Thursday, 26 November 2020

The Best Airline Credit Cards — November 2018

The Best Airline Credit Cards — November 2018
05 Nov
12:19

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If you have taken a recent flight, you are probably very well aware of all the rewards airline credit cards promise. Earn enough miles and you could nab a free flight or even a free upgrade. Simply signing up for a airline card in many cases can grant you perks like priority boarding and free checked luggage.

Most airline credit cards rewards are specific to that airline’s offerings — it’s their way of rewarding frequent fliers for their brand loyalty and enticing other fliers who might not yet favor any particular airline.

Best for United Airlines

United MileagePlus® Club Card

United MileagePlus® Club Card from Chase Bank

The information related to United MileagePlus® Club Card from Chase Bank has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

United MileagePlus® Club Card from Chase Bank

Regular Purchase APR
17.99% – 24.99% Variable
Annual fee
$450
Rewards Rate
Earn rewards faster with 1.5 miles per $1 spent on purchases.

What we like about it:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. But don’t get too excited about this offer if you’ve nabbed a bonus from this card before — this offer is not available to either current cardmembers of this credit card, or previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.
  • The United MileagePlus® Club Card is the only one that gives you a full membership into the United ClubSM. This means you can visit any United lounge at the airport regardless of what airline you are flying, and some Star Alliance® lounges when you fly on those airlines.
  • Earn rewards faster with 1.5 miles per $1 spent on purchases.
  • You also get great perks when flying aboard United, including Premier Access® travel services and free first and second checked bags — that can easily shave a couple hundred bucks off your cost of flying.

Who is the card best for?

If United is your primary airline and you plan to take more than one international trip every year, the United MileagePlus® Club Card is your best bet. Getting United ClubSM membership from the card is $100 cheaper than buying membership without top tier status. And getting two checked bags on United and some lounge benefits when flying Star Alliance airlines can add up to good long-term value.

Best Cards for American Airlines

CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

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CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
17.74% – 25.74%* (Variable)
Annual fee
$99, waived for first 12 months*
Rewards Rate
2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases* and for every $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications, car rental merchants and at gas stations*, 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases*

What we like about it:

  • Bonus offer: Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening*.
  • In addition to offering a first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines® itineraries and preferred boarding on American Airlines® flights, this is the only American Airlines co-branded offer from Citi that offers bonus points on everyday spending.
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases* and for every $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications, car rental merchants and at gas stations*, 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases*. Terms apply.

Who the card is best for?

If you have a small business and American is your primary airline, this card could earn you the most AAdvantage® miles over time. Earning 2 AAdvantage® miles on telecommunications, car rental merchants, and gas stations are among the most generous categories for airline cards, granting many opportunities to earn bonus miles at the places you spend money weekly.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® from Barclays

The information related to AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® from Barclays has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® from Barclays

Regular Purchase APR
17.99% – 26.99% Variable
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
Earn 2X AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1X AAdvantage® miles on all other purchases.

What we like about it:

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee. You may not qualify for this offer if you have owned the card before or are a previous cardmember with accounts closed in the past 24 months.
  • Receive your first checked bag free for the primary cardmember and up to four companions on eligible bags when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines®. Conditions apply.
  • Preferred boarding for the primary cardmember and up to four companions on the reservation for all American Airlines operated flights.
  • You can also earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars when you spend $25,000 on purchases each calendar year, and receive 25% in-flight savings on food and beverages in the form of a statement credit. Terms apply.

Who the card is best for?

If you are loyal to American Airlines® and want to earn extra credit towards elite status every year, the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® is your best bet. With the bonus miles, free checked luggage and ability to earn elite qualifying dollars toward status, using this as your primary credit card could yield good value over time if you fly American Airlines® often.

Best for Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card

What we like about it:

  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card miles are among the most flexible available and can be used on more than a dozen different airlines, ranging from American Airlines® to international carriers Air France/KLM, British Airways, and Qantas.
  • The card also offers a generous new account bonus: get 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Terms apply.
  • Every year on your account anniversary date, you can qualify for Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™. If you buy one ticket, you can get a second one and pay just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. There are no blackout dates.

Who the card is best for?

Even if you don’t live in a city served by Alaska Airlines® or Virgin America®, this card is good for flexible rewards across carriers. Alaska Airlines® Mileage Plan™ awards can be cheaper for flying American Airlines® than using AAdvantage® miles, with good partnerships for travel to Europe and Asia. If you are looking for a card with a lower annual fee and award availability across multiple airlines, this card may be the best for you.

Best for JetBlue

JetBlue Card

JetBlue Card from Barclays

The information related to JetBlue Card from Barclays has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

JetBlue Card from Barclays

Regular Purchase APR
17.99% – 26.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3X points on JetBlue purchases, 2X points at restaurants & grocery stores, 1X points on all other purchases.

What we like about it:

  • Although you could transfer Membership Rewards® or ThankYou® Points to JetBlue TrueBlue, the JetBlue Card comes with a $0 annual fee and lets you earn extra points at the places where you shop the most.
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
  • You can earn 3X points on JetBlue purchases, 2X points at restaurants & grocery stores, 1X points on all other purchases.
  • You can also pool points together as a family, which means all miles earned by your household can go toward JetBlue award flights faster.

