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Airline Credit Cards

Airline Card Deals: August 2015

We've compiled a list of the 5 Airline Card Deals currently available on CreditDonkey.

Airline Rewards Credit Cards

Compare airline rewards credit cards from our partners and apply online
Where to go next? Just as there are so many places worth visiting, there are so many credit cards to choose from that can help you save money and earn perks when you travel. Use our cheat sheet to zero in on what matters for your next airline card and start comparing the ones below.


Airline Miles for Beginners


Credit Cards for International Travel


Credit Card Spend Requirement


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How to Choose an Airline Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Want a generous deal? Do you spend over $1,334 per month on your credit card? If so, check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. If you make $4,000 in purchases during the first three months from opening your account, you'll earn 40,000 bonus points (worth $500 in travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards). There is a $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the 1st year).

Is it worth the $95 annual fee? Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Highlights:

  • Double points on travel and dining at restaurants
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs, including United Mileage Plus, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Premium travel and purchase protection benefits, including trip cancellation/interruption, primary car rental insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement and even baggage delay insurance.

Our Recommendations: 3 Things to Consider When Comparing Airline Credit Cards

  • Promotions: We all love a good deal and travelers are among the most coveted market segment. Credit card companies frequently offer travelers introductory promotions to get them to sign up for a new credit card. For that reason, it makes sense to compare a few before applying for any one card.

  • Rewards:
    • Earning rewards: An introductory offer is nice, but after the honeymoon period, you want a credit card that you’ll still want to keep around.

      Pay attention to the credit card rewards structure to find one that’s right for you over the long haul. Do you understand it? Will you get rewards where you use the card? If earning rewards is centered around airline purchases, do you travel enough throughout the year to get a lot of rewards or should you look for a more general card?

    • Redeeming rewards: Earning a million miles is great, but if you can never use it, why bother?

      Look for a credit card that lets you redeem your miles or points toward any purchase, or at minimum toward a carrier that flies where you want to go.

  • Annual fees: Airline credit cards tend to come with a price — an annual fee. Don’t let the existence of such a fee scare you away (with the right card, you can save money in the long run) but keep it in mind when evaluating your choices. In most cases, the higher the fee, the more lucrative the promotions and benefits.

Are You a Frequent Flyer?

Many airlines partner up with credit card companies to offer co-branded credit cards. If you fly frequently with one airline, signing up for a co-branded card with that airline can be a way to shave off some of the cost or hassle of flying. Such cards usually let you take advantage of unique perks often reserved for frequent flyers such as checked bag allowances or priority boarding. Here some airlines that have co-branded cards:

In exchange for the plusses you get with these types of cards, however, you may lose flexibility. It may take longer to earn rewards when you use the card on everyday purchases (usually you have higher rewards potential only when you buy airline tickets), and you may be limited in how you redeem the rewards.

Redeeming Points: Airline Transfer Partners

Here's our suggestion: Instead of a co-branded card with a particular airline, look for a credit card that allows you to transfer points to an airline's frequent flyer program.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points, called Starpoints, can be transferred to more than 30 frequent traveler programs, including American Airlines.

    Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
  • The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express offers 30,000 bonus SPG points if you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months (limited time offer). You can transfer those bonus points to one of SPG’s airline transfer partners such as American Airlines.

    Plus, every time you transfer 20,000 SPG points to one of Starwood’s airline transfer partners, you get 5,000 bonus points – making it a 1.25 effective rewards rate.

    To learn more, read our Starwood Preferred Guest credit card review.

  • If you are a small business owner, the Starwood Preferred Guest Business credit card offers a slightly different bonus. It gives you 30,000 bonus SPG points if you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months. This limited time offer expires September 14, 2015.

    To learn more, read our Starwood Preferred Guest Business credit card review.

American Express Membership Rewards (AMEX MR) points can be transferred to over a dozen frequent travelers programs, including airlines like Delta and hotel chains like Hilton, Best Western, and Starwood.

  • AMEX EveryDay offers 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points if you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months.

    You get 2x points at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases) and 1x points on other purchases.

    Here’s what is attractive about this card: if you make 20 or more purchases with it in a billing period, you get 20% more points on those purchases (less returns and credits).

