How Does ValuePenguin Get Paid?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. Citi is an advertising partner.

Top airline credit cards of 2022

Pick a card category:

Selecting an airline credit card based on your expenses and travel needs is essential to maximizing its value. Each airline offers one or more credit cards that offer ways to earn points and miles with their respective loyalty program. Some cards even offer exclusive perks, such as statement credits, free checked bags and early boarding. The best airline card for you depends on where your loyalty lies and if you’ll travel enough to use the benefits provided by the card.

Compare the best airline credit cards of 2022

Card
Welcome Offer
Credit Needed
Annual Fee
Flexible rewards
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.720 - 850$95
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Flat 2 miles per dollar
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel660 - 850$95
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
Small Business
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles<sup>®</sup> Reserve Business American Express Card
Earn 100,000 Bonus Miles after spending $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 11/9/22.660 - 850$550
Not available on ValuePenguin
Compare all cards

Welcome Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Credit Score Needed

720 - 850
660 - 850

Annual Fee

$95
$95
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website

Best airline credit card overall and for United Airlines

United Quest℠ Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

$250

18.74% - 25.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3x miles on United® purchases, 2x miles on dining, select streaming services & all other travel, 1x on all other purchases
  • Earn 3x miles on United® purchases
  • Earn 2x miles on dining including eligible delivery services, select streaming services, and all other travel
  • Earn 1x mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5K-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
  • Get one-year complimentary DashPass, a membership for both DoorDash and Caviar that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. After that, you are automatically enrolled in DashPass at the current monthly rate. Activate by 12/31/24

Our thoughts on this card

Travelers who prefer United Airlines receive tremendous value with the United Quest℠ Card. The card earns up to 3x miles on purchases, includes an annual $125 United purchase credit, and provides the first and second checked bags for free. And when you redeem United miles for flights, you'll receive up to two 5,000 award flight credits each year.

The best miles credit card should offer flexible redemption options, and United Airlines miles are fairly useful. You can redeem them for flights with United and other Star Alliance members. The Star Alliance network offers more than 1,000 destinations across dozens of airline partners:

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana
  • Austrian
  • Avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Airways
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • SWISS
  • TAP Portugal
  • THAI
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines


Best airline credit card for Delta Airlines

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn 65,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Offer ends 11/9/2022.

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

18.74%-27.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 65,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Offer ends 11/9/2022.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at U.S. Supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • $100 Delta Flight Credit: After you spend $10,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, receive a Credit to use toward future travel.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Terms Apply.
Earns transferable points

Our thoughts on this card

Delta travelers get the most value from the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card over other Delta credit cards because it offers money-saving benefits without charging an annual fee the first year. Cardholders get the first checked bag for free and a 20% discount on in-flight purchases. Plus, it includes a $100 Delta flight credit for future travel when you spend $10,000 in a calendar year.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here

This card previously gave discounted entrance into Delta Sky Clubs. However, once the portfolio of Delta credit cards was refreshed, that benefit has now been removed. If you’re an avid traveler looking to relax in Delta Sky Clubs between flights, only the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (which comes with a hefty $550 annual fee) includes Delta Sky Club and American Express Centurion Lounge access.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.

Delta SkyMiles offer a solid value when redeemed for flights, making it one of the best miles credit cards. We estimate each mile to be worth 1.3 cents, but of course, the actual value you receive will depend on your specific itinerary. You’ll get the best value for SkyMiles when booking domestic travel and business class on international flights. We’ve put together a comprehensive overview on how to get the best value out of Delta SkyMiles.

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:

  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • AeroMexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • Cape Air
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Czech Airlines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • ITA Airways
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Latam Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • Tarom
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • West Jet
  • Xiamen Air

Note, unlike typical credit cards, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.


Best airline credit card for Southwest Airlines

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

$99

18.24% - 25.24% Variable

720 - 850

  • New Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Our thoughts on this card

When flying Southwest Airlines, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the best card to purchase tickets. It earns 3x points on all Southwest purchases and comes with two EarlyBird check-ins per year so you can board the plane faster. You'll also receive 6,000 points for a future flight when you renew the card. And cardholders who want to earn A-List elite status can earn unlimited Tier Qualifying Points based on their spending.

