Best Airline Credit Cards

If you travel to far away places a lot – whether for business or to satisfy some wanderlust – chances are you often find yourself squished into an airplane seat with a little bit less space than you're comfortable with.

And though you've probably been on a lot of different airplanes in your life, maybe one airline in particular stands out for you. Whether it's because of continually great customer service, the types of snacks they offer, or they just tend to have the flights you need most of the time.

Did you know that becoming a loyal customer of that airline could mean major benefits, rewards, and savings for you?

Especially if you pair your loyalty with a credit card. This could skyrocket your earn rate by letting you earn points on every purchase you make, not just on travel booked with them.

Many airlines in America have paired up with a credit card company to bring you accelerated rewards and other fantastic perks you wouldn't find anywhere else – making your favorite airline that much more worth it.

What are airline credit cards?

Airline credit cards are branded by a specific airline – all rewards you earn with the card will be in some way related to the airline it's sponsored by. Instead of earning cash back, for example, you could get the airline's reward points with every purchase you make.

The best part is there are a lot of great options when it comes to choosing which airline to be loyal to. Most of the big American airlines have loyalty programs, including the top 6:

  • Alaska Airlines: Mileage Plan
  • American Airlines: AAdvantage
  • Delta Air: SkyMiles
  • JetBlue: TrueBlue
  • Southwest Airlines: Rapid Rewards
  • United Airlines: MileagePlus

And guess what? These all have credit cards associated with them too.

What can airline credit cards get me?

So what exactly can you get with your airline-branded credit card?

Airline credit cards get you bonus airline miles

The staple of airline credit cards is earning rewards on all purchases you put on the card.

Instead of being limited to only earning points when you buy a ticket or pay for an in-flight treat, even your morning coffee could be getting you one step closer to your next free flight.

Not to mention airline cards come with some of the best sign-up bonuses on the market, making it easy for you to start your point collection on the right foot.

Airline credit card deals

On top of the free flights you can get by redeeming your airline points, card holders can also benefit from various discounts and deals associated with the airline of their choice.

For example, some airlines offer a discounted price on in-flight goodies when you pay with your credit card. You can also get:

  • free checked bags,
  • companion vouchers, and
  • travel credits.

Perks of an airline credit card

But there's more to an airline card than just savings – you can get great perks with some cards as well.

Ever tried taking a nap on one of those uncomfortable airport seats while surrounded by strangers constantly walking by?

Some airline cards can get you access to special airport lounges reserved for their VIP members. Relax in style and comfort, with much fewer people bustling about.

What about waiting in line for check-in, then security, then boarding…?

Some airline credit cards will let you skip all of these lines, figuratively rolling out a red carpet for you as you breeze past lines of people so you can get to the comfiest seats, the best overhead compartments, and the front of the customs line.

The downsides

With that being said, getting an airline credit card does have a downside – you'll have some pretty stiff redemption restrictions.

You'll be earning points that can only be used for the airline of your choice. There's often no flexibility or wiggle room – use your points on flight redemptions or don't use them at all.

If this is a problem for you, a flexible travel credit card may be better suited for your needs.

But if your airline loyalty knows no bounds, the extra perks and benefits may be more than enough to make up for the restrictions. What else were you going to use the points for anyway?

Compare Airline Credit Cards

The creditcardGenius algorithm calculates an estimated dollar value for all rewards and bonuses by using a typical point value a person can realistically achieve by redeeming their rewards in a reasonably optimized way. The "Welcome Bonus" is the dollar value obtained by combining all one-time bonuses available to new cardholders within the first year. To qualify for the full bonus you may need to make purchases, meet minimum spending requirements, or complete special actions. Terms and conditions apply.

* Conditions apply.