If you’re someone who likes to travel, getting a travel card can certainly help lower your costs.

Not only because of the miles you collect, but with other airline specific perks such as:

  • statement credits for various purchases,
  • free checked bags,
  • companion vouchers to bring a second person with you for a reduced price, and even
  • many of these cards waive foreign transaction fees, saving you money when traveling outside the United States.

Plus, these cards tend to offer some of the best credit card sign-up bonuses on the market, giving you a big jump on saving for your next travel excursion.

So we’re going to go over the credit cards offered by the 6 largest airlines by passenger volume in the United States.

Related: Traveling Abroad? Make Sure You Have The Best Credit Card For International Travel

Which airline programs is best for you?

Airline Program This Program Works Best For…
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Alaskans & West Coasters, World Travellers
American Airlines AAdvantage United States Explorers, World Travellers
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles United States Explorers, World Travellers
JetBlue TrueBlue New Yorkans, Bostonians & Floridians
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards United States Explorers
United Airlines MileagePlus United States Explorers, World Travellers

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Mileage Plan is the frequent flyer program for Alaska Airlines, but you’re not limited to just collecting and earning miles on Alaska Airlines.

Alaska has partnerships with 17 airlines, which means there’s a wide variety of carriers to use your miles with, including these airlines:

  • American Airlines,
  • British Airways,
  • Cathay Pacific,
  • Emirates,
  • Japan Airlines,
  • Korean Air,
  • Qantas, and
  • Singapore Airlines.

Who this program is best for…

Anyone living on the west coast could definitely benefit from this program.

Alaska Airlines’ main flight paths focus in these 4 states:

  • Alaska,
  • Washington,
  • Oregon, and
  • California.

From here, you’ll be able to travel across the United States (including Hawaii), as well as into Mexico, Central America, and Western Canada.

And, as they are partnered with American Airlines, should Alaska not be able to fly you somewhere in the U.S., American Airlines can most likely take you where you want to go.

Plus, with their airline partners, you should also be able to use your miles to venture around the globe – there’s no shortage of destinations you will be able to access.

In fact, Alaska could give you a leg up on worldwide travel, by allowing you to use your miles on some unique global carriers, such as Emirates, Icelandair, and Hainan Airlines.

Alaska Airlines credit cards

Bank of America issues the only credit card for earning miles on Alaska Airlines – the .

As part of signing up, enjoy a 30,000 mile welcome bonus. That’s enough miles for a round trip flight across the continental United States.

Then, you’ll earn miles at the following rates:

  • 3 miles per $1 spent on all Alaska Airlines purchases, and
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

On top of great earnings, you’ll also be able to enjoy some great savings when you fly with this card through Alaska Airlines:

  • free checked bags for up to 6 people on the same reservation, and
  • an annual companion voucher that allows you to take a 2nd person on the same itinerary with you for $99 plus taxes and fees.

A great way to save even more money when flying.

All for an annual fee of $75.

American Airlines AAdvantage

One of the biggest airlines in the world, American Airlines can take you many places around the world.

And if American can’t take you there, chances are they have a partner that will.

The AAdvantage program is your avenue to earn and redeem miles, not just for American flights, but for any flight with any oneworld airline partner.

These partnerships will not only give you great reach across the United States, but across the world as well.

Some of the big players in oneworld are:

  • British Airways,
  • Cathay Pacific,
  • Japan Airlines, and
  • Qantas.

Plus, they also have partnerships with Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines, giving you great access for these states as well.

Who this program is best for…

For the AAdvantage program to make sense for you, you should live near one of the American Airlines main hubs:

  • Charlotte,
  • Chicago,
  • Dallas-Fort Worth,
  • Los Angeles,
  • Miami,
  • New York,
  • Philadelphia,
  • Phoenix, and
  • Washington DC.

If you live outside these cities, flying with American will most likely require you to take an additional flight.

If international travel is more your thing, you’ll be covered if you live in any major U.S. city, as with 29 airline partners, you’re bound to find something not too far away.

American Airlines credit cards

Two banks in the United States offer AAdvantage credit cards – Barclays and Citi.