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 airline and any partners associated with it — that said, it should be noted that Southwest is an excellent airline carrier offering very competitive mile redemption rates for domestic flights.

In March 2019, Southwest Airlines launched service to Hawaii. This destination has been a long time coming for Southwest Airlines and gives its customers access to one of the most enviable vacation destinations. And if you earn the Southwest Companion Pass®, flying to Hawaii on Southwest Airlines may be one of the most affordable ways to travel there with a friend or family member.

Unfortunately, Southwest Rapid Rewards can’t be transferred to other airlines, but Southwest offers the option to redeem your rewards directly for international flights via the More Rewards functionality on Southwest's site.

The More Rewards section is a shopping portal for Southwest Rapid Rewards members to use their points on a variety of purchases. You can buy gift cards, electronics, jewelry and a myriad of other items — and among those items are travel-related purchases like flights.

When you search for a flight, you will see a list of airlines flying where Southwest does not, along with the flight price in Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Unfortunately, in many cases, the redemption value is very low. To ensure you are getting the best value for Southwest points, stick to using Rapid Rewards points on Southwest flights.

You'll have to be sure to shop around to confirm you’re getting a decent redemption value for your Rapid Rewards.


Best airline credit card for American Airlines

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

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

$99, waived for first 12 months

18.99% - 27.99% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your card membership year and renew your card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights

Our thoughts on this card

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® offers the best collection of airline perks of any American Airlines credit card for a reasonable annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months. You get the first checked bag for free, preferred boarding and a 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases. You'll receive a $125 American Airlines flight discount when you spend $20,000 each year.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® charges an annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months. If you plan to spend more than $20,000 on the card every year, you’ll earn a $125 American Airlines flight discount for reaching that spend amount, which would offset the card’s annual fee.

From a value perspective, we believe that the value of American Airlines miles is on the low side, as we estimate that each AAdvantage mile is worth around 1 cent. 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.

We’ve also found it's a bit harder to maximize the value of American Airlines 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 a good choice for an airline miles credit card.

You can redeem AAdvantage miles with any oneworld airline alliance member. We’ve also compiled a thorough guide on the best ways to redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Currently, there are 13 airlines that make up the oneworld alliance:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Sri Lankan Airlines
  • Fiji Airways

The information related to Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.


Best airline credit card for Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

50,000 bonus miles with this limited time online offer. To qualify, make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account

$75

18.99% - 26.99% Variable APR

660 - 850

  • LIMITED TIME ONLINE OFFER – 50,000 Bonus Miles!
  • Get 50,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™. Every year on your credit card account anniversary you’ll receive a companion fare which allows you to book a companion flight from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska Airlines flights booked on alaskaair.com. 
  • Free checked bag for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation – that's a savings of $60 per person roundtrip! 
  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. And, your miles don’t expire on active accounts.
  • With oneworld® Alliance member airlines and Alaska’s Global Partners, Alaska has expanded their global reach to over 1,000 destinations worldwide bringing more airline partners and more ways to earn and redeem miles. 
  • Flexibility with no blackout dates on Alaska Airlines flights when booking with miles or a companion fare. 
  • Plus, no foreign transaction fees and a low $75 annual fee. 
  • This online only offer may not be available elsewhere if you leave this page. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Our thoughts on this card

Get the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card to save money and travel better on Alaska Airlines. You'll earn 3x miles on Alaska Airlines purchases and receive the first checked bag free. The card includes an annual Companion Fare that's valid on all Alaska Airlines flights booked through AlaskaAir.com.

Note that the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card charges a $75 annual fee. If you'd rather choose a no-annual-fee credit card, there are plenty of other great options out there. The rewards rate with this card is lackluster, but the perks that come with it help to make up for it.

Earn and redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles when flying with any Oneworld® Alliance airline below.

