked bag
  • Preferred boarding
Marriott Bonvoy: American Express-issued cards
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express®Card
  • 6 points per dollar at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 3 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on directly booked flights
  • 2 points per dollar on other purchases
  • Terms apply
$450
  • 75,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Free night award each year on your card anniversary (category 1-6 room)
  • $300 hotel credit for incidental purchases
  • $100 credit for incidental purchases at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton hotels on any stay two nights or longer
  • Priority Pass lounge membership
  • Up to $100 credit for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry
  • Automatic gold elite status
Marriott Bonvoy: Chase-issued cards
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
  • 6 points per dollar at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 2 points per dollar on other purchases
$95
  • 100,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months (limited time offer)
  • Annual free night stay in hotel up to 35,000 points
  • Automatic silver elite status

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

  • 3 points per dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties
  • 2 points per dollar on other travel purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
$0
  • 30,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • 15 elite qualifying nights each year (qualifies you for silver status)

For the most part, when a program like American Airlines AAdvantage offers credit cards with more than one issuer, each card’s rewards rate and perks probably vary. However, in some cases, cards with a similar earning scheme and annual fee – like the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select card and the AAdvantage Aviator Red card – might be offered by two issuers. While you should first consider card terms when choosing a co-branded card, the issuer might a factor in your final decision in cases like these.

Closely examine the card benefits and perks

One factor that can vary drastically between credit card issuers – and have an impact on if the card is a good choice for you – are the additional benefits they include.

For example, American Express cards include a free membership to ShopRunner, a program that provides free, two-day shipping from dozens of online retailers. For Citi cards, purchases can be enrolled in Citi Price Rewind, which automatically searches for a lower price on your qualifying purchases and refunds you the difference.

See Related: Terms and benefits checkup: Assess your credit card’s value

While some travel and shopping insurances and protections might overlap between card issuers, these perks are incredibly important when determining your card’s value, so take a close look at the terms and conditions before you apply.

Don’t forget to consider acceptance

Another thing to consider when choosing a co-branded card between different issuers is merchant acceptance, as you’ll want to be able to use your card often.

For example, Marriott Bonvoy offers personal credit cards with both Chase and American Express. If you frequent international Marriott hotels, you might prefer a Chase card over the Amex – as American Express cards aren’t accepted as widely abroad as they are in the U.S.

Bottom line

When you are applying for a co-branded credit card with your favorite airline or hotel loyalty program, be sure to research all of the available options before deciding which card is best for you. Factors such as rewards rate, annual fee, benefits and which bank issues the card should all play a role in your final decision.

What’s up next?

In Products

Credit card declined while traveling? How to avoid it, what to do if it happens

A credit card can get declined for many reasons beyond lack of available credit – and if you happen to be traveling when it happens, it can throw a wrench into your vacation plans. These tips will help ensure a card rejection-free trip.

Published: July 3, 2019

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: October 16th, 2019
Business
15.18%
Airline
17.11%
Cash Back
17.25%
Reward
17.13%
Student
17.29%

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company’s business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.