    There is no annual fee.

    To learn more, read our AMEX EveryDay review.

    American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

  • American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card offers 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards points if you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first three months.

    You earn 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines; 2x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 1x point on other purchases.

    But here’s what stands out with this card: You get an airline fee credit (up to $100/year) to help cover incidental fees with your selected airline.

    There is a $195 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the 1st year).

    Is the card worth the $195 annual fee? Read our AMEX Rewards Gold Card review before you decide.

  • If you are a small business owner, here’s an offer you might be interested in: The Blue for Business Credit Card from American Express offers a 30% annual relationship bonus – with no annual fee. Plus, if you make your first purchase on your new card within the first three months, you will earn 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points.

    To learn more, read our Blue for Business credit card review.

Chase Ultimate Rewards (Chase UR) points can be transferred to frequent travelers programs too. Chase Ultimate Rewards airline transfer partners include United and Southwest Airlines. Their hotel transfer partners include Hyatt, Marriott, and the Ritz-Carlton.

Here are our suggestions on how you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

    Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: This card offers 40,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points if you make $4,000 in purchases during the first three months from opening your account. You can transfer the 40,000 points to one of their airline transfer partners such as Southwest or United.

    To learn more, read our Sapphire Preferred review.

  • If you are a small business owner, the Chase Ink Plus is a deal to check out. This card offers 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from opening your account.

    To learn more, read our Ink Plus review.

When you find the right airline credit card, you can go far both literally and figuratively. You can make inroads in your rewards and loyalty programs and you can get a nice deal when you redeem the rewards for flights or hotel stays.

PS: Don't forget about hotel loyalty programs. Here is a list of the best hotel credit cards for free nights.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

How to land great flights for cheap

How to Get Cheap Flights

Finding the best priced airfare can be a stressful task – especially when you’re trying to stick to a strict travel budget. Thankfully, there are some tips you can follow to cut down on the financial investment of your next flight.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Read ReviewApply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
At Chase's Secure Site
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees, plus chip-enabled for enhanced security and wider acceptance
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value - that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
  • Premium Travel and Purchase Protection Benefits, including Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Purchase Protection and more
  • 24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists
  • Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Airline Rewards Benefit: 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value - that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
Our Review: Do you like to travel? Chase Sapphire Preferred has a huge bonus point offer and premium travel benefits. But the card has a $95 annual fee. Read on to see if the Sapphire Preferred is worth it... Read full review
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
15.99% Variable
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
Read ReviewApply for Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Additionally, earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible 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 in sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and Restrictions Apply.
Introductory Bonus Airline RewardsAirline RewardsCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase Protection$0 Fraud LiabilityEmergency Assistance
Airline Rewards Benefit: Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
Introductory Bonus Airline Rewards: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months.
Additionally, earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
Our Review: Frequent Delta flyers will enjoy the 30,000 bonus mile introductory offer and travel perks of the Gold Delta SkyMiles card from American Express. Like most other airline cards, this one does have an annual fee, but in our opinion, frequent Delta flyers will find that it’s actually a good investment for the points and perks they receive... Read full review
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
NoneNone
15.24% - 19.24% Variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95


Read Review
Introductory Bonus Airline RewardsAirline RewardsHotel RewardsTravel RewardsCar Rental RewardsTravel Accident InsuranceEmergency Assistance
Our Review: If you want to earn 2x miles with all purchases and have the flexibility to redeem miles toward any airline purchase, consider the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. The $89 annual fee card lets you earn miles quickly with no mileage caps. In addition, a 40,000 bonus mile offer makes this card an attractive choice... Read full review
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/A
0% for 12 months (must be completed within first forty-five days of account opening)
15.99% or 19.99%* Variable
$89 - Waived first year


Read Review
Introductory Bonus Airline RewardsAirline RewardsTravel RewardsBonus Airline RewardsNo Expiration on Rewards$0 Fraud Liability
Our Review: Discover it Miles credit card rewards users with 1.5x miles and no annual fee (a rarity among travel credit cards). Even more appealing, as a promotion, the card will double the miles you earn at the end of your first year... Read full review
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0% for 12 months
10.99% for 12 months
10.99% - 22.99% (Variable)
$0

