[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
If you find yourself frequently flying one airline, having their co-branded credit card can be a great idea. It will give you the chance to earn free flights, free checked bags, priority boarding, and much more. But with so many different cards available, it might be difficult to figure out which card would be best for you. In this article, we’ll walk you through the five best airline branded credit cards available in 2018.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
- Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
- New: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations*
- New: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at restaurants*
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
- New: Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership 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*
- Receive 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
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If your preferred airline is American Airlines, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard might just be The One. With this card, you can earn 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $2,500 within the first three months. You will then receive two miles per dollar when you use your card for eligible American Airlines purchases and one mile on everything else.
What makes this card even more attractive for frequent American Airlines fliers is that cardholders also have access to several other benefits from American Airlines some of which include a free checked bag for yourself and up to four travel companions, preferred boarding on American Airlines flights and 25% savings on in-flight purchases for food and beverage.
Can I get travel rewards that aren’t restricted to one airline?
If you’re not particular about which airline you fly with, or you don’t travel often enough to get a co-branded travel card but still the want travel rewards, there are many cards that offer similar competitive rewards. The advantage to these cards is that they let you fly with any airline. We’ve picked out some alternatives for you to review.
Discover it® Miles
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
- Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
- No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
- Redeem your Miles as a statement credit 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 free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
- No Annual Fee.
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With 1.5 miles back on every purchase, you can rack up the rewards easily. Plus, Discover matches all the miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, so if you’ve earned 30,000 miles, you’ll earn 60,000. Miles can be applied to any airline and there are no blackout dates giving you the flexibility to travel where and when you want, on any airline you choose.
When you are approved for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you can receive a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from the account opening, which equals $500 in travel. Cardholders also receive 2X miles on every purchase and miles don’t expire for the life of the account. There is also no limit on how many miles can be earned. Plus, you can fly any airline and there are no blackout dates. The card has an annual fee of $0 intro for first year; $95 after that, so if this doesn’t appeal to you, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card is a no annual fee card that you can apply for instead, however, the rate of rewards you earn won’t be as high.
Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
APR: 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
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®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- 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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For the Sapphire Preferred, Chase is offering a generous 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of the account opening. When you redeem these points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they’re worth $625 toward travel. Cardholders receive two points on dining and travel worldwide, and one point on all other purchases.
The Sapphire Preferred is also ideal for traveling abroad since there are no foreign transaction fees. Plus, you can redeem points from dining worldwide, where some cards don’t allow you bonus points outside the United States. If you redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, then your points have 25% more value, and there are no blackout dates. If you’re looking for even more extensive rewards, you can apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which has a higher sign up bonus that offers a greater value on redemption, (but remember, there’s a hefty $450 annual fee that accompanies the extra rewards).
Whether you’re partial to a particular airline, or you like to keep your options open, having a travel rewards credit card can be extremely beneficial, especially if you’re a frequent traveler, or if you have some big travel plans for the future. It’s always good to keep in mind that most of these credit cards require good to excellent credit, so you’ll want to check your credit scores before applying (Check two of your credit scores for free monthly at Credit.com).
At publishing time, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, Discover it Miles Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Sapphire Reserve are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, these relationships do not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuers. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuers.
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.
This article last updated on February 16th, 2018