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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

The best airline credit cards of July 2020

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The best airline credit cards of July 2020

Joseph HostetlerThe best airline credit cards of July 2020Million Mile Secrets Team

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Fasten your seatbelts. We’ve compiled a list of the top credit card offers to consider right now for award flights to help you ring in a new year of travel. If you’re loyal to a particular airline, you can do well by opening an airline credit card that rewards you for your business with a more comfortable travel experience and extra miles for your next award trip. You get perks like free checked bags and priority boarding, along with benefits specific to each card.

The best airlines rewards credit cards

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Credit cardBest forAnnual fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardBeginners$95
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit CardSouthwest flyers$149
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressPremium benefits$550 annual fee (see rates & fees)
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®American Airlines flyers$99, waived the first 12 months
United℠ Explorer CardUnited flyers$95 annual fee, waived the first year
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express CardOccasional Delta flyers$99, waived for the first year. See (rates and fees)
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express CardFrequent Delta flyers$250 See (rates and fees)
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit cardAlaska Airlines flyers$75
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points$550
Plan your next adventure with the best airline credit cards. (Photo courtesy of BABAROGA/Shutterstock)

Best credit cards for airlines July 2020

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Current Bonus

When you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.

Rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders get:

  • 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants
  • 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all other purchases

Benefits and perks

You’ll also get perks like:

  • Primary car rental insurance: Covers damage from theft or collision to your rental car when you pay for the rental with your card.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: Get up to $500 back per ticket on meals and lodging when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.
  • Extended warranty protection: Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by a year on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • Baggage delay insurance: Reimburses you for purchases like toiletries and clothing during baggage delays longer than six hours by a passenger carrier, up to $100 a day for five days.

Temporary benefits

Between July 1 and September 30, 2020: Receive:

  • 5 Chase points per dollar on streaming services (up to $1,500 in spending)
  • 3 Chase points per dollar at gas stations (up to $1,500 in spending)
  • 3 Chase points per dollar with Instacart (up to $3,000 in spending)

You’ll also receive up to $50 in statement credits towards an Instacart Express membership.

From May 31 to September 30, 2020: Pay Yourself Back feature allowing you to redeem Chase points towards dining establishments, grocery stores, and home improvement stores at a rate of 1.25 cents each.

Activate by December 31, 2021: Eligible for at least a year of free DashPass (normally $9.99/month). DashPass gets you waived delivery fees on orders of $12 or more at participating restaurants.

Read this post for full details!

Annual fee

The $95 annual fee is definitely worth it because when you earn the welcome bonus, that’s $600 cash or $750 in travel (with no blackout dates) or over $1,000 in award travel.

Why it’s the best airline miles card for beginners

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the #1 card we recommend for beginners in the miles-and-points hobby. The sign-up bonus is worth $750 in travel when you book through the Chase travel portal and you can get even more value by transferring the points you earn to airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, Southwest and United Airlines.

Plus, the Pay Yourself Back feature gives you a great reason to collect Chase points, even if travel isn’t in your near future. You can collect points for travel later, but know you can easily redeem them at a decent rate if travel doesn’t pick up for a while.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Current bonus

The Chase Southwest Priority comes with up to 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. That’s worth $600 in Southwest flights.

Rewards

  •   2 Southwest points per dollar on Southwest Airlines purchases, including airfare
  •   1 Southwest point per dollar on every other purchase

Insider tip

This is the only card on this list that will completely negate the annual fee each year with zero effort on your part. If you’re a Southwest regular, you’ll receive ~$188 in free airfare each year, thanks to a $75 Southwest statement credit and 7,500 Southwest points for renewing your card each year.