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Sri Lankan Airlines
  • Fiji Airways



Best airline credit card for JetBlue Airlines

JetBlue Plus Card

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days

$99

18.24%, 22.24% or 27.24% based on your creditworthiness. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

720 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.
  • Earn 6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates on JetBlue-operated flights & redeem for any seat, any time on JetBlue-operated flights. Points required for an Award Flight will vary based on the published base fare at the time of booking.
  • Points awarded in your TrueBlue account don't expire. Earn and share points together with Family Pooling
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases like cocktails and food & the primary cardmember's first checked bag is free on JetBlue-operated flights
  • Enjoy all TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases each calendar year with your card
  • Enjoy a $100 statement credit after purchasing a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Plus Card

Our thoughts on this card

The JetBlue Plus Card is the best credit card for JetBlue travelers because it earns valuable JetBlue TrueBlue points at a high rate. You'll earn 6x points on JetBlue purchases and get 5,000 bonus points each year that you renew the card. The first checked bag is free, and you'll get 50% off in-flight purchases. And when you spend $50,000 or more each year, you'll receive Mosaic elite status benefits.

Unfortunately, this card doesn't offer too many additional perks, like lounge access.

Redeem TrueBlue points when booking with Hawaiian Airlines, a JetBlue Partner Airline.

Other JetBlue partners include:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Cape Air
  • Emirates
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iceland Air
  • JSX
  • Porter
  • Qatar
  • Seaborne
  • Silver Airways
  • South African Airways

Best airline credit card for small business

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

Earn 100,000 Bonus Miles after spending $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 11/9/22.

$550

18.74% - 27.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Miles after spending $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 11/9/22.
  • With complimentary access into Delta Sky Club®, you can relax before your Delta flight, or find downtime between connections. You’ll also receive two Delta Sky Club One-Time Guest Passes each year so you can share the experience with others when you’re traveling together.
  • When you purchase a Delta flight with your Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card, you will receive complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge or Escape Lounge – The Centurion® Studio Partner.
  • After you spend $150,000 on your Card in a calendar year, you earn 1.5 miles per dollar (that’s an extra half mile per dollar) on eligible purchases the rest of the year. If your purchase qualifies for a category that has a higher mileage accelerator, only the higher accelerator will apply (ex. you would earn 3X miles on purchases made directly with Delta instead of 1.5X).
  • Plus enjoy 3X miles per dollar on all eligible Delta purchases.
  • With Status Boost®, earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to 4x per year getting you closer to Medallion Status.
  • Terms and limitations apply.

Our thoughts on this card

For small business owners who often travel for work, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card offers numerous valuable benefits. Cardholders can Earn 100,000 Bonus Miles after spending $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 11/9/22.

You'll also Earn 3 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. This card comes with benefits like access to both Delta Sky Club lounges and Centurion Lounges, complimentary upgrades, Main Cabin 1 priority boarding and more.

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card comes with a substantial $550 annual fee. However, if you're a small business owner that can afford it, the card's perks work to make up for it. Also note that there are significant restrictions on the lounge access offered by this card:

  • You must be traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight for lounge access.
  • Complimentary access is only granted to the primary cardmember or additional cardholders (each additional cardholder costs $175 per year).
  • Either the cardmember or additional cardholders may bring in up to two guests or immediate family members into Delta Sky Club locations at a rate of $39 per person.
  • Centurion guest access is limited to two guests per visit at a rate of $50 per person.
  • Terms apply

Use Delta SkyMiles when flying with a SkyTeam airline alliance partner below.

  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • AeroMexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • Cape Air
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Czech Airlines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • ITA Airways
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Latam Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • Tarom
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • West Jet
  • Xiamen Airlines

Other strong airline credit cards

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. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

$95

18.24% - 25.24% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • 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.
  • With Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Earns transferable points

Our thoughts on this card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best flexible rewards card for flights because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are so valuable and flexible. You'll earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases. The points transfer to 11 airlines on a 1:1 basis, or you can get 25% more value when redeeming points for travel through Chase's travel portal.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a $95 annual fee that's not waived in the first year.

When you use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points for your purchases. 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 14 loyalty program travel partners. We outline all current transfer partners below:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates
  • Flying Blue Air France KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt


Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

$95

18.99% - 26.99% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges through our Partner Lounge Network
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

Our thoughts on this card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers one the highest flat rates on all purchases, including purchasing airfare. Miles are very flexible and they are one of the easiest rewards to redeem, including when booking travel, erasing travel purchases, or transferring to partner airlines. And when you book flights through Capital One Travel, you get free price drop protection so you'll always get the best price on your tickets.

