The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, April 2, 2020

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
Advertiser Disclosure

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 unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • 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✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ leading travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

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 unlimited 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 15+ leading travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
14.49% - 24.49% (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
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • Chase is not an affiliate partner with CardRates and does not review editorial content on our site
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • New Offer! Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel when redeemed 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
17.49% - 22.49% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles – equal to $500 in travel – once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
  • Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠ using a Spark Miles card
  • Transfer your miles to 10+ leading travel loyalty programs like JetBlue™, Air Canada, and Emirates™
  • Redeem your miles instantly for any travel-related purchases, from flights and hotels to ride-sharing services
  • Fly through security with one statement credit for either the $85 TSA Pre✔® application fee or the $100 Global Entry application fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.49% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

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.