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The Best Airline Miles Credit Cards of 2018

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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 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, making this 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.

Other Top Airline Credit Card Offers

Discover it® Miles: With the Discover it Miles card, 50,000 miles can turn into 100,000 miles with Discover Match. For new card members, Discover will double the miles earned at the end of the first year. Discover pays 1.5x miles for every dollar spent on the card. Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit on travel purchases. Card members get an automatic $30 credit each year for inflight wifi charges. There is no annual fee.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®: The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is one of the premier travel reward cards. Earn 40,000 miles when you send $3,000 in the first 90 days. The bonus miles are worth $400 in statement credit on travel. You also earn 2x miles on all purchases. And when you redeem your miles, you get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption.

Capital 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 3 months. These bonus miles are worth $400 when redeemed for travel. You’ll also earn 2 miles for every $1 in purchases charged to the card. There is a $0 intro annual fee the first year, but $59 annual fee thereafter.

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.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express: The Starwood Preferred Amex is ideal for those who frequently stay at Starwood properties. You’ll receive 35,000 bonus Starpoints after you use the card to make $3,000 in purchases in the first three months and an additional $2,000 in purchases during the first six 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.

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 cardmembership. Additionally, you can earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first three months.

  • 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.)

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.

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.

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.

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

Updated December 30, 2017 and originally published February 4, 2011.

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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.



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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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