One of the easiest ways of getting free airline tickets is to sign up for bonus programs. Credit Card companies are desperate for you to try out their cards, and several provide insane bonuses. Sometimes one bonus is enough for a round trip to Europe or two domestic flights in the US.
In addition to the sign up bonus, you can collect miles (or points), which you can use toward more flights. Some programs even give you free checked bags and priority in boarding.
Here are some of the best airline credit cards:
Best for people who fly frequently and love food: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card®
When you travel and dine out, this card will give you twice the points you usually get. If you spend $1, then you will collect one point. If you book your travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards, then you will get a point’s discount. When you open your account and spend $4,000, then you will be able to collect 50,000 bonus points. Moreover, you won’t be charged for your foreign transactions. They are even waiving the annual fee for the first year; after that you have to pay $95 (unless you cancel before the year is up). If you cancel, just make sure you transfer your points to a partner before then (e.g. American, SWA, etc).
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card’s Benefits
- You can avail travel redemption options by using points that you have collected with the Ultimate Rewards site. When you are a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card® user, you will get a value of 1.25 per point and this, in comparison, is a better value than the industry standard. If you don’t want to use them right away, then you can use the frequent flier program and transfer these points at the rate of 1:1. There are co-branded cards, which won’t give you this opportunity.
- If you are using the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card®, then you can get 2x points, for every dollar that you spend on buying food from restaurants or drinks from the bar.
- If you add an authorized user that buys something in the first three months, then you get another 5,000 points! You need to add this user within 3 months of getting the card.
- If you want to make purchases internationally and domestically, then you should use this card, as it does not charge you for foreign transactions and the EMV chip in the card are accepted like Visa.
- Introductory Annual Fee in the first year is $0, then $95
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card’s Drawbacks
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card® is a general travel card, which is why it doesn’t have special benefits like free checked bags and receiving priority treatment from the boarding staff.
Best for people who fly domestically frequently: Citi®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
You will be able to earn twice the miles, if you purchase American Airlines; you will be gaining 1 mile per each dollar spent on purchases. There is a limited time offer on American Airlines AAdvantage®, that allows you to earn 50,000 bonus miles. This offer would be valid when you make purchases worth $3,000, in the first three months of your new account. You will receive the facility of the free checked bag, boarding in group 1, food during the flight and discount on beverages. You will be able to redeem 10,000 miles every year and there is no fee on foreign transactions. No annual fee the first year, then $95/year.
Citi®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®’s Benefits:
The benefits of this card are:
- You will get a sign up bonus, which is an important aspect of every airline credit card
- You will be able to redeem 10,000 every year, which is 10% of your miles; it is a benefit that not many cards offer.
Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®’s Drawbacks:
- When you redeem your miles, you can only redeem it for American Airlines or for other airlines, with oneworld partner flights.
- The Citi ®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® has a foreign transaction fee of 3% while there are many other companies that do not charge any fee.
Best for travelers looking to save some money: Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card’s Benefits:
- Two partners of Southwest’s are Hertz and Hyatt, from whom you can rent a car.
- For the sign up bonus, the card’s spending requirement is low in comparison to other cards
- It even offers a 6,000 point anniversary bonus, whether you spend anything or not
- I love this card for its companion pass benefits (but it’s tricky to rack up enough miles for that).
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card’s Drawbacks:
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card even charges a fee for the first year, but the anniversary bonus really helps off set this.
Here is a summary table comparing some popular credit cards.
|Name||Signup Bonus||Annual Fee||Rewards Rate||Major Perks|
|General travel cards|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Purchases worth $3,000 should be made in the first three months, so that you can enjoy a bonus of 40,000 miles. This is similar to spending $400 on travel.||No fee for the first year. $59 fee after the first year||If you spend $1, you will get 2 miles||There is no fee on foreign transactions|
|Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®||When you open an account, in the first three months, you should spend $3,000, so that you can get 40,000 bonus miles||No fee for the first year and after that $89||For every dollar you spend, you will get 2 miles||There is a PIN option available. No fee on foreign transactions|
|Rewards Platform Travel Cards|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||In the first three months, spend $4,000 and earn extra 50,000 points||No fee in the first year, then you have to pay $95||If you spent money on dining out and travel, you will earn 2 Ultimate rewards and the money you spent elsewhere, you will get one point per dollar||There is no fee on foreign transactions|
|Citi Prestige® Card||Within the first 3 months of your new account, you have to spend $3,000, for which you will get 50,000 ThankYou points||You will have to pay $450||For every dollar that you spent on airfare and hotels, you will get 3 ThankYou points. For every dollar that you spent on dining out and entertainment, you will get 2 points. For every dollar that you spent elsewhere, you will get one point.||You will earn $250 as travel credit ever year and there is no fee on foreign transactions|
|Airline-Branded Credit Cards|
|Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®||This is a limited time offer, where you have to make purchases worth $3,000 in the first three months, and you will get 50,000 bonus miles on American Airlines AAdvantage®||There is no fee for the first year and after that $95 is imposed||For every dollar that you spent on American Airlines, you will get 2 miles. You will get 1 mile for every dollar that you spent elsewhere||You will get the facility of priority boarding; you can save 25% on in-flight purchases. First checked bag would be free|
|Airline branded business credit cards|
|CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®||Make a purchase worth $3,000 in the first three months and get 50,000 miles on American Airlines AAdvantage||The first year is free and then you have to pay $95||1 dollar spent on American Airlines, specific offices, supply stores, telecom providers and car rentals will give you 2 miles and 1 dollar spent elsewhere will give you 1 mile||Bags would be checked for free, you can take 4 travel companions and receive priority boarding|
We researched this information carefully, but each offer is subject to its own terms and conditions, which may change at any. Read disclosures, and keep track of what you sign up for.