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Best Airline Credit Cards of 2017

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

If you take the decision of choosing the most beneficial airline credit card seriously, you can win some very appealing rewards. The card won’t only help you book the best flight at the best cost possible, but it’ll also provide you with the biggest advantages possible.

General overview of the cards:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The best airline credit card you can have in terms of flexible redemption – Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • You’re not expected to pay any fee during the first 12 months of you using the card. After that, be ready to pay $95 each year.
  • Special Offer: In case you manage to spend as much as $4,000 during the first 3 months on any purchases, you’ll be rewarded 50,000 bonus points. The points are equal to $625 that you’ll be able to spend on your future travels.

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

The best airline credit card you can have in case you prefer flying with United airlines – United MileagePlus® Explorer Card:

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

  • Annual fee to pay amounts to $95.
  • Special Offer: You can win 40,000 bonus miles if you manage to spend $2,000 during the first 3 months of you using the card.

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

The best airline credit card you can have in case you prefer flying with American Airlines – Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®:

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

  • You’re not expected to pay any fee during the first 12 months of you using the card. After that, be ready to pay $95 each year.
  • Special Offer: You’ll get 60,000 bonus miles under the condition that you spend at least $3,000 on any purchases within the first 3 months. The bonus miles will expire if you don’t use them within a certain period of time.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

The best airline credit card you can have if you prefer flying with Delta – Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express:

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

  • You’re not expected to pay any fee during the first 12 months of you using the card. After that, be ready to pay $95 each year.
  • Special Offer: You’ll be rewarded 30,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 on any kind of purchases with the card during the first 3 months. You also have an opportunity to get $50 statement credit if you pay with the card for a Delta purchase within the first 3 months. Pay attention to the fact that the offer is a subject to certain terms.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

The best airline credit card you can have if you have a certain budget for your travels – Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card:

  • Annual fee to pay amounts to $99.
  • Special Offer: You’ll be rewarded 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 on any kind of purchases with the card during the first 3 months.

Flexible redemption

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The best airline credit card you can have in terms of flexible redemption – Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

General description:

  • APR Special Offer: No offer for this card.
  • Standard APR from 16.99% to 23.99%. The rate can vary. Cash Advance APR amounts to 25.99%, but it’s also a subject to changes.
  • There is no fee to pay for the first 12 months, but you’ll have to pay the fee of $95 after that.
  • Special Offer: In case you spend as much as $4,000 within the first 3 months, you’ll be rewarded $625 to spend on your future holidays.

More information on the card:

  • The reward mentioned above will be credited to your account if you redeem it through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The reward is provided in bonus points (50,000).
  • You’ll get a double number of points for using the card when paying for your travels and dinners at any restaurants all over the world. For all the rest purchases you’ll get 1 point for every dollar spent.
  • You may be rewarded additional 5,000 bonus points. For more information you can visit the official website of the emitting bank.
  • There are no charges to pay for the transactions abroad.
  • Bonuses earned can be transferred to the most well-known loyalty programs.
  • When redeeming your rewards to pay for cruses, airlines etc., you get 25% profit.
  • You’re not bound to travel on certain dates. You can book your flight anytime you wish, provided that there are seats left.

Advantages

The card allows you to win rewards in a number of ways. You get 2 bonus points for each dollar you spent on travelling and 1 bonus point for each dollar spent on any other kind of purchase. If you decide to use your points to pay for your travelling via Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll win the profit of 25%. Alternatively, you can transfer your bonuses at 1:1 rate to a number of other loyalty programs. The appealing Special Offer makes this card a really perfect choice.

Disadvantages

Since the car is not co-branded, you can’t get some benefits like priority boarding or checking your bags for free.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a wide variety of redemption options and not for the benefits provided by co-branded cards, the card will meet all your needs.

Frequent United fliers

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

The best airline credit card you can have in case you prefer flying with United airlines – United MileagePlus® Explorer Card.

General description:

  • APR Special Offer: No offer for this card.
  • Standard APR from 16.99% to 23.99%. The rate can vary. Cash Advance APR amounts to 25.99%, but it’s also a subject to changes.
  • The annual fee you’re expected to pay amounts to $95.
  • Special Offer: In case you spend as much as $2,000 within the first 3 months, you’ll be rewarded 40,000 bonus miles.

