How do I use a foreign airline credit card for US travel?

Most foreign airlines have domestic partners where you can use your points

Tony Mecia
Personal finance writer
Rewards expert who writes the "Cashing In" reader Q&A column for CreditCards.com

Foreign airlines and their U.S. partners

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Last month, Chase announced the debut of two new airline credit cards: the Iberia Visa and the Aer Lingus Visa. Iberia is the national carrier of Spain. Aer Lingus is the national carrier of Ireland.

Chances are that many people who saw news of the announcement quickly tuned it out. After all, how many of us travel regularly to Spain or Ireland? Aren’t these cards just for people who fly regularly on Iberia or Aer Lingus?

Use points for domestic travel

While that is often the case for people with domestic airline cards – those with American Express Delta SkyMiles cards probably fly Delta a lot, for instance – it’s not necessarily the case with international airline cards. That’s because credit cards linked to international airlines can be an important resource for reward travel. You can use those credit cards and those international airline programs to earn free flights. You can get an international airline card and get rewarded with travel that is entirely in the United States, without even setting foot on that foreign airline.

That’s because foreign airlines typically have partnerships that allow you to use rewards with U.S. carriers. 

Foreign airlines and their US partners

Chase Aer Lingus Visa

Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: Unknown; card coming this spring
How to use in U.S.: Can book American flights on Aer Lingus, starting at 7,500 miles each way in North America. Or can transfer to British Airways Avios and book there.

Chase British Airways Visa

Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: Up to 75,000 Avios miles: 50,000 after spending $3,000 in three months, plus 25,000 after spending $10,000 in the first year.
How to use in U.S.: Avios miles can be used on American Airlines, starting at 7,500 miles each way on North American flights, depending on flight distance. You can search for American flights on British Airways’ website. Search ahead of time because flights are limited.

Chase Iberia Visa

Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: Up to 75,000 Avios miles: 50,000 after spending $3,000 in three months, plus 25,000 after spending $10,000 in the first year.
How to use in U.S.: Avios miles can be used on American Airlines, starting at 7,500 miles each way in North America, depending on distance. You can search on Iberia’s site or transfer your Iberia Avios to British Airways Avios and search there.

TD Air Canada Aeroplan Visa

Annual fee: $95, waived first year
Sign-up bonus: 25,000 Aeroplan miles after spending $1,000 in three months.
How to use in U.S.: Air Canada’s Aeroplan miles can be used on Star Alliance partners, including United, by searching through Aeroplan’s site. Round-trip awards on United in the U.S. start at 25,000 miles.

Bank of American Asiana Visa

Annual fee: $99
Sign-up bonus: 30,000 miles after spending $3,000 in first 90 days.
How to use in U.S.: Asiana miles can be used on United. Round-trip flights in the U.S. start at 25,000 miles. You might have to call Asiana to book.

US Bank Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Signature

Annual fee: $80
Sign-up bonus: 15,000 miles after first purchase
How to use in U.S.: SkyPass miles can be redeemed on Delta, Hawaiian, and Alaska on the SkyPass website. Round-trip flights in the U.S., including flights to Hawaii, start at 25,000 miles.

Synchrony Bank Cathay Pacific Visa

Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in first 90 days
How to use in U.S.: Miles can be used in U.S. on American and Alaska, though understanding rules and booking flights can be complicated.

These cards might not make sense for everybody. But before dismissing them outright, take time to consider how you might be able to use the miles, even if they are on a foreign airline.

 See related: Picking the right credit cards for around-the-world travel, Best airline credit cards


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Updated: 12-15-2018