Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Regular APR: 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants, now worldwide. Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Regular APR: 15.74%-24.74% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Regular APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • Regular APR: 15.99% - 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Regular APR: 17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels. Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021.
  • Regular APR: 15.74%-24.74% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021.
  • Regular APR: 15.74%-24.74% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021.
  • Regular APR: 15.74%-24.74% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)

Best overall Southwest card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Apply Now On Chase's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • Regular APR: 15.99% - 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Regular APR: 15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

The information about the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

 

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.


Get ready for takeoff with Bankrate’s best airline credit cards

Airline credit cards can help frequent flyers make the most of their travels. The best airline cards not only help you save money but also make your travel experience more enjoyable, convenient and maybe even a little luxurious.

From bonus miles on airline purchases to discounts while you’re in the air, a top-rated airline credit card is a must-have for the savvy traveler. You can trust Bankrate to help you choose the right one for you and figure out how to use the card to its maximum value.

Compare Bankrate’s top-ranked airline credit cards

Card Name Best for Highlights Bankrate Review Score
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Flexible travel miles with no annual fee 1.25x miles on every purchase 4.4/5
(Read full card review)
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card Best airline card with no annual fee Earn 2x miles per $1 on purchases made directly with Delta Air Lines and at restaurants worldwide 4.3/5
(Read full card review)
American Express® Gold Card Travel rewards on dining 4X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide, 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com 4.4/5
(Read full card review)
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Southwest starter card 2 points per $1 on Southwest purchases 4.1/5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Flexible travel rewards 2x miles on every purchase 4.7/5
(Read full card review)
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Airline-specific perks Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights, domestic round-trip free companion certificate after 1 year (taxes and fees apply). 4.5/5
(Read full card review)
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Best welcome offer Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021. 4.3/5
(Read full card review
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Delta Medallion members Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021 4.6/5
(Read full card review)
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Overall Southwest card 2 points per $1 on Southwest purchases N/A
(Read full card review)
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® American Airlines frequent flyers Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 on eligible American Airlines purchases and at gas stations and restaurants 4.2/5
(Read full card review)
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Southwest value card 2 points per $1 on Southwest purchases N/A
(Read full card review)
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card Best companion discount Earn Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after spending $2,000 within the first 90 days 4.7/5
(Read full card review)

A closer look at our best airline credit cards

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Best for flexible travel miles with no annual fee

As the no-annual-fee version of Capital One’s Venture card, the VentureOne earns fewer miles per purchase (1.25X compared with 2X). You’ll still enjoy the same versatility with using your miles, including the option of transferring them to several Capital One Miles partners. Cardholders can also earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 within three months of account opening.

Read our Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

Best airline card with no annual fee

For Delta loyalists who want a no-annual-fee option to help rack up more SkyMiles, the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card is a great fit. You’ll earn 2X miles at restaurants worldwide and on purchases made directly with Delta, plus 1X miles on all other purchases. While you aren’t getting the same perks that come with higher-tier Delta cards, the SkyMiles Blue is a great option for those who are newer to the points and miles game. Plus, new cardholders can earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 within the first 3 months.

Read our Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card review.

American Express® Gold Card

Best for travel rewards on dining

With a terrific rewards rate not only on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com but also at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets, the Amex Gold Card earns big dividends for dining out or eating in. It does have a $250 annual fee, but the high-earning rewards categories plus hotel and dining credits totaling up to $220 per year should negate that cost. You can redeem points for travel through the Amex portal or transfer to one of the issuer’s many airline and hotel partners, often at a higher point value.

Read our American Express® Gold Card review.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Best Southwest starter card

Let’s say Southwest is your airline of choice but you’re inexperienced with airline credit cards — the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus might offer a way in. It earns the same rate on Southwest purchases (2 points per dollar) as the pricier Rapid Rewards cards and some of the same baseline benefits (no seat restrictions or blackout dates) but with a more affordable $69 annual fee. Although the trade-offs include fewer high-level perks, a smaller sign-up bonus and a 3% foreign transaction fee, the Rapid Rewards Plus could be a good choice for the first leg of your journey into the world of travel rewards. Frequent Southwest flyers can also find value in the sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

Read our Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card review.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Best for flexible travel rewards

