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Whether earning airline miles towards your next vacation or simply looking to make the flying experience more enjoyable, airlines offer credit cards to help make that even easier. You can get airline frequent flyer program miles, preferred boarding, checked bag waivers, and even gain entry to the coveted VIP airport lounges.

Not all credit cards that earn miles are the same, so it’s important to understand the difference between them all. Many, especially the most premium ones, will come with an annual fee, so it’s also important to factor that into your decision-making process.

To help you choose the best card, the Fortune Recommends TM team evaluated approximately 30 of the top credit cards that earn airline miles available today. We’ve ranked them based on factors such as annual fees, rewards structure, annual percentage rate (APR), consumer benefits, and more. Read on to see our top picks.

You may notice that our list doesn’t include just airline co-branded credit cards that earn miles, but also premium cards earning transferable points that can transfer into a multiple of airline miles programs. For those travelers who are in a committed relationship with one specific airline, co-branded credit cards may be the best option as some of the benefits are targeted precisely to those frequent flyers. You will be earning miles with one specific airline, and while those miles may be redeemable for flights on that airline’s partners, redemptions remain limited to that specific program.

See our full methodology here.

All interest rates, rewards, and fees are accurate at time of publication, but are subject to change.


The 12 best airline credit cards


Best flat-rate airline miles-earning card: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Intro Bonus


Earn 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening





Annual fee $95
Regular APR 19.99%–29.99% variable


Why we like this card 

The Capital One Venture Rewards card is ideal for both avid travelers and everyday consumers who want to earn travel rewards without the complexity often associated with other travel rewards cards. The card offers a flat earn rate of 2x miles on every purchase, without the need to track specific spending categories. It also boosts the rewards rate to5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel . This simplicity is coupled with the flexibility of redemption options; miles can be used to book travel through Capital One, cover travel purchases, or transferred to a variety of both airline and hotel loyalty programs to obtain even more potential value.

Further, the Capital One Venture Rewards card comes with added benefits such as an up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees every 4 years, rental car insurance, extended warranty protection, and more. The card also has no foreign transaction fees, making it a cost-effective choice for international spending. With a substantial welcome bonus, this card strikes a balance between lucrative rewards and user-friendly features, appealing to a broad spectrum of cardholders.

Best premium airline miles-earning card: Capital One Venture X

Capital One Venture X Rewards Card

Intro bonus

75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee $395
Purchase APR 19.99%–29.99% variable
Foreign Transaction Fee None

Why we like this card 

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card has a robust rewards program and travel benefits that cater to frequent travelers. One of its standout features is the generous rewards rate. These miles can be redeemed for travel, transferred to over a dozen travel partners, or use your miles to cover recent travel purchases.

As an extra perk, you can earn 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary.

Another hallmark of the Venture X card is its rich suite of travel perks. Cardholders enjoy access to the Capital One lounge network and over 1,300 partner lounges worldwide through Priority Pass. Additionally, the card offers a statement credit for the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee, up to a $300 annual travel credit for bookings through Capital One Travel, and no foreign transaction fees. Its comprehensive travel protection benefits, including trip delay and cancellation insurance, add another layer of comfort for travelers. 

Best airline miles-earning card for no annual fee: Capital One VentureOne Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Intro Bonus


Earn 20,000 miles after spending $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening







0% balance transfer term 15 months
Balance transfer fee 3%
Annual fee $0
Regular APR 19.99%–29.99% variable


Why we like this card 

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card provides a straightforward earning structure, allowing cardholders to earn Capital One Venture Miles which can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, or statement credits for past travel purchases. This simplicity in earning and redeeming rewards makes it an accessible option for those new to travel cards or those who prefer a no-fuss rewards program with no annual fee.

The VentureOne includes a modest welcome bonus and its 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months (after that, the variable APR will be 19.99%–29.99%) provides an opportunity for cardholders to finance larger purchases or manage cash flow without accumulating interest charges. These features, combined with benefits like travel accident insurance and secondary rental car coverage, position the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card as a strong contender for cost-conscious consumers who value simplicity and savings.

Best airline miles-earning card for transfer partners: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Intro bonus


60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening





Annual fee $550
Regular APR 22.49%–29.49% variable


Why we like this card 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® not only offers a generous rewards structure, but many ways to boost their value when you redeem them.

