The Best Airline Credit Cards of July 2024

A great airline credit card can save you thousands and give you access to luxury perks for your next adventure.
Best Airline Credit Cards The Daily Navigator


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If you’ve been wondering, “Is it worth it to get an airline credit card?” we’re here to set the record straight. 

An airline credit card is an excellent tool to have in your wallet if you’re a regular flyer—and there are a lot to choose from!

The array of airline credit cards offers perks like fast tracks to elite status, free flights, and a range of premium perks, like airport lounge access and coveted companion passes. It’s even easier to get lured in by a valuable sign-up bonus or the promise of luxury treatment when flying. 

But if you’re not an airline loyalist or a frequent flyer, you have to make sure the card you open makes sense for your travel style—which is why learning about the differences is so important.

The specificity of airline cards makes them a little less valuable than general travel credit cards, so it’s worth analyzing your travel patterns, local airports, and spending habits to ensure you pick the right product. 

To help you sift through the many options when considering “Is it worth it to get an airline credit card?” we’ve listed the best airline credit cards currently available.

Let’s get to the points!

Best airline credit cards of July 2024:

Best card for airport lounge access:
The Platinum Card® from American Express

Who’s this for? The Platinum Card® from American Express is for the frequent traveler with an eye on flexible points and top-tier perks like airport lounge access. American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to over 15 hotel and airline partners, including Delta Air Lines, British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy, and Hilton Honors. 

Details: Is it worth it to get an airline credit card? If you’re a frequent flyer, the answer is an astounding yes, and The Platinum Card® from American Express is the gold standard. It comes with tons of perks and benefits and is a good card for points earning if you’re spending a lot on airfare and hotels. Amex points are transferrable to 20 different airline and hotel partners giving them incredible flexibility and value.

When spending with the card you’ll earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, and 1x Membership Rewards® Points on all other purchases.

The card’s biggest benefit is its unprecedented airport lounge access, giving you access to over 1,300 lounges around the world, including Delta Sky Clubs, Amex’s own Centurion lounges, and a Priority Pass membership.

You’ll also earn a ton of credits by being a cardholder of this airline miles credit card, which helps offset the card’s large annual fee. Every year you’ll enjoy a number of travel credits, including an up to $200 airline fee statement credit to cover things like baggage and seat selection fees, an up to $189 CLEAR® Plus credit to help get through airport security quicker, an up to $200 hotel credit with Fine Hotels + Resorts® prepaid bookings or prepaid stays of two nights or more with The Hotel Collection when you book through Amex Travel.

To top it off, several lifestyle credits further help offset the annual fee, including an up to $240 digital entertainment credit which covers services like Hulu, Disney+, Audible, The New York Times and more, up to $155 Walmart+ credit, up to $200 Uber Cash for Uber rides and Uber Eats, up to $300 Equinox credit and up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit. Terms apply and enrollment required for select benefits.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

80,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $8,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $695  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best credit card for flexible points redemption: 
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Who’s this for? The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is for any traveler seeking a premium travel card with maximum flexibility and some perks for good measure. Chase points can be transferred to over a dozen hotel and airline partners, including United Airlines and Marriott Bonvoy, making this a great card for those looking for flexibility in how to redeem their rewards.

Details: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® can earn travelers and foodies a ton of points. With the card, you’ll earn 10X total points on hotels and car rentals and 5X total points on flights when you purchase travel through Chase TravelSM after spending $300 on travel each year. Plus, you’ll earn 3X points on all other travel purchases worldwide, after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases.

Dining out is also highly rewarded as you can earn 10X total points on Chase Dining purchases through Chase Travel when you make prepaid restaurant reservations, order takeout or join our virtual cooking events and 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Other valuable and useful perks help offset the card’s hefty annual fee, including a $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases made on your card each account anniversary year and a Priority Pass Membership which gives you access to 1,300+ airline lounges worldwide.

