Best Airline Credit Cards For 2019

airline credit cardsImagine: you plop down in your economy seat between two passengers with elbows jutting into your arm space.

You try to push the recline button to relax, but no matter how hard you push, it won’t work.

Not to mention, your tray table is broken and the magazines are torn in the seat pocket in front of you and there are crying children behind you.

Meanwhile, all you can think about are the steamed towels that were out at the beginning of the flight that one time you got lucky enough to be bumped up to first class.

And the champagne. Let’s pause, and all take a moment to remember the champagne.

Without a septillion dollars or the right airline credit card, that is all the champagne will be for you  – a memory.

With no way to strategize, first class is all but a hope and a prayer, something you “luck” into when the timing works out just right.

Ah. That was nice.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Comfort and luxury don’t have to be an exception. You can have control over your destiny, and you can find your way back to those steamed towels.

One of the most efficient ways to do this by enrolling in an airline rewards credit card.

Quick Guide to The Best Airline Credit Cards

Top Airline Credit Cards for 2019

Okay – so we love finding you the best credit cards for airline miles, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to scour the hundreds of offers out there and compile a list.

We looked for airline credit cards with bonus miles and other perks like free checked bags, introductory offers, and waived annual fees in the first year.

Our goal is to get you flying high and in style, so without further ado – Here’s our list to help you find the best airline credit card for YOU!

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express®

Gold Delta Skymiles credit card from american express
  • 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months

Current Offer

Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make only $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first three months.

Perks of the Bonus

By now you know the benefits of getting bonus miles, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? What you might not have considered yet is how teeny differences in airline deals can make your travel experience better.

Redeeming miles using a Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express will ensure you get priority boarding and your first bag checked for free. Say goodbye to the hassle and hustle of most airlines, on Delta your trip will be smooth flying.

This card is great for travelers who love flying Delta but don’t fly enough to get the perks of Delta elite status. Being a Delta Gold cardholder automatically puts you in the club. Bon voyage.

Additional Gold Delta Skymiles® Credit Card from American Express Perks

This card is perfect for international travel because when you arrive you won’t have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees.

  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year
  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending just $1k
  • Receive one free checked bag per flight.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

Current Offer

Earn 40,000 Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.

Perks of the Bonus

The best part of flying Southwest besides its extensive network of flights is that your miles apply to a fixed value on flights.

If you keep your head up and look for good deals, you could spend fewer miles for flights that would otherwise be more expensive.

This means more flights for the same value! So keep your eyes peeled, you might just be able to get the whole family tickets to Disneyworld from Chicago for a weekend of fun and sun.

Additional Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Perks

Okay, get ready for this one. The bonus miles earned from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit card’s introductory offer could earn you the – wait for it – oh-so-revered Southwest Companion pass.

What does this mean?

You can add a second person free of charge to any flight you book with Southwest, as long as there is another seat available for purchase. You’ll only need to pay taxes and fees for your companion’s flight, but not for the ticket itself. Mind blown.

If that’s not enough for you, Southwest now has flights to the Caribbean and South America, so you’ll love taking advantage of zero foreign transaction fees while you’re drinking your Pisco Sours.

  • $99 annual fee
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

United℠ Explorer Card

United Explorer Card
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months

Current Offer

Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

Perks of the Bonus

Since your miles never expire, you can cash in on those 40,000 bonus miles right away, or save them up for a trip across the globe.

Additional United℠ Explorer Card Perks

Get ready for priority boarding, so you never have to wait in those long, bottle-necked airport lines again. Plus you’ll receive not one, but TWO United Club passes annually.

Finally – unlimited free checked bags means you’ll make back that annual fee and then some with only a handful of United flights per year.

If United is your go-to airline and you plan on traveling more than three times annually, this airline reward card might have your name on it.

  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Earn double the miles per every $1 spent on restaurants and hotels

Avianca Vuela Visa® Card

Avianca Vuela Visa Card
  • 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase, 20,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in first 90 days

Current Offer

Earn 40,000 bonus LifeMiles when you make your first purchase within 90 days.

Perks of the Bonus

With a generous introductory bonus, you’ll earn 40,000 LifeMiles when you make just a single purchase within the first 90 days of having your Avianca airline reward credit card.

