Top Four Credit Cards for Air Travel

Susan Kelly Updated on Jan 30, 2023

Need to take a trip but can't afford to fly anywhere? Luckily, frequent flight points provide a workaround. With this prized money, you may visit almost any country for only a few dollars in additional fees &'' taxes. You may be unsure of which credit card is ideal for you, however, given the abundance of cards that provide airline points &'' miles. We've compared all the cards available and chosen our favorites for 2023, so you can determine which ones are best for earning points and taking advantage of enticing in-flight extras. Below are some best airline travel credit cards:

The Top Credit Cards for Air Travel

Chase Sapphire Preferred

It may come as a surprise that one of the best credit cards on our list does not really mention a particular airline by name. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a travel rewards credit card that may be used in two ways: for airfare or travel merchandise. When using the Chase Sapphire Preferred to reclaim your incentives, you will get 1.35 cents for every point, and since airlines see these tickets as ordinary tickets rather than award redemptions, you will also accrue airline miles for the travel.

Chase Sapphire Preferred remains our top pick for an airline credit card &'' our go-to card for first-time international travelers because of the great value of Ultimate Rewards points. New Chase Sapphire Preferred users may receive 60,000 extra points by spending $4,100 within the first three months. If you reclaim those 60,000 credits via the Chase travel site, you'll get $750 in travel credit, but you may get even more value by transferring them to one of Chase's airline partners. Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a low $95 annual fee. A travel credit card that costs less than $100 is an excellent method for beginners to discover more about the different airline partner programs.

American Express Platinum Card

The American Express Platinum Card is likewise not connected to a single airline but rather rewards American Express Membership Perks credits that may be used immediately for any ticket or transferred to numerous airlines &'' hotels — although with a diverse range of affiliates than Chase's credit cards. The Amex Platinum offers one of our top earning rates for flight points. Direct airline bookings receive 5 points per dollar.

The premium benefits offered by Amex Platinum are widely publicized. For starters, as a cardholder, you gain free admission to a huge number of airport lounges worldwide, including the prestigious Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, and Priority Pass lounge access. Gold elite rank with Hilton &'' Marriott hotels is included at no additional cost for cardholders. This allows cardholders to take advantage of late checkout, extra credit for paid stays, updated rooms if available, and free breakfast at participating hotels. If you spend all of these Amex Platinum points every year, you'll collect almost $1,000, more than covering the $695 yearly charge. However, not everyone can utilize every credit, so it's crucial to determine which ones you'll utilize and whether the card's total actual cost is worth it. It's surely one of the best credit cards for airline points.

United Explorer Card

If you're a fan of United, you can get the United Explorer Card, which has no annual charge for the first year before charging you $95 beginning in the second. This lets you effectively test the card out for free while figuring out if it fits your expenditure &'' travel patterns. With the United Explorer Card, you will get two miles for each dollar spent on United, one mile for each dollar spent at eateries (along with qualified delivery services), and one mile for each dollar spent on hotel accommodation when you book explicitly with the hotel.

The United Explorer Card is presently providing new cardholders a welcome bonus of 62,000 miles after making a transaction equal to or more than $3,000 during the first three months of establishing an account for the card. If you frequently travel on United and value access to benefits, you may want to consider one of two alternative United credit cards. If you open a United Quest Card and spend $5,000 within the first three months, you'll receive 80,000 bonus miles. While the $250 annual fee may seem steep, the card's additional benefits—such as a statement credit of up to $128 per year for purchases made on United—more than makeup for the extra cost.

Southwest Priority Card

A Southwest credit card is a terrific way to rack up points, enjoy benefits on flights, and maybe even qualify for the prestigious Southwest Companion Card if Southwest is your preferred airline. The Southwest Rapid Points Premium Card is among the most costly consumer credit card offered by Southwest Airlines, at $149 annually. However, it also offers the greatest value, and cardholders often come out ahead over the long term. And currently, if you spend $3,100 within the first three months of creating the account, you'll get 50,000 extra points.

The Southwest Priority card's points—including the sign-up bonus—qualify for a Southwest Companion Pass that lasts until 2025 if you acquire it in 2023. For as long as you own the pass, you and a guest may take advantage of unlimited, cost-free air travel (with the exception of incidentals like taxes and fees), potentially saving you big bucks. The Southwest Priority card's yearly 7,500 reward points are worth $105 at the current point value of $1.4 per point. When combined with the $75 in yearly travel credits, the card's $148 annual cost is more than compensated beginning with the second year you own it, and that's not even including any of the additional bonuses. It's considered among the best credit cards for airline miles.