It's worth noting that the card's list of transfer partners isn't as robust as what’s offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. However, Capital One has been adding to its list of transfer partners and recently added several partners with 1:1 transfer ratios, making it a stronger option for collecting and transferring miles. If you enjoy analyzing airline awards charts and maximizing the value of your points or miles, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may be a good way to go.

The miles you earn with this card are transferable to a list of travel rewards programs listed below:

  • Accor Live Limitless (2:1)
  • Aeromexico Club Premier (1:1)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (1:1)
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue (1:1)
  • Avianca Lifemiles (1:1)
  • British Airways Avios (1:1)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (1:1)
  • Choice Privileges (1:1)
  • Emirates Skywards (1:1)
  • Etihad Airways Guest (1:1)
  • Eva Air Infinity MileageLands (2:1.5)
  • Finnair Plus (1:1)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer (1:1)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (1:1)
  • TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go (1:1)
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles (1:1)
  • Virgin Red (1:1)
  • Wyndham Rewards (1:1)


Discover it® Miles

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

See terms

See terms

660 - 850

  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
  • Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 14.99% to 25.99% Standard Variable Purchase APR will apply.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 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 an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.

Our thoughts on this card

The Discover it® Miles is a great choice for cardholders in its first year, because Discover doubles all of the rewards you earn in the first year. You also earn a great flat rate of 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase. Miles can be redeemed to cover travel purchases, shop with Amazon or get back back.

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 miles as a statement credit toward travel purchases. As such, this is an ideal card for the casual, budget-conscious traveler.

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

On Chase's Secure Website

$50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening

$0

17.24% Variable

660 - 850

  • $50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases
  • No annual fee
  • $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years
  • Earn a credit limit increase after making 5 monthly payments on time within 10 months from account opening when meeting credit criteria
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
  • Free credit score with Chase Credit Journey

Our thoughts on this card

Students get valuable travel protections with the Chase Freedom® Student credit card without paying an annual fee. When you book your trips with this card, you'll receive reimbursements for prepaid, nonrefundable fares of up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip.

Use your card everywhere Visa is accepted, and earn 1% cash back on every purchase. You're even covered by trip cancellation/interruption insurance protections if you book travel with your card. Just carefully consider whether you want to use the card abroad, as you'll be charged a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

Unfortunately, this card is only available to students. By applying, you authorize Chase to send your information to the National Student Clearinghouse to verify your student enrollment status. It's a great card if you're eligible, but you'll have to pass if you’re not in school.

How much is an airline mile worth?

The value of an airline mile will depend on the loyalty program and how you choose to redeem your miles. Typically, you'll get the most value from your airline miles when you redeem them for flights.

Here's how we value miles from some of the top airline loyalty programs:

Loyalty program
Value of miles
American Airlines1.0 cents
Alaska Airlines1.5 cents
Delta Airlines1.3 cents
Show All Rows

How to choose an airline credit card

Consider the following factors when choosing the best airline credit card for you.

1. Airline loyalty

First, consider whether you fly a single airline frequently enough to benefit from an airline card. If you're a frequent traveler, but prefer to fly on whichever airline is offering the best flight times or cheapest fares, you might be better off with a general travel rewards card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, whose points will allow you to be a bit more flexible with your travel plans.

2. Airline logistics and card features

If you do prefer a certain airline and find yourself flying with them consistently, a co-branded airline card can certainly be beneficial. It’s best to establish an end goal and work backward from it. Your end goal can be summarized by answering these questions:

  1. Where do you fly from?
  2. Where do you want to fly to?
  3. Is your airport an airline hub?
  4. Do you often check luggage?
  5. Do you want lounge access?

Based on these questions, you can find an airline that works best for you.

For example:

If you are based in Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC) and fly to the east coast regularly, a Delta SkyMiles credit card might work well, as Salt Lake City is a hub for Delta.


If your dream is to fly international on Emirates, it could be best to get a card with the ability to transfer points directly to Emirates, such as the American Express® Gold Card.

