If you travel a lot with a specific airline then it only makes sense to consider an airline credit card. You shouldn’t immediately signup to one just because you frequently fly with that specific airline, but they should definitely be included in your search for a new credit card.
What Are Airline Credit Cards?
These cards are provided by the major networks or banks, with the airline merely branding it and chipping in for the rewards. The idea is that you earn more points when you fly with that airline and you can redeem more of those points with them when you’re ready to cash-in.
They can be very useful to frequent flyers, especially those who typically remain loyal to one airline, but you need to check the small print before you agree to anything because in some cases a less-specific travel credit card or even a cashback credit card will provide you with more benefits.
We have listed some of the best from all major airlines below.
American Airlines Credit Card
The AAdvantage Card is one of our favorites, one that we have discussed in many of our credit card top lists. It offers a wealth of benefits, has reasonable rates, and doesn’t change extortionate fees.
It is pretty much everything that you could ask for in an airline credit card and that’s before you even consider that American Airlines are the biggest airline in the United States and one that also flies to many destinations outside of the country.
In fact, AA fly to over 350 destinations in over 50 countries and have a fleet of nearly 7,000 planes. Without context, that sounds pretty meaningless, but compare it to the fact that Alaska Airlines has just over 300 planes and flies to just over 100 locations and you begin to see how how big they are.
If you are a regular domestic flyer in the United States and you spend a lot of money on your credit card this could be the perfect card. The APR and annual fee can be higher than other airline credit cards on this list, but the differences are slight and what you get in bonuses and rewards more than makes up for it.
American Airlines Credit Card Pros
- Earn 2 miles for every $1 you spend at restaurants, gas stations and American Airlines.
- Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend elsewhere.
- No mileage cap.
- Earn a $100 AA discount when you spend $20,000 or more during your first year.
- No foreign transaction fee.
- First bag checked is free.
- Preferred boarding.
- Save 25% on food and drinks you buy during AA flights
American Airlines Credit Card Cons (and Other Essentials)
- 17.74% to 25.74% APR.
- 26.99% APR for cash advances + 29.99% APR.
- Annual fee of $99 (waived for first year).
Southwest Credit Card
The Southwest Credit Card uses a scheme known as Rapid Rewards, one that benefits not only frequent flyers but also customers who spend a lot of money on hotels, restaurants and more. It’s an all-round rewards card with special benefits for travel through Southwest, who fly to 99 destinations throughout North America and have a fleet size of more than 700.
In fact, while they are not the biggest airline in the US, they do have a huge fleet, with more Boeing 737s than any airline in the world and more domestic US flights than anyone else. In other words, they are more than capable of handling the needs of frequent flyers.
As for the Rapid Rewards Southwest Credit Card there are two types: the Plus and the Priority. You can earn more anniversary points with the Plus and you can also get more as part of their signup deal. You also get a free $75 in travel credit and 4 upgraded boardings every year. However, you pay more than twice the annual fee and the card is less forgiving if you end up struggling with your payments.
The below information therefore focuses on the Southwest Plus Credit Card.
Southwest Credit Card Pros
- Earn 2 points for every $1 you spend at Southwest Airlines, hotels and car rentals.
- Earn 1 point for every $1 you spend on all other purchases.
- Get 40,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000.
- Get 3,000 anniversary points.
- No foreign transaction fees.
Southwest Credit Card Cons (and Other Essentials)
- Annual fee of $69.
- 17.74% to 24.74% APR.
- 26.74% APR on cash advances.
- 29.99% maximum APR.
Delta Credit Card
The Delta Airlines Credit Card is somewhere in the middle. It’s not one of the worst travel or airline credit cards we have seen, but it doesn’t quite match-up to the ones we have placed above it on this list.
Delta certainly have a decent reach in the United States and they are a very respectable airline, so you shouldn’t have any issues in that regard. Whether the terms are agreeable, however, is a different matter entirely.
We are focusing on the Blue Delta Airlines Credit Card below, but there are other variations of this card that may offer you a little more, albeit with higher fees. Keep reading to learn about these cards and the extras they provide.
Delta Credit Card Pros
- Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases.
- Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- No mileage cap.
- Earn 10,000 miles when you spend $500 in your first three months.
- No annual fee.
- 20% in-flight savings.
- No foreign transaction fee.
Delta Credit Card Cons
- $95 annual fee (waived for the first year).
- No introductory APR.
- 17.49% to 26.49% APR.
- 26.99% APR for cash advances; 29.99% penalty APR.
There is also a Gold, Platinum and Reserve card which offer a little more, but with higher fees. The Gold card offers three times as many points as a bonus offer (although you need to spend twice as much to get them). The Platinum card returns 35,000 miles and a $100 statement credit. The Reserve card goes the extra mile (literally), with more bonus miles, more VIP options and more complimentary features.
Alaska Airlines Credit Card
The Alaska Airlines Visa card is a solid rewards card offering many benefits and all the accessibility that you would expect from a Visa card. You can earn up to three miles for every $1 that you spend on the card and there is also a free fare every year to the value of $121.
However, it is not without its faults. There is an annual fee, the free fare requires you to pay taxes, and you need a good credit score to get it.
Alaska Airlines is the fifth largest airline in the United States, flying to over 100 destinations across North America. This is not an international airline, but you can also redeem your points with their partners.
Alaska Airlines Credit Card Pros
- You can earn 3 miles for every $1 you spend on Alaska Airlines purchases, with no mileage cap.
- You can earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on non-airline purchases.
- There are several “Companion Fare” deals that offer a free ticket once you pay the taxes.
- Earn 30,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 or more in the first three months.
- Get your bag checked for free.
Alaska Airlines Credit Card Cons (and Other Essentials)
- No introductory APR.
- Annual fee of $75.
- 16.74 to 24.74% APR variable.
- 3% balance transfer fee (or $10, whatever is smaller).