Airline Credit Cards

Co-branded airline credit cards are great for frequent flyers because they include benefits like free checked bags and priority boarding. It’s important to remember, though, the miles they earn can’t be transferred like flexible points.

Still, if you fly with a particular airline regularly or you want to add to your airline loyalty account balance for a particular redemption, an airline-specific credit card could be the right choice for you.

Best Airline Credit Cards

Southwest Airplane

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of being a cardholder.  

Favorite Card Features:

  • 2x on Southwest purchases
  • 2x local transit, commuting, and rideshare costs
  • 2x internet, cable, phone, and eligible streaming services
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • Earn 3k Rapid Rewards Points each year on your card anniversary

Annual Fee: $69

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of being a cardholder. 

Favorite Card Features:

  • 3x on Southwest purchases
  • 2x local transit, commuting, and rideshare costs
  • 2x internet, cable, phone, and eligible streaming services
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-ins per year
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Earn 6k Rapid Rewards Points each year on your card anniversary

Annual Fee: $99

I love having Southwest points in my loyalty account! They’re easy to redeem domestically and for Southwest’s more tropical destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. Their Wanna Get Away fares can be as little as a few thousand points!

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of being a cardholder.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 3x on Southwest purchases
  • 2x local transit, commuting, and rideshare costs
  • 2x internet, cable, phone, and eligible streaming services
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $75 Southwest travel credit
  • Up to 4 upgraded boarding positions every year
  • Earn 7.5k Rapid Rewards Points each year on your card anniversary

Annual Fee: $149

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn up to 100,000 Avios. Earn 75,000 Avios after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months from opening your British Airways Visa Signature card. Then, earn another 25,000 Avios after spending $20,000 in the first 12 months as a cardholder.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 3x for purchases on British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and LEVEL 
  • 2x on hotel bookings made directly with the hotel 
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Save 10% on British Airways airfare for flights originating in the U.S when you book with the website provided when you receive your card

Annual Fee: $95

Iberia Visa Signature® Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn up to 100,000 Avios. Earn 75,000 Avios after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months from opening your Iberia Visa Signature card. Then, earn another 25,000 Avios after spending $20,000 in the first 12 months as a cardholder.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 3x for purchases on British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and LEVEL 
  • 2x on hotel bookings made directly with the hotel 
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Save 10% on Iberia airfare for flights originating in the U.S when you book with the website Iberia.com/Chase10

Annual Fee: $95

Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card

Current Welcome Bonus:

Earn up to 100,000 Avios. Earn 75,000 Avios after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months from opening your Aer Lingus Visa Signature card. Then, earn another 25,000 Avios after spending $20,000 in the first 12 months as a cardholder.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 3x for purchases on British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and LEVEL 
  • 2x on hotel bookings made directly with the hotel 
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Priority Boarding on Aer Lingus flights to Ireland

Annual Fee: $95

Earning Avios with British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus is just as important as earning miles with any of the 3 legacy carriers, United, American, Delta. Avios can be used to book flights with partners like American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, often for a lot less than what these airlines charge.

Luckily, British Airways is a transfer partner with several travel rewards programs. But, the co-branded British Airways credit card can help you earn even more Avios.

I’ve used Avios for many redemptions including a short-haul flight (BA sweet spot!) from London to Prague to see the city all lit up for Christmas.

Prague Old Town Square
Prague Christmas Markets

United℠ Explorer Card

Current Welcome Bonus: 50,000 United miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 2x on United purchases, dining, and hotels, & eligible delivery services
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • Get 25% off United inflight purchases for things like food, drinks, and wifi
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • A free checked bag for savings up to $140 round trip (Terms Apply)
  • Priority boarding when you fly with United
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit
  • One year complimentary DashPass membership for free delivery & reduced service fees on DoorDash & Caviar. Must activate by 12/31/24

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95 thereafter

United Quest℠ Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 60,000 United miles + 500 Premier Qualifying Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 3x on United purchases
  • 2x on all other travel purchases
  • 2x on all dining and select streaming services
  • Each year, get a $125 United Statement Credit for United purchases & 2 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits (Terms Apply)
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • A free checked bags and priority boarding when you fly with United
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit
  • Earn 500 Premier Qualifying Points for every $12k you spend in a calendar year up to 6,000 points.

Annual Fee: $250

United Club℠ Infinite Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 80,000 United miles when you spend $5,000 in 3 months.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 4x on United purchases which include tickets, inflight food, beverages & Wi-Fi, Economy Plus®, and other United purchases
  • 2x on travel and dining and eligible food delivery services
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or Nexus
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • 2 free checked bags when you fly with United
  • Earn 500 Premier qualifying points for every $12k you spend. Up to 8,000 PQP each calendar year.

