What Is the Best Airline Credit Card?

April 18, 2013, Written By Bill Hardekopf

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Airline credit cards allow frequent flyers to save money on their travels. These cards are designed to provide discounts on airfare or completely free tickets, and many of them provide rewards for other travel accommodations. If you fly on a regular basis and need a way to save money, one of these cards could be perfect for you. You just have to find the one that fits your needs.

What is the best airline credit card? Let’s do some comparisons to find out.

Top 3 Airline Credit Cards

Listed below are our top three choices for the best airline credit card on the market.

Capital One VentureOne: This card is simple to use and understand. Offering 1.25 rewards points for every $1 spent, this card makes it easy to calculate the rewards you can earn. It has no annual fee, which is somewhat unusual for travel cards. The introductory APR is 0%, while the ongoing APR can be anywhere from 11.9% to 19.9%, depending on your credit worthiness. The card is designed for applicants with excellent credit.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: This card offers bonus discounts to ensure you get the most out of every reward you earn. At the standard 1 point per $1 rate, this card will allow you to rack up points every time you make a purchase. You can earn double points when you spend money on airfare, hotel rooms, restaurants and rental cars. It is more costly to carry than the VentureOne card (with a $95 annual fee), but it offers no annual fee for the first year. Plus, you can use 20% less rewards points if you book your travel accommodations through Ultimate Rewards.

Simmons First Visa Platinum Rewards: This card has one of the lowest interest rates–9.25%–found on a rewards card and it has no annual fee. It is only available for those with excellent credit, but it can be used on any U.S. based airline. It has no overlimit fee, late fee or balance transfer fee, and it offers 0% APR for the first 6 months. Earn one rewards point for every $1 spent with the card. These points may also be applied to hotels, rental cars or other travel expenses.

What Determines the Best Airline Credit Card?

We selected the three cards above mainly based on their versatility. These cards feature rewards programs that can be used with any carrier. All you have to do is rack up the miles and apply them to the flight of your choice.

There are many other airline credit cards that offer rewards for specific airlines and you may be able to find a better card if you do prefer to fly with a certain airline. For instance, Delta flyers may enjoy using Gold Delta SkyMiles from American Express because it offers double rewards points for all purchases within the company. This card also offers a 20% discount for in-flight services, such as food, drinks and movies.

Other airline specific cards include:
United MileagePlus Explorer Card
British Airways Visa Signature Card
Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature Card

How to Find the Best Airline Credit Card for You

Quite frankly, you are the only one who can determine what is the best airline credit card because you know how you spend your money and how you need to use your rewards. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How do I spend my money? Some cards will offer extra rewards for certain kinds of spending, like dining out or buying gas. Find a card that fits your monthly expenses, and you’ll maximize your reward potential.
  • What do I need out of my card? If you just want free tickets, any card might do. If you want hotel discounts and other travel accommodations, you need to look for a card with those features.
  • How much will each card cost to carry? Some have higher interest rates, and some have annual fees. You have to analyze whether those rates and fees are worth the rewards.
  • Will I qualify for the card I want? Airline credit cards usually require good or excellent credit. If you don’t have that, you may want to consider a different type of card.
  • Do I truly need an airline credit card? In some cases, it’s better to get a cash back card and use the rewards for a trip you wish to take. If you don’t fly often, you probably won’t get as much out of an airline card.

Compare as many airline credit cards as you need until you find the one that is perfect for you. Then, start building up those rewards points.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of April 18, 2013. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of LowCards.com and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.
View all posts by Bill Hardekopf