Miles value: 1.0 cents

Hubs:

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Charlotte (CLT)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • London (LHR)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)
  • New York (LGA)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Antonio (SAT)
  • Raleigh/Durham (RDU)
  • Washington, D.C. (DCA)

Miles value: 1.3 cents

Hubs:

  • Amsterdam (AMS)
  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • London (LHR)
  • Mexico City (MEX)
  • Minneapolis (MSP)
  • New York (JFK)
  • New York (LGA)
  • Paris (CDG)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Seoul (ICN)
  • Tokyo (NRT)

Miles value: 1.5 cents

Hubs:

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Baltimore (BWI)
  • Chicago (MDW)
  • Dallas (DAL)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Houston (HOU)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Oakland (OAK)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Phoenix (PHX)

Miles value: 1.2 cents

Hubs:

  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Guam (GUM)
  • Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • London (LHR)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Tokyo (NRT)
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD)

In addition, consider the features of the card such as sign-up bonuses and annual fees. And don't overlook the value of benefits like baggage fee waivers and airport lounge access, which can easily justify a card's annual fee. With all of these factors considered, you may be able to find one or more credit card options that work for your travel needs.

Tip: Cards that charge a high annual fee often include the best benefits, while no annual fee cards tend to come with fewer perks.

Airline credit card tips:

Link your airline credit card with your frequent flier account

Take advantage of the perks

If your card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees , be sure to use it when you travel

Types of airline credit cards

There are two types of airline credit cards:

The best credit card for airline miles depends on your flight habits—do you stay loyal to one airline, or would a card with flexible miles be preferable? If a bank credit card interests you, two of the best credit card rewards programs are American Express and Chase, because their points can be transferred to a wide variety of partners. Capital One also has cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card that earn points that can be transferred to specific travel partners.

How to maximize an airline credit card

1. Pick a card with purchase categories that matches your spending

Since purchase categories, like dining and travel, are rewarded differently depending on the card, make sure you pick one that matches your expenses.

2. Maximize earnings by rotating cards with different categories

You can also maximize your miles earnings by rotating cards with different earning categories. For instance, you could use the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card for all your Delta, U.S. supermarket and restaurant purchases, and use the Discover it® Miles to earn 1.5 miles per $1 on the rest of your purchases.

3. See which card benefits will go unused

Also, list out the benefits you have with a particular airline card. Premium credit cards with large annual fees offer a long list of benefits — such as status boosters, checked bag fee waivers, lounge access and statements credits for enrolling in TSA PreCheck/Global Entry — that can easily go unused. Paying a high annual fee without utilizing the benefits can be a waste, so if you don't travel often, look for airline credit cards with no annual fee or a low annual fee.

Best no annual fee airline cards

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
Delta SkyMiles<sup>®</sup> Blue American Express Card
United Gateway℠ Card
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 openingEarn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. Learn more.
Apply Now
On Citibank's Secure Website
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website

Survey: Average airfare costs are down 19.7% from pre-pandemic pricing, although likely on the rise

Since Q4 2019 (pre-pandemic), a recent ValuePenguin survey found that Q3 2020 had the lowest average airfare costs — down 32%, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Specifically, Newark Liberty International and Pensacola International airports saw the biggest percentage drops from Q4 2019 to Q2 2021. Meanwhile, Kahului and Long Beach airports have surpassed their Q4 costs.

Full rankings

Change from Q4 2019 to Q2 2021
RankAirportCityStateAverage fare, Q4 2019Average fare, Q2 2021% change
1Newark Liberty InternationalNewarkNJ$431.41$301.78-30.0%
2Pensacola InternationalPensacolaFL$442.93$310.24-30.0%
Show All Rows

Travel expert Sophia Mendel predicts 2021 data, when released, will reveal prices trending upward — and that this will continue on into 2022 as travelers are "more comfortable flying" after vaccinations and boosters.

In good news, a recent Valuepenguin study found that liabilities across the U.S.' five most valuable airline programs were up 11.6% in 2021 vs 2020, indicating consumers likely have miles to burn. Mendel encourages travelers to leverage travel rewards credit cards and to track flight prices on tools like Google Flights, Expedia and Scott's Cheap Flights to save money when booking. Read on for her full list of tips.

