Calculator: 8 Best Cards For Earning Airline Miles [2021]

With the right credit cards, you can earn airline miles to put towards free flights more often. Get our best picks and calculate rewards based on spend.

The Point Calculator's top picks for the best credit cards for earning airline miles are:

  • American Express® Gold Card
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Citi Premier® Card
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Unitedâ„  Explorer Card
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

American Express® Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card is one of the best credit cards for earning airline miles. It earns 4 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent on U.S. supermarket purchases and at restaurants worldwide and 3 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent on airfare booked directly with an airline. Points earned on the card can be transferred to more than 15 airline partners as well as several hotel partners which includes JetBlue Airways, Delta Airlines, and Marriott International. The AMEX Gold Card also offers $120 in annual Uber Eats credits and $120 in annual dining credits which adds significant value to the card. If you're big on supermarket and restaurant spend, this will be the card you'll want to have.

American Express® Gold Card
Rewards Rates
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn 1X Membership Rewards® point on all other purchases.
Intro Bonus
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
Annual Fee
$250
Authorized User Fee
$0 for the first five add'l cards, then $35 per card for the sixth card onward
Foreign Transaction Fee
0%
Main Card Highlights
  • $120 Uber Cash: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

If you're looking for luxury travel perks, you'll want to consider picking up The Platinum Card. It earns 5 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent 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.

The Platinum Card® from American Express
Rewards Rate
  • Earn 10X points per $1 spent on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Earn 1X 5X Membership Rewards® Points on all other purchases.
Intro Bonus
Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
You may earn up to a 125,000-point intro bonus offer if you use the CardMatch Tool.
Annual Fee
$550
Authorized User Fee
$175 for up to 3 additional Platinum cards and $175 for each additional Platinum card after the first 3
Foreign Transaction Fee
0%
Main Card Highlights
  • 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.

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 3 Ultimate Rewards Points per $1 spent on travel and dining worldwide which can be redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards for 1.5 cents per point towards travel. You can also transfer your Chase Points to a handful of airline and hotel partners which includes Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Hyatt Hotels.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Rewards Rates
  • 3X per $1 spent on travel after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3X per $1 spent on dining
  • 1X per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro Bonus
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Annual Fee
$550
Authorized User Fee
$75 for each additional user
Foreign Transaction Fee
0%
Main Card Highlights

Citi Premier® Card

The Citi Premier Card is a well-rounded travel card that earns 3 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, and hotel purchases. Points can be redeemed towards a large list of redemptions directly with Citi or they can be transferred to Citi's airline partners which consist of JetBlue Airways and several popular international airlines such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Qantas Air.

Citi Premier® Card
Rewards Rate
  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel, and Hotels
  • Earn 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro Bonus
Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Annual Fee
$95
Authorized User Fee
$0
Foreign Transaction Fee
0%
Main Card Highlights
  • Annual $100 Hotel Savings Benefit
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

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 2 Venture Miles per $1 spent 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, 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.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Rewards Rates
  • Earn an unlimited 2X miles per $1 spent on every purchase, every day.
Intro Bonus
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Annual Fee
$95
Authorized User Fee
$0
Foreign Transaction Fee
0%
Main Card Highlights
  • 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✓®
  • Use your miles to fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime.
  • Transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles Platinum AMEX Card is a great option if you enjoy flying Delta Airlines. The card earns 3 Delta SkyMiles per $1 spent on Delta and hotel purchases and 2 SkyMiles per $1 spent on U.S. supermarkets and restaurants worldwide. While you can typically earn more SkyMiles using American Express Membership Rewards credit cards, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum AMEX offers a bunch of useful benefits such as the ability to earn MQMs towards Delta Medallion Status, an annual companion pass in main cabin, reduced Delta SkyClub access, and your first checked bag for free for you and up to 8 others traveling with you.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Rewards Rate
  • 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.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
Intro Bonus
Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021.
Annual Fee
$250
Authorized User Fee
$0
Foreign Transaction Fee
0%
Main Card Highlights
  • 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.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. (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.

Unitedâ„  Explorer Card

The best entry level credit card for United is the United Explorer Card. It earns 2 United Miles per $1 spent on United, restaurant, and hotel purchases as well as offers a bunch of great benefits such as a free checked bag for you and one other traveling on the same reservation, priority boarding, 2 annual United Club passes, and up to $100 towards a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.

Unitedâ„  Explorer Card
Rewards Rate
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays, and on United purchases
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and eligible delivery services
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro Bonus
Up to 65,000 Bonus Miles. Get 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.
Annual Fee
$0 the first year, then $95
Authorized User Fee
$0
Foreign Transaction Fee
0%
Main Card Highlights
  • 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 Clubâ„  with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

If you enjoy flying American Airlines, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card is the best entry level option. It earns 2 AAdvantage Miles per $1 spent on American Airlines, gas station, and restaurant purchases. The card also offers a handful of benefits including a free checked bag for you and up to 4 other traveling on the same reservation, priority perks, in-flight discounts, and a $125 flight discount after you spend $20,000 on the card within the card membership year.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
Rewards Rate
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
Intro Bonus
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Annual Fee
$99, waived for first 12 months
Authorized User Fee
$0
Foreign Transaction Fee
0%
Main Card Highlights
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights

Best Cards By Spend Calculator

The Best Credit Cards By Spend Calculator will find 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 'More Info' 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 of spending, you can leave it set to a duration of '1 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). The values I have listed are what I think is the easiest value to get out of your points when transferring to partners. You can click on the to learn more about the value of the currency (opens in a new tab/window).
Depending on what you're calculating, all programs listed below may not be featured in the results.

Results

Note: Results may take a few seconds to generate after doing a search. The results and values listed are estimates to help guide you towards making the best decision. They are for illustrative purposes only.
Results Will Appear Here
Updated 2020-09-17 By Robert Flowers III

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