Best Credit Cards For Airline Purchases
A list of the best credit cards for airline spend based on how much you spend per month or year on airlines. Pulls from 250+ card database.
Whether you're running airline spend through a co-branded airline credit card or you're running spend through a rewards card that earns on airfare or travel spend, there's a lot of possibilities for earning an excellent return spending on air travel.
Airline Credit Cards
If you're loyal to a specific airline or alliance, you'll want to check to see if that airline has a co-branded credit card. Airline credit cards usually grant great benefits such as priority boarding, discounts in-flight, complimentary lounge access, and (most importantly) free checked bags. If you don't have elite status with an airline and you fly a few times per year by yourself or with others, the free checked bag perk offered on these cards alone is worth it.
Airline credit cards also allow you to earn miles on everyday spend along with bonus miles across different categories. For most airline cards (especially those in the U.S.) the earning rates will be "okay", but you'll typically be able to earn more rewards using partner credit cards and then transferring those earned rewards to a frequent flyer program. There are exceptions to this such as the JetBlue Credit Cards which earns a great return on JetBlue spend.
General Airline Spend
If you're not loyal to any specific airline or you found/have an airline card that don't offer the greatest return, you'll want to consider picking up a card that's great for airfare or travel spend that not specific to an airline. Luckily, you'll have lots of options ranging from premium, luxury travel cards down to no-annual fee cards.
The American Express Platinum Card usually sits at the top in terms of general airline spend. This is premium card so I recommend only picking this up if you're able to use the majority of the perks it offers. If you fly Delta Airlines (or other SkyTeam Alliance partners), this card will benefit you more than others thanks to the complimentary Delta SkyClub access.
Moving out of the luxury card market, the American Express Gold Card and American Express Green Card both offer a great return on airline spend. The AMEX Gold earns a superb return on supermarket, restaurant, and airfare spend and comes with dining & airline credits while the AMEX Green earns on both travel & dining and comes with annual CLEAR and Lounge Buddy credits.
For those looking for Ultimate Rewards Points, you can pick up the Chase Ink Business Preferred or the premium Chase Sapphire Reserve. The Chase Ink Business Preferred offers triple points on travel along with several business categories including shipping, internet, advertising, and more. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers triple points on travel & dining purchases and a whopping 10x on Lyft purchases. The Reserve also comes loaded with a bunch of elite travel perks as well as travel and purchase protections.
If you're not looking to earn transferable rewards points or you don't spend a ton on airline purchases every year, the Wells Fargo Propel AMEX is a great choice. The card has no annual fee and offers triple Go Far Rewards Points on travel, dining, and streaming service spend.
Bank of America also provides great options for lower airline spend with the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card and Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Card. Both cards can earn between 3% and 5.25% cash back depending on your relationship with Bank of America and their partners.
Best Cards By Category Calculator
The Best Credit Cards By Category Calculator below will find the best credit cards for the listed categories based on your spend and the filter options selected. This will output a list of up to 50 credit cards sorted by total return.
I recommend using the Rewards Calculator which allows you to compare results side by side other cards, factor in sign up bonuses, add authorized users, select elite status (hotel cards), and much more.