More information on the card:

  • The card implies a very appealing special offer. However, you need to meet some requirements to get the reward mentioned.
  • There is no “bonus’ period during which you can use your card for free. The fee you’re to pay each year is $95.
  • The card gives you an opportunity to check your first bag for free. This helps you to save some money on the trip itself.
  • There are no charges to pay for the transactions abroad.
  • The miles you earn will never expire. There are no limits concerning the number of miles you can have.
  • The card grants you the privilege of priority boarding. You can also visit the United Club℠ twice a year for free.
  • You earn bonus miles not only for booking your trips and flight tickets, but also for other purchases made with the card.

Advantages

This an airline-specific card. It means that you’ll be rewarded several advantages. For example, you’ll be able to check your bag for free and you’ll be one of those people for priority boarding. Apart from earning bonuses for the purchases you make (the rate is different for everyday purchases and the purchases of tickets from United), you have a chance to get a very big sign-up bonus. Besides, you can significantly increase the rate of your rewards in case you happen to spend $25,000 a year. In this case, you’ll be rewarded additional 10,000 bonus points.

Disadvantages

The card’s redemption options are quite limited.

Conclusion

The card is ideal for those preferring to fly with United and those who don’t wish to pay fees for purchases made abroad.

Frequent American fliers

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

The best airline credit card you can have in case you prefer flying with American Airlines – Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®.

General description:

  • APR Special Offer: No offer for this card.
  • Standard APR from 16.99% to 24.99%. The rate can vary. Cash Advance APR amounts to 26.24%, but it’s also a subject to changes. There is also a fee that occurs in case you fail to pay off on time. It varies, but can reach up to 29.99%.
  • The annual fee you’re expected to pay after the 12months’ free “bonus” period amounts to $95.
  • Special Offer: In case you spend as much as $3,000 within the first 3 months, you’ll be rewarded 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles. However, you need to remember that the bonus miles will expire if not used during a certain period of time.

More information on the card:

  • You can win a considerable number of bonus miles if you meet the requirement mentioned above.
  • You and four of your friends can have 1 bag checked for free when going on a trip together. This is only under the condition that you all have the same reservation. The offer applies only if you’re travelling via domestic American Airlines.
  • You can enjoy priority boarding privilege.
  • There is no charge for the purchases you make abroad with the card.
  • You save up to 25% from the total sum spent on the food you order during the flight and beverage purchases.
  • You can get 10,000 additional bonus points every year. The offer is a subject to certain terms.
  • You can double the number of the bonus miles you get when making certain American Airlines purchases and paying for them with the card.

Advantages

This card grants privileges not only for you, but also for those travelling with you. Some people may find it very advantageous to be able to get a discount on the food and drinks served during the flight. The amazing sign-up bonus isn’t all there is there for you – you can get as much as 10,000 bonus miles each year.

Disadvantages

The annual fee seems to be quite steep. Moreover, you can redeem your rewards only to pay for the flight tickets of American Airlines and OneWorld partner airlines. This is the biggest drawback of all the co-branded cards.

Conclusion

Overall, the card is quite good. It implies a number of benefits for those frequently travelling with American Airlines (domestic flights). No fee is charged when you’re purchasing anything abroad. This is a huge advantage for those who like shopping.

Frequent Delta fliers

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

The best airline credit card you can have if you prefer flying with Delta – Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express.

General description:

  • APR Special Offer: No offer for this card.
  • Standard APR from 16.74% to 25.74%. The rate can vary. Cash Advance APR amounts to 26.24%, but it’s also a subject to changes. In case you fail to pay on time, be ready to pay the penalty fee of up to 29.99%. The fee is variable so everything will depend on your creditworthiness.
  • The annual fee you’re expected to pay after the 12 months’ “bonus” period amounts to $95.
  • Special Offer: In case you spend as much as $1,000 within the first 3 months, you’ll be rewarded 30,000 bonus miles. You also have a chance of getting $50 statement credit if you make your first Delta purchase during the same period of time. The offer is a subject to certain terms.

