Airline credit cards
If you’re loyal to a specific airline — or even if you just travel with the same airline multiple times a year — it could be worth holding a co-branded credit card to get a free checked bag, priority boarding, and other perks. Airline credit cards run the gamut from entry-level to premium options, and the best choice for you will depend on how frequently you travel.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card — Alaska miles are very valuable, and also hard to come by. Alaska’s co-branded card (with a $75 annual fee) is a great way to earn them, and you also get a companion fare each year. Read the Alaska Airlines Visa review.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®— This is one of the best credit cards for American Airlines flyers, offering 2x miles at gas stations, restaurants, and eligible American Airlines purchases, along with a free checked bag on domestic itineraries with the airline. Read the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select card review.
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card — If you want to earn Delta SkyMiles without paying an annual fee, this card is a good option. You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases and at restaurants, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. You’ll also get 20% off eligible in-flight purchases with Delta. Read the Delta SkyMiles Blue Amex review.
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card — If you fly Delta a handful of times each year, this card is a good option. It has a $99 annual fee that’s waived the first year, and offers the basic airline perks like a free checked bag, priority boarding, and 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases (and at restaurants worldwide and US supermarkets). Read the Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex review.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card — For more frequent Delta flyers, the Platinum Delta Amex could make sense thanks to additional benefits like an annual companion certificate and the ability to earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) toward Delta Medallion elite Status. The card has a higher $250 annual fee, but if those perks are useful to you, it can be worth it. Read the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex review.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card — Delta’s most premium credit card offers an annual companion certificate and the ability to earn MQMs, but also complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs and American Express Centurion lounges when you’re flying Delta. It has a $550 annual fee. Read the Delta Reserve Amex review.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card — If you qualify for a small-business credit card and you frequently fly Southwest, this card gives you lots of benefits to make your travel more comfortable. You get four upgraded boardings per year (where available), in-flight Wi-Fi credits, and up to a $100 statement credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. You also get 9,000 points each year after your cardmember anniversary. There’s a $199 annual fee. Read the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card review.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card — This card has a $99 annual fee, and earns 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases. One of the top reasons to consider it — or any other Southwest credit card — is that the sign-up bonus you earn from meeting the minimum spending requirement counts toward the Southwest Companion Pass. The Companion Pass lets you designate one person to travel with you on Southwest for free (minus taxes and fees) when you have a flight booked. Read the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card review.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card — Southwest’s most premium personal credit card has a $149 annual fee and comes with some valuable benefits for the frequent Southwest flyer. You get up to $75 in Southwest travel credit each year, plus four upgraded boardings per year (where available). The points you earn with this card count toward the Companion Pass as well. Read the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card review.
United℠ Explorer Card — United’s co-branded credit card with a $95 annual fee (waived the first year) stands out for offering bonus miles on categories other than just United purchases, and an application fee credit for up to $100 for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. As a cardholder, you also get access to additional low-level award space, which makes it easier to stretch the miles you earn. Read the United Explorer card review.
United℠ Business Card — This card has a $99 annual fee, and it offers bonus miles at gas stations, office supply stores, and restaurants, in addition to on United purchases. Read the United Business card review.
Read more: The best airline credit cards