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Best Airline Credit Cards for October 2020

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Best Airline Credit Cards for October 2020

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Oct 01, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Whether you fly on a regular basis or are planning an upcoming vacation, airline rewards credit cards often offer generous sign-up bonuses and airline benefits that can save you money, such as priority boarding, free checked bags and discounts on in-flight purchases.

When deciding which airline rewards credit card is the right fit for you, there are several factors to consider. For example: Are you loyal to a particular airline? Does the card offer a generous welcome bonus? What are the redemption options? Is there a high annual fee?

Based on our research of cards available through CompareCards, as well as top cards offered by major issuers, we compiled a list of the top credit cards from several major airlines, based on their welcome bonuses, rewards rates, travel benefits and annual fees.

Best for Delta Airlines: Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, Offer Expires 10/28/2020.

  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.

  • Check your 1st bag free on every Delta flight*

Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, Offer Expires 10/28/2020.
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • NEW! Earn now. Travel when you're ready. After you spend $10,000 in purchases in a calendar year, you will receive a $100 Delta Flight Credit to inspire your next travel.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta Flights.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

More Info

If you frequently fly on Delta Air Lines and spend a decent amount on food purchases each month, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card could be a good fit for you. The card’s welcome offer is: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, Offer Expires 10/28/2020.

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card also offers the following rewards rate: Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.

Delta SkyMiles can be redeemed for airfare on Delta flights, SkyMiles Experiences, gift cards, merchandise and magazine subscriptions. Additionally, you can use Delta SkyMiles to purchase travel on partner airlines when booked through Delta, including Aeromexico, Air France, Hawaiian Airlines and more.

Also, like all the other cards in this post, the foreign transaction fees are none.

Additional Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card benefits include: A $100 Delta flight credit, 20% back on in-flight purchases, priority boarding, car rental loss and damage insurance, Global Assist Hotline, purchase protection, extended warranty, complimentary ShopRunner membership and more.

To see rates & fees for Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card please click here.

What to look out for: The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card charges a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

If you want to earn Delta SkyMiles without paying an annual fee, you may want to consider the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card instead.

Along with a $0 annual fee of , the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card offers the following rewards rate: Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants, now worldwide. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Additionally, cardholders earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months.

To see rates & fees for Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card please click here.

 

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants, now worldwide. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.

  • NEW! No foreign transaction fees.

Highlights
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • NEW! Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants, now worldwide.
  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • NEW! No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

More Info

Best for Southwest Airlines: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

If you live in or near a city serviced by Southwest Airlines, you should take a look at the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Cardholders also earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, the card offers a 7,500-bonus points each year after your card anniversary.

Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards and merchandise.

Additionally, if you earn 125,000 points or fly 100 one-way flights in a calendar year, you can receive the Southwest Companion Pass – easily one of the best features offered by the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards. The Companion Pass allows you to choose a designated person to fly free with you each time you purchase or redeem points for a flight for the remainder of the year in which you earned the pass as well as the following calendar year. You will only be responsible for paying any taxes and fees.

Read Southwest Companion Pass Basics: How to Earn and Enjoy the Pass

Additional Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card benefits include: $75 Southwest annual travel credit, four upgraded boardings each year, 20% back on in-flight purchases, auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside dispatch, purchase protection, extended warranty protection, lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance and more.

What to look out for: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card charges an annual fee of $149, applied to the first billing cycle.

If you want to earn the same sign-up bonus while paying a lower annual fee of $69, you may want to consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card instead.

The card comes with a smaller anniversary bonus and less benefits than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, but has a similar sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Best for American Airlines: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

  • First checked bag free on domestic itineraries & preferred boarding

  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases

Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your card membership year and renew your card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

See additional details for Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

More Info

If you’re an American Airlines regular, take a look at the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®. The card offers a generous sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, cardholders earn the following rewards rate: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases.

AAdvantage® miles can be redeemed for flights on American Airlines, American Eagle or any oneworld airline or partner airline, as well as flight upgrades on American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia flights. Miles can also be redeemed for car rentals, hotel stays, activities and tours.

Additional Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® benefits include: First checked bag free for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation, preferred boarding, $125 flight discount after spending $20,000 on the card and renewing it after a year.

What to look out for: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® charges an annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months.