Benefits and perks

With this card, you’ll receive:

  • Up to $75 in statement credits for eligible Southwest purchases each account anniversary year
  • Four upgraded boardings (positions A1 to A15) each account anniversary year (worth $30, $40, or $50 each, depending on the flight)
  • 20% back on Southwest in-flight purchases
  • 7,500 Southwest points on your account anniversary (worth ~$113 in Southwest flights)
  • 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases up to $100,000 in purchases annually (which equal 15,000 TQPs)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Annual fee

$149

Why it’s the best for Southwest flyers

If you fly Southwest with any regularity you should opt for the Southwest Priority Card. You can receive $1,000+ in value from the card in the first year:

  • 41,000 points after earning the intro bonus and meeting spending requirements (worth $615 based on our Southwest points value estimation)
  • $75 statement credit annually
  • $113 in points (based on our Southwest points value estimation) annually
  • Up to $200 in upgraded boardings annually

This is hands down the best Southwest personal card, and it’s not close. Here’s our Southwest Priority Card review.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Current Bonus

With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Rewards

  • 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare (booked either directly with the airline or through American Express Travel)
  • 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked on Amex Travel
  • 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar on everything else
  • Terms apply

The 5x Membership Rewards points you’ll earn on flights booked directly with the airlines and on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel is the highest earning rate for flights of any credit card.

Benefits and perks

With the Amex Platinum, you’ll also get perks like:

  • Up to $200 in Uber credits annually
  • Up to $200 annual airline-fee credit
  • $100 Global Entry credit
  • Airport lounge access
  • Elite car rental status with Avis, Executive status with National Car Rental and Gold Plus Rewards with Hertz
  • Free Hilton Honors and Marriott Gold elite status (free breakfast and upgrades when available)
  • Terms apply

For information on lounges at your home airport or favorite airport, check out this post on how to find Amex Platinum airport lounges.

Temporary benefits

May through December 2020: Up to $20 in statement credits per month on select streaming and wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S

Between August 2020 and December 2021: up to a $200 statement credit on qualifying purchases made through Amex Travel. This is valid only for those who renew their card between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020

Read this post for all the details.

Annual fee

The card has a $550 annual fee, which is not waived (see rates and fees). If you use the perks and credits, you’ll easily come out ahead and find the annual fee worth it.

Why it’s the best for premium benefits

The Amex Platinum is useful for anyone looking to earn a nice stash of Amex Membership Rewards points, especially if you can make the most of the card’s perks. You’ll find our full review of the Amex Platinum card here.

(Photo by Wyatt Smith)

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Current bonus

Earn 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $2,500 on purchases within the first three months of opening the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®.

Rewards

  • 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent at gas stations and restaurants
  • 1 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on other purchases

Benefits and perks

The AA Platinum Mastercard provides preferred boarding for you and up to four companions on the same reservation. You can also receive a 25% savings on inflight food, drinks and Wi-Fi purchased with the card while aboard American Airlines flights. The card offers your first checked bag for free on domestic itineraries for you and up to four traveling companions. Checked bags cost $30 each way, so you could potentially save $240 per round-trip with this feature alone.

Temporary benefits

From May 1 to December 31, 2020: Every dollar you spend on the card will count toward million miler status.

Annual fee

The card comes with a $99 annual fee, waived the 12 months. It’s certainly worth opening the card the first year, but if you decide to pay the annual fee year after year, you’d better fly American Airlines at least a couple times each year.

Why it’s the best for American Airlines flyers

We estimate American Airlines miles value to be worth at least 1.6 cents each, meaning the Citi AA Platinum Card bonus is worth $800 in American Airlines flights. Not bad for a card with no annual fee the first year (then $99 ongoing annual fee)! It’s worth opening to see if it works for your lifestyle — if it doesn’t, no harm done. Read our full review of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select.

Just note that you can’t receive a new account bonus on this card if you’ve received a new account bonus on the card in the past 48 months. Read our full guide of Citi American Airlines application rules for more details.

