What’s the Best Credit Card for Airline Miles?

What’s the Best Credit Card for Airline Miles?

credit card advice

Ashley Dull
By: Ashley Dull
Posted: November 6, 2015
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

If you’re a frequent flyer, or anyone who just likes to travel on the cheap, the right air miles credit card is a necessity. These cards provide the opportunity to fly around the world for little to no money, with perks like priority boarding, free checked baggage and in-flight Wi-Fi.

Air miles work just like rewards points on other credit cards: points accumulate by making purchases, and the points can be redeemed for free or discounted stuff. In this case, your points go toward travel rewards like free flights and hotel stays.

5 Best Credit Cards with Airline Miles

We reviewed some of the best air miles and travel credit cards currently available and chose our top 5 based on the rewards earning potential, APR, annual fees and overall benefits to you.

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles don't expire and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
13.24% - 23.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Excellent, Good Credit

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.24%-23.24% Variable
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Excellent Credit

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 12.24%-22.24% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
12.24% - 22.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good Credit
Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card Review

at Discover'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Our Take: "If you're looking for a card that gives you air miles, your search is over. This card helps you earn free flights with multiple airlines, awards very generous bonuses, and offers a low APR to boot.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar spent
  • Cover travel costs by redeeming the miles in any amount for a statement credit
  • Fly any airline, any time
  • No blackout dates
  • At the end of your first year, the card automatically matches the miles you've earned (only for new cardmembers)"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0%
14 months
10.99%
14 months
11.24% - 23.24% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 on every purchase, every day
  • Plus, a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months of approval
  • Miles don't expire, and there are no categories to limit where or what you buy
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
  • There's no limit to the amount of miles you can earn and miles don't expire
  • Redeem miles for travel, cash back, gift cards and more
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Excellent, Good Credit

3 Ways to Rack Up Airline Miles

There are a few ways to really maximize perks and fly off into the sunset sooner than later.

1. Take Advantage of Bonuses

Cards with big sign-up bonuses are an easy way to accumulate a lot of points quickly. By spending a certain amount within an allotted time frame — usually 3 months or so — you can earn as many as 50,000 bonus miles.

2. Look for Special Offers

Sometimes issuers offer extra miles for using your card at certain times like holidays or for making purchases at places like gas stations or supermarkets. Some issuers even offer air mile bonuses for adding an authorized user to the account. Opt in to the credit company’s newsletter so you’ll know about the offers when to take advantage of them.

3. Utilize Partnership Deals

Many issuers have partnerships with companies and will reward you with points if you utilize their services. This includes insurance quotes, car rentals, hotel stays, monthly subscriptions like magazines, newspapers and even Netflix. Check with your issuer to see which companies they partner with so you can earn bonus miles on things you may already be paying for or need.

The perks of each card vary, so choosing the best credit card for airline miles is really up to you. Evaluate the rewards and match them to your spending and travel habits. You can then choose the right card for your needs.

The Bottom Line

Airline miles credit cards and really any type of rewards cards are best for consumers who are able to pay their bill in full each month and not carry a balance. Otherwise the interest you’re paying can make it so that the earned rewards might as well have been paid for.

Other than that, it’s easy: use the card, pay the bill, earn rewards and enjoy the free ride.