Best Credit Cards For Airline Purchases

A list of the best credit cards for general airline purchases based on your monthly/yearly spend. Compare results side by side top cards.


If you're not loyal to any specific airline and just want a credit card that earns a great return on general airline spend, you'll want to focus your attention towards the American Express Membership Rewards Program. The AMEX Cobalt Card which is one of the top cards for travel and it can earn you an easy 2% return or an even higher return if you transfer your AMEX Points to their handful of airline and hotel partners. Another great choice is the AMEX Gold Rewards Card which earns the same return on travel spend. If you want all the benefits and perks, you can pick up the AMEX Platinum Card which offers elite travel perks like extensive lounge access, complimentary elite status with several hotel programs, great travel and purchase protection/insurance, and much more.

Another program with very rich rewards is the RBC Avion Rewards Program. Points are easily redeemable for up to 2 cents each and they can be transferred to a small handful of partners including WestJet, American Airlines, and British Airways. In terms of travel, the best option will be the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card which earns 1.25x points on travel. If you're looking for a few additional benefits and higher earning rate on non-travel purchases, you can step up to the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege Card.

You can also pick up co-branded airline credit cards if you want to earn rewards specific to an airline. Some great options include the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard, TD Bank Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, and RBC WestJet World Elite Mastercard. Picking up co-branded credit cards will grant airline-specific benefits such as free checked bags and more which can be a big money saver.

Best Cards By Spend Calculator

The Best Credit Cards By Spend Calculator will find up to 50 of the best credit cards based on the spend and selected filter options. Results will be sorted by net return which is the average value of the total rewards earned, plus annual credits, and minus annual fees. For any of the results listed, you can click on 'Rewards Calculator' to calculate more accurate results. You'll be able to enter spend for as many categories as you want, toggle annual fees, add authorized users, specific elite status and memberships, incorporate sign up and welcome bonus, view rewards as if you transferred them to partners, and much more.

Add Categories
Search for categories and click 'Add Category' to add it to the calculator. If you want to be more specific, you can specify domestic or international spend.
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Category Spend

Enter your spend per month, year, or quarter for the listed categories. You can then click Get The Best Cards to get the list of results.
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Spend Duration

You can set the duration of the spend for the categories listed above. If you're looking for the best card for only n-months worth of spend, this is where you change the option. If you want to calculate based on a full year, you can leave it set to a duration of 'year'.

Adjust Transferable Points

Some rewards programs allow you to transfer your earned points to airline, hotel, and other loyalty programs. These programs will generally have higher point values when doing such. Since these matter so much when choosing a credit card, you can enter your own point value for these programs to include in the calculations. You can set any of the currencies listed below to 0 to calculate based on the non-transfer value (in which most are 1 cent per point with the exception of Chase's 1.25/1.5 cent redemptions).
When transferring to other programs, you should be able to get 1 to 2 cents in value for most of the programs listed below, so I defaulted most to a low average of 1.5 cents. You can click on the to learn more about the value of the currency (opens in a new tab/window).

Include Annual Credits/Bonuses

Several credit cards feature annual bonuses. These are usually anniversary bonuses for having the card, airline credits, hotel credits, and more. If you want these included in the calculation, you can check thy box below.

Bank

The bank that issues the card. De-select the banks that you do not want in the results.

Network

The network that the card is tied to such as VISA, Mastercard, Discover, or AMEX.

Card Type

The type of card such as a co-branded airline card, bank rewards card, or cash back card. Do note that some store cards will appear under cash back if you're able to redeem cash back like a normal cash back credit card.

Reward Type

The type of rewards the card earns. This will either be points, miles, or cash back.

Personal/Business

Toggle the showing of personal or business cards in the results. Card combinations are also featured on this site. The combo option is only available if it's more than one category you're enter spend for.

Annual Fee

The range of fees you're willing to pay to wield such awesome credit cards. Selecting the First Year Free (FYF) / First Year Reduced (FYR) option will calculate FYF/FYR credit cards with their free or reduced annual fee.

Income Requirements

Some credit cards require a certain amount of annual individual or household income. Enter a max income or enter 0 to show all cards.

Foreign Transaction Fees

Toggle whether to include credit cards that have a foreign transaction fee, foreign conversion fee, or any other type of charge that has to do with making purchases outside of the region.

Results

Do note that results may take a few seconds to generate after doing a search.
You can click on the 'Rewards Calculator' for any of the cards listed in the results to calculate even more accurate results. You can also click Apply to apply for the card.
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