Who the card is best for

If you are just entering the world of airline miles and live near a JetBlue airport, the JetBlue Card is a great beginner option. With a $0 annual fee and 2X points at restaurants and grocery stores, this card can help you earn real miles towards discounted travel. This card is also great for those who use JetBlue as a secondary airline: Because there is no annual fee, you won’t have to worry about justifying rewards by holding this card.

Best for Delta

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

What we like about it:

  • 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • This card also offers a generous checked luggage fee waiver for cardholders: The fee waiver is available to those traveling on the same reservation as the primary card member, with a maximum of nine waivers per reservation.
  • 2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • The card also offers priority boarding for cardholders.

Who the card is best for?

If you fly Delta regularly with a family or business colleagues, this is the best card you can hold that balances the annual fee with good benefits. The checked luggage fee waiver covers more companions on the same itinerary than any other card, while the priority boarding allows you to get access to overhead bin space before other flyers. But if Delta is the only airline you fly, you may consider getting a higher credit card that offers more benefits and opportunities to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles.

Best credit union airline card

What we like about it:

  • With this annual fee card, you’re eligible to But you also get the added bonus of being able to earn points when you use an American Airlines Credit Union Visa Debit Card — one Connection Point for every $3 spent on signature-based purchases.
  • You’re not beholden to using your points only for American Airlines flights with this card; you can redeem your Connection Points™ for air travel on any airline.
  • There’s no balance transfer fee and no foreign transaction fee.

Who the card is best for:

You’ll have to be a professional in the air transportation industry or related to someone who is in order to qualify to become a member of the AACU. If you’re looking for a card where you can use your points for multiple airlines instead of just one single airline, this card could be great for you. However, you can certainly earn better rewards if you opt for an airline credit card tied to a single airline, as they typically offer richer rewards and other perks.

Learn More

To find the best airline credit cards, we looked at several different features. First, we looked at which cards had specific airline partnerships, not just perks for specific airlines. From there, we narrowed down our picks to focus on non-premium cards, so this article could be more accessible. Finally, we looked for which cards had the best rewards programs, balancing it against annual fees and the APRs on balances.

As a secondary measure, we looked at all the other perks that come with a card, including free checked bags, no foreign transaction fees, and rental car and trip insurances. These benefits can help to offset the annual fee, or provide you even more value than a more stripped-down card.

Although earning airline miles sounds great for free travel, there are situations that can prevent you from flying. With all credit cards, you should watch out for these downsides:

  • Points devaluation: Miles aren’t a good long-term investment, because their value is constantly subject to change. If you aren’t planning to use your miles regularly, you could be better served with a cash-back credit card.
  • Hidden fees: Even when using credit card miles, hidden fees for redeeming miles, cancelling trips, or transferring miles to other people can cut your overall value quickly. Be sure to understand all the fees you may face before you decide if a card is right for you.
  • Blackout dates and reward restrictions: Airlines often place restrictions on the number of seats available on flights, while some dates are completely closed off for awards and companion passes. Unless you can use your airline miles on the dates you want, an airline credit card may not be your best option.
  • Partner carrier rules: Although you can book flights with miles on partner airlines, their prices are often higher and come with more restrictions on dates and routes. Before you commit to one airline program, be sure you understand how to use miles for partner flights — both the number required and special rules for using them.

Extra perks are all well and good, and airline credit cards can be rewarding for many frequent flyers, but they aren’t the best choice for everyone.

If you are thinking about applying, ask these four questions first:

  1. Am I loyal to one airline?
    If you primarily fly one airline and want to maximize your miles towards free flights, a airline credit card could make sense. If not, consider a card that earns bank points or cash back instead.
  2. Do I want miles specifically for flying?
    If your goal is to fly more often for a lower price, airline credit cards can help you achieve that plan by earning miles for your everyday spending. Most miles can’t be used for anything outside flying, however, so it’s important to carefully consider how many miles you need for a flight.
  3. Are frequent flyer perks right for me?
    Most credit cards offer a number of airport bonuses, including priority boarding, checked luggage fee waivers and lounge passes. If you find value in checking luggage for free or stopping at a lounge for a beverage, then an airline credit card is the right choice for your spending.
  4. Will I get the value of the credit card annual fee in return every year?
    Many airline credit cards come with annual fees. If your airline rewards (from perks and free flights) add up to more than the annual fee, then you’re getting a good value from your credit cards.

MagnifyMoney has plenty of options to help you find the right credit card for you. If you want to compare airline credit cards on your own, consider the following:

  • Point values: Not all miles are equal in value. It’s important to understand how many miles you need to take a flight, and if an airline credit card will help you get there.
  • Foreign transaction fees: While most airline credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees, many charge fees of 3%. If you plan on traveling abroad, a card with no foreign transaction fees is a must.
  • Free checked bags: Although most cards come with one free checked bag for cardholders, high-end cards may allow two free checked luggage pieces. Additionally, the number of available pieces varies between cards and airlines, with some offering up to nine people on the same itinerary.
  • Extra benefits: Annual free lounge passes and priority boarding are two of the luxuries offered to most airline credit card holders. In turn, these perks can help you justify the value of credit cards.
  • Point flexibility: Although you often can’t use miles for hotel rooms or rental cars, some programs allow more flexibility than others. If you want to use your miles for other rewards, be sure to understand how much those values would cost.

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Source: https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/best-of/best-airline-credit-cards-604458243/

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