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Avoid Paying for Airfare on Your Next Vacation With These Top Airline Credit Card Offers!

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Avoid Paying for Airfare on Your Next Vacation With These Top Airline Credit Card Offers!

Joseph HostetlerAvoid Paying for Airfare on Your Next Vacation With These Top Airline Credit Card Offers!Million Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: Having an airline’s credit card can get you perks usually reserved for elite members, before you even start flying. And if you already have elite status, an airline credit card can help you earn more miles even faster!

If you’re looking for the perfect card to earn miles for award flights, these are the top card offers to consider right now.

You can get perks like free checked bags and priority boarding, along with benefits specific to each card. And in general, if you’re loyal to a particular airline, you can do well to open that airline’s credit card to make your travels more comfortable – and keep the miles flowing in for your next award trip.

Best Airline Credit Cards

Get ready to fly out of town with the best airline credit cards! (Photo by Harlan Vaughn/Million Mile Secrets)

How We Chose the Best Airline Credit Cards

Many of y’all know the fastest way to earn miles and points is by earning big welcome bonuses from the best travel credit cards. But folks who are new to the hobby might wonder how applying for cards will affect your credit score. So be sure to check out this post about the myths that could be holding you back.

Not only are the miles you earn important, but having a card that comes with valuable perks, like free checked bags, can be beneficial too.

That’s why it’s worth considering cards with annual fees. I certainly don’t mind paying annual fees because many annual-fee cards have terrific ongoing perks that can easily offset the expense.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Apply Here: Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Read our review of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

The Intro Offer: Through July 2, 2019, you’ll earn 75,000 Delta miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. You’ll also get a $100 statement credit when you make a Delta purchase within the first three months of account opening.

What That Means for You: Between the intro bonus of 75,000 Delta miles and at least 3,000 miles from meeting the minimum spending, you’ll have 73,000 Delta miles to use towards award flights.

Delta doesn’t have an award chart, but it’s easy to get award ticket prices directly on the website. For example, I found tickets from Chicago to Seattle later this summer for only 16,000 Delta miles round-trip in coach. With the miles you’ll earn with the Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles intro bonus, that’s enough for four (and nearly five) award seats!

The routes I searched would cost ~$316 each if you paid cash, so getting four seats for 64,000 Delta miles and ~$45 in taxes makes this offer worth over $1,200 ($1,264 – $45), with miles to spare toward your next trip.

Head to Seattle for some late summer sun or fall foliage with Delta miles. It’s one of my favorite cities! (Photo by Harlan Vaughn/Million Mile Secrets)

Of course, this is just one example. If you have a case of wanderlust, you’re in good company here. This welcome offer is enough to fly to Europe (and many other destinations around the world) round-trip in coach.

Ongoing Earnings: 

  • Earn 2 Delta miles per dollar spent when you use your card for purchases directly with Delta
  • Earn 1 Delta mile per dollar spent on all other purchases

Cool Perks: Each year upon renewal of your card, you’ll get a digital companion certificate that allows you add a second passenger to your domestic round-trip flight reservation (within the contiguous 48 US states) by only paying taxes and fees for that passenger. Depending how you use it, you can realize big savings.

And you’ll get your first checked bag for free on Delta flights for yourself and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation, which can be another huge money-saving benefit.

Is the Card Worth the Annual Fee? This card has a $195 annual fee (See Rates & Fees), which is on the pricier side. But between the 75,000 Delta miles, 5,000 MQMs and $100 statement credit, it’s absolutely worth it the first year. Afterward, it’s worth keeping for folks who use the companion certificate, check bags when they fly Delta or want to earn and/or maintain Delta elite status.

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa

Apply Here: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

Read our review of the Alaska Airlines credit card

The Intro Offer: You’ll earn 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles and a Companion Fare ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22) after making $2,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

What That Means for You: Alaska Airlines miles are some of the most valuable around! Thanks to partnerships with many excellent international carriers, you can use your miles to fly nearly anywhere in the world. Plus, domestic award flights on Alaska Airlines start at only 5,000 miles each way in coach.

Use Alaska Airlines miles to fly on many other partner airlines. I used mine to fly on Icelandair to where else – Iceland! (Photo by Harlan Vaughn/Million Mile Secrets)

Ongoing Earnings: When you spend with this card, you’ll earn:

  • 3 Alaska Airlines miles per dollar spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases
  • 1 Alaska Airlines mile per dollar on everything else

Cool Perks: You’ll get your first bag checked for free for you and up to six traveling companions. And each year you’re a cardmember, you’ll get a companion fare for $99 plus taxes and fees from $22, that’s valid on all Alaska Airlines flights with no blackout dates.

Is the Card Worth the Annual Fee? The $75 annual fee is on the lower end of what we see for airline credit cards. And Alaska Airlines miles are tough to earn, so getting 3x miles on Alaska Airlines flights is an easy way to rack ’em up. If you use the annual companion fare, it’s a no-brainer to keep the card even with the annual fee.

CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select

Apply Here: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Read our review of the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select

The Intro Offer: For a limited time, you’ll earn 70,000 American Airlines miles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first four months of opening the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card.