Although the Capital One Venture isn’t connected to one single specific airline, the versatile nature of the Capital One Miles program makes it a useful option for a wide range of air travel. Capital One has 10+ travel transfer partners, including airlines such as JetBlue, Aeromexico, Air Canada and Air France. The card earns 2X miles on every purchase, and cardholders can receive a one-time bonus of 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Read our Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Best for airline-specific perks

Delta loyalists will appreciate this card’s generous perks, which should more than cover the $250 annual fee. Highlights include discounted Delta Sky Club access for you and two companions, a 20-percent discount on in-flight purchases, priority boarding, preferred seating and an annual companion certificate that allows you to bring a friend or family member along on an eligible round-trip domestic flight. You earn 3X miles on airfare purchased directly through Delta, 3X miles on purchases made directly with hotels, 2X miles on restaurants and U.S. supermarket purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.

Read our Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card review.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Best welcome offer

This card’s welcome offer promises a generous reward, Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021. You can find a card with a larger welcome offer, but considering the low spending requirement and the first-year waiver of the $99 annual fee, it’s still a great value. The rewards program and perks like priority boarding and free checked bags also help make this card an attractive option for frequent Delta Air Lines travelers.

Read our Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card review.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Best for Delta Medallion members

This card’s welcome bonus alone gets you a Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021. Plus, for every $30,000 you spend in a calendar year, you’ll earn an additional 15,000 MQMs (up to four times per year) — almost enough to get you to Platinum Medallion status. The card’s annual fee ($550) is substantial, but the available bonuses plus the ability to earn 3X miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other spending can offset the cost. Also, cardholders can enjoy luxury perks like access to airport lounges and an annual round-trip companion certificate (valid for domestic first class or Comfort+).

Read our Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card review.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Best overall Southwest card

Despite having relatively modest rewards rates (2 points per $1 on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases) this card loads up on perks. They include 20% back on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi, a yearly anniversary bonus of 7,500 points and 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available. Frequent Southwest flyers who make full use of the perks should have little trouble offsetting the $149 annual fee. Frequent Southwest flyers can also find value in the sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

Read our Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card review.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Best Southwest value card

Neither a starter card nor a pricey top-tier card, the Rapid Rewards Premier still provides plenty in the way of rewards and benefits. Rewards rates are comparable with those of similar Southwest cards, 2 points per $1 on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. The $99 annual fee also compares well with its Southwest counterparts and competing cards. Frequent Southwest flyers can also find value in the sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

Read our Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card review.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Best for American Airlines frequent flyers

This card offers several attributes that American Airlines brand loyalists will find attractive. The 2X miles rewards rate on eligible American Airlines purchases, and at gas stations and restaurants, should make it especially easy for strategic spenders to hit the sign-up bonus: 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 within the first 3 months. Also, if you spend $20,000 or more in a year and renew your card, you can look forward to another reward: a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount. The $99 annual fee is waived in the first year.

Read our Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® review.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

Best companion discount

With the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card, you’ll earn unlimited 3X miles for every dollar spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, plus 1 mile on every dollar spent on all other purchases. After spending $2,000 within the first 90 days of account opening, you’ll receive 50,0000 bonus miles and the Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). Those who frequently travel with friends or family members can easily save hundreds of dollars with the Companion Fare™ perk alone. Also, you can save extra with a free checked baggage for you and six guests on the same reservation — a perk that can offset the $75 annual fee on just one trip.

Read our Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card review.

What is an airline credit card?

An airline credit card is a type of rewards card, often co-branded with a major issuer like American Express or Citi, that offers rewards and perks for those loyal to a specific airline. Typically, these cards earn airline miles for purchases made directly with the airline, and sometimes for other categories as well. You can then redeem those miles for award airfare with the airline.

You can use airline credit cards just like a more general rewards credit card, but that may not be the best strategy for maximizing rewards. Airline cards provide the most value when used strategically with other cards and are especially useful for the travel-specific perks they offer, such as priority boarding, seating upgrades and companion fares. Owning an airline credit card while being a member of the airline’s frequent flyer program can also help you get maximum value.

How do airline credit cards work?

Airline credit cards work in conjunction with a travel loyalty program, like Delta SkyMiles. You earn miles by using the airline card for eligible purchases and in some cases by spending enough to qualify for the card’ sign-up bonus. Then you redeem the miles you’ve earned, applying them to travel-related expenses.

Most airline cards have higher rewards rates for purchases made directly with the airline, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be utilized elsewhere. Many cards earn miles on everyday purchases, including groceries, gas, dining and other categories. Using an airline rewards card can not only earn miles but also add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane transaction.