United℠ Explorer Card

Current Bonus

The United℠ Explorer Card comes with 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards

  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar spent on United Airlines purchases
  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar spent at restaurants and on hotel stays (when booked directly through hotels)
  • 1 United Airlines mile per dollar spent on everything else

Benefits and perks

The United℠ Explorer Card enhances your travel experience in multiple ways with a variety of benefits and perks.

The card comes with priority boarding and two one-time United Club lounge passes per cardmember year. Plus, you’ll get a $100 credit every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, which is a huge time saver at U.S. airport security checkpoints. Everyone on the MMS team has either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (you can read about TSA PreCheck versus Global Entry here).

One of my favorite benefits of the card is that you receive access to more award seats than travelers who don’t have the card. In other words, if you go online to book a seat, you may see plenty of options where others see none.

Another gem of a perk is primary car rental insurance when you charge the entire rental to the card. You can decline paying $15 a day to the car rental agency because the United℠ Explorer Card will cover you for free.

The card also comes with trip-delay insurance. When your travel is delayed 12+ hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for expenses like meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.

Annual fee

Absolutely. If you take two round-trip flights per year with checked bags, you’ll save money by keeping this card. And the lounge passes are valuable too. Plus, if you use the $100 credit to pay for Global Entry, you’ll come out ahead of the $95 annual fee right from the start.

Why it’s the best for United flyers

The United℠ Explorer Card has so many meaningful benefits that it would make sense for almost anyone. Here’s our full review.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Current bonus

With the Delta Skymiles Gold card, you can earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

Rewards

  • 2x miles per $1 spent with Delta, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else
  • Terms Apply

Benefits and perks

If you use your card on certain inflight purchases, you’ll receive a credit of 20% off the original purchase price on your Amex statement within six to eight weeks after the transaction is posted to your account. In addition, Amex Gold Delta SkyMiles cardholders receive complimentary priority boarding for the cardmember and up to eight additional people flying on the same itinerary, making the benefits of the card especially useful for frequent Delta flyers. Plus, you’ll get up to a $100 Delta flight credit after spending $10,000+ on the card in a calendar year.

With the Delta SkyMiles Gold, the primary cardholder and up to eight others traveling on the same reservation will enjoy one free checked bag each. With baggage fees starting at $30 per bag, this could add up to some serious savings.

Temporary benefits

May through July 2020: 4 Delta miles per dollar on groceries.

Annual fee

For an annual fee of $99 (see rates and fees) that’s waived for the first year, it’s easy to come out ahead of the annual fee.

Why it’s the best for occasional Delta flyers

With an annual fee of $99 (see rates and fees) that’s waived for the first year and a welcome bonus potentially worth hundreds of dollars, the Delta SkyMiles Gold is definitely worth considering. Here’s our review.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Current bonus

You can earn 40,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.

Rewards

  • 3x Delta miles per dollar spent with Delta, including flights booked on Delta.com, Sky Club membership or passes, Delta Vacations packages, upgrades and inflight purchases
  • 3x Delta miles per dollar on purchases made directly with hotels
  • 2x Delta miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets
  • 1 Delta mile per dollar spent on everything else
  • Terms Apply

Benefits and perks

This card comes with a number of valuable perks, including the fact that you and up to eight passengers on your reservation can board your flight when Zone 1 Priority Boarding is called.

Plus, upon renewal of the card each year, Delta SkyMiles Platinum cardholders are granted a companion certificate. With it, travelers can add a friend to their domestic Delta reservation for only the price of taxes and fees. The companion certificate covers one round-trip companion ticket in coach.

As an Amex Delta Platinum cardholder, you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation will get your first checked bag for free.

Temporary benefits

May through July 2020: 4 Delta miles per dollar on groceries.

Annual fee

The card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) is not waived the first year. But it’s easy to offset the fee with the perks you’ll get from this card. The welcome bonus alone is worth at least $1,000 when you use Pay With Miles.

