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The Best Airline Miles Credit Cards of 2018

This article was written by in Credit. 15 comments.

We cover the best airline miles credit cards of 2018. You’ll find airline-specific cards and offers that can be used with any airline. Our top pick offers up to a $625 signup bonus.

best airline miles credit cards

The cost of flying is going up. Airlines continue to add a variety of fees to compensate for keeping fare prices low to compete with each other. 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. The are also 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. Even less frequent travelers will still be able to save money. If you own a card not on this list, leave a comment and tell us why you love it.

Editor’s choice

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: New card holders for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can qualify for 50,000 bonus points by spending $4,000 on purchases during the first three months of card ownership. These points can be redeemed for $625 in travel rewards when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This makes it the most valuable card for airline travel available today.

The card also includes a reward program, with 2X points for every dollar spent for travel expenses and dining at restaurants. As well as offering the standard 1X point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. The card has no foreign transaction fee plus Chip and Signature enabled for international travel.

There is a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for all first year cardholders.

Other Top Airline Credit Card Offers

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardCapital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: With the Venture card you can earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months. These bonus miles are worth $400 when redeemed for travel. You’ll also earn two miles for every $1 in purchases charged to the card. There is a $0 intro annual fee the first year, but $95 annual fee thereafter.

For a limited time, Capital One is offering a killer promotion when you book through hotels.com. Using the Hotels.com/Venture link, you’ll earn 10 miles for every dollar spent!

There are no foreign transaction fees associated with any Capital One product but there is also no intro APR to speak of.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express: The Starwood Preferred American Express is ideal for those who frequently stay at Starwood properties. You’ll receive 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you use the card to make $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. There are no foreign transaction fees, and get free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates.

Cardholders receive two Starpoints for every dollar spent at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels and one Starpoint per dollar spent on all other purchases.  When you combine those points with the Triple Starpoints you earn when you become a Starwood rewards member, this card has the potential of earning you five points per dollar spent on Starwood and Marriott brands.

This card carries a $95 annual fee, waived for all first year members.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Card: New cardholders of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card will earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Two points per dollar spent are earning on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and card rental partner purchases and single points per dollar spent are earned elsewhere.

Every year you remain a Southwest cardholder, you’ll earn a 6,000 bonus points (credited on your anniversary date). There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about, no blackout dates or seat restrictions and as always on Southwest flights, bags fly free.

The annual fee is $99 (and it is NOT waived for the first year).

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: You earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months of card membership.

  • With the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, you earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta.
  • Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • Take advantage of premium travel perks such as priority boarding when you book a flight with and fly Delta.
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight–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 conditions apply.)

  • Learn more about this card HERE

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card: This is the no annual fee version of the Venture card. In exchange for avoiding the annual fee, the benefits are bit lower. You can earn 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months. And for every $1 charged to the card, you earn 1.25 miles.

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 justify 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.

This card also includes the same Hotels.com promotion, where you can earn 10 points per dollar spent using the link Hotels.com/Venture

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.

Published or updated April 16, 2018.

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About the author

Luke Landes 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 Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

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 2 Anonymous

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 3 Anonymous

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 4 Anonymous

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 5 Luke Landes

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 6 Anonymous

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 7 Anonymous

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 8 Luke Landes

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 9 Anonymous

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 10 Anonymous

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 11 Anonymous

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 12 Luke Landes

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

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avatar 13 eric

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 14 Anonymous

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 15 Anonymous

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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