This would earn you enough miles for 2 round-trip flights within Central America, and almost enough for 2 round-trip flights within North America.

Additional Avianca Vuela Visa® Card Perks

15% discount on a la carte LifeMile purchases; free bag on trips between North America and Central America; 50% discounts on award tickets for travel from the U.S. to Central America or Colombia after $12,000 and $24,000 spent each year.

  • $149 annual fee
  • Earn 40,000 bonus LifeMiles when you make your first purchase within 90 days
  • Get unlimited 3x LifeMiles on Avianca purchases and 2x LifeMiles at gas stations and grocery stores.
  • Earn 1 LifeMile per $1 spent on all other categories

Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard
  • 60,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days

Current Offer

Earn 60,000 HawaiianMiles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening your account.

Perks of the Bonus

Here’s a fresh surprise for you – the introductory bonus of 60,000 HawaiianMiles translates to about $550 in value, depending on your calculations. Just think of the flights you could take with that kind of credit!

Additional Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® Perks

Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® cardholders can earn bonus miles at all the shops and restaurants in the HawaiianMiles Marketplace.

  • $99 annual fee, waived the first year
  • 60,000 bonus HawaiianMiles after $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first 90 days.
  • Earn 3 miles per dollar on Hawaiian Airlines purchases plus 2 miles per dollar on gas, dining and grocery stores.
  • 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else.

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

British Airways Visa Signature Card
  • 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

Current Offer

Earn 50,000 Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first year.

Perks of the Bonus

Okay – These eye-popping credit card rewards are part of the most generous sign-up-bonus-package we’ve seen yet. If you want to go for it and try to earn both bonuses, that is up to 100,000 in Avios miles valued at 1.5 cents per mile. That means you’ll earn up to $1500 in rewards.

Additional British Airways Visa Signature® Card Perks

No foreign transaction fees and tap to pay. Plus, since British Airways is a member of the Oneworld Airline Alliance, you can use your Avios to book flights on partner airlines like American Airlines, JAL (Japan Airlines), Iberia Airlines, and Alaska Airlines.

Easily use your Avios to bump up to business class!

  • $95 annual fee
  • Two ways to earn sign-up bonuses: Get 50,000 Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, PLUS earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first year.
  • For every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases, you earn a Travel Together Ticket that’s good for two years.

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Blue Delta Skymiles Credit Card from American Express
  • 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in the frist 3 months

Current Offer

Get 10,000 Bonus Miles after spending $500 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Perks of the Bonus

The 10,000 miles-welcome-bonus earns you approximately $130 to be applied to any trip you desire. Delta’s SkyMiles vary in value, but you get the most bang for your buck when you fly between Delta hubs.

Additional Blue Delta Skymiles® Credit Card from American Express Perks

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.

  • Only $0 Annual Fee card in the Delta family
  • Get 10,000 Bonus Miles after spending $500 in purchases in your first 3 months
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants and on purchases made directly with Delta.
  • Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
  • 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.

Why Use An Airline Credit Card?

Using an airline rewards credit card you can get much more than a free flight.

From upgrades in airline status to a smoother airport experience – airline rewards credit cards are well worth the investment of a low annual fee.

Usually, you pay less than $100 per year, but what you get in return is worth much more in value and time. This is key! If you only fly this airline once or twice a year, that fee may not pay off. However, if you fly it more than that, the perks alone more than pay for the fee.

More often than not, having an airline reward credit card, or a co-branded airline credit card, lets you use your points for seat upgrades to business and first-class.

You can even save your points to fund an entire trip for free!

Just imagine the satisfaction. Pretty soon you won’t have to worry about that seat button not working, and a trip to Japan will be within reach.  You’ll be living the high-life, literally.

Compare Top Airline Credit Cards

David Weliver

David Weliver

David Weliver is the Credit Cards Editor at Millennial Money. He is the Founder of Money Under 30 and is widely regarded as one of the top credit card rewards experts in the world. David has been writing about personal finance and credit cards since 2006 and been featured in The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and many others.
David Weliver

Latest posts by David Weliver (see all)

Millennial Money has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Millennial Money and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Posted in: Credit Cards

No Comments

Post A Comment