Points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards travel booked through Chase, or they can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs. This flexibility in redemption makes the points extremely valuable for travelers looking to leverage them for premium flights and accommodations.

Aside from its rewards program, the card offers a comprehensive suite of travel benefits. Cardholders also enjoy an up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees every 4 years which along with the travel credit helps take the sting from the card’s annual fee. 

The inclusion of a Priority Pass Select membership provides access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide for added comfort during your travels, and for peace of mind, a number of travel protections, such as trip cancellation/interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and emergency evacuation coverage are also included. These premium perks, combined with strong earning potential, make the Chase Sapphire Reserve one of the most attractive cards for avid travelers.

Best airline miles-earning card for Companion Pass: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Intro bonus


Earn 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening plus earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25






Annual fee $99
Regular APR 21.49%–28.49% variable


Why we like this card 

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card gets you a straight line to the coveted Companion Pass. Southwest Airlines’ Companion Pass is one of, if not the best, companion passes on the market. For every flight that you take you can take a companion with you, and this card helps you earn points to get there. For every dollar that you spend on the card you’ll earn one point towards your companion pass status and you’ll even earn a 10,000 point boost each year on your card member anniversary.

If you value Southwest Airlines miles then this card is for you, earning a strong 3 miles per dollar on all Southwest purchases. Transit, rideshare and commuting purchases all earn 2 miles per dollar as do internet, cable, cell phone and streaming services. All of these are popular categories you’re probably spending money on, so earning a bonus is a no brainer.

All Southwest Airlines flights come with two free checked bags, so there’s no need to worry about having this card to get free bags, but if something were to happen to those bags, you’re protected against loss, damage, and delay. If your bags are damaged or lost, you’re covered for up to $3,000 and if your bags are delayed in getting to you, you can go get basic necessities on your trip so you’re not left without toiletries and clothes.

Best miles-earning airline card for lounge access: The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Intro bonus


Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $8,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of card membership






Annual Fee $695
Purchase APR See Pay Over Time APR
Foreign Transaction Fee None


To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

Why we like this card 

The Amex Platinum Card is perhaps the epitome of luxury travel and comprehensive benefits. One of the card’s best features is its vast access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide, including the exclusive Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), and Priority Pass Select lounges. This card also offers an impressive suite of travel credits that easily offset the annual fee, including:

  • up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your card
  • up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card® (minimum 2-night stay required)
  • up to $200 in Uber Cash on rides or eats orders in the U.S. annually
  • up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The Wall Street Journal

Coupled with comprehensive travel insurance coverage and purchase protections, the card’s benefits cater to a luxury-oriented clientele who can leverage these features in order to offset the premium card’s annual fee.

Best Delta Air Lines miles-earning card: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Intro Bonus


100,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months





Annual fee $650
Regular APR 20.99%–29.99% variable


Why we like this card 

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card gives Delta Air Lines frequent flyers access to the Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounges as well as free checked bags and a companion certificate. You will enjoy access to both the Delta Sky Club and the Centurion Lounge network so you can relax before boarding your flight.

The card packs other benefits like first checked bags free for you and up to eight other passengers on the same reservation, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars on your next family vacation, as well as an annual companion certificate that allows you to buy a second ticket for a domestic round-trip flight for just the taxes and fees. Other fringe perks include a 15% discount when redeeming miles for award flights on Delta, 20% back on in-flight purchases with Delta and an up to $100 credit towards your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership every 4 years.

To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, see this page.

Best United Airlines miles-earning card: UnitedSM Explorer Card

UnitedSM Explorer Card

Intro bonus


60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening





Annual fee $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (then $95)
Regular APR 21.99%–28.99% variable APR


Why we like this card 

The UnitedSM Explorer Card will get you free checked bags and access to the United Club for a low annual fee that is waived for the first year. You also get two one-time United Club passes per year so you can get a taste of the VIP treatment.

The Explorer card comes with a credit of up to $100 for your Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS membership every 4 years, and it can help you save on your in-flight purchases or United Club premium drinks by giving you back 25% on those purchases.

Best American Airlines miles-earning card: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Intro bonus


70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening





Annual fee $595
Regular APR 21.24%–29.99% variable


Why we like this card 

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is a premium airline co-branded card specifically targeted to American Airlines frequent flyers. Its flagship benefit is the Admirals Club® membership, which allows both the primary cardholder and authorized users access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges. This perk alone can justify the card’s annual fee, as a membership costs between $700 and $850 depending on the individual’s status with the airline.

