[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 2017.
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*
- 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*
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
- Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
- Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
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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.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles after you spend an additional $1,000 with your new Card within your first 6 months. Offer expires on 4/11/2018.
- Earn 2 miles on every eligible dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
- Check your first bag free on Delta flights - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
- Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
- Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Terms Apply.
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The Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express is ideal if you love flying with Delta. Frequent Delta Airlines travelers have a few different choices for co-branded credit cards, however, our favorite is the Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card from American Express. Cardholders can earn 30,000 bonus Delta SkyMiles after spending $1,000 in purchases on their card within the first three months of account opening. Cardholders are also eligible for a $50 statement credit when they make a Delta purchase within the first three months. When you use this card to make a purchase with Delta, you earn two miles. Any other purchase made with the card earns one mile.
When traveling on Delta Airlines, you receive your first checked bag for free. In addition, you receive priority boarding for yourself and up to 8 passengers. This is pretty competitive because most cards offer something similar for only two or three passengers. You’ll also get discounted Delta SkyClub access for you and up to two guests. If you are planning to travel internationally, this card comes with no foreign transaction fees. This card does come with an annual fee, and if you don’t think it’s worthwhile to pay, you can always apply for the Blue Delta Skymiles Credit Card instead, which has no annual fee (remember though, the rewards won’t be as extensive).
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
- 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 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 two 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: 14.24% - 24.24% (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.
- 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 travel 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. There is also an additional incentive for adding an authorized user – 5,000 bonus points after you add the authorized user and they make a purchase within three months from the account opening.
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