You might even think of an airline credit card as sort of a VIP airport pass. The best airline rewards cards routinely include perks such as access to airport lounges, priority boarding, free checked bags and more.

As is with any credit card, airline cardholders must pay off their balance each month to reap the full benefits. Failure to keep up with payments can lead to interest charges and late fees, affecting the card’s value.

Airline loyalty programs and transfer partners

For airline credit cardholders, taking advantage of loyalty programs and transfer partners are essential parts of the travel toolkit. Both offer the potential for more value, more flexibility and a better overall travel experience.

Here’s a list of informative resources from Bankrate:

Loyalty program guides

Airline transfer partner guides

The difference between airline and travel credit cards

Some airline cards are a little more limited in their rewards offerings, offering bonus rewards only on brand-specific purchases. Plus, your redemption options usually aren’t as flexible as they’d be with a general travel rewards card.

The best travel rewards cards come with a variety of redemption options — like hotel stays, dining expenses and gift cards — in addition to airfare purchases. Also, these cards often feature more ways to earn miles for non-travel purchases.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card allows you to earn 2X points on travel and dining (including eligible delivery services) and you aren’t limited to redeeming points within a certain list of airlines. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card earns 3X points on travel, at gas stations and on transit costs.

At the end of the day, choosing a credit card is about finding one that fits your lifestyle. If you’re constantly on the move and live near an airline’s main hub, an airline card is probably your best bet. Anyone interested in travel but not fully committed to one airline could find great benefit from a travel card.

How to choose the right airline credit card

Airline credit cards are great for those who book flights at least a few times a year, especially if you have an allegiance to a particular airline. However, you don’t have to be loyal to just one flight provider to enjoy the benefits of an airline credit card.

Whether you’re a travel newbie or a frequent luxury traveler, there is an airline card out there that can help you upgrade your flight experience. Here’s how:

Decide whether you want brand-specific perks

Beyond offering a way to rack up miles, airline cards typically offer brand-specific benefits and perks that general travel cards do not. Prioritizing which of the add-ons matter most to you is a great way to sort through your options. Common perks that come with an airline credit card include:

  • Preferred boarding
  • Discounts on in-flight purchases
  • First checked bag free
  • Lounge access

If you’re willing to pay a higher annual fee, some top-tier airline cards will offer elite status (or at least an easier path to elite status) or anniversary bonus miles. Elite status with an airline can help you score flight upgrades, priority boarding (which is better than preferred boarding) and more.

Know what kind of traveler you are

If you want to take full advantage of an airline card, you’ll want to first take stock of your travel preferences and needs. Do you use a certain airline for certain trips, or would you prefer earning points on all purchases made to redeem for travel? Consider the following guidelines on airline cards for specific types of travelers:

The travel beginner

When you’re first getting into points and miles, flexibility is a hot commodity. You want the ability to earn rewards across multiple categories and redeem for more than just one airline. Consider a card like the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card. You won’t have to pay an annual fee, and Delta offers various ways to rack up miles. The card itself will earn 2X miles on restaurants worldwide and directly-made Delta purchases (plus 1X miles on all other purchases), but you can also earn Delta SkyMiles when you stay with Airbnb, by shopping through the Delta portal, dining at a participating SkyMiles Dining location, flying with their airline partners and more. You will also be able to redeem your miles with multiple airlines.

The business traveler

If you’re flying the same routes on the same airline often, it only makes sense to take advantage of the perks an airline card can get you. A business credit card that offers an elite-qualifying dollar waiver is an excellent option in this case. These cards help you reach elite status faster, bringing you exclusive perks like Priority Boarding and automatic upgrades when available. Delta, United and Southwest all have business credit card options that waive certain elite status requirements by hitting certain spend requirements.

The luxury traveler

Top-tier airline credit cards help travelers upgrade their overall travel experience through access to VIP airport lounges, prioritized customer service and other luxurious perks. While they also typically come with a larger annual fee, the value of the benefits can easily surpass the cost of the fee with any committed frequent flyer.

CardSmart: Which trusted traveler security program is best for you?