This card helps accelerate mileage earnings with a whopping 10 miles per dollar spent on eligible car rentals and hotels booked through American’s travel portal, and a respectable rewards rate on other eligible purchases. New cardholders can also earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first three months of account opening.

You’ll also earn a 10,000 Loyalty Point bonus after reaching 50,000 Loyalty Points in a status qualification year. Earn another 10,000 Loyalty Point bonus after reaching 90,000 Loyalty Points in the same status qualification year.

This card comes with a suite of travel benefits that enhance the flying experience with American Airlines, such as a 25% discount on inflight food and beverage purchases, a fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every 4 years, priority check-in and boarding privileges, a free checked bag on domestic itineraries for up to eight travel companions, and more. These features make the card highly valuable for loyal American Airlines customers, offering a fast track to both comfort and status within the airline’s loyalty ecosystem.

Best budget airline card that earns miles: JetBlue Plus Card

JetBlue Plus Card

Intro bonus

60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days of account opening






Annual fee $99
Regular APR 21.24% to 29.99%


Why we like this card 

The JetBlue Plus Card is an attractive option for JetBlue frequent flyers trying to maximize their loyalty rewards.

Further, the card offers a sizable welcome bonus. JetBlue Plus cardholders also benefit from valuable airline-specific perks that enhance the JetBlue flying experience. These include a free first checked bag for the cardholder and up to three companions on the same reservation, an anniversary bonus of 5,000 points, a 50% savings on in-flight purchases, and the opportunity to earn Mosaic elite status after reaching a certain spending threshold within a calendar year. You also get 10% of your points back after you redeem for and travel on a JetBlue-operated Award Flight. Plus, you can receive one $100 statement credit each calendar year after you purchase a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Plus Card. 

Best cash back airline card: U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude Connect

Intro bonus


Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first 120 days worth $500 towards travel and more.






Annual fee $0 first year, then $95
Regular APR 21.24% to 29.24%


Why we like this card 

The U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature Card sets itself apart with a rewards program that bonuses a wide range of spending categories. The Altitude Connect offers a suite of travel and lifestyle benefits that far outweigh the $95 annual fee, which is waived in the first year. For example, cardholders enjoy an array of protections such as rental car insurance, extended warranty coverage, and cell phone protection when the monthly bill is paid with the card. 

The Altitude Connect also comes with a complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership, which gives you four free visits to over 1,300 airport VIP lounges and experiences worldwide. You also receive a statement credit of up to $100 every 4 years to cover your TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry fees, a $30 credit for annual streaming service purchases like Netflix, Apple TV+, Spotify and more. There are no foreign transaction fees with this card.

Best foreign airline card that earns miles: Aeroplan® Credit Card

Aeroplan® Credit Card

Intro bonus


Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.






Annual fee $95
Regular APR 21.74%–28.74%


Why we like this card 

For a low annual fee, the Aeroplan® Card will give you great perks when flying Air Canada including status, free checked bags and the ability to earn substantial rewards with your spend. 

Signing up for this card comes with automatic Aeroplan 25k status for the year you sign up and the following year, meaning that when you travel through the airport you’ll get premium treatment and even have the chance to get upgrades on Air Canada flights. Plus, Aeroplan miles are useful when flying Star Alliance partners like United Airlines, meaning the Aeroplan card may actually earn you more miles to use on United than a United card depending on your spending. 

Not only will you earn 3 Aeroplan miles per dollar spent with Air Canada directly but you’ll snag 3 miles at grocery stores, restaurants, takeout, and delivery services. This means the potential to build up a big balance of miles is limited only by your appetite to eat at restaurants and grocery stores.

The free luggage perk isn’t just for you when you book a flight. If you’ve got friends and family traveling with you, up to eight additional members, everyone will get a free bag, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars per flight. A slew of other benefits like a Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS membership credit, bonused mileage transfers, and a complimentary Doordash membership make the annual fee much easier to swallow.

Airline mile-earning cards and transferable point cards

Travelers who are more airline independent may want to opt for cards earning transferable points. These cards tend to offer wide ranging premium benefits like lounge access, travel credits and other perks you can take advantage of regardless of the airline you’re flying. Additionally, all the points you earn can be transferred to a multitude of airline programs in order to redeem for award tickets, so your options are much broader.