Annual Fee: $525 

United miles are easy to earn with credit cards like this, as well as by transferring Ultimate Rewards points from an Ink Preferred or Sapphire to United.

One of my favorite ways to use United miles is to take advantage of the Excursionist Perk! United allows you to add a free segment to round trip award flights so you can see another city or country for no extra miles before moving on to your destination.

Yes, you can fly from the U.S. to Paris and then to Rome for the same number of miles had you just flown directly to Rome!

Aeroplan® Credit Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn up to 100,000 Aeroplan points, worth up to $1,250 in travel when you use the Pay Yourself Back feature. 

Favorite Card Features:

  • Earn 60k Aeroplan points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months as a cardholder. Plus, earn an additional 40k Aeroplan points when you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months as a cardholder.
    3x for purchases made with Air Canada directly for every $1 spent
  • 3x on grocery and dining purchases for every $1 spent, including takeout and delivery services
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • Earn 500 bonus Aeroplan Miles every month when you spend at least $2,000 monthly on your card
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Free first checked bag
  • Get Aeroplan 25k Status for the first calendar year when you spend at least $15,000 in a calendar year

Annual Fee: $95

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 70,000 Delta SkyMiles after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months from your account opening. 

Favorite Card Features:

  • Save 15% on Delta operated award flights when you book through Delta.com or the FlyDelta App. (Partner flights & taxes/fees not applicable.)
    2x on Delta purchases, restaurants, and U.S. grocery stores; 1x on all other purchases
  • A free checked bag and priority boarding when you fly with Delta
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Earn $100 Delta flight credit when you spend $10k on the card in a calendar year
  • Get 20% savings in the form of statement credits on eligible in-flight Delta purchases. 
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $99 thereafter

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 90,000 Delta SkyMiles after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months from your account opening. 

Favorite Card Features:

  • Get 15% off Delta operated award flights booked through Delta.com or the FlyDelta App. (Partner flights and taxes/fees not applicable.)
    3x on Delta purchases and hotels
  • 2x on restaurants and U.S. grocery stores, 1x on all other purchases
  • A free checked bag and priority boarding when you fly with Delta
  • $85-$100 statement credit for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Domestic main cabin Companion Certificate when you renew your card
  • Earn Medallion Status faster with Staus Boost- Earn 10k MQMs after spending $25,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year up to 2x each year.
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $250

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 90,000 Delta SkyMiles after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months from your account opening. 

Favorite Card Features:

  • Save 15% on Delta operated award flights when you book through Delta.com or the FlyDelta App. (Partner flights and taxes/fees not applicable.)
  • 3x on Delta purchases 
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • Free Delta SkyClub Access + 2 one-time guest passes
  • Centurion Lounge Access when you use the card to buy a Delta flight
  • A free checked bag when you fly with Delta
  • Domestic Companion Certificate when you renew your card
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Earn Medallion Status faster with Status Boost- Earn 15k MQMs when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year up to 4 times each year for a total of 60k MQMs.
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $550

Delta SkyMiles can come in handy, especially when Delta releases its flash sales! This is when award flights to destinations all over the world are heavily discounted. In addition to using your SkyMiles to score a great deal, these cards give you free checked bags and other perks to enhance your travel experience.

And despite not having a fixed price award chart, you can still find reasonable award pricing. I’ve found 30k mile one-way flights to Europe and 40k mile one-way flights from Australia back to the U.S. This award pricing is comparable to what you’d also find with competitors, United and American.

Citi AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard

Current Welcome Bonus: 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months from your account opening.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 2x on American Airlines purchases, restaurants, and gas stations
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • 1 free checked bag on all domestic flights
  • $125 discount on an American Airlines flight after spending $20k on your card in the first year and continuing card membership into the 2nd year.

Annual Fee: $0 in the first year, $99 in the second year

American Airlines miles can be used to book award flights on American Airlines and their Oneworld Alliance partners. These miles are particularly valuable because American Airlines is only a transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy, making them harder to earn than United or Delta miles.

I’ve booked American Airlines web specials for as little as 5k miles and taken advantage of premium class seats on flights operated by partners like Qatar and Cathay Pacific.

