List of Airline Frequent Flier Credit Cards
Barclays bank is the issuer of US Airways affinity card. The best feature of this card is probably their companion ticket certificate, where you can use for two companions rather than just one. For those who fly US Airways, this card will save you money for your family travels. With the news that US Airways will merge with American Airlines, this is an opportunity for AA flyers to get some bonus miles with this card as well. (See Review Here).
The new Citi® Platinum Select®/AAdvantage® Visa Signature® has new features that blows many other cards on this page away. Features like free checkins on bag*, discounts on eligible in-flight services* are now available. The other big news is that US Airways is in advance talks to takeover AA. Question is what happens to the credit card? Will the US Airways or AA one survive? Regardless, it may not be a bad time for US Airways flyers to get this card to some extra bonus miles.
The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is the entry level among the three Delta cards. Unlike the othre upper tier cards, you cannot earn MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Miles) that counts towards earning elite status. But ironically, this card would work best for folks who already qualify for the top elite status anyway. As with all good airline cards, you get to earn double miles on Delta ticket purchases.
The Virgin America Visa® Signature® will suit frequent flyers of Virgin America. 10,000 bonus miles is up for grabs for the new card member. A $150 discount companion code also awaits you after every anniversary date.
Frontier is one of the three airlines that has a hub on Denver, Colorado (as well as United and SouthWest). One of the nice thing about the airline is that you can check in your skis as a "regular baggage". This card is catered to those who fly with them a lot. (Review).
United Continental is the largest domestic airline after their merger. This is the card of the combined entity and it has some pretty nifty features which should appeal to their customers. (See Review).
If you fly the Trans Atlantic route a lot, chances are that you would have flown British Airways. They do have a US based cards and one of the great features they have is their annual companion ticket. (See review here).
If you really fly a lot either on business or personal, then you would want to check out the American Express American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card. Like most American Express charge cards, the reward program is the Membership Rewards and you get a whole host of benefits. But the great thing about this version of the card is that you can earn triple points for airline ticket purchases. From a points earning perspective for travel, no card comes even close. In fact, even the Platinum Card loses out in terms of ability to earn points from airline ticket purchases. For the true frequent flyer, this card is hard to beat.
For folks who are members of multiple frequent flier programs or those who make use of airline alliances to get the best redemption rates, nothing beats the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card because the starwood program allows you to transfer points into miles (mostly on a one to one basis) for over 30 airline partners. They essentially have the most airline partners for any reward program. What is even more impressive is that you will get 5,000 bonus miles when you transfer 20,000 points to miles! If that is too much of a hassle, you can always book your flights directly with Starwood with their StarFlight program (click on the SPG Flight Chart to see the point exchange ratio. Most frequent fliers I know have this card.
The Alaska Airline Mileage Plan is one of the best around and their Alaska Airlines credit card is one of the rare cards that allow you to earn triple points when booking their flights. Frequent fliers of this airline should definitely take a close look at this card.
For folks live in Hawaii or fly there very often, the Hawaiian Airlines credit card is perhaps the ideal card to get. In our review, we also recommend a couple of alternatives if you also fly other airlines.
The Aer Lingus MasterCard is probably the best card around for Irish immigrants who want to earn Aer Lingus miles for flights back to Ireland or Europe. The best thing about this card is that there is no annual fee and yet you can earn double miles.
The Aeroplan MasterCard is for frequent flyers of Air Canada. But having said that, this is probably one of the worst airline credit cards. Find out why I feel this way.
The JAL credit card is ideally suited to someone who flies with JAL to Japan often on business. You will find that this card is really different from US carrier cards. But is it better? Find out in our review.
The ANA Credit Card. like the JAL credit card, is issued by National Bank of Omaha and is targeted at the business person or Japanese expatriate who flies frequently to Japan with ANA.