Lounge Access 

Most of the cards on this list will grant you some sort of access to an airport lounge, however not all lounges are created equal. Many of these co-branded airline credit cards come with access to their own lounges, like the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex letting you into the Delta Sky Club or the Citi AAdvantage Executive card letting you into the Admirals Club. 

Other cards, especially those with their own transferable points programs, come with complimentary Priority Pass memberships that will proverbially open doors to more than 1,300 lounges and restaurants at airports worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I choose the best airline credit card?

Choosing the best airline credit card for you is much like going shopping for clothes. While there are always great options in the rack, not everything will end up being a great fit for you. Credit cards are tailored to target different cardholders’ wants and needs, so before choosing one, think hard about their benefits and drawbacks. If you’re able to take advantage of most of the offered perks, you might be able to justify its annual fee, but if you don’t see yourself using those perks, it may be smart to try on the next card for size. Consider the categories you spend the most money on, the kind of travel you’re currently doing, the types of award travel you would like to embark on and how willing you are to pay for premium annual fees in exchange for perks and benefits – this will help you narrow down what card would best fit your travel needs. 

How much are airline miles worth?

The value of airline miles is, at best, hard to calculate because of its subjective nature. Some airline miles are easy to earn as you can do so in many ways, ranging from flying with the airline to spending with its co-branded credit card. Others are virtually impossible to obtain if you’re not spending multiple hours sitting on a flight after spending hundreds of dollars with the airline.

The most important calculation you can do is weigh how much value you are able to obtain from them. If these miles are hard for you to earn but you can redeem them for the kind of travel you want, then they are valuable to you. Conversely, the easiest miles to earn will be worthless if they are of no use to you.

Do I earn status using an airline credit card?

It depends. Some credit cards automatically confer airline status just by holding them like Aeroplan credit card, other cards like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® will help you get part of the way into qualification, but others, like those earning transferable points, will not help you earn any kind of airline status while offering you some of the most exclusive perks.

Do I get into the airport lounge with an airline card?

While airline credit cards offer a whole host of airline specific perks, not all of them will grant you access to an airline lounge. Generally, premium credit cards -particularly those with a high dollar amount annual fee- will offer entry to airport lounges. Some cards let you access lounges for one specific airline, like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, but others offer access to a larger network of non-airline affiliated lounges, like the Capital One Venture X or American Express Platinum card, as well as the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect card, which comes with access to the Priority Pass network of lounges.

Do I get free checked bags with an airline card?

Not all cards offer the same kind of benefits. Some, like the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card will grant you a fee-free first checked bag for you and up to 8 additional passengers on the same reservation when flying Delta, some will get you and just one companion a free checked bag each like the United Explorer Card, but other cards -like The American Express Platinum card- offer to offset some airline incidental fees in general which can be used to cover checked bag fees.

Methodology

To bring you our top picks for the best airline credit cards, the Fortune RecommendsTM team compared approximately 30 cards available from major issuers. 

We ranked each account in these core categories: 

  • Annual fee (15%): Some credit cards charge an annual fee, which can range from $50 to several hundred dollars. Usually, the more valuable the rewards and perks associated with a card, the higher the annual fee. However, some cards do not charge a fee at all. 
  • Highest travel rewards rate (20%): This is the maximum rewards rate awarded on travel purchases. 
  • Transferable miles/points (10%): We examined whether miles or points could be transferred to other loyalty programs.  
  • Welcome bonus (10%): It’s common for airline cards to offer new cardholders a miles or points bonus after they spend a certain amount within a specific timeframe after opening an account. 
  • Foreign transaction fee (10%): Some credit cards charge a fee for transactions made overseas. Cards that charge foreign transaction fees were docked in our rankings. 
  • Travel perks (25%): Cards were awarded 0–6 points based on which added travel perks were included: lounge access, companion ticket, statement credit for Global Access/TSA PreCheck, inflight travel credits or discounts, free checked bags, priority boarding.
  • Consumer benefits (10%): Cards were awarded 0–5 points based on which consumer benefits/protections were included: lost baggage/baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty, cell phone insurance.

Keep in mind that the rewards, interest rates, and fee structures for the cards mentioned are available for limited periods and subject to change, which could impact how many miles or points you earn. 


Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.


Fortune Recommends™ has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Fortune Recommends™ and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefits guide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.



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