Why it’s the best for frequent Delta flyers

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is a great option for folks who frequently travel with Delta. If you value Delta miles and Delta elite status and can use money-saving perks like the annual companion certificate and free checked bag, this card is well worth the $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). Be sure to check out our Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex card review.

Delta One Suites. (Photo by Zach Honig.)

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

Current Bonus

With the Alaska Airlines credit card, you can earn 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles, a $100 statement credit and an Alaska Airlines companion fare after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Rewards

The card also earns:

  • 3 miles per dollar on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases

Benefits and perks

The Alaska Airlines credit card benefits include a free checked bag for you and up to six passengers on your reservation – a savings of $30 per person in baggage fees each way (a great perk if you don’t have Alaska Airlines elite status). Plus, you will get a 50% credit when you buy Alaska lounge day passes with the card and 20% back on eligible inflight Alaska Airlines purchases.

Temporary benefits

June 1 to July 31, 2020: 2 Alaska Airlines miles per dollar at restaurants including takeout and delivery (up to $1,500 in spending).

June 1 to September 30, 2020: 2,500 elite qualifying miles for every $5,000 you spend on eligible purchases.

Annual fee

Absolutely. The $75 annual fee is especially worth it if you can make the most of the companion fare.

Why it’s the best for Alaska Airlines flyers

Along with the great sign-up bonus, the card comes with an Alaska Airlines companion fare after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. With this companion fare, a friend can fly with you for just $99 plus taxes and fees (from $22). This can save you hundreds of dollars on airfare.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Current bonus

When you sign up for Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.  

Rewards

  • 3 Chase points per dollar on travel and dining
  • 1 Chase point per dollar on everything else

Benefits and perks

The Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits include the ability to earn 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 10x points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and dining worldwide and one Chase point on all other purchases.

The best perk for this card is the annual $300 in travel credits, which are automatically earned whenever you make a qualify purchase including airfare, hotels, rental cars and more. You also get an application fee credit (worth up to $100) for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years. The card also includes a Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you and up to two guests access to 1,200+ airport lounges.

Temporary benefits

Activate by March 31, 2022: Receive a free year of a Lyft Pink membership, Lyft Pink is a membership that normally costs $19.99/month and comes with perks, like:

  • 15% off all rides
  • Three free cancellations a month (if you rebook within 15 minutes)
  • Three free bike/scooter rides per month
  • Priority airport pickups
  • Waived lost and found fees
  • “Surprise offers” — including seasonal discounts and exclusive savings

To activate your membership add your Sapphire Reserve card as a payment option in your Lyft app and you’ll be prompted to activate your Lyft Pink membership.

2020/2021: $60 in DoorDash credit in 2020 and another $60 in credit in 2021. The credit will automatically be applied to DoorDash orders when you pay with the card.

Activate by December 31, 2021: Eligible for at least a year of free DashPass (normally $9.99/month). DashPass gets you waived delivery fees on orders of $12 or more at participating restaurants.

From May 31 to September 30, 2020: Pay Yourself Back feature allowing you to redeem Chase points towards dining establishments, grocery stores, and home improvement stores at a rate of 1.5 cents each.

Between July 1 and September 30, 2020: Receive:

  • 10 Chase points per dollar on streaming services (up to $1,500 in spending)
  • 5 Chase points per dollar at gas stations (up to $1,500 in spending)
  • 5 Chase points per dollar with Instacart (up to $3,000 in spending)

You’ll also receive up to $50 in statement credits towards an Instacart Express membership.

From June 1, 2020, through the end of the year: The Sapphire Reserve $300 annual travel credit will reimburse you for purchases at gas stations and grocery stores (in addition to travel).

Through December 31, 2020: Chase will only charge a $450 annual fee to anyone renewing their card between July 2 and December 31, 2020

Read this post for full details.

Annual fee

The Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is $550.

Why it’s the best for earning and redeeming Chase points

No annual-fee Chase card earns more Ultimate Rewards than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. And it increases the value of all the Chase points you earn from any Ultimate Rewards earning card.