The card is also known for strong ancillary benefits like trip delay insurance and primary rental car coverage.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

60,000 Bonus Points

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Annual Fee: $550  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best card for no annual fee:
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Who’s this for? The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is for the regular or occasional traveler who wants to keep points-earning simple and avoid paying an annual fee. Capital One miles can be transferred to over a dozen hotels and airlines.

Details:  You won’t have to worry about tracking any bonus categories with the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card as you’ll earn an unlimited 1.25X miles per dollar on all purchases. While that’s not as high of a rate as some other cards on this list, the card makes up for it as the miles you earn are transferrable to over 15 airline and hotel partners and the card has no annual fee.

Plus, you’ll earn an unlimited 5X miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. When traveling abroad you don’t have to worry about paying any foreign transaction fees which is a rare feature for a no annual fee card.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

20,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $500 on purchases in 3 months of card opening

Annual Fee: $0  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best all around travel credit card: 
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Who’s this for? The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is for the traveler who wants a travel credit card that offers flexibility, great potential for points-earning, premium travel perks but who still values simplicity. Capital One miles can be transferred to over a dozen hotels and airlines.

Details: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a no-brainer if you’re wondering, “Is it worth it to get an airline credit card?”

It’s like the Venture card on steroids, allowing you to earn a whole lot more miles on travel and more widespread access to airport lounges.

You’ll earn 10X miles on hotels and rental cars and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel, plus 2X miles on all other purchases. Plus, you won’t be charged foreign transaction fees when swiping the card abroad.

Cardholders get unlimited access to Capital One Lounges and 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges worldwide—and authorized users get the same access!

You can easily offset the $395 annual fee with the card’s $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel. To top it off, you’ll also get 10,000 bonus miles automatically each account anniversary.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

75,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee: $395  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best Delta credit card:
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Who’s this for? The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is for the traveler with a preference for Delta or whose local airport has a strong Delta presence.

Details: Is it worth it to get an airline credit card like the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card? If you’re a frequent Delta flyer, yes. This is a great airline miles credit card option for you. The card has a $150 annual fee, with a $0 intro fee the first year (see rates and fees). One of the main benefits of this card is the free first-checked bag on Delta flights for everyone on the ticket, which can save you a significant amount of money on your next trip (up to $70 roundtrip per person). Additionally, cardholders receive 20% back on Delta in-flight purchases.

When it comes to earning miles, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card offers 2X miles on Delta purchases, as well as 2x miles at U.S. supermarkets, and on dining at restaurants (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) worldwide. Cardholders also earn 1X miles on all other purchases.

Another great perk of this card is the new $200 Delta flight credit you can earn after you spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year, which shouldn’t be too hard to hit in a year, even for moderate spenders. Plus, there are no foreign transaction fees with this card, making it a great option for those who travel internationally (see rates and fees).

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

65,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months

Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee the first year, then $150  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best American Airlines credit card:
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Who’s this for? The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is for the traveler who prefers to fly American Airlines or whose local airport has a strong American Airlines presence

Details: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is the best American Airlines miles credit card.

This option is a rewards card tailored for American Airlines frequent flyers. It offers a range of benefits including free checked bags on domestic American Airlines flights for up to four passengers on the same booking, 25% back on American Airlines in-flight purchases, and a $125 flight discount when you spend $20,000 in a year. For those who use even just a few of these perks, it can make the annual fee of $99, which is waived for the first year, easier to swallow.

The card offers 2X miles on American Airlines purchases, 2X miles on restaurants and gas stations, and 1X miles on all other purchases. Plus, there are no foreign transaction fees, making it a great option for international travelers.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Details Below

for this card.

Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best airline miles credit card from Southwest: 
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card

Who’s this for? The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card is for both casual and loyal Southwest passengers who want to enjoy a few premium perks at a low cost.

DetailsIs it worth it to get an airline credit like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card? Yes. This one is a worthwhile airline miles credit card for those who often find themselves aboard a Southwest Airlines flight. The card offers a range of benefits that can help you save money on your next trip, including two easy-to-redeem perks that quickly cover the $149 annual fee: a 7,500 annual point bonus and a $75 annual Southwest travel credit.