What That Means for You: 70,000 American Airlines miles is an excellent welcome bonus, and as high as we’ve seen for this card! It’s worth two round-trip coach tickets within the US, which cost only 25,000 American Airlines miles each. Or 45,000 American Airlines miles for a round-trip coach saver award ticket to Europe during the off-peak season!

The intro bonus alone is enough for a round-trip coach saver ticket to Europe. (Photo by Harlan Vaughn/Million Mile Secrets)

Ongoing Earnings: When you spend with this card, you’ll earn:

  • 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on American Airlines flights
  • 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations
  • 1 American Airlines mile per dollar spent on other purchases

Cool Perks: You’ll get your first bag checked for free on domestic itineraries for you and up to four traveling companions plus preferred boarding. When you fly American Airlines, you can get a 25% savings on in-flight food, drinks and Wi-Fi purchased with the card.

Is the Card Worth the Annual Fee? This is a toughie. It really depends on how often you fly American Airlines.

I like this offer because the $99 annual fee is waived the first 12 months. But I’d say the biggest reason to keep the card year after year is because of its free checked bag benefit. If you fly two round-trips per year with checked bags, you’ll save money by keeping this card.

Chase Southwest Plus Card

Apply Here: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Read our review of the Southwest Plus Card

The Intro Offer: When you open the Chase Southwest Plus card, you’ll earn 40,000 Southwest points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

What That Means for You: Southwest points are worth ~1.5 cents each, so this bonus is worth ~$600 toward travel on Southwest. That’s a great deal!

(Photo by Jasmin Baron/Million Mile Secrets)

Ongoing Earnings: When you spend with this card, you’ll earn:

  • 2 Southwest points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases
  • 2 Southwest points per dollar spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rentals
  • 1 Southwest point per dollar spent on everything else
  • 3,000 Southwest points after your card member anniversary

Cool Perks: Everyone already gets two free checked bags on every Southwest flight. With this card, you’ll get 3,000 Southwest points each card member year (worth ~$45). Plus, the points you earn DO count toward the Southwest Companion Pass – by far the best deal in domestic travel!

Is the Card Worth the Annual Fee? The 3,000 bonus points you’ll get each year offset a big chunk of the card’s $69 annual fee, bringing the net cost down to $24 a year ($69 – $45).

And the points you earn from everyday spending with this card also count toward the Companion Pass, so it’s that’s a goal of yours, it’s definitely worth keeping and using.

Chase Southwest Premier Small Business Card

Apply Here: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Read our review of the Southwest Business Credit Card

The Intro Offer: You’ll earn a 60,000 Southwest point welcome bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening the Chase Southwest Premier small business card.

What That Means for You: For small business owners, this is another way to get ~$900 for travel on Southwest, and points toward the valuable Southwest Companion Pass. You can redeem Southwest points for any open seat on any Southwest flight!

If you have a small business, you can turn operating expenses into Southwest award flights. (Photo by NextNewMedia/Shutterstock)

Ongoing Earnings: When you spend with this card, you’ll earn:

  • 2 Southwest points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases
  • 2 Southwest points per dollar spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rentals
  • 1 Southwest point per dollar spent on everything else
  • 6,000 Southwest points after your card member anniversary

Cool Perks: The annual bonus points are worth ~$90 toward Southwest flights, and again, the points you’ll earn from the intro bonus get you over halfway to earning the Companion Pass this year!

Is the Card Worth the Annual Fee? Considering you get ~$90 worth of travel for a $99 annual fee, yes! Plus, employee cards are free, so it’s a small cost to keep your expenses tracked so easily.

Chase United Explorer Card

Apply Here: United Explorer Card

Read our review of the United Explorer Card

The Intro Offer: You’ll earn 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening the Chase United Explorer card.

What That Means for You: 40,000 United Airlines miles is easily worth a round-trip coach ticket within the US, which cost only 25,000 United Airlines miles at the lowest level. While this isn’t the biggest bonus we’ve seen, you might consider opening this card if you have an immediate need for the other benefits.

I have the Chase United Explorer card and find it’s worth keeping, even as an infrequent United Airlines flyer. (Photo by Harlan Vaughn/Million Mile Secrets)

Ongoing Earnings: When you spend with this card, you’ll earn:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar spent on United Airlines purchases
  • 2 United Airlines miles per dollar spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
  • 1 United Airlines mile per dollar spent on everything else

Cool Perks: You’ll get your first bag checked for free on domestic itineraries for you and a companion when you use the card to pay for your ticket, plus priority boarding.

The Chase United Explorer card also comes with:

  • Two United Club lounge passes per cardmember year
  • $100 credit every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership
  • 25% back on food, drinks or in-flight Wi-Fi when you fly United Airlines
  • Extra award seats for cardholders
  • Primary car rental insurance when you charge the entire purchase to the card

Is the Card Worth the Annual Fee? Absolutely! If you fly two round-trips per year with checked bags, you’ll save money by keeping this card. And I personally love the lounge passes.

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. I don’t fly United Airlines all that often, but always find a reason to keep this card every year.

Which Airline Credit Cards Are the Best? Bottom Line!

Our favorite airline credit card offers right now are:

What’s your favorite airline credit card?

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

For rates and fees of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

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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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!!!

I love my Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card. My girlfriend and I have traveled all over the US using SW points. I’m now working on my second go around for the Companion Pass!

Loving my SW RR card! The companion pass is

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