The Best Airline Miles Credit Cards, Q4 2013

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Last year, over 129.8 million passengers traveled by air during November and December (Bureau of Transportation). With the holidays fast approaching, you may be interested in getting a credit card for your travels this season. If you are like me and traveling at least four times per year, it's probably a good idea to get a travel rewards credit card regardless of the season. There are two kinds of airline credit cards available; those that let you book with any airline, including OTA (online travel agency), and those that are airline specific, such as the TrueBlue Credit Card for JetBlue airline.

Compiled below is a list of the best airline miles credit cards from our partners, offering bonus rewards for purchases with specific airlines. These cards all represent a different airline, and you should only apply for them if you're already a fan of their service (best to find an airline you like and then use their credit card).  The savings on your first flight can be in the high hundreds and your continuous savings can be in the high thousands each year, but only if you fly often.

CompareWallet's Best Airline Miles Credit Cards of 2013

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCardCiti® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® - You may notice by the end of this article that a lot of the airline miles card mirror each other.  The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard awards cardholders with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership.  The annual fee is $95, but it's waived for the first year.*  Each Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select Cardholder will receive Group 1 boarding , 10% of their redeemed miles back each year, and a 25% discount on in flight purchases. 

southwest_airlines_rapid_rewards_credit_cardSouthwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card- Southwest airlines is by far my favorite airline. It seems they always offer freebies on their flights and the cleanliness of their airplanes are appreciated. Card holders will earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airline purchases when made directly with the airline, and also earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. All other points will earn you 1 point per $1 spent. As a bonus, cardholders can earn up to 50,000 bonus points for 2 Roundtrip Flights after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account. In addition to all that, cardholders will earn 6,000 bonus points each year on your Cardmember Anniversary date. The annual fee is $99.

us_airways_card1US Airways Premier World MasterCard- Like most airline credit cards, cardholders will earn 2 miles per $1 spent on US Airways purchases and then 1 mile is earned per $1 spent on all other purchases. New card members can earn up to 40,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase or balance transfer, and pay the annual fee. Additional perks include Zone 2 boarding, first-class check in, and an annual companion certificate that's good for up to 2 companion tickets at $99 each, plus taxes and fees. The annual fee for the card is $89. If you fly with US Airways, but want a lower annual fee, try their $49 annual fee card instead.

United MileagePlus Explorer Card ArtUnited MileagePlus Explorer Card- For a limited time, new card members will start off earning up to 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. Double miles are earned on all United ticket purchases and one mile is earned on all other purchases. Additionally, your first checked bag is free, miles don't expire, and you get priority boarding privileges and 2 free United Club passes per year. The annual fee is waived the first year and then it's $95 each year after.

British AirwaysBritish Airways Visa Signature Card- Our final card on the list of airline-specific credit cards is for British Airways by Chase. New cardholders will earn a large 50,000 bonus Avios after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. British Airways and Chase offer more points than competitors -at 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases; that's more than most airline credit cards. Additionally, cardholders can earn 1 Avios per dollar spent on all other purchases. If you're a high spender and reach $30,000 in purchases per year, you will earn a Travel Together Ticket (good for 2 years). The annual fee is $95, which is waived the first year.

*Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.

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