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Best Credit Cards for Airline Miles - 2019 Picks

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

What's An Airline Miles Credit Card?

An airline credit card rewards cardholders points or miles, which can be redeemed for free flights or airline-related purchases, such as seat upgrades. It's not all that uncommon for these airline miles credit cards to a sign-up bonus of tens of thousands of points, which in itself could be enough to get you a round-trip ticket to your desired destination. If you frequently travel or you're interested in doing so for free, consider adding any of the following cards to your wallet.

If you prefer one airline over another, the best credit card for you is a co-branded airline card. Some cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, award points or miles that can be transferred across different airlines. Therefore, if you're interested in maximizing rewards, we recommend you opt for a more flexible airline miles card. For readers who simply want an effective card for their airline of preference, we've provided links to our picks on the right-hand side.

Best Airline Miles Credit Card for American Airlines

Best American Airlines Card
Best American Airlines Card

Why We Like It

Of the five American Airlines co-branded credit cards, we believe the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® offers the best value proposition through a strong rewards earning structure. It offers 2 AAdvantage miles for every dollar you spend at gas stations, restaurants and on other eligible American Airlines purchases, like seat upgrades or plane tickets. Any purchases outside of those categories will earn you 1 mile per dollar.

On top of a strong rewards structure, the card offers one of the best sign-up bonuses available. Cardholders earn 60,000 American Airlines miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. If utilized correctly, those 60,000 miles could be enough for an international round-trip flight.

What to Watch Out For

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® does charge a $99 annual fee, but it's waived for the first year. If you plan to spend more than $20,000 on the card every year, then this shouldn't really hold you back from applying, since you'll get a $125 American Airlines flight discount for reaching that spend amount. The $125 more than offsets the annual fee on the card.

How Useful Are American Airline Miles?

From a value perspective, we believe AAdvantage miles are some of the most valuable airline currencies around. We estimate that each AAdvantage mile is worth 1.4 cents. Of course, the actual value you'll get from each mile will be highly dependent on several factors, but you can use this figure as a benchmark.

However, we've found it's a bit harder to maximize value on these miles when compared to other airline currencies. While cardholders may find incredible redemption values, they'll need to maintain a measure of flexibility. If you're OK with this, then the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is an excellent choice for an airline miles card.

Other Great American Airlines Credit Cards

On Citi's Secure Website

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

On Citi's Secure Website
Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • No Annual Fee*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • No Annual Fee*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
Annual Fee
$0*
Regular APR
18.24% - 26.24%* (Variable)
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent/Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}
On Citi's Secure Website

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

On Citi's Secure Website
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after $5,000 in purchases the first 3 months
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for guests traveling with you*
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for guests traveling with you*
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
Annual Fee
$450
Regular APR
17.99% - 25.99%* (Variable)
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Best Airline Miles Credit Card for Delta Air Lines

Best Delta Airlines Card
Best Delta Airlines Card

Why We Like It

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is the best credit card for earning Delta SkyMiles. It awards users with 2 miles for every dollar spent directly with Delta and another 1 mile for every dollar spent in any other category. In addition to a solid rewards program, you'll get to board sooner since the card gets you Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding. This can help ensure you have overhead space for your carry-ons even on crowded flights. If you'd like to check your bag instead, this card allows you to check your first bag for free on Delta flights.

What to Watch Out For

While some airline credit cards offer lounge access, this card only offers a discount toward entering Delta Sky Club locations. The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express permits you access to the lounges for $29 per person. That said, the card has a relatively moderate annual fee of $95, which is waived for the first year. So if you find yourself checking bags often, this could be a money-saver.

How Useful Are Delta Air Lines Miles?

To start, Delta Air Lines miles offer a solid value. We estimate each mile to be worth 1.2 cents, but of course, the actual value you receive will depend on your specific itinerary. We found you'll get the best value for SkyMiles when booking domestic travel and business class on international flights. Delta is part of the SkyTeam Airline Alliance, which consists of more than a dozen airlines to which you can transfer miles. The sheer number of airlines in this alliance makes Delta SkyMiles a highly dynamic airline rewards currency.