The is the sole card offered by Barclays. This card will give you:

  • a 50,000 point welcome bonus,
  • 1 mile on every dollar spent, and
  • an addition mile for every dollar spent on American Airlines.

Plus, you’ll get to enjoy American Airlines perks such as free checked baggage and statement credits for in flight purchases.

Citi offers 3 credit cards for the AAdvantage program:

From no fee cards, to a premium card with an annual fee of $450 – Citi has something for everyone.

And while each card offers its own blend of welcome bonuses and perks, they all have one thing in common – the base earn rate is 1 mile per dollar spent.

Note: American Airlines credit cards do not offer companion vouchers. So, if you value being able to bring someone else with you for a reduced price, you will have to look elsewhere.

Delta SkyMiles

Operating its main hub out of the busiest airport in the World (Atlanta), Delta offers a wide variety of flights both inside and outside the United States. And the Delta SkyMiles program is your avenue for collecting and redeeming miles.

And one thing is for sure, Delta offers a lot of different airlines you can use your points with.

As a member of the SkyTeam alliance, if Delta can’t get you where you want to go, there’s a good chance a partner will be able to.

Some of these members include:

  • Air France,
  • KLM,
  • Korean Air,
  • China Airlines, and
  • Aeromexico.

Plus, Delta has a few partnerships with carriers not affiliated with other alliances, including:

  • Virgin Atlantic,
  • Virgin Australia,
  • WestJet, and
  • Hawaiian Airlines.

Who this program is best for…

Delta is the only U.S. carrier with flights to all 6 inhabited continents, so if you love exploring beyond our borders, Delta is a great choice for you – even if you don’t live in a Delta hub.

However, if travelling within the U.S. is more your speed, Delta will only work best for you if you live near one of their hub cities:

  • Atlanta,
  • Boston,
  • Cincinnati,
  • Detroit,
  • Los Angeles,
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul,
  • New York,
  • Raleigh,
  • Salt Lake City, and
  • Seattle.

Delta SkyMiles credit cards

American Express is the sole issuer of credit cards that are for the SkyMiles program.

There’s a variety of cards issued, ranging from no annual fee all the way to a reserve card with an annual fee of $450:

The difference between these cards? The amount of perks involved. As you start paying more in annual fees, the amount of perks increase.

Here are some of the Delta perks involved with these cards, and which cards have them:

  • 20% in statement credits on in-flight purchases (available on all cards),
  • free checked bags (Gold, Platinum, and Reserve),
  • annual companion voucher (Platinum and Reserve),
  • unlimited access to Delta SkyClub lounges (Reserve), and
  • bonus miles when you spend more than $25,000 per year (Platinum).

The earn rates, on the other hand, are almost identical – 1 mile on every dollar spent, plus an extra mile on Delta purchases.

The one difference being that the no fee version will actually give you an extra point on restaurant purchases.

JetBlue TrueBlue

TrueBlue is the frequent flyer program for JetBlue.

While JetBlue has many airline partners, you can only redeem your TrueBlue points for flights on JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines.

Who this program is best for…

JetBlue does offer flights across the entire country, most of them originate or end in the following cities:

  • Boston,
  • New York,
  • Orlando,
  • Fort Lauderdale,
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico, and
  • Long Beach.

Meaning, if you live outside these cities, you’ll most likely have to take an extra flight to get where you want to go.

Unless you have your sight set on Hawaii, in which case you can redeem your points for flights on Hawaiian air, and jet off to the Aloha Islands for free.

JetBlue credit cards

Barclays issues 2 cards for JetBlue.

The is the no fee version that earns:

  • 3 points on JetBlue purchases,
  • 2 points at restaurants and grocery stores, and
  • 1 point everywhere else.

However, this card doesn’t come with any JetBlue perks.

If perks are what you’re after, you’re better off going with the .

It comes with the same earn rates at restaurants, grocery stores, and on-base spending, but it will give you 6 points per dollar on JetBlue purchases.

What perks does it offer?

  • 50% savings on in-flight food and drink,
  • first free checked bag for yourself and 3 others on the same reservation,
  • $100 statement credit every year when you by a JetBlue vacation package,
  • 5,000 bonus points on your account anniversary.

