Best Airline Credit Cards 2017

If you enjoy traveling, why not get rewarded for your wanderlust and apply for an airline credit card? Of all the types of rewards cards, airline credit cards have some of the best perks and bonuses. Choose the right card, and you could find yourself traveling in style for free or at a huge discount.

The following rewards cards are the best available this year. The list was compiled based on various factors that make for a great airline credit card, including favorable rewards accrual, sign-up bonuses, no annual fee and a lack of foreign transaction fees.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card from JPMorgan Chase

Read Reviews

Designed for frequent travelers with excellent credit, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a variety of benefits to the cardholder. These include a 50,000-point sign-up bonus if you spend $4,000 during your first three months. This bonus is the equivalent of $625 for travel, if you use the points through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The annual percentage rate (APR) is currently 16.49% to 23.49%.

Pros

  • 50,000 point bonus if you spend $4,000 in your first three months of opening your card, and the points are used through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 5,000 point bonus if you add an authorized user within three months of opening your account, and that user makes a purchase.
  • Double points on dining and travel expenses
  • One point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem on travel-related expenses, such as hotels, cruises, airfare and car rental through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 1:1 point transfer
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $95 annual fee (waived the first year)
  • 5% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
  • 5% cash advance fee ($10 minimum)

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Read Reviews

Designed for people with excellent credit who travel frequently, especially internationally, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite card features low interest rates and many rewards. There is a 12-month 0% APR introductory rate on balance transfers, which makes this card a good choice for people who have a credit card that currently has a balance. The APR after 12 months is 16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49%. If you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days, you earn a generous 50,000 bonus miles, which gives you enough for a $500 travel statement credit.

Pros:

  • Two times miles on all purchases
  • Redeem miles for travel statement credits starting at 10,000 for $100, as well as gift cards and merchandise
  • 50,000 bonus miles with $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days
  • 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening.
  • Free fraud protection liability

Cons:

  • $89 annual fee (though waived the first year)
  • Balance transfer fee of $5 or 3%

Venture One from Capital One Rewards Credit Card

Read Reviews

Made for borrowers with excellent credit, Venture One from Capital One gives you the benefits of a travel rewards card without an annual fee. You also enjoy unlimited rewards. Earn 1.25 times miles for every dollar you spend on purchases. Each 100 miles equals $1 in rewards. There is a 20,000-bonus miles reward equaling $200 in travel after you spend $1,000 within the first three months. There is also an attractive 0% APR for 12 months followed by a 12.49%, 17.49% or 22.49% APR.

Pros:

  • 1.25 times miles on all purchases
  • Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit toward cost
  • 20,000 bonus miles
  • No annual fee
  • Free fraud protection liability
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons:

  • Excellent credit required, which makes you eligible for airline cards with better rewards

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Read Reviews

If you travel with Southwest Airlines or plan to, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is a great option. It features an easy-to-use frequent flyer program. After you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months, you receive a 50,000 bonus points, which may be enough for a round-trip ticket. They also feature a 3,000-point bonus after your anniversary. You earn two points for every $1 spent on Southwest Rapid Rewards car and hotel rentals and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Interest rates range from 16.24% to 23.24%.

Pros:

  • Good, rather than excellent, credit required
  • Two points per $1 spent on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental purchases
  • One point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 within the first three months
  • 3,000 bonus points after your anniversary
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions when points are redeemed
  • Bags fly free
  • No flight change fees
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons:

  • $69 annual fee applied to you first billing statement
  • You can only use this card for travel rewards on Southwest Airlines

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card

Read Reviews

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card is ideal if you have good credit and if you wish to make a big travel purchase. The card features an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 billing cycles. After that you pay 15.49% to 23.49% APR. You also get 20,000 bonus points when you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days. These can be redeemed for a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases. You also earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend.

Pros:

  • Good, (rather than excellent, credit required
  • Unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent
  • 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 billing cycles
  • 20,000 bonus points when you make $1,000 in purchases the first 90 days, which can be redeemed for $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No blackout dates
  • Bank of America customers get an additional 10% to 75% customer points bonus on every purchase

Cons:

  • Bonus points aren’t as high as some cards

When you shop for the best airline rewards credit card for your financial situation, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Determine how you’ll use the card. For airfare? If so, what airline are you likely to use? Or will you be using the card for car rentals and hotels? You want to take the best advantage you can of the rewards offered by the card. Knowing how you’ll use it helps you accomplish this.
  • Do you have another card that carries a balance? If so, an airline rewards card that features an introductory 0% APR is a good choice that helps you pay off a credit card balance while enjoying travel awards.
  • How easy are the rewards and benefits to use? If you have to wait long periods and jump through hoops to take advantage of earned rewards, the card may be more of a hassle than it’s worth.
  • Consider getting more than one airline rewards card. By splitting spending among cards for travel, you can get even more rewards. This usually works well when you get cards by the same company. For instance, there is the Venture One From Capital One and the Venture From Capital One.
  • Look for as many perks as possible, as they all add up. For instance, a card with no annual fee or foreign transaction fees saves you money over the long haul. Bonus points are also important to consider.
  • Check the fine print. Some cards may look good on the surface by offering substantial bonus points, but the balance transfer fees and foreign transaction fees can add up.
  • Look closely at the APR. If you’re planning a big trip and think you might carry a balance, the APR is important. Those cards on the higher end, such as 23.49%,  quickly lead to high interest costs that can make your dream vacation a financial nightmare.
  • Avoid carrying a balance and make on-time payments. Rewards only mean something if you aren’t paying interest or late charges. Try to pay the card off each month and on time. Doing so also helps your debt-to-income ratio and your credit score.

For a look at some of the best travel cards available, consult SuperMoney’s Personal Credit Card Reviews under the travel tab.

CardRegular APR 
13.49% – 23.49%Apply
13.49% – 23.49%Apply
11.24% – 23.24%Apply
11.24% – 23.24%Apply
14.49% – 22.49%Apply