The Asiana American Express Card is one of the best airline cards around because you can earn 2 points for every dollar that you spend on the card (including Asiana tickets) and triple points per dollar at groceries. Because it is a star alliance partner, you can also use their points to book flight for other partner airlines. If you travel to South Korea a lot, you definitely should get this card.
The Virgin Credit Card has two version, the Black Card version and the While Card version. Both allow you to earn triple points. Frequent fliers of Virgin Atlantic would do well to get this card, though there are a couple of alternatives to earning Virgin miles if you are not a frequent flier (as we shall see in the review).
The Lufthansa credit card has two versions, a no annual fee and an annual fee version. One of the unique feature of this card is that if you are an elite member of the Lufthansa Miles and More program (ie Senator level or HON circle member), your annual fee is waived.
This study is presented as follows :
1. Airline Reward Card Features
2. Airline Credit Card Features
3. Airline Credit Card Comparison Table
Before we begin, here are a couple of articles on getting a better deal from airline cards.
Tips on choosing your card
Which American Airlines credit card should you get?
Citibank has got three versions (including a no annual fee version) of the American Airlines AAdvantage cards. Which is the best one? We compare them side by side. Find out what we think.
While the true die hard frequent flier is probably best served by a frequent flier credit card, there are many credit card reward programs that allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for airline tickets. But within this category of cards, there are also different types of cards and rewards. There is no one better card, but rather they will suit different people. Here is the various types of cards:
Cards with Multiple Frequent Flier Programs - While a specific airline credit card is best if you only fly one airline (most of the time), those who are members of multiple airline frequent flier programs would want to consider cards that are affiliate with many frequent flier programs. Examples of such programs include the Membership Rewards Program from American Express. and the Starwood Preferred Guest Program.
Credit Reward Programs - Most major credit card issuers have reward programs and cards that allow you to earn reward points on your card spending and use them to redeem for airline tickets. Increasingly, many of the programs claim that you do not face blackout dates (unlike many frequent flier programs. Most programs have almost identical point requires for ticket redemption. The issue for consumers mainly revolve around how many points does the card allow you to earn. The standard industry practice is that you can earn one point for every dollar you spend on the card. Some cards have gone out of their way to let you earn more than that. For example, the Citi® PremierPass(SM) Card not only allows you to earn one mile for every dollar that you spend, you can also earn miles on the flights you fly (or your friends fly) if you use the card to pay for your tickets.
Cards that Give You Rebates For Travel Expenses - A new breed of card has appeared recently that actually gives you rebates for any travel items that you charge to your card. The advantages of having such cards is that you do not have to book through the airline or travel agent that is affiliated with the credit card company. This frees you up hunt for the best deals offline or online. Cards like that include the Miles by Discover® Card.
Airline Credit Cards Features
Then there is specific frequent flier credit cards that airlines (in partnership with a bank) issues. These cards allow you to earn miles from spending from their cards. Below are some key features to watch out for.
Double Miles - Many frequent flier credit cards allow airlines to earn double miles when you use their credit cards to buy airline tickets directly from them. Some even allow you to earn double miles if you spend on other items as well.
Bonus Miles - All frequent flier cards to a certain extent give new cardholders bonus miles when they sign up (to entice them to apply for the card). Some give really generous bonus (25,000 miles which is enough for a round trip ticket on most programs). This should not really be a big factor in your decision.
Companion Tickets - Some cards give companion tickets either as a signing bonus or as an anniversary bonus. It typically works in 2 ways. You either buy a ticket that is worth more than a certain amount and you get one free companion ticket. Or you can get a companion ticket certificate worth a certain amount.
Anniversary Bonuses - Some cards give anniversary bonuses. This may take the form of bonus miles, companion ticket, club lounge pass, or discounts on mileage usage.
Annual Fee - Unlike most credit cards, airline credit cards have an annual fee (which is why they are among the most profitable types of cards for issuers). The fees vary from $40 to over $400. Only you can decide (based on the miles and benefits you earn), if the fees are justified. For many frequent fliers, they are.