What Is the Best Airline Miles Credit Card?

Allison Martin
An airlines credit card can help you earn free tickets.

If you frequently travel via airplane, an airline miles credit card may be worth considering to help offset costs. However, you should look beyond the products offered by your preferred airline to find the best options, as there are several from which to choose.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

This card offers 25,000 in bonus points if you incur expenses of $1,000 or more within the first three months of being a cardholder. Once the introductory period has lapsed, you can automatically accrue 6,000 bonus points annually without spending a dime, and two points for every $1 spent on qualifying Southwest airlines or Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partners. This is an added perk that most airline credit cards do not offer, notes Nerd Wallet. Each additional $1 spent accrues one point.

There are no blackout dates for redemption and points never expire. If you do not wish to redeem your points for airfare, other travel options, merchandise, and gift cards are available.

How to Apply

To apply for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card, complete the online application.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can earn 40,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 within the first three months. You can also accrue 5,000 points by adding an authorized user to the account and making a purchase of any amount during the introductory period.

Once the introductory period has lapsed, account holders earn two points for each dollar spent on dining and travel purchases, and one point on all other purchases. When it is time to redeem points for travel, you automatically save 20 percent off the advertised price and there are no blackout dates.

Furthermore, this card is definitely in a league of its own, as points can be transferred to select frequent flier programs, including British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Amtrak Guest Rewards®, Hyatt Gold Passport®, Marriott Rewards®, IHG® Rewards Club, and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®. The ability to convert points is a unique option that makes the card a valuable option for travel enthusiasts, notes CreditCardForum.

How to Apply

Visit Chase's website to complete the online application.

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard

If you frequently fly aboard the nation's largest airline, this card may be right for you. For starters, you only have to spend $3,000 in the first three months as an account holder to accrue 50,000 bonus miles.

Furthermore, you can earn two miles for each $1 spent on American Airlines and US Airways purchases, and 10 percent back on redeemed miles annually (limited to 10,000). There are no caps on earning limits.

Cardholders enjoy a host of benefits, including:

  • Free luggage for account holders and four travel companions
  • Priority boarding
  • 25 percent off flight tickets and in-flight purchases

How to Apply

To apply for the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, visit American Airlines' website to access the online application.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

You can earn a $400 travel statement, which is equivalent to 40,000 bonus miles, simply by making $3,000 in purchases within 90 days of becoming an account holder. Plus, cardholders earn two miles for every dollar spent and 10 percent back on miles redeemed for statement credits, with an unlimited earning potential. Furthermore, miles accrued never expire, so you can save them for that dream vacation. Furthermore, this card gives you an added peace of mind with the chip and pin technology for added security, notes The Points Guy.

How to Apply

To apply for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, complete the online application.

British Airways Visa Signature

The British Airways Visa Signature Card has one of the most impressive introductory offers on the market. By spending a minimum of $2,000 in the first three months, you automatically accrue 50,000 bonus avios (points). All purchases made after the introductory period earn one avio for every dollar spent, except for qualifying airline purchases, which earn three avios. If you manage to spend $30,000 in a calendar year, you will receive a Travel Together ticket, good for you and a company in any class and valid for up to two years. As The Simple Dollar puts it, "This is ideal if you desire to take the trip of a lifetime."

This card is also embedded with a smart chip for added security and to facilitate international purchases if retailers that use this technology.

How to Apply

Visit Chase's website to complete the online application.

Gold Delta SkyMiles from American Express

Frequent fliers of Delta Airlines can also benefit greatly from this card, as it offers 30,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 or more in the first three months. Even if you don't meet the spending threshold, simply making a purchase of any amount through Delta in the first three months will earn you a $50 statement credit. This card also boasts an unlimited earning potential, with two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and one mile per dollar on all other transactions.

As a cardholder, you will receive the following benefits:

  • Priority boarding
  • One free checked bag
  • Discounted access to the Delta Sky Club lounge at select airports

How to Apply

To apply for the Gold Delta SkyMiles from American Express, complete the online application.

Compare Your Options

This comprehensive table is a way for you to evaluate how each of these airline credit cards stack up against the others.

Introductory Offer APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards 25,000 bonus points when you spend $10,000 or more within the first three months 15.99% $99 $0
Chase Sapphire Preferred

40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 or more within the first three months

5,000 bonus points if you add an authorized user or make a purchase of any amount within the first three months

15.99% Waived first year and $95 in subsequent years $0
Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 within the first three months 13.99-21.99% Waived in first year and $95 in subsequent years 3%
Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 within the first three months 15.99 or 19.99% Waived in first year and $89 in subsequent years $0
British Airways Visa Signature 50,000 bonus avios (points) when you spend $2,000 within the first three months 15.99% Waived in first year and $95 in subsequent years $0
Gold Delta SkyMiles for American Express

30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 within the first three months

$50 statement credit when you make a purchase of any amount through Delta within the first three months

15.24, 17.24, or 19.24% Waived in first year and $95 in subsequent years $0

Selecting an Airline Miles Credit Card

Prior to applying for an airline miles credit card, carefully review the fine print, along with the added benefits, to confirm it best suits your needs.

What Is the Best Airline Miles Credit Card?