When it comes to earning points, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card offers 3X points on Southwest® purchases, 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming, plus 1X points on all other purchases. This rewards structure allows cardholders to earn points quickly and easily on everyday purchases.

Finally, you’ll get a 25% discount on Southwest in-flight purchases and will pay no foreign transaction fees when using the card abroad.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card

Earn 50,000 bonus points

after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Annual Fee: $149  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best United Airlines credit card: 
United℠ Explorer Card

Who’s this for? The United℠ Explorer Card is for travelers who prefer to fly United or whose local airport has a strong United presence, but even less frequent flyers could find it valuable.

Details: The United℠ Explorer Card is a great airline miles credit card choice for those who frequently fly with United Airlines. This card offers a range of perks including free first checked bag when paying for your United flight with the card, two free visits to the United Club per year, priority boarding, and access to expanded award availability.

The United℠ Explorer Card earns 2X miles on purchases from United, including tickets, Economy Plus®, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges. Additionally, you’ll earn 2X miles on dining in restaurants, including eligible delivery services, and on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel. You’ll also earn 1X on all other purchases.

The card has an annual fee of $95 that’s waived for the first year and no foreign transaction fees when swiping abroad.

United℠ Explorer Credit Card

Limited-time offer: 60,000 bonus miles

after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

Annual Fee: $95 (First Year Waived)  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best airlines miles credit card from JetBlue:
JetBlue Plus Card

Who’s this for? The JetBlue Plus Card is for loyalists who want to get the most out of their time spent on the airline—but less frequent flyers can also reap the benefits. 

Details: This is a great airline miles credit card pick if you like to fly JetBlue as you’ll get a few valuable perks by being a cardholder, including a free first checked bag and a 5,000 point bonus on your account anniversary just for holding the card. You’ll also make your JetBlue points more valuable since the card gives you 10% of your points back when you redeem them for a JetBlue flight.  

The card earns 6X points on JetBlue purchases, 2X points at restaurants and eligible grocery stores, and 1X points on all other purchases. Finally, it comes with a 50% savings on JetBlue inflight purchases for food and drink purchases and has no foreign transaction fees.

The JetBlue Plus Card

80,000 Bonus Points

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

Annual Fee: $95  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best Alaska Airlines credit card:
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

Who’s this for? The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card is for west coasters who can readily use the stellar perks Alaska offers or travelers looking to bolster their supply of the uber-valuable rewards currency.

Details: This option for the best Alaska Airlines miles credit card is a great choice for those who fly Alaska with a decent frequency or enjoy earning its miles, which are very valuable for flights on its partners like American Airlines, Japan Airlines, British Airways, and more.

You’ll earn Alaska miles at the following rate when spending on the card: 3X miles on Alaska purchases, 2X miles on gas, cable, streaming services and local transit including ride share purchases, and 1X miles spent on all other purchases. Plus, you’ll now earn a 10% rewards bonus on all miles earned from card purchases if you have an eligible Bank of America® account.

The card comes with a number of Alaska-specific perks, including a free checked bag if you purchase your flight with the card, priority boarding on Alaska flights, and 20% back on all Alaska Airlines inflight purchases.

However, the card may be best known for Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ which allows you to add a companion on your flight from $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) each account anniversary after you spend $6,000 or more on purchases within the prior anniversary year.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

70,000 Bonus Miles

plus Alaska’s Companion Fare from $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. Must spend $3,000 in purchases withing the first 90 days of opening your account.

Annual Fee: $95  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best card for luxury airline travel:
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Who’s this for? The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is for Delta loyalists with an eye on Medallion elite status or those who fly with the carrier regularly enough to enjoy the benefits, like lounge access, to the fullest.

Details: Though the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card has a large annual fee, it comes with some luxury perks. The biggest benefit is the lounge access you’ll enjoy: Delta Sky Club® access at no cost, with the option to bring up to two guests or immediate family at a rate of $50 per person per visit.

