The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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
Updated: August 19, 2019

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If you’re a frequent flyer, or anyone who just likes to travel on the cheap, identifying the best credit card for airline miles can deliver some serious benefits in the long run. These cards provide the opportunity to fly around the world for little to no money, with perks like priority boarding, airport lounge access, free checked baggage, and in-flight wifi.

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 products and services. 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.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 22.74% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

3 Ways to Rack Up Airline Miles

Once you’ve found your preferred credit card for airline miles, it’s important to know how to use the card to get the most out of those high-flying benefits. There are a few ways consumers can 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.