Best for United Airlines: United℠ Explorer Card

If you want to earn miles to travel to one of the more than 210 U.S. destinations and more than 120 international destinations where United Airlines flies, you should take a look at the United℠ Explorer Card.

With the United℠ Explorer Card, new cardmembers earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open Cardholders also earn the following rewards rate: Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

United miles can be redeemed for air travel, hotel stays, car rentals, cruises, merchandise, experiences and more.

Additional United℠ Explorer Card benefits include: 25% back on United in-flight purchases, Global Entry or TSA Precheck statement credit every four years, free first checked bag for you and one companion traveling on the same reservation, priority boarding, two United Club one-time passes every account anniversary and more.

What to look out for: The United℠ Explorer Card comes with an annual fee of  $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

Best for JetBlue Airlines: JetBlue Plus Card

If you typically travel to destinations in the U.S., Caribbean, Central America or South America that are serviced by JetBlue Airlines, you may want to consider the JetBlue Plus Card.

Earn 40,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of being approved for the JetBlue Plus Card. Cardholders also earn 6X points on JetBlue purchases, 2X at restaurants & grocery stores, 1X on all other purchases, as well as a 5,000-point bonus each year after your account anniversary.

JetBlue TrueBlue points can be redeemed for airfare on JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue vacation packages and magazine subscriptions.

Additional JetBlue Plus Card benefits include: Free first checked bag for you and up to three companions traveling on the same reservation, a $100 annual statement credit after purchasing a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Plus Card card, 50% in-flight savings on food and beverage purchases and more.

What to look out for: The JetBlue Plus Card charges an annual fee of $99.

Best for flexible fliers: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

 

If you aren’t loyal to one particular airline, a travel rewards credit card that offers more flexibility with your points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, may be a better option since you can use those points to book flights on multiple airlines.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with a valuable sign-up bonus that’s worth $1,000 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Additionally, cardholders earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. Plus, from July 1, 2020 through April. 30, 2021, earn 3X points on Instacart pickup orders and deliveries on up to $3,000 in purchases and up to $50 in statement credits toward a yearly or monthly Instacart Express membership. The card also offers 5X points on select streaming services on up to $1,500 and 3X points on gas station purchases on up to $1,500 during that same time period.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for airfare, as well as hotel stays, car rentals, cruises, statement credits and gift cards. You can also transfer your points to a number of popular airline and hotel partners at a rate of 1:1. Travel transfer partners include British Airways Executive Club, Emirates Skywards, Flying Blue Air France KLM, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Marriott Bonvoy and more.

Read Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Airline Transfer Partners

Additional Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card benefits include: Trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, purchase protection, extended warranty protection and more.

Cardholders also receive statement credits of up to $60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021 on DoorDash purchases and a complimentary one-year DashPass membership. Plus, earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022.

What to look out for: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with an annual fee of $95.

Best airline credit card FAQs

Before deciding which airline credit card is the right fit for you, you should consider the following:

What is the difference between airline credit cards and travel credit cards?

If you aren’t loyal to one particular airline, a travel rewards card may be a better fit for you. Travel rewards credit cards generally offer rewards and benefits on a broad range of travel purchases that can be used toward multiple airlines, while airline rewards cards typically only offer rewards and special benefits for one specific airline.

What is the sign-up bonus or welcome bonus for new cardmembers?

Sign-up bonuses and welcome bonuses provide a great opportunity to earn an influx of miles or points to use toward future travel, merchandise, gift cards or more. However, in addition to looking at the amount of rewards you can earn from the sign-up bonus, it’s also important to take into account how much you’ll need to spend in order to earn the sign-up bonus, as well as any annual fees.

Which card offers more miles or points per $1 spent?

In general, you want to get the most points or miles per $1 spent in popular categories, such as travel, dining, groceries and gas. Most of the airline credit cards in this list only offer 1 point per $1 spent in those categories. However, the cards offer an elevated rewards rate on purchases made directly with the specific airline.

What benefits does an airline card offer?

Certain benefits can be expected from an airline credit card, such as priority check-in and boarding and a free checked bag. Other things to look for are airport lounge access, in-flight discounts on food and beverages and bonus miles or points on cardmember anniversaries.

How much is the annual fee?

Each card on this list charges an annual fee, and some will waive that fee in the first year. But you need to ensure that the value you can get from the card’s sign-up bonus and benefits help offset that fee.

 


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