Effective 2/1/25, Reserve Card Members receive 15 visits per year to the Delta Sky Club. Earning unlimited visits each year starting 2/1/25 can be achieved when the total eligible purchases on the card equals $75,000 or more between 1/1/24 and 12/31/24, and each calendar year thereafter.

You’ll also receive complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book a Delta flight with your Reserve Card.

Both of these lounges are known as the cream of the crop when it comes to spaces to hang before your flight.

You’ll also enjoy a domestic first class, Delta Comfort+® or main cabin roundtrip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your card.

The card earns 3X miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1X miles per $1 spent on all other purchases. 

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

95,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months

Annual Fee: $650  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Bottom line

Is it worth it to get an airline credit card? Yes!

Airline credit cards are an excellent tool for many travelers because of the rewards they offer for your everyday spending, plus their perks that make flying less expensive and stressful.

Before opening any co-branded airline card, consider the likelihood that you’re going to use that airline enough to validate the card’s annual fee. If you use more than one regularly, then consider which perks standout. 

If you’re not an airline loyalist, try out a travel credit card that offers flexible points which will gift you access to wider array of airlines and perks. 

FAQs

Is it worth it to get an airline credit card?

Opening an airline miles credit card requires a little more analysis than a traditional travel credit card. This is because airline cards offer less flexibility than their more generalized counterparts. For example, the Amex Platinum has multiple transfer partners, allowing the cardholder to move points to the airline or hotel that makes the most sense and will enable them to maximize the value of their points.

On the other hand, airline cards are tied to the carrier with which the card is branded, and often, you might be left with the dilemma of choosing Delta vs. American, JetBlue vs. Southwest, etc. Whatever one you choose, opting for an airline-specific credit card makes the miles you earn less flexible than earning cash-back or transferrable points. A carrier like Alaska Airlines has miles that offer more flexibility thanks to its wide array of partner airlines like American Airlines or British Airways. JetBlue points are far less flexible, and, likely, you’ll only find a use for them if you fly JetBlue regularly. 

Airline cards achieve their best value from people who can use their benefits the most. So if it’s come down to Delta vs. American, JetBlue vs. Southwest, etc, remember that these cards are best for those who live near major hubs for airlines, business travelers, and even those loyal to one carrier, because they can enjoy far more value with an airline credit card than the standard traveler. However, the free checked bag benefit alone that many cards offer can make it worth holding onto if you just fly the carrier once or twice a year.

For everyone else, airline cards might prove beneficial in fewer instances, but general travel cards may be a better fit. In which case, opt out of the Delta vs. American debate, and instead take a look at big-hitters such as Chase and American Express. 

Do I need a premium airline card? 

It’s easy to be drawn in by one of the premium credit cards such as Delta vs. American. They often promise access to the best lounges, premium upgrades, and other top-end perks, but is it really worth it? Most premium cards come with a hefty annual fee, often over $500. If you travel a lot for work and are likely to purchase a lounge membership, it could help you save real money. Plus, some of the other perks can help those who are loyal to one airline by offering boosts towards elite status.

Mid-tier cards bridge the gap for everyone else flying occasionally or for those who don’t prefer one airline over another. General premium travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Capital One Venture X offer lounge access regardless of the airline being flown. Combine this with a mid-tier card like the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card, and you’ll still enjoy free checked bags, hefty intro bonuses, and priority boarding.

Why are airline miles worth less than flexible travel credit card points? 

Several factors dictate the value of a travel points currency, the most important being how much it takes to earn a mile and how far it can take you compared to a real dollar.

With an airline mile, you’re bound to a single carrier’s booking platform. In most cases, this narrows your redemption options drastically, as well as the value of the points, even if an airline has plenty of partners.

Flexible credit card points get most of their value by offering a wide array of transfer partners as well as a portal where you can book a flight or hotel without blackout dates. With multiple options to choose from, travelers have far more scope for increasing the value of their award flight or hotel stay.

*For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This post contains references to products from one or more of our partners and we may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

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