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There are plenty of travel rewards credit cards out there for frequent flyers who love earning airline miles. While there are plenty of deals out there, the best airline miles credit card is different for each individual. When finding which card is best for you, consider the following: Are you loyal to a particular airline each time you fly? Do you spend enough on flights to justify a hefty annual fee? Does your credit score meet the qualifications for the card?
Here are some of our top picks for credit cards that can help you earn miles and travel rewards.
How to Pick the Best Airline Credit Card
There are two types of credit cards that offer miles. The traditional kind are those co-branded with an airline and offer miles in their program. Miles earned are tied to the co-branded airline, encouraging brand loyalty. The rewards these cards offer are only as strong as the frequent-flier program they are attached to, so it’s important to understand exactly how easy it is to use the miles before you earn them. Traditional airline credit cards can also offer benefits such as free checked bags, credit toward elite status and discounts on in-flight purchases.
The other type of credit cards that offer airline miles are those offering points that can later be transferred to miles in one of several different programs. This card may be preferable if you wish to redeem your miles with more than one airline.
Which Type of Card Should You Pick?
If you are loyal to a single airline and want to earn the most possible miles with that carrier, you will probably want a traditional airline mileage credit card. This can also be a good choice for infrequent travelers looking for additional benefits on one carrier.
If you want to avoid being exclusively tied to the terms of a single frequent-flier program, consider a card offering points that you can transfer to multiple airlines.
Before embarking on the journey of finding the right airline miles credit card for you, check your credit. Generally, you need a good score to qualify for some of these rewards cards’ benefits. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com. As you’re searching for the perfect card, make sure to read the terms and conditions of the card’s agreement so you know what you’re signing up for.
With that in mind, here are our picks for the best airline miles credit cards based on rewards value, annual fee, interest rates and more. We’ve broken the picks into two categories: Co-branded airline-specific credit cards and general purpose travel rewards credit cards offering miles that can be used at various partner carriers.
Our Picks for the Best Co-Branded Airline Credit Cards
JetBlue Plus Card
- Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases 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 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
Card Details +
Why We Picked It: This card offers six points per dollar for JetBlue purchases, two points per dollar for purchases from grocery stores and restaurants and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. The points you rack up on your TrueBlue account don’t expire. Other benefits include one free checked bag, 50% off eligible inflight purchase and the ability to pool and share points with family members. This is great for families of frequent travelers. You also have the ability to enjoy TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year after spending $50,000 on your card in a calendar year. Plus, you receive a 5,000-point bonus every year on your account anniversary.
Signup Bonus: Cardholders can earn 30,000 bonus points after they spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of getting the card.
The Costs: There’s a $99 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 12.99%, 20.99% or 25.99%, depending on your credit.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Why We Picked it: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card from Chase (see full review) offers cardholders two points per dollar spent on both Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotels and car rental partner purchases, plus one point per dollar spent everywhere else. These points have no expiration date so long as the card remains open. Cardholders also receive 6,000 points on their card anniversary. The real perk of this card is its signup bonus, the highest on this list when it comes to airline-specific cards.
Signup Bonus: Cardholders earn 60,000 bonus points if they spend $2,000 during their first three months.
The Costs: The card carries a $99 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99%
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
- Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Terms Apply.
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Why We Picked it: The Starwood Preferred Guest card offers reward points in the loyalty program of Starwood hotels, but you can redeem these points at more than 150 airlines with SPG flights. Cardholders earn just one point per dollar spent on all purchases, but two points per dollar on purchases made at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels. This program also offers a 5,000-mile bonus when members transfer 20,000 points at once so the effective rate of return is 1.25 miles per dollar spent. In addition, points can also be redeemed for free nights at Starwood hotels and resorts.
Signup Bonus: Cardholders get 25,000 bonus Starpoints after they spend $3,000 within the first three months.
