The coronavirus has left several people home for months now, although there are still ways to pick up airline points during this downtime for those itching to get back on a plane and start crossing the globe again. After all, who wouldn’t like to hit “Elite Status” with their favorite carrier when they feel secure on a plan? That’s where the airline’s credit card rewards come in. Airline credit cards provide a wealth of benefits that make travel a lot easier.
If you’re new to the airline’s credit card game, let us break this down for you. Airline credit cards are billed cards sold by an airline and a bank to provide users with frequent flyer points attractive. Other advantages include waived checked bag costs, reduced or free companion fares, and discounted incidentals such as Wi-Fi.
If you occasionally check your luggage and bargain-hunting for most flights, an airline credit card might not be the best option for you. Instead, choose the best travel credit cards, two of which are shown below, or the best cashback credit cards. But if you fly with your family on the same airline a couple of times a year (or more and check your bag every time you fly, these waived baggage charges can add up to hundreds of dollars in total costs. Plus, early boarding also guarantees overhead bin space, giving you more legroom.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a general travel reward credit card that means you receive points on any travel or dining purchase, not just with a single airline card company, and the redemption options are far more customization and refundable. The Chase Sapphire Reserve reward card is also included here that want more versatility but also want to use incentives to book future travel. This loyalty card is even better for those who enjoy additional travel benefits such as travel insurance, hotel deals and freebies, and lounge access. Chase Sapphire Reserve provides great value to someone who spends about $12,000 or more annually on travel (flights, hotels, rental cars, trains, buses, taxis) and dining (cafes, restaurants, bars) combined.
American Express The Platinum Card
Another high-return travel reward card, the Platinum Card from American Express, offers frequent flyers the highest potential reward rate of any travel rewards program we’ve reviewed, up to about 7.5 percent. Even if you’re loyal to one airline, if you spend more than $10,000 a year on flights and hotels, you’re going to get a better return on spending with the Platinum card than you would have with a charged airline credit card. It’s a great choice for those who value premium travel benefits such as lounge access and hotel upgrades, or who want the flexibility to redeem rewards with a larger airline roster.
United Explorer Credit Card
The reward rate of Chase’s United Explorer card is at the low end for 2 percent of paid airline credit cards, but it does provide good value with its new cardmember sign-on bonus and deferred baggage charges. In certain cases, you’d be better off with a no-fee cash back credit card, like the Wells Fargo Propel, if you invest less than $10,000 a year on travel and dining. But if you respect priority boarding and check your bag every time you fly United, the Explorer card is important to consider. Typically, United Credit Cards don’t match well with other airlines when it comes to total value, so this offer is probably the best of not-so-great choices.