Airline credit cards offer an easy way to build miles on everyday spend and they typically grant benefits that closely mirror having frequent flyer status. If you fly a specific airline frequently, having that airline's co-branded credit card can be very beneficial. In addition to using airline credit cards, you can also earn airline miles by transferring points from partner programs directly to your frequent flyer account. This is usually the best way to build miles with several programs as you'll be able to earn miles at a higher rate that with most co-branded credit cards.
The Point Calculator's top picks for the best credit cards for earning airline miles are:
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Best For Delta SkyMiles & Benefits
- United℠ Explorer Card: Best For United Miles & Benefits
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Best For Southwest Miles & Benefits
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card: Best For American Airlines Miles
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best For Airport Lounge Access
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best For Luxury Travel & Transferable Rewards
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best For General Travel Rewards
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee Credit
- 25% back on United inflight purchases
- Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket
- Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
- Earn 65,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
- 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary each year.
- $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
- 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
- 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
- Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
- Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- Terms Apply.
- $300 annual travel credit as a reimbursement for travel purchases charged to the account
- 50% point value boost when you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
- Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
- No foreign transaction fees
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Best Airline Credit Cards
|Credit Card||Annual Fee||Best For||Rewards Calculator|
|Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card||$250||Delta SkyMiles & Benefits||Calculate|
|United℠ Explorer Card||$0 the first year, then $95||United Miles & Benefits||Calculate|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||$149||Southwest Miles & Benefits||Calculate|
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card||$0||American Airlines Miles||Calculate|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||$550||Luxury Travel & Airport Lounge Access||Calculate|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||$550||Luxury Travel & Transferable Rewards||Calculate|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||$95||General Travel Rewards||Calculate|
Best For Delta SkyMiles & Benefits: Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is a great option if you enjoy flying Delta Airlines. The card earns 3X Delta SkyMiles on Delta and hotel purchases and 2X SkyMiles on U.S. supermarkets and restaurants worldwide. It offers a bunch of useful benefits such as the ability to earn MQMs towards Delta Medallion Status, an annual companion pass for a person to travel with you in Main Cabin for just the cost of taxes & fees, reduced Delta SkyClub access, and your first checked bag for free for you and up to 8 others traveling with you. The value of the benefits that the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card offers easily outweighs the annual fee which is what makes it such a great card for Delta flyers.
Best For United Miles & Benefits: United℠ Explorer Card
The best entry level credit card for United is the United Explorer Card. It earns 2X United Miles on United, restaurant, and hotel purchases and 1X on all other purchases. Benefits of the card include a free checked bag for you and one other traveling on the same reservation, priority boarding, two annual United Club passes, and up to $100 towards a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.
Best For Southwest Miles & Benefits: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
If you want to earn Southwest Points at a great rate and be given some great benefits with Southwest, you'll want to turn your attention towards the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. It earns 3X Southwest Points on dining for the first year, 2X on Southwest purchases, and 1X on everything else. The card offers several benefits including 7,500 anniversary points each year, an annual $75 Southwest travel credit, four upgraded boarding per year (when available), and 20% back on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi. It's great card to have if you frequently fly Southwest Airlines.
Best For American Airlines Miles: American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is a great no-annual fee credit card option for building miles with American Airlines. The card earns 2X AAdvantage Miles at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1X on everything else. It offers 25% off in-flight food and beverage when you use the card to pay on American Airlines flights.
Best For Airport Lounge Access: The Platinum Card® from American Express
If you're looking for luxury travel perks, you'll want to consider picking up The Platinum Card® from American Express. It earns 5X Membership Rewards Points on airfare purchased directly with an airline, airfare purchases through the AMEX Travel Portal, and pre-paid hotel purchases through the AMEX Travel Portal. The card offers a very long list of elite travel benefits with the most popular one being the AMEX Global Lounge Collection which grants access to American Express Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass Lounges, Delta SkyClub Lounges (when flying Delta), Airspace Lounges, and Escape Lounges. The Platinum Card also offers $500 in annual credits, complimentary elite status with Marriott and Hilton, car rental benefits, and much more. On top of all this, additional cardholders also receive access to most of the benefits which makes this card great for family/group travel. Points earned with the card can be transferred to a handful of airline and hotel partners which includes Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Marriott Bonvoy.
Best For Luxury Travel & Transferable Rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is premium travel card that offers elite benefits and a great return on your spend. The card earns 3X Ultimate Rewards Points on travel and dining worldwide and 1X on all other purchases. As a cardholder of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem points for 50% more value on the Chase Travel portal which gives you an easy value of 1.5 cents per point which is higher than the average value offered by many top programs. You can also transfer your earned points to Chase's airline and hotel partners which includes United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and World of Hyatt. Benefits of the card include an annual travel credit of up to $300, Priority Pass Membership, exceptional travel insurance, and much more. Overall, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is hands-down one of the best credit cards when it comes to getting great value out of your spend while still receiving superb benefits.
Best For General Travel Rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
If you're looking for some great flexibility, the Capital One Venture Card is a great start. The card earns an unlimited 2X Venture Miles on every purchase. Miles can be redeemed towards any kind of travel at a value of 1 cent per point or you can transfer your Venture Miles to Capital One's airline and hotel partners which includes JetBlue Airways, Air Canada Aeroplan, and Wyndham Hotels. The best thing about having a card like the Capital One Venture is that you can get great value redeeming your Venture Miles towards miscellaneous travel expenses that other travel cards would normally give you low value for such as parking and tolls.
Best Credit Cards By Spend Calculator
The Best Credit Cards By Spend Calculator will give you an idea of which travel rewards credit cards will earn you the best return based on your spend. Results will be sorted by net return which is the average value of the total rewards earned, plus annual credits, and minus annual fees. Results will consist of top-rated travel credit cards.
Do note that if you like a specific airline or rewards program, you should check out our best credit card lists for that specific program (if applicable). You can get a list of best credit cards by airline from our Airline Miles page.
The results below are estimates on how much you can earn with each of the listed credit cards based on the spend you entered in the fields above.
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