Best Business Airline Credit Cards

If you’re a business traveler or you’d like to earn airline miles and benefits when you pay your business expenses, consider a co-branded business credit card. Designed especially for small businesses, these cards offer bonus categories to target business spending. The miles you earn can help you take that bucket list trip!

Cambodia Angkor Bayon Temple
Angkor Wat Temples in Cambodia

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Current Welcome Bonus: 60,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 3x on Southwest purchases,
  • 2x on rental cars and hotels booked through Southwest's partners
  • 2x on rideshares
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-ins per year
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Each year on your card anniversary, earn 6,000 Rapid Rewards points.
  • Use Rapid Rewards points to fly anywhere Southwest flys including Hawaii, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

Annual Fee: $99

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 80,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of your account opening.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 4x on Southwest purchases
  • 3x on Rapid Rewards Hotels and Car partner bookings
  • 2x on Rideshares
  • 2x on internet, cable, and cell phone costs, as well as advertising purchases for social media and search engines
  • Perks include a Global Entry fee credit and 4 upgraded boarding positions
  • Get 9k Rapid Rewards points each year you renew your card

Annual Fee: $199

United℠ Business Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Earn 75,000 United miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 2x on United purchases, dining, at gas stations, office supply stores, local transit & commuting (including things like tolls, taxis, and rideshare costs)
  • 5k United miles each year on your account anniversary if you have a United business and a United personal credit card
  • $100 United travel credit each anniversary year after 7 United flight purchases of $100 or more
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • A first free checked bag when you fly with United - up to $140 per roundtrip (terms apply)
  • One year complimentary DashPass membership for free delivery & reduced service fees on DoorDash & Caviar. Must activate by 12/31/24
  • $100 United travel credit after you book 7 United flights of $100 or more each anniversary year

Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99

Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Limited Time Offer! Earn 75,000 Delta SkyMiles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening. Offer ends 3/29/23.

Favorite Card Features:

  • Save 15% on Delta operated award flights (partner flights and taxes/fees not applicable) when you use code TakeOff15.
  • 2x on Delta purchases, restaurants, U.S. shipping purchases, and some U.S. Advertising buys
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • A free checked bag and priority boarding when you fly with Delta
  • 20% statement credit on some in-flight purchases
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Earn $100 Delta flight credit when you spend $10k on the card in a calendar year
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $99 thereafter

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Limited Time Offer! Earn 95,000 Delta SkyMiles after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening. Offer ends 3/29/23.

Favorite Card Features:

  • Save 15% on award award flights operated by Delta (partner flights & taxes/fees not applicable) with code TakeOff15
    3x on Delta purchases and hotels
  • 1.5x on single purchases $5k+ up to $50k a year (Purchases made in card bonus categories earn only the higher multiplier.)
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • A free checked bag and priority boarding when you fly with Delta
  • $85-$100 statement credit for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
  • Domestic main cabin Companion Certificate when you renew your card
  • 20% statement credit on most in-flight purchases
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $250

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card

Current Welcome Bonus: Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Delta SkyMiles after spending $6,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening. Offer ends 3/29/23.

Favorite Card Features:

  • Save 15% on Delta operated award flights (partner flights & taxes/fees not applicable) when using code TakeOff15.
  • 3x on Delta purchases 
  • 1x on all other purchases until spending $150k in a calendar year, then 1.5x thereafter
  • Free Delta SkyClub Access + 2 one-time guest passes
  • Centurion Lounge Access when you use the card to buy a Delta flight
  • $85-$100 statement credit for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
  • A free checked bag when you fly with Delta
  • Domestic Companion Certificate when you renew your card
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $550

Citi Business® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®

Current Welcome Bonus: 65,000 American Airlines miles after spending $4,000 in the first 4 months from your account opening.

Favorite Card Features:

  • 2x on American Airlines purchases, cell phone, internet, cable, and satellite services, as well as on gas and rental car costs.
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage mile earned from purchases
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • 1 free checked bag on all domestic flights

Annual Fee: $0 in the first year, $99 in the second year

Important Things to Know About Airline Credit Cards and Miles

1. Airline miles must be used to book flights through that specific airline’s website. Airline miles are not like flexible points. They can’t be transferred or converted to another airline.

2. If you fly as a family or several times a year with a particular airline, the money you save from the free checked bag perks will easily offset the annual fee.

3. Earn and burn. Airlines change their loyalty programs all the time, and sometimes without much notice! You’re better off booking award travel sooner rather than risk having the miles sit in your account for too long and devalue.

Disclosure:

The Globetrotting Teacher has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. The Globetrotting Teacher and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Comments & responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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