For rates and fees on the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

Another Great Delta Credit Card

On American Express' Secure Website

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

On American Express' Secure Website
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$0
*Rates and Fees
Regular APR
17.99%-26.99% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent Credit
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Best Airline Miles Credit Card for Southwest Airlines

rewards rates for the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card
rewards rates for the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card

Why We Like It

This card helps you earn the Southwest Companion Pass, a prized perk in the airline credit card world. With the pass, you can choose a travel partner to get free tickets on all of your itineraries for a full calendar year, plus the remainder of the year in which you earn the pass. You'll have to earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards miles in one year, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card's sign-up bonus can get you one step closer to that pass.

Even beyond the companion pass, the card offers a few unique perks and rewards. For example, you'll get 6,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary. While those points likely won't get you a free flight, they can certainly help you close the gap on one if you're short a few thousand miles. The points you earn with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card can be utilized for flights, hotel stays and gift cards, among other things.

What to Watch Out For

Southwest mostly offers domestic flights, so if you're dreaming of international travel, then it may make more sense to pick a different card. An airline miles credit card is only as good as the travel options provided by the affiliated airline. That said, it should be noted that Southwest is an excellent airline carrier for domestic flights.

Recent Southwest Airlines News

Perhaps in the most exciting news in the airline industry for quite some time, Southwest Airlines has launched its service to Hawaii. The travel destination has been a long time coming for Southwest Airlines and gives its customers access to one of the most enviable vacation destinations. Provided you have the Southwest Companion Pass, flying to Hawaii through Southwest Airlines may be one of the most affordable ways to travel there.

Another Great Southwest Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee
$149
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent/Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Best Airline Miles Credit Card for United Airlines

Best United Airlines Card
Best United Airlines Card

Why We Like It

The United℠ Explorer Card allows cardholders to earn 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants, hotels and United Airlines, and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. However, its best feature is the $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee voucher. Typically, cards that offer this feature will charge annual fees above $450. Unlike those cards, the United℠ Explorer Card only has a $95 annual fee, and it's waived in year one.

The United℠ Explorer Card is currently offering one of the best sign-up bonuses on airline mile cards: Earn 40,000 miles after spending $2,000 within the first three months of account opening, plus an additional 20,000 miles after spending a total of $8,000 in purchases within six months.

What to Watch Out For

While it's true that the United℠ Explorer Card is offering a strong sign-up bonus offer, it requires a very high card spend. Some users may have trouble meeting the $8,000 threshold within six months to achieve the entire 60,000-mile bonus. This is one of the highest spending requirements we've seen across any card.

How Useful Are United Airlines Miles?

United Airlines miles are fairly useful, as you can redeem them for flights with United and other Star Alliance members. Notable Star Alliance members include: Air Canada, Asiana Airlines, ANA and Turkish Airlines, among others.

Another Great United Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

United℠ Explorer Business Card

On Chase's Secure Website
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 on United purchases and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Free checked bag - save up to $120 per roundtrip (terms apply)
  • Two one-time United Club℠ passes each year — more than a $100 value
  • Priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation on United-operated flights
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 on United purchases and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Free checked bag - save up to $120 per roundtrip (terms apply)
  • Two one-time United Club℠ passes each year — more than a $100 value
  • Priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation on United-operated flights
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Other Strong Airline Credit Cards

On Chase's Secure Website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's Secure Website
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent Credit
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}
rewards rates for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card
rewards rates for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card

Why We Like It

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best credit cards for purchasing flights due to its rewards program. Cardholders earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1 point on all other purchases. Unlike some of the cards listed above, the 2-point category is not restricted to a specific airline, meaning booking flights with United, Delta, American or Southwest will all earn you 2 points per dollar spent. This makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card an excellent choice for anyone who isn't loyal to a specific airline.

What makes the card even better is that it's part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, one of the premier rewards programs for credit card points. With Chase Ultimate Rewards, cardholders can book airline tickets and hotel stays directly through Chase's website or transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to over 10 loyalty program travel partners, including United Airlines, British Airways and Southwest Airlines.