More information on the card:

  • The thing that make the card one of the most popular co-branded cards available is the sign-up offer. You get 30,000 bonus miles and $50 statement credit if you meet the requirements mentioned.
  • Apart from the miles you get when purchasing with Delta, you also get some miles for any other purchases made with the card.
  • You have a chance of saving a rather big sum when checking your bags.
  • You don’t have to wait – just use Priority Boarding privilege.
  • No annual fee to pay for the first year after you open an account.
  • The offers mentioned and the benefits of the card are subjects to certain terms.

Advantages

The card has the most generous perk ever – up to 9 people travelling with you can have 1 of their bags checked for free. The special offer also comes as a pleasant surprise – you only have to spend $1,000 to be rewarded 30,000 bonus miles for your future trips.

Disadvantages

You may have some problems when trying to use this AMEX card at some places abroad. All the rest drawbacks are pretty much the same as with all the rest co-branded cards. The most obvious of them is limited redemption options.

Conclusion

You can easily pay off the annual fee when checking your bags for free. Of course, those who often travel with delta will definitely like the benefits that come with this card.

Budget travelers

The best airline credit card you can have if you have a certain budget for your travels – Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

General description:

  • APR Special Offer: No offer for this card.
  • Standard APR from 16.99% to 23.99%. The rate can vary. Cash Advance APR amounts to 25.99%, but it’s also a subject to changes.
  • The annual fee you’re expected to pay amounts to $99.
  • Special Offer: In case you spend as much as $1,000 within the first 3 months, you’ll be rewarded 40,000 bonus points.

More information on the card:

  • The card has a very appealing sign-up offer for you. It’s quite easy to get the reward promised in it.
  • You’ll be rewarded more 6,000 bonus points after your first anniversary.
  • You get twice as much bonus points when making purchases at Southwest® and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner.
  • For any other kind of purchases that are not about your future trips, you’ll get 1 bonus point for each dollar spent.
  • The rewards you get are not limited by a certain period of time. They never expire.
  • You pay no extra money for the purchases made abroad.
  • You can choose when you wish to fly. No restrictions and limitations here for as long as there is a free seat.
  • You can redeem the rewards you earned as gift cards, passes to certain events etc. Alternatively, you can use them to pay for your tickets and hotel stays.

Advantages

Unlike most airline credit cards, this card allows you to earn rewards not only for the tickets you bought, but also for the hotels you book and car rentals. Since you don’t have to spend that much to get 40,000 bonus points, you’re sure to have a “discount” on your future trip. Besides, you’ll get additional 6,000 bonus points as a gift for your first anniversary. Here it doesn’t matter how much you spent during the year.

Once you complete 100 one-way flight, you’ll be rewarded as much as 110,000 bonus points. If you get the Companion Pass status, you’ll be able to bring a friend with you for the Southwest flights. Your friend will fly with you for free! This offer is valid during the year you get the status and the next year as well.

Disadvantages

The biggest drawbacks are the steep annual fee and the fact that Southwest doesn’t have very many international destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Still, the annual fee will pay off once you get the anniversary bonus.

Conclusion

The only thing that seems a bit “wrong” about the card is its annual fee. Apart from it, the card is ideal for those travelling on a certain budget.

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Comments: 8
  1. Michael Todoroff

    Could someone recommend me a card offering rewards for travelling from America to South Korea several times a year?

    1. Dan Simkins

      Hi, I think Chase Sapphire or Preferred will be a great choice in your case. The cards allow you to use the points earned to pay for Korean Airlines.

  2. Nicky

    Hi, there! Could someone tell me his/her opinion on the Southwest card?

    1. Alan

      The card is great if you’re a regular traveler with Southwest. However, there is a plenty of better options if you’re looking for privileges and a freedom when redeeming rewards earned.

  3. Kiara

    I want to get the card that implies airline bonuses for purchases but doesn’t have any fee to pay each year.

    1. NathanSmooth

      Actually, almost every airline credit card implies annual fee. It’s easily offset because you get bonuses each year.

  4. Ammy

    Next year my daughter will have to fly to a number of places. She is studying at a medical school now but will soon need to interview for residency programs. We’re offered the Discover card as the best option. I’ve been using the Capital One card each time we’re going to travel. It seems fine. Is there any difference between the two?

    1. Jhon

      The Discover card is just fine but it’s international acceptance is limited. So she’d better know in advance where she’s going if she wants to use the card.

      If it’s impossible, Capital One will meet her needs just great!

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