…all great reasons to consider the .

Southwest Rapid Rewards

Southwest offers a lot to love.

It’s an airline that guarantees transfarency, and is (quite possibly) the last airline on Earth that still offers 2 free checked bags for all passengers on domestic flights.

And the Rapid Rewards program will allow you to earn free flights all across America.

Who this program is best for…

Southwest is generally a good option for you if you’re mainly looking to fly within the United States (flights to Hawaii coming soon).

Southwest has the most hubs and focus cities of any airline, with a total of 19 – no other airline comes close to that. And as a result, they carry the most domestic passengers of any airline in the United States.

Plus, Southwest has flights to Mexico and the Caribbean for those of you who like going to sun destinations.

The downside? They don’t have a single airline partner. So, if you like travelling outside of the United States, Rapid Rewards points won’t be of any value to you.

Southwest Airlines credit cards

Chase is the sole issuer of credit cards for the Rapid Rewards program, with 3 credit cards that have varying annual fees:

  • ,
  • ,
  • .

When it comes to earning points, these cards are all the same.

Sign up bonus: They all offer up to 60,000 bonus points.

Earn rates: 1 point for every dollar spent, plus a second point on Southwest purchases.

And the perks are almost identical as well.

Although, the comes out a little on top. It will give you:

  • a $75 annual Southwest reimbursement credit,
  • 20% in statement credits on in-flight purchases,
  • reimbursement when you purchase 4 upgraded boardings per year, and
  • 7.500 points on your card anniversary.

Whereas the other two cards give you a lower annual bonus on your card anniversary.

United MileagePlus

The United MileagePlus program will allow you to collect miles to use for the largest airline alliance on Earth.

Not only does it offer great coverage in the United States, but it gives you the ability to fly almost anywhere, thanks to the following Star Alliance airline members:

  • Air Canada,
  • Air India,
  • Air New Zealand,
  • All Nippon Airways,
  • Lufthansa,
  • Swiss, and
  • Turkish Airlines.

To make their coverage even better, they also have a few partners that aren’t affiliated with any alliance (just in case the 39 other Star Alliance members weren’t enough for you).

Who this program is best for…

For international travel, United’s coverage is on par with what Delta and American offer, with one exception.

If you like flying north to visit our neighbors in Canada, this program will be your best option.

The reason? Star Alliance member, Air Canada, offers the most flights to Canada from a vast array of cities all across the United States. You may be surprised how many cities Air Canada flies from in the U.S.

Travelling within the U.S.? Again, similar to Delta and American, United operates a hub and spoke network, and if you live in (or are flying to) these cities MileagePlus will be a great option for you:

  • Chicago,
  • Denver,
  • Houston,
  • Los Angeles,
  • Newark/New York,
  • San Francisco, and
  • Washington, DC.

United Airlines credit cards

Chase offers 3 different credit cards for United Mileage Plus.

Two of these cards give you traditional airline miles:

  • , and
  • .

Both cards offer a base earn rate of 1 mile per dollar spent, and 2 miles on United purchases, while giving you your first checked bag for free and priority boarding.

For a $95 annual fee, the offers better earn rates on restaurants and hotel purchases, and it comes with a higher welcome bonus of up to 65,000 miles.

However, for a $450 annual fee, the offers better perks. You’ll be able to gain access to a free second checked bag, get unlimited access to both United and Star Alliance member airport lounges, and enjoy priority security (where available) and check-in. The sign up bonus is 50,000 miles.

The 3rd card, the , is a unique card that doesn’t offer typical airline miles, but earns dollars that can be redeemed at united.com.

You’ll earn 1.5% back everywhere you spend, with 2% on United purchases, and you’ll be able to use your cash back, whenever you like, to help pay for any purchases made at united.com

It’s a simple program to help pay for travel costs. Plus, with no annual fee it could also be the best option for you.

We would love to hear from you

Do you have a go-to airline loyalty program?

What was the deciding factor to help you decide which program to go with?

Do you use a credit card to help you collect airline rewards?

Let us know in the comments below.