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Best Credit Card for Airline Miles
19 May 2018

Take a Trip with the Best Credit Card for Airline Miles

Want to save money on travel? Interested in earning miles for future trips? Then, it’s time to invest in your travel future with the best credit card for airline miles.

We all know that travel gets expensive, but finding the right credit card for miles can stretch your budget much further. Whether you’re a casual tourist or a frequent flyer, read on to learn more about the best credit cards to help fund your future voyages.

Interested in Flexible Reward Redemption?

One of the best credit cards for travelers is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Why? Because it offers flexibility and maximum value in terms of how rewards are used. For customers that know how to use their points, they can earn up to 2.5 percent or more in reward rates.

How does it work? The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers two points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases. It rewards you one point per dollar for all other purchases.

The card allows customers to trade points at a 1:1 ratio for miles. These points can be applied to the following airlines:

  • Southwest
  • United
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • British Airways
  • Air France
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Korean Air

What’s more, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers up to 50,000 points to those who spend $4,000 on purchases during the first three months that they carry the card. For customers skilled at redeeming these points, this bonus is valued at more than $700. For many travelers, this bonus makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card the best credit card for airline miles.

Looking for an Everyday Use Card?

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great option for those who spend money on a wide variety of purchases. You receive two points per dollar that you spend on anything. And the miles that you accrue aren’t tied to any particular airline.

The miles that you earn can be applied toward any airline purchases. How does this work? You redeem the miles you earn directly on your credit card statement and then can apply them to any travel expenses on your bill or card.

Don’t like managing your rewards? Another great thing about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is that you don’t have to. And there are no fees on foreign transactions.

Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers 50,000 bonus miles when you make purchases in excess of $3,000 on the card within the first three months of opening your account. If you want to earn miles no matter what you’re purchasing, then the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is the best credit card for airline miles.

Longing for No Annual Fees?

What’s so great about the Discover It Miles Card? It earns you miles without any annual fees. Yes, you read that right: zero annual fees. You earn an unlimited one and a half miles per dollar spent no matter where you shop.

Other cards require that you spend a certain amount before you start seeing the rewards. But if you spend less than $12,000 a year, this means you won’t see much in the way of benefits. In this case, a no annual fee card like the Discover It Miles Card is the way to go.

Despite no annual fees, it still offers top industry rewards including matching all the miles that you’ve earned at the end of your first year. These miles are redeemable for cash back or travel. If you want to avoid annual fees, then the Discover It Miles Card is the best credit card for airline miles.

Searching for a Domestic Airline Card?

The United Mileage Plus Explorer Card comes with many benefits including $0 introductory annual fee for the first year. After that, your annual fee is $95.

The card comes with a complimentary check-in of your first bag when you use it to book your flight. This equates to roughly $100 worth of savings for each roundtrip flight you take.

There are no transaction fees on foreign purchases, and you earn two miles per each dollar spent on your card to purchase United tickets. You earn one mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. What’s more, as long as your credit card remains open, your miles never expire.

Although this card is airline specific, it comes with two great features:

  • primary rental car insurance
  • two United Club lounge passes per year

The car insurance covers any damages while driving a rental car. And this insurance applies before your own car insurance. That means, saved money and fewer hassles.

And United Lounge passes come in handy when stuck at the airport. If you’re looking for added perks, the United Mileage Plus Explorer Card is the best credit card for airline miles.

How About Checked Bag Benefits?

With American Express’s Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, free checked bags are the standard. Even better? Delta lets your checked bags fly free for up to nine passengers on your itinerary.

When you open your account, you can earn up to 30,000 bonus miles if you make $1,000 in purchases within the first three months. You also get a $50 statement credit if you make a purchase through Delta within the first three months.

In terms of miles earned, you get two for every dollar spent on purchases through Delta. (Check the fine print for purchase eligibility.)

The benefits don’t stop there. Cardholders also get discounted access to the lounge and priority boarding. That said, miles redeemed for flights are limited to Delta Air Lines and its SkyTeam Alliance partners.

Value Loyalty to One Airline?

Besides the United Mileage Plus Explorer Card and American Express’s Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, here are some other airline credit cards worth considering, especially if loyalty to one brand is important to you:

  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card
  • Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
  • JetBlue Plus World Elite Mastercard
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Each card comes with special bonus points or miles earned after you meet a minimum purchase amount within the first 90 days or three months (depending on the card.) These points and miles range from 30,000 to 50,000.

Some additional things to keep in mind… The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card stands apart from the pack because of its revenue-based, fixed-value redemption system.

What does this mean for you? You’ll never have trouble finding a spot on a flight due to award space. Finding award space can be one of the biggest hassles of using frequent flyer miles with other airlines.

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plus Explorer differentiates itself by having a great list of airline partners. So, even if you don’t do a lot of flying with Alaska Airlines, this card could still benefit you. Their list of Alaska Global Partners is extensive featuring over 900 destinations around the world.

The Best Credit Card for Airline Miles

Finding the best credit card for airline miles requires evaluating your personal travel needs and styles. Do you tend to fly domestically with little baggage? Or, do you fly internationally with loads of baggage?

Are extra benefits like access to an airline’s lounge important to you? Or, are you more interested in avoiding annual fees? Do you tend to fly on one airline consistently, or do you change it up each trip?

Many people believe they should stick with the airline card of the brand they fly regularly. But what if you don’t fly a regular carrier? It doesn’t preclude you from benefiting from the best credit card for airline miles.

What’s the optimal choice for you? It depends on your answers to the questions above.

Looking for the best credit card for airline miles requires a little research and some serious thought about what the future of travel looks like for you. Here are a few more things to consider before making your final selection…

How to Choose?

Besides evaluating your own travel needs, make a list of the benefits each card provides. Note how miles are earned and what each card’s sign-up bonus looks like. Read up on each card’s policy about rental car insurance, travel accident insurance, and fees on foreign transactions.

Some cards offer airport lounge benefits and discounts, and others reimburse you for incidental fees including:

  • checked baggage
  • beverages
  • Wi-Fi
  • in-flight meals

Airline-specific cards sometimes offer one airline companion ticket per year to cardholders. And some high-end cards offer elite status advantages such as:

  • free seat upgrades
  • higher rewards rates
  • early boarding

Besides travel considerations and the benefits listed above, make sure you take time to consider how much you spend each year. Based on this figure, you’ll have a better idea which card is right for you. Knowing which cards you qualify for also marks an important factor in your final decision.

Personal Finance Made Easy

When it comes to choosing the best credit card for airline miles, your options abound. But finding the right card can dramatically stretch your travel budget. And every mile and bonus counts when it comes to flying.

Many airline miles credit cards offer hundreds of dollars in overall benefits. Depending on the card you choose, you stand to gain big, whether it’s access to exclusive benefits or a complimentary plane ticket.

Our mission at Bonsai Finance is to bring clarity to the increasingly confusing world of personal finance. We want to help you improve your financial state by providing you with the best resources and information. Find out more about the Bonsai Finance mission here or read our blog for the news you need to improve your finances.