Expert advice on choosing and using credit cards from BankrateExpedited security programs such as TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and CLEAR can greatly reduce your wait time at the airport. The question is, which one works best for you?
Here’s some advice from Bankrate on how to choose the option that fits the way you travel:

More programs and more resources

  • NEXUS — Expedited entry into the U.S. from Canada
  • SENTRI — Expedited entry into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico

How to maximize the value of your airline miles

As travel restrictions being to loosen across the country, many people are ready to use their stockpile of rewards points on travel. Many major airlines are devaluing the worth of their miles by introducing dynamic award pricing and making it harder to hit elite status. However, that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on earning airline miles. You still have several ways to make the most of them.

Pair airline cards with general travel cards

Let’s say you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. Because Southwest is a Chase travel partner, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. This way, you can rack up points to use for Southwest flights between both cards, but you aren’t stuck redeeming with Southwest if you find a better award price for your Ultimate Rewards points elsewhere.

Pairing an airline card with a complementary rewards card is oftentimes the best way to squeeze value out of your new travel companion. The right combination of credit cards can help you avoid rewards limitations that may come along with an airline card.

Take full advantage of sign-up bonuses

A sign-up bonus or welcome offer from a new airline card could be worth several hundred dollars, or more, in travel costs. Keep track of your progress toward the spending requirement and start thinking about how you might use those bonus miles once you’ve earned them.

Don’t let unused miles expire or get stale

Airline miles can decline in value over time, and some loyalty program miles even expire after an extended period of inactivity. If you’re willing to put in the work to get the most out of your airline miles, you can save hundreds of dollars on flights and receive additional benefits that make flying more enjoyable.

Explore transfer partners

Many major airlines have other airline partners, and you can transfer points between the programs. Some are also members of international airline alliances. American Airlines, for example, is a member of the oneworld® alliance partners. You can redeem your rewards earned with American Airlines for flights with any of the airlines in the alliance. Make sure to read the terms and conditions for any airline rewards credit card you’re interested in to find out about transfer policies.

How credit score affects your choice of airline cards

Airline credit cards generally require good to excellent credit (670-850) in order to be approved. So no need to prematurely fret if you’re on the lower end of that spectrum. You can still qualify for a top-tier airline credit card with a lower credit score — just know that this means you probably won’t be approved for the lowest interest rates or highest lines of credit. However, you can always work to increase your score over time so you can eventually be approved for an airline card.

Five ways to build up your credit score

There’s no shortcut to getting a better credit score, but you can take certain steps to achieve the goal. With patience and discipline, you can help your credit score take flight and get one step closer to qualifying for an airline credit card.

  1. Get a secured credit card or credit-builder card. Used properly, these cards could help you see positive results in a matter of months.
  2. Make consistent and on-time payments. Payment history is one of the top factors in determining your credit score. The longer you go without a missed or late payment, the more trustworthy you appear to creditors.
  3. Lower your credit utilization ratio. You don’t want to have a large percentage of your available credit line in use. If you’re struggling with credit card debt, it’s a good idea to pay off that debt before you start digging into the points and miles game.
  4. Be selective about opening new lines of credit. When you apply for a new credit card, a car loan, a mortgage and other types of credit, it generates a “hard pull” on your credit report. While the negative effects of a hard inquiry are normally short-term, applying for multiple credit cards in a short period of time could send up a red flag to potential lenders.
  5. Compensate for a thin credit profile. You can also take advantage of programs such as Experian Boost and UltraFICO. These programs measure good financial habits that might not be reflected by traditional credit scoring models, including reliable payment history for utilities.

How we chose our list of best airline credit cards

Finding the right airline credit card can be complicated, but Bankrate’s independent research helps clear the air so that you can make an informed choice. We review cards from our partners using a 5-star system, and our analysis in the category of airline credit cards focuses on:

Rewards

We evaluate each card’s rewards program on its rewards rate (mile per $1 spent and inclusion of non-airline spending categories), as well as the ease of redemption.

Perks

We factor in additional benefits, such as priority boarding or free checked bags, that enhance the travel experience and increase the card’s overall value.

Annual fee

We consider the annual cost of owning the card (if applicable) and determine whether the fee is justified by rewards, perks or sign-up bonuses.

More information on airline credit cards

Learn more about airline credit cards using educational resources from Bankrate:


Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, loans, mortgages and other personal finance products for Bankrate since 2018. His work has also appeared on websites including Nasdaq.com, Zillow.com and The Simple Dollar. He was previously an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to bbridges@bankrate.com.

Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.

Frequently Asked Questions

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