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The Best Airline Miles Credit Cards, April 2014

This article was written by in Credit. 15 comments.


As airlines continue to add a variety of fees to compensate for keeping fare prices low to complete with each other, the overall cost to fly is increasing. Adding to the base cost of a flight are fees like fuel surcharges, checked baggage fees, and in-flight fees for food, drinks, headphones and pillows. Some airlines are now even charging for carry-on luggage. Some of the best airline miles credit cards allow customers to waive a few of these excessive fees and are accompanied by a quality rewards program. These features help customers save money on fees as well as apply discounts to fares.

These are the best airline miles credit cards available to consumers today. If you fly frequently on any of the below airlines, you could save thousands of dollars in airfare every year, but even less frequent travelers will still be able to save money. If you own a card not found on this list and consider the card to be valuable, please leave a comment with the card information and I will add it to the list.

Editor’s choice

Chase Sapphire Preferred®. New card holders for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card can qualify for 40,000 bonus points by spending $3,000 on purchases during the first three months of card ownership. These points can be redeemed for $500 in travel rewards when booked through Ultimate Rewards, making this the most valuable card for airline travel available today. The card also includes a reward program, with two points for every dollar spent for travel expenses and dining at restaurants. As well as offering the standard one point for every dollar spent in other categories. Also, the card offers no foreign transaction fee and a 7% annual points dividend on all new points earned on purchases – even on points already redeemed.

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express opens with 30,000 bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in the first three months of Cardmembership and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. The standard rewards program on the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers two miles for every dollar spent on qualifying Delta purchases and one mile for all other eligible dollars spent. Take advantage of premium travel perks such as Priority Boarding in addition when you book a flight with and fly Delta, your first checked bag is free, that’s a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four. This card has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, after that the annual fee is $95. Terms and Restrictions Apply.

With the fees on some of the airline miles cards, becoming a member may not be worthwhile unless you pay your bill in full every month and fly frequently for the points to be more worthwhile than a cash back card. Many cards have fees, so consider whether you will use the card enough to take advantage of discounts and fee waivers exceeding the amount of those annual fees. Using an airline miles card also ties you into using a specific airline. If you fly the same route frequently, you may already have that level of loyalty.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

Important Note! The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that offers change frequently. Therefore, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit or charge card prior to applying.

Leave a comment if you are a fan of other airline miles credit cards.

Updated April 14, 2014 and originally published February 4, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar krantcents

Since the merger of United and continental, you can double down by getting both cards and receive the rewards from each card.

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avatar PedroNY

You should consider listing American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card. You can transfer miles from the hotel program to 20+ airline programs, and you get bonus miles for transfers over 20,000 points. So you can earn 1 point per $1 spent, and get 1.25 miles after transfer. Just someting to consider, to list here.

Best,

PedroNY

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avatar Elaine

I own the SPG Amex and I am about to switch. Some of the airline mile transfers (Continental/United for example) are transferred at a 2:1 ratio, so when I tranferred 80,000 Starpoints I only received 40,000 miles. To top it off, the transfer can take up to 4-6 weeks. I’m praying that the flight I want to redeem them for is still available by then. Things they fail to tell you make light of when joining this card…

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avatar Johnson

I second the SPG card. Your analysis of the Jet Blue card is misleading–10,000 points does not automatically get you a round trip ticket, unless you want to go to Rochester or want to fly at odd times. Most flights require 10,000+ points for a one-way ticket.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,371 (Platinum)

That’s the case with all mileage awards across all cards — while 5,000 will qualify you for a one-way ticket and 10,000 will get you a round-trip fare, the minimum amounts are usually not where you want to go. The article above is still accurate.

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avatar Johnson

I didn’t say it was inaccurate–I said it was misleading. Which it is. Actually, just including that one sentence you just wrote would have improved this article greatly.

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avatar twiggers

Your analysis of the AAdvantage card is also incorrect. It carries an $85 annual fee that is waived the first year. Also, there are 75K bonuses that are available out there.

Free intercontinental trips start at 25K for the MileSaver trips (limited schedules and you need to book WAY in advance).

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,371 (Platinum)

Are you looking at the Gold or the Platinum. The Gold card has a $50 fee (waived for the first year) as the article states. The Platinum has the $85 fee you’re mentioning. There is a 75,000 mile bonus expiring at the end of the month for AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Select, and AAdvantage AmEx, but not the Gold Card, requiring purchases of $4,000 in the first six months. That sounds like it’s worth checking out.

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avatar twiggers

Flexo: Yes, the platinum…which is the pic of the card that you have in the article. Hence my confusion! The 75000 promo is great! They often do waive the fee on the platinum card too. AND, if you apply for the Visa & Amex on the same day you can often get both (computer glitch) and get 150,000 miles!

Also another thing to note…even if there is an annual fee, if you call and threaten to cancel at the end of the year they’ll usually waive the fee and give you some more miles.

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avatar twiggers

OK, silly me…you have the MC in the pic…which looks identical to the Visa and Amex (platinum). Clearly, I need to go back to bed.

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avatar nickel

The miles that you earn with the Amex Delta Platinum card are not MQM miles. They’re just regular miles, but you can earn bundles of MQM miles when you hit spending tiers – 10k MQM for $25k in annual spending, and another 10k MQM when you hit $50k in annual spending.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,371 (Platinum)

Thanks for the information, everyone. I will update the article shortly.

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avatar eric ♦1,549 (Half-Dollar)

SW Visa just underwent a major change to their rewards system. Not sure if I like it or not but they’re still my preferred airline.

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avatar Rob

Just signed up for the Jet Blue Amex card, since they were running a special: 10,000 points for signing up, and 10,000 points when you spend $500 in 3 months. I was planning on just paying my car insurance bill with the card, getting the points, and then canceling. Does anyone know if bills count as ‘eligible purchases’?

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avatar Michelle

Have any of your readers had a problem with their JetBlue AMEX card accounts regarding the 10K miles for signing up and 10K miles when you spend $500 in the first three months? I signed up for this promo and received the first 10K miles two months in but still have yet to receive the second 10K miles and its been 5 months since activation and I fulfilled the requirements. I contacted AMEX and they say they don’t have any record of such a promotion. I went on a discussion forum on JetBlue and it seems many people have had the same issue where AMEX refuses to give them the miles they are entitled. What have your readers done to get what is rightfully theirs? I spoke with customer service at both AMEX and JetBlue and was told no one could help me. Its quite frustrating.

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