Having an airline credit card in your wallet gives you the opportunity to fly to your destination of choice for pennies on the dollar. By using a credit card that earns points or miles for travel, you can spend less money or spend it in other ways on your vacation. But how you travel, where you travel, and how you spend your money are key factors in identifying the best airline credit card for you.
If you like to travel in luxury and stay at the nicest resorts, you might want to opt for a premium credit card with a higher annual fee. If you like to travel the world frequently but spend as little money as possible, a flexible rewards card might be your best bet. If you generally only fly between certain airports or on specific airlines, you may want to open a card for your preferred airline or one for the airline that operates at your typical destinations.
You will also want to take how you spend your money each month into account. If you eat out for almost every meal, it wouldn’t make sense to open a card that rewards grocery shopping; your habits are better suited to a card that offers bonus points on dining. Knowing the categories in which you spend a lot can make the difference between getting a free flight once a year or five times a year.
Check out some of our favorite picks for airline credit cards below. Apply today and start earning more miles for your money.
Our Airline Credit Card Recommendations
Best Business Airline Credit Card: The Business Platinum Card from American Express
If you are a business owner that either has to travel regularly for work or chooses to travel for pleasure, you need to consider the Business Platinum Card from American Express. This card has some of the best perks and benefits for travel, and it rewards you generously for airline purchases.
First off, the Business Platinum Card has an extremely lucrative sign-up bonus. You can earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on the card within the first 3 months of account opening. This sign-up bonus is absolutely massive — potentially worth up to $1,500 depending on how you use your points. Few cards offer sign-up bonuses worth over $1,000 and this one is 50% more than that. However, just be aware that the card does come with a very large $595 annual fee.
The rewards you can earn for airline travel are very generous as well. You can earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. Almost no other card (other than the personal version of this card) offers the same return on those travel purchases. If you make any other purchases over $5,000, you will earn 1.5 points per dollar on those. All other purchases earn one point per dollar.
On top of the great sign-up bonus and high travel earning rate, this card is jam-packed with other travel bonuses and perks. To start off, you get a $200 statement credit every year for any incidental airline purchases you make. This can include baggage fees and seat upgrades, among others. Just be aware that you will need to select one specific qualifying airline for the calendar year.
When booking your travel, you have a few options. You can transfer your points to one of the many airline loyalty program transfer partners, thus maximizing the value of every point. You can also book with Pay with Points, where each point is worth $.01. However, using this method will refund 35% of the points you use for your bookings.
There are a number of perks on the card that can make your travel days much simpler and stress free. First, you get a Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre-Check ($85) credit with the card, making getting through security or customs a breeze. You will also get complimentary membership to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which features over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries. While waiting for your flight, you can enjoy complimentary food and drinks at many of the lounges.
If you stay at Hilton or Marriott properties on your trips, you are in luck. The card includes gold tier status for both Hilton and Marriott loyalty programs, giving you the opportunity to get room upgrades and other perks at the hotels. If you happen to book your stay at a Fine Hotels & Resorts property with the card, you can get a whole host of perks like room upgrades, daily breakfast, and $100 in food or spa credit.
This card can also provide ease of mind when you travel thanks to its many travel protections. You will get luggage insurance in the event your baggage is lost or damaged. You also receive trip delay insurance and trip cancellation and interruption insurance if any unforeseen circumstances arise. If you rent a car (using your free premium rental car loyalty program status from the card), you also get car rental loss and damage insurance. And, like all airline travel cards worth their salt, it has no foreign transaction fees.
Finally, as a business owner, there are a few additional perks for you. You get extended warranty and purchase protection for the products you buy for your business. You will also get a $200 statement credit for purchases with Dell technologies (split into two $100 credits for January through June and July through December).
Although the annual fee can be a tough pill to swallow, it’s obvious that this card offers so much more in its many perks for cardholders. Apply for the Business Platinum Card from American Express today.
Best Co-Branded Airline Business Credit Card: CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard
There are a lot of co-branded credit cards out there to choose from, even among business credit cards. But the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard is one of the best due to its many benefits, low annual fee, and American Airlines–wide network and partner airlines.
If you make $4,000 in purchases within 4 months of applying for this card, you will earn a sign-up bonus of 65,000 American Airlines miles. That’s potentially worth about $900 toward future flights. That is a very lucrative sign-up offer for a card that waives the first year annual fee and then only charges $99 every year after.
This business card has a number of bonus categories in which you will earn two miles per dollar. You will earn the 2X bonus points on American Airlines purchases, cable and satellite providers, gas stations, telecommunication merchants, and car rentals. All other purchases you make will earn one mile per dollar.