The Platinum Card from American Express
Read ReviewApply for The Platinum Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Up to a $200 Airline Fee Credit Annually.
  • To receive the statement credit, you need to select a qualifying airline.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees with purchases made on your Platinum Card.
  • Platinum Card Concierge is your personal resource to help secure a last minute restaurant reservation, or shop for a hard-to-find gift.
  • Terms & restrictions apply.
Introductory Bonus Reward PointsAirline RewardsHotel RewardsPoint RewardsTravel RewardsNo Pre-Set Spending LimitConciergeEventsExtended Warranty Purchase ProtectionReturn ProtectionTravel Accident Insurance$0 Fraud LiabilityIdentity Theft Assistance
Our Review: Is the American Express Platinum Card worth the $450 annual fee? Read this review to help you decide... Read full review
Card TypeAnnual Fee
Personal Charge Card
$450


Read Review
Introductory Bonus Airline RewardsAirline RewardsBonus Airline RewardsNo Expiration on RewardsNo Limits on RewardsNo Pre-Set Spending LimitCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase Protection $0 Fraud Liability
Our Review: If you are a frequent traveler and enjoy flying with American Airlines, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard can save you money on airfare. Beyond collecting flight rewards on all your purchases, this card also offers several additional bonuses that will save you even more money on airfare. While there is an annual fee of $95, it's likely that you'll easily make up this cost and more in travel rewards you earn... Read full review
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
13.99% - 21.99%* (Variable)
$95, waived for first 12 months*

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card
Read ReviewApply for American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • New: 2X points at U.S. restaurants.
  • Earn 3X points for flights booked with airlines, Earn 2X points at US supermarkets and US gas stations. Earn 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • New: There are no foreign transaction fees with your Premier Rewards Gold Card.
  • New: $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year for incidental fees with your selected airline.
  • With The Hotel Collection, you can get up to a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges any time you use your Card to book a stay of at least two consecutive nights.
  • $0 Intro Annual Fee for the 1st year, then $195.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
Introductory Bonus Reward PointsAirline RewardsPoint RewardsGas RewardsGrocery RewardsNo Pre-Set Spending LimitDining RewardsEventsCar Rental Insurance Extended WarrantyPurchase ProtectionBaggage InsuranceTravel Accident Insurance$0 Fraud LiabilityRoadside Assistance
Airline Rewards Benefit: Earn 3X points for flights booked with airlines
Our Review: The American Express Premier Rewards Gold card offers 3x points for flights booked with airlines and 2x points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants. But there's a $195 annual fee. Is the annual fee worth it? Before you decide, read this in-depth review... Read full review
Card TypeAnnual Fee
Personal Charge Card
Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Read ReviewApply for Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • New: No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • New: Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • New: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • Earn free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates.
  • Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Terms and limitations apply.
Introductory Bonus Hotel RewardsAirline RewardsHotel RewardsTravel RewardsBonus Airline RewardsNo Limits on RewardsEventsCar Rental InsuranceExtended Warranty Purchase ProtectionReturn ProtectionTravel Accident Insurance$0 Fraud Liability
Airline Rewards Benefit: Transfer Starpoints to more than 30 airline frequent flyer programs, mostly on a one-to-one basis.
Bonus Airline Rewards: Get 5,000 bonus Starpoints after you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program with more than 30 airlines
Our Review: There’s a new version of the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, and with the updated perks comes an increased cost: the annual fee has been bumped from $65 to $95. Read on to find out if the card should still be worth considering in 2015... Read full review
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
NoneNone
15.24% - 19.24% variable
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

Airline Rewards Benefits

6 High-Flying Benefits of Airline Credit Cards

Airline credit cards can be a great fit for people who travel often or have a big trip planned. These cards allow you to accrue points for purchases charged to the card. Once you've earned enough points, you can often redeem them for flights and savings in travel expenses like lodging. These cards can also give you access to special perks while you travel.

Here are just six of the many benefits you will typically see with this type of credit card.

