If you tend to fly with a particular airline, you should consider applying for one of the carrier’s co-branded credit cards. Not only will you earn miles quickly and easily, you’ll also unlock valuable benefits designed to make your travel a lot more convenient and enjoyable.
See our list of the best credit card bonuses here.
Keep reading for our favorite airline credit cards below, both co-branded and for general travel.
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Best for redemption flexibility|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Best for beginners|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Best for luxury travel|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®||Best for American Airlines|
|Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card||Best for Delta elite flyers|
|Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card||Best for Delta regular flyers|
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card||Best for Delta occasional flyers|
|JetBlue Plus Card||Best for JetBlue|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||Best for Southwest Airlines|
|United℠ Explorer Card||Best for United Airlines|
Airline Credit Card Features
When choosing an airline credit card, you’ll want to consider several factors, including:
- Airline loyalty. Is there one airline you only fly with? Or do you use a variety of carriers? Co-branded cards will only earn miles for one particular airline. Other cards will let you earn points toward award travel with multiple airlines.
- Bonus categories. Some credit cards offer bonus points when you spend in certain categories, like travel, dining or groceries. Pick a card that will let you earn as many rewards as possible for things you would normally purchase.
- Annual fee. Credit cards can sometimes carry expensive annual fees. But these higher-priced cards usually come with plenty of valuable perks, like travel credits, free checked bags and airport lounge access. If you’re a frequent flyer who’ll take full advantage of these benefits, then you’ll easily offset the cost of the card. But if you take only one big trip a year, a low-cost card would be the better fit.
To make our best airline credit cards of 2020 list, we also took into consideration the:
- Welcome bonus
- Earning potential
- Elite status perks
- Recurring benefits
- Category bonuses
- Spend bonuses
The Best Airline Credit Cards This Year
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is the best card for redemption flexibility. You can use your miles to “erase” your travel purchases at a fixed rate of $0.01 per mile. You also have the option to transfer your miles to one of Capital One’s 15 transfer partners.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best card for beginners. It lets you earn valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points that are transferable and has big bonus categories as well as a reasonable annual fee.
The Platinum Card® From American Express is the best card for luxury travel. It comes with plenty of annual credits and VIP perks, but be forewarned, the card’s annual fee reflects this.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is the best American Airlines rewards card. It offers bonuses on dining and gas spending and a handful of travel perks. And the key reason American Airlines travelers use this card: complimentary Admirals Club lounge access and 10K EQMs!
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is the best Delta Air Lines rewards card for elite flyers. You’ll get an annual companion certificate, access to Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs, fast-track to elite status and plenty of other travel benefits.
The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is the best Delta Air Lines card for regular flyers.
The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is the best Delta Air Lines card for occasional flyers.
The JetBlue Plus Card is the best rewards card for JetBlue frequent flyers. It offers bonuses on restaurant and grocery store spending, fast track to Mosaic elite status and a few other travel benefits.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the best Southwest Airlines rewards card. It gives cardmembers bonus points on partner hotel and car rental spending, fast-track to elite status, $75 in Southwest travel credit every year and more.
The United℠ Explorer Card is the best United Airlines rewards card. It offers bonuses on hotel and restaurant spending and plenty of travel perks.
The Best No-Annual-Fee Airline Credit Cards This Year
The best airline credit cards offer a plethora of benefits that save you money, time and stress, including free checked bags, priority boarding, lounge access, elite status and more. However, these cards also charge hefty annual fees.
If you’re just starting out in the rewards world, or you prefer earning miles over premium benefits, you should opt for a low-cost co-branded card instead. You won’t get as many perks, but you won’t have to pay exorbitant annual fees either.
|American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp℠ Mastercard®|
(no annual fee)
|Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card|
(no annual fee)
|JetBlue Credit Card|
(no annual fee)
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by MoneysMyLife and not the card issuer. Read our card review for more details.
View our latest valuations here.
While we focused on airline credit cards in this post, you’ll want to choose a card with additional earning potential that matches your spending behavior. For our guide on the best credit cards in other categories, check out these other posts:
While co-branded credit cards often don’t offer the biggest return for your airline spending, they do dole out plenty of airline-specific perks to make up for it.
If you prefer to maximize your spending, rather than taking advantage of other benefits, then you’ll want to opt for a travel rewards card that earns valuable transferable points instead.
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