This card will also give you a number of travel benefits, especially when you fly on American Airlines. You will get your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines flights for you and up to four companions. You will also get preferred boarding on American Airlines flights. In flight, you will get a 25% discount on Wi-Fi purchases and food and beverages when you use this card.
If you make $30,000 in purchases on the card during your cardmembership year, you will earn an American Airlines domestic Companion Certificate. This certificate gives you the ability to have a companion fly with you round trip on one of your domestic flights on American Airlines for $99 plus taxes and fees. This certificate alone could be worth a lot of money if you choose to do a transcontinental flight or vacation in Hawaii with your companion.
The card also comes with no foreign transaction fees for whenever you fly overseas. By earning a ton of American Airlines miles, you can book flights all over the United States and the world. Thanks to American Airlines being a Oneworld partner, you will be able to book awards on other airlines like British Airways and Cathay Pacific. If you can find the right redemptions on partner airlines, your miles could be worth so much more.
Although this business card is best suited for those business owners that travel on American regularly, anybody that flies the airline only occasionally can find good value here. Check out the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard and let it start working for you.
Best No-Fee Airline Business Credit Card: Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard Credit Card
The Bank of America Business Advantage credit card is one of the top no-annual-fee business credit cards to use for airline travel. It has a really great sign-up bonus and flexibility in how to redeem your rewards so you aren’t forced into specific hotels or airlines. As a business owner, you can’t go wrong with a card that can earn you a free vacation without paying any annual fees.
The sign-up bonus on this card is worth $300, which is pretty good for a card that doesn’t have an annual fee. You will earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on the card within 90 days of account opening. The spending requirement is not too high and should be achievable for lots of businesses.
When it comes to everyday spending, the Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard provides solid benefits for every dollar spent. You earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend, regardless of what you’re buying. This is a quite high earning rate for a no-fee credit card. On top of the standard 1.5 points per dollar, you can earn even more when you book a rental car, hotel, or flight for your next trip through the Bank of America Travel Center. When you make your vacation expenses on the Travel Center, you earn three points per dollar. There’s no limit to how much you can earn with the 3X bonus when you book travel, either.
If you already have a business relationship with Bank of America and happen to be a Preferred Rewards for Business member, you earn even more. Depending on which tier you qualify for, you could earn between 25% and 75% more points for your purchases. If you qualify for the highest tier (Platinum Honors), you will earn 4.12 points per dollar on your travel purchases on the Travel Center and 2.62 points per dollar on every other purchase.
Like most airline and travel credit cards, there are no foreign transaction fees when you travel out of the country. This card also features an introductory 0% APR period for nine billing cycles on purchases.
It is a relatively easy process to use your points for travel purchases. You can receive statement credit for your travel purchases by redeeming your points at $.01 per point. You also have the option of using your points to pay for travel booked through the Travel Center. You can also redeem points for gift cards or cash, but you won’t get nearly the same value from your points.
This is a great no-annual-fee business credit card to have since it earns flexible rewards toward all of your travel purchases. Although great value can be found for any business owner, it is especially lucrative for those business owners that are part of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program thanks to the elevated earning rates. You won’t regret opening this card when you are airborne on a free flight to your free hotel room at your destination of choice.
Why You Should Open an Airline Credit Card
Almost everybody likes to travel — especially for free or very cheaply. An airline credit card can do that for you and so much more. Don’t be afraid of credit cards just because they are associated with “debt.” If you pay off your airline credit card in full every single month, you will be able to fly to your destination of choice for free or just a fraction of the cost.
Even if you are somebody that only flies once or twice a year, you shouldn’t have to pay full fare prices. By using a credit card, you can earn miles or points for every single dollar you spend. Before you know it, you will have earned a big sign-up bonus plus thousands of additional points just for making your typical purchases.
Credit cards also offer a ton of additional perks and benefits on top of the potential rewards. Credit cards help protect against fraud and easily protect your money if your information gets in the wrong hands — that’s not something you can say about debit cards or cash. You won’t be on the hook for any fraudulent charges on your credit card.
Airline credit cards also have airline-specific benefits. If you have a co-branded card (like one offered by a specific airline), you will often get your first checked bag free for everybody in your reservation. You generally also get discounts on food and drink purchases during your flight. Some even offer complimentary elite status (or help you get there), which can result in free upgrades on your flights.
Airline cards almost always don’t charge foreign transaction fees, which saves you money when traveling abroad. Many of these cards also offer travel protections in the event your baggage is lost, your trip is delayed, or something forces you to cancel your trip. All of these things can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every single year.
Whether you like to fly constantly or only visit family once a year, you should strongly consider opening an airline credit card today.