See, when you use your points through the Chase travel portal or through Pay Yourself Back, your points are worth 1.5 cents each. That’s at least 0.25 cents higher than any other card.

How we chose the best airline credit cards

Credit card introductory bonuses are the fastest way to earn big travel rewards without spending a lot of money. Here are the factors we consider:

Bonus offer

Credit card companies offer card bonuses to lure new customers because that’s how they make money — from customers using their cards.

Minimum spending requirement

To earn an introductory bonus on most credit cards you must spend a certain amount on your new card within a certain timeframe. The best offers have reasonable spending requirements or offer a huge reward if the minimum spending requirements are larger.

Ongoing bonus opportunities

We prefer airline credit cards that offer ongoing earnings, even after you earn the initial big welcome bonus.

Benefits

Airline credit cards that offer no foreign transaction fees and expanded award availability are some of our favorites.

How do airline credit cards work?

General rewards cards and many of the most popular credit cards for travel aren’t connected with a specific airline. You’ll earn cash-back or rewards you can use for travel, but you likely won’t get airline-specific perks.

In comparison, airline credit cards (or co-branded cards) are tied to a specific airline and their frequent flyer program. With a co-branded airline card, you can earn bonus miles for each dollar you spend and oftentimes have access to airline-specific benefits like priority boarding and free checked bags.

When it comes to earning and redeeming the rewards you earn with an airline credit card, each rewards program is different. The value of the miles or points you earn from an airline rewards program with vary, depending on the airline and how you decide to redeem them. In general though, the more you spend, the more you’ll earn. And that can translate into more free travel.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets email newsletter.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please clichere.
For rates and fees of the Amex Delta SkyMiles Gold Card, please clichere.
For rates and fees of the Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card, please click here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)



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Anyone else find it odd they left Delta off completely? It appears they only promoted cards they get a commission for.

Interesting how when they recycled this piece, Oct 5, it had write ups for the Delta Gold, with the recently increased offer, and Delta Platinum with older no miles offer in the write up but an apply now with recently increased 75k offer.

For both Alaska Airlines (personal and business) credit cards, the article’s chart says “Only available to those who haven’t had the card before”.

Since when the Bank of America added this restriction? Isn’t this a typo?

I can understand value for people with no status on an airline (free bag, priority boarding etc) but I have decided airline cards are worthless (outside of initial bonus). First of all I am lifetime Platinum on American and lifetime Gold on Delta so checked bags, seat selection and priority boarding are covered. I had the Citibank executive card since it included Admirals Club access (annual Admirals Club fee alone covered cost of the card). However now retired and not living on airlines so cancelled that and got Barclays Red card. However also have Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum so get more value booking flights on those cards. Therefore cancelling Barclays card before next renewal. I do have both Hilton and Marriott cards (lifetime Titanium and Hilton golf w both Amex Platinum and Hilton Amex). I still don’t put much on these cards outside of stays at their hotel (gas on Hilton Amex is an exception) but the free night annually and ability to earned a lot of bonus points make them valuable IMHO

Given the competition I really don’t see how most airline cards can compete, especially if you have lifetime status.

CitiBusiness has a long memory. I filed bankruptcy 25 years ago in which I included a this card’s balance. I applied for this card 5 years ago and was rejected for that reason. Anyone have any ideas on how to qualify for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage card?

I would call and ask for a reconsideration. Or just straight out ask what can you do to qualify for another Citi card.

They might require payment of the debt or something like that, but that might be the only option if it was 25 years ago and they’re using it as a reason to turn you down.

United MileAgePlus is offering an 85% bonus when purchasing miles. Purchase 94,000 miles get 79,900 bonus miles for a total of 173,900 miles for $3220. This seems like a good deal. Comments?

Thanks, Bryan

Nicolas Florez

I love, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card cause there are no black out days. Also it gives a lot of points!!!

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