What to Watch Out For

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card recently underwent a change to its annual fee and sign-up bonus. The card used to offer 50,000 bonus points and a $95 annual fee (waived in year one). However, the card now offers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months from account opening and a $95 annual fee that's not waived in the first year. Therefore, if you're looking for a high sign-up bonus, now may be the perfect time to apply.

On Capital One's Secure Website

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One and is not part of our independent analysis.

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Regular APR
17.99% - 25.24% (Variable)
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent, Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}
rewards rates for the Capital One Venture credit card
rewards rates for the Capital One Venture credit card

Why We Like It

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card recently granted users the ability to transfer miles earned to 12 leading loyalty programs. It also offers an excellent rewards structure of 2 miles on every purchase. Currently, Capital One has a promotion where users can earn 10 miles on hotels when booked through Hotels.com/venture. The promotion is slated to run through January 2020, so it's a good idea to get this card if you book travel through Hotels.com often.

What to Watch Out For

It's worth noting that the card's list of transfer partners isn't as robust as that offered up by the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Therefore, if you enjoy analyzing airline awards charts and maximizing the value of your points or miles, you may be better off with a different card. That said, this card remains an excellent choice for most other travelers and even for the budget conscious, given the annual fee is waived in the first year.

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Miles

On Discover's Secure Website
Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match™ details & other information.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent, Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Why We Like It

Since its introduction in 2015, the Discover it® Miles has been the best no-annual-fee travel credit card. The Discover it® Miles is our top pick for low spenders looking for spending rewards and some travel benefits: You'll earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent on every purchase, plus you won't have to worry about any foreign transaction fees while you're abroad.

The Discover it® Miles also has a great welcome bonus for a no-annual-fee card. At the end of your first year, Discover will double all the miles you've earned. That boosts this card's rewards rate to an excellent 3% for the first 12 months. During its promotional period, it bests some of the airline credit cards on our list that charge an annual fee.

What to Watch Out For

As a no-annual-fee credit card, the Discover it® Miles lacks some of the features of other cards on this list. For example, the miles earned on the Discover it® Miles can't be transferred to airline loyalty programs, but you can use them as a statement credit toward travel purchases. As such, this is the ideal card for the casual, budget-conscious travelers.

Summary of the Best Credit Cards for Airline Miles

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most common questions our readers have when applying for a new credit card. Check back often, as we're continually adding and updating our FAQs.

1. What credit card gives the best flight points?

Our research shows that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has the best rewards program for earning flight points and miles. Out of all the credit card rewards programs, Chase Ultimate Rewards provides the best transfer options. You can move your miles at a 1:1 ratio to any of the nine airline partners including Southwest, United and Singapore Airlines.

2. Which Airline Has the Best Frequent Flyer Program?

For most travelers, the Alaska Airlines rewards program will provide the best value. Its miles are worth an average of 1.8 cents, which is a lot higher than competitors like Delta or American Airlines. Alaska also has a decent assortment of domestic and international destinations, especially now that it has acquired Virgin America.

3. Are Airline Credit Cards Worth It?

Airline credit cards are worth it for people who travel at least two to three times per year. Most of the top-tier miles cards charge an annual fee. However, if you're able to pay for one ticket with miles and points, that's a net savings of hundreds of dollars.

4. Which Airline Credit Card Is the Easiest to Get Approved For?

Unfortunately, most airline credit cards require good or excellent credit. If you have a low credit score (below 650), we recommend applying for one of the U.S. Bank secured credit cards, like Aeromexico. If you have a FICO score above 720 and a solid credit history, you shouldn't have trouble getting approved for the cards we recommend above.

5. What is the 5/24 Rule for Credit Cards?

Chase may automatically decline your credit card application if you have opened five or more personal credit cards (across all banks) in the last 24 months. This is generally referred to as the "5/24 Rule." The rule is not official and has not been announced by Chase. Instead, everything we know about it comes from multiple user reports. Keep in mind that this is just one factor in a credit decision—you may be declined for a credit card if you don't meet the minimum credit score, credit history or income requirements.

Yowana Wamala

Yowana is a product analyst at ValuePenguin, specializing in credit cards and rewards programs. He previously covered mortgages and banking for the website before graduating from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science.

Comments and Questions

These responses 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.

Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).