  1. Rewards from the start

    Many consumers assume that it will take months, maybe even years, before they will accrue enough points to cash in for a flight. However, many airline rewards cards now offer introductory bonus points on their first purchase or after meeting an initial spending threshold. The amount of points range depending on the card, but some offer enough for a round-trip flight.

    An introductory offer allows you to see the benefits of your card even if it is a credit card you might not use on a regular basis. It is also great for individuals who typically don’t charge much on a credit card, because the last thing you want to do is change your spending pattern just to accrue points.

  2. Flexibility on flights

    Frequent flyer programs through specific airlines often have some limitations and require you to book flights through the airline. With an airline miles credit card that's not affiliated with any specific airline, you often have access to a greater range of airlines, locations, and dates. This makes it convenient to use rewards to book flights for vacations and business trips.

  3. Seat upgrades

    One fantastic benefit of some airline miles credit cards is using your miles to upgrade seats. Many cardholders will purchase inexpensive tickets through a special airline promotion and then utilize rewards to upgrade their seat to business or first class. Seat upgrades provide them with extra space and access to special perks during their flight. This is a great way to be budget conscious without skimping on comfort. Keep in mind, though, not all tickets are eligible to be upgraded, so pay attention to the fare code and airline eligibility requirements.

  4. Access to special perks

    Some cards, such as the legendary American Express Platinum, give you access into certain airline lounges. These lounges in airports maximize comfort while you wait for your flight. They are available at many airports, so this is one benefit that you’ll be able to take advantage of almost anywhere you travel.

  5. Chances to accrue additional points

    Credit card companies often provide promotional periods when they will increase the points per dollar spent for certain categories. During these promotional periods, you may earn 2, 3, 4, even 5 points for every dollar spent.

    Extra points are often offered for purchases you make at certain types of merchants, like gas stations, hotels or other travel-related venues. This is a great chance to rack up the points if you have already planned to travel during these periods. Sometimes, the merchant categories are for everyday expenses, like groceries, so you will still earn points quickly without changing your regular shopping routine.

  6. Points to cut down on other travel expenses

    If you are looking at airline miles credit cards, chances are you’re focused on flying rewards. However, with some cards, you can also potentially use your points toward car rentals, hotel rooms and other travel expenses.


Articles on Airline Rewards

    How to Get Free Airline Tickets

    By Sheryl Nance-Nash - Tips
    The warmer months mean the one thing you have been working for – literally – is about to happen. We’re talking about vacation. But who can afford to go anywhere these days? The answer: the savvy shopper who knows how to find the best deals. ...

    Best Time to Buy International Flights

    June 3, 2015 - By Allison Martin - Tips
    Searching for a cheap international flight? Be prepared for the wild goose chase that may lie ahead. Even if you purchase a ticket as soon as it becomes available, you may be stricken with disappointment when you see the fare drop tremendously ...

    Hawaiian Airlines Credit Card Review

    April 17, 2015 - By Leah Norris - Reviews
    The Hawaiian Airlines credit card has an impressive set of benefits, including a yearly $100 discount on a companion fare, free 1st checked bag on Hawaiian Airlines flights, and 5,000 bonus miles each year you spend over $10,000 on the card. ...

    Virgin America Credit Card Review

    April 16, 2015 - By Leah Norris - Reviews
    With its eye-catching vertical design and the hip, modern reputation of the airline, the Virgin America Visa Signature can attract your attention if you’re a frequent flier on Virgin America. But does it offer more value than just coolness?

    Spirit Airlines Credit Card Review

    April 15, 2015 - By Leah Norris - Reviews
    Could you get even better deals on your Spirit Airlines flight by owning the Spirit Airlines World MasterCard? Read on to see if the card is worth the $59 annual fee.

    Frontier Airlines Credit Card Review

    April 14, 2015 - By Leah Norris - Reviews
    Are you a frequent Frontier Airlines traveler? If so, you may have heard about the Frontier Airlines World MasterCard and may be wondering if it’s a good way to earn free flights.

    Alaska Airlines Credit Card Review

    April 13, 2015 - By Leah Norris - Reviews
    The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card is an airline miles card with a nice annual perk: a single super-low cost companion fare from $121. Read on to see if the card is worth the $75 annual fee.

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About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy financial decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.