FAQs about credit cards for airline miles

An airline credit card rewards cardholders with points or miles for purchases made with the card, which can then be redeemed for free flights or for airline or other travel-related purchases, such as seat upgrades or rental cars.

Airlines cards can also come with benefits specific to traveling, such as:

  • Priority boarding
  • Fee-free baggage checking
  • Airport lounge access
  • Companion passes

Welcome bonus: *Note — It's not all that uncommon for airline miles credit cards to have a sign-up bonus of tens of thousands of points, which could be enough to get you a round-trip ticket to a desired destination.

Our research shows that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 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 10+ airline partners including Southwest, United and Singapore Airlines. In addition, your points are worth even more when you book travel through the Chase travel portal. If you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, your points are worth 1.25 cents per point.

For most travelers, the Alaska Airlines rewards program will provide the best value. Its miles are worth an average of 1.5 cents, which is a lot higher than competitors like Delta or American Airlines. Additionally, Alaska Airlines recently joined the oneworld airline alliance. This means that Alaska Airlines miles can be used on many different airlines.

Airline credit cards are worth it for people who travel at least two to three times per year. Most of the top-tier airline miles cards charge an annual fee. However, if you’re able to pay for one ticket with points, that’s potentially hundreds of dollars saved. Additionally, if you want to earn miles faster for free flights, you should sign up for an airline credit card. You'll earn rewards on everyday purchases, such as dining or restaurant purchases, as well as an elevated earnings rate on airline-affiliated purchases. It's also worth noting that you do not need an airline credit card to earn miles through a frequent flyer program, as they're free to sign up for.

Unfortunately, most airline credit cards require good or excellent credit. If you have a low credit score (below 650), we recommend applying for a credit building credit card. If you have a FICO score above 720 and a solid credit history, you shouldn't have trouble getting approved for the cards we recommended above.

Chase may automatically decline your credit card application if you’ve opened five or more personal credit cards (across all banks) in the last 24 months, which 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.

Airline credit cards are affiliated with one airline, offering loyalty benefits through its respective frequent flyer program. If you're loyal to one airline, it's advantageous to open an airline credit card. General travel credit cards allow you to earn points on all travel purchases and allow you to book any travel. If you tend to book on multiple airlines, it's a better idea to open a general travel credit card.

The best airline card for you depends on your location and travel preferences. For example, if you live near an airport dominated by a single airline (like Charlotte, N.C., with American Airlines), then you'll be best served by a co-branded credit card. On the other hand, those with more choice among airlines may prefer a general travel card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Owning an airline credit card helps you earn airline miles faster than those without an airline card. You'll not only earn bonus miles on airline purchases, but your credit card may offer the chance to earn miles on other bonus categories.

Airlines will offer a range of credit cards for all types of flyers. If you only fly a few times per year, you can opt for a starter no-annual-fee airline card. On the other hand, if you're loyal to one airline, you can find better benefits with airline credit cards with annual fees.

Almost all airline credit cards require that you have good to excellent credit. However, some of the no-fee co-branded airline credit cards have less stringent application requirements. There are many online forums you can use to check the credit profiles of people who have been approved for a specific card.

Owning an airline credit card not only makes traveling more convenient, but it can save you big bucks, too. From priority boarding to free checked bags, airline credit cards can seriously pay off, even when flying economy. — Sophia Mendel, ValuePenguin's travel expert

Recap of the best airline credit cards of October 2022

Methodology

To make choosing the right card easier, we've looked at credit cards reviewed on ValuePenguin as well as cards on major issuer sites to compile a list of the best rewards credit cards available right now. Our recommendations are based on the additional value you can earn with the cards — including the rewards value, cost of ownership and value of benefits such as travel and purchase protections, lounge membership and airline companion passes.

The best card for airline miles depends on your flight habits — do you stay loyal to one airline, or would a card with flexible miles be preferable? If a bank credit card interests you, two of the best credit card rewards programs are American Express and Chase, because their points can be transferred to a wide variety of partners. Capital One also has cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card that earn points that can be transferred to specific travel partners.

Our choices are not influenced by our advertisers. Learn more on how we calculate rewards.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, please click here.

The information related to JetBlue Plus Card, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and Discover it® Miles has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

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.

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

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).