The Costs: There is a $95 annual fee for this card, which is currently waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
APR: Variable 16.24% to 20.24%
Why We Picked it: The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard offers two points per every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and one point per dollar spent everywhere else. Cardholders also receive 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases.You can also earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles each calendar year. Cardholders also receive preferred boarding on American Airline flights and a free checked bag on domestic American Airlines for themselves and up to four companions traveling on the same reservation.
Signup Bonus: Cardholders earn 60,000 bonus miles after they spend $3,000 within the first three months.
The Costs: There is a $95 annual fee for this card, waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
APR: Variable 16.74% to 24.74%
Our Picks for the Best Miles Credit Cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- 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, 50,000 points are worth $625 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
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Why We Picked it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred (see full review) offers two points per dollar spent on travel, including trains, airfare, cabs and hotels. It also offers two points per dollar spent on dining and one point per dollar on purchases made everywhere else. These points can be redeemed as statement credits or transferred to a number of partnering frequent flier and hotel loyalty programs, including United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards and Marriott Rewards, at a one-to-one value. There are also other perks, like trip cancellation/interruption insurance up to $10,000 and primary auto rental collision damage coverage.
Signup Bonus: Cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points if they spend $4,000 in their first three months — a bonus worth $625 if you redeem those points through Chase’s travel portal. You also earn 5,000 points after making a purchase within the first three months of the account opening.
The Costs: There’s a $95 annual fee, waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99%
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $400 in travel
- Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
- Travel when you want with no blackout dates
- 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; $59 after that
- Get a metal Venture Card when you apply today
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Why We Picked it: Another solid general-purpose miles credit card, the Venture Rewards credit card (see full review) offers unlimited two miles per dollar spent on every purchase. One hundred miles equals $1 in travel rewards and there is no limit on how many miles you can earn. These rewards do not expire. Cardholders also receive complimentary concierge service, travel protection and room upgrades. As an added bonus, there is extended warranty protection on items purchased with this card.
Signup Bonus: Cardholders earn 40,000 bonus miles (equal to $400 in travel) if they spend $3,000 in their first three months from account opening.
The Costs: There’s a $59 annual fee, waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
APR: Variable 13.99% to 23.99%
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit
- Earn 2X miles on all purchases
- Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary
- Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
- Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
- No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
- 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers
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Why We Picked it: Cardholders earn two miles back per dollar on all purchases, plus 5% miles back when they redeem. Miles can be redeemed for travel or cash-back statement credits and do not expire. There’s also a sweet signup bonus. Other benefits include travel accident and trip cancellation insurance.
Signup Bonus: Cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus miles — enough for a $500 travel statement credit — if they spend $3,000 in their first 90 days.
The Costs: There’s an $89 annual fee, waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
APR: Variable 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%
Discover it Miles Travel Credit Card
Discover it® Miles
- Match Mile For Mile: We’ll match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
- Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee.
- No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
- Redeem your Miles as statement credits 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 FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
- No Annual Fee.
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Why We Picked it: With the Discover it Miles Travel Credit Card (see full review) cardholders earn unlimited 1.5 miles on every dollar spent on purchases. Miles can be redeemed for any amount to credit travel purchases, or as cash. Another great perk? Miles don’t expire and you won’t lose your miles, even if your account closes. Plus, late payments won’t raise your APR nor will going over limit rack up any fees. A major perk of this card is there’s no annual fee, making it a great option for those who don’t travel often enough to warrant a hefty fee.
Signup Bonus: At the end of your first year, Discover matches you mile for mile on what you’ve earned — so 30,000 miles becomes 60,000.
The Costs: There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
APR: Variable 11.99% to 23.99%
Paige DiFiore and Jason Steele contributed to this article.This article has been updated. This article was originally published November 23, 2016.
At publishing time, the JetBlue Plus card from Barclaycard, Starwood Preferred Guest Card From American Express, Capital One Venture Rewards, Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard and Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
Jason Steele contributed to this article. It was last updated on June 6, 2017.