Geoff is a personal finance and travel writer and editorial strategist. Since starting his own rewards travel & financial blogs in 2011, his work has been featured on HuffingtonPost.com, TechCrunch.com, Hyatt.com, CreditCards.com, CreditSesame.com, and Inc.com. Geoff writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews Capital One and Chase credit cards, and basic rewards news.
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What are the best airline credit cards 2019? There’s a lot of different co-branded airline credit cards to choose from. And if you’re loyal to one airline you know upgrading to higher airline status levels isn’t exactly easy. But using the right airline credit card gives you a head start toward reaching those higher tiers. These airline cards can also provide a few other perks as a loyalty award. Most airlines offer expedited elite status when you use their co-brand credit cards. Besides earning elites airline status, you may also enjoy perks like free checked bags and lounge access.
Best Airline Credit Cards 2019
Which airline credit card is right for you?
If you’re a traveler chasing status, then it’s a no-brainer to apply for the co-branded credit card offered by your preferred airline. For the rest of us that are agnostic to which airline we fly, the choice isn’t always as clear.
Comparing Best Airline Credit Card 2019 Benefits
This chart breaks down the benefits offered from each premium airline credit card so you can pick one based on the perks that matter most to you.
Amex Delta Reserve
Chase United MileagePlus Club
Citi AAdvantage Executive
40,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs
$3,000 within 3 months
$3,000 within 3 months
$5,000 within 3 months
2x on Delta
Earn 2x on United
2x on American
Standard earn rate
1x on all others
1.5x on all others
1x on all others
Elite qualifying miles
15,000 MQMs & 15,000 miles after $30,000
10,000 EQMs after $40,000
First checked free for up to 9 passengers on same itinerary
1st and 2nd checked bag for cardholder and one companion
First checked free for cardholder and up to 8 companions
Main Cabin 1
– Flying on Delta or partner airline – Primary cardholder is free – Up to two guests and children under 21 years of age pay reduced rate of $29 each
– Flying on United or partner airline – 2 adult guests or 1 adult & dependent children under 21 years of age
– Flying on any airline through Oct 31, 2019 – After Nov 1, 2019, must fly on American or partner airline – 2 adult guests or 1 adult & dependent children under 18 years of age
– Companion certificate after $30,000 spend – MQD waiver
– No close-in booking fees – Complimentary Premier Upgrades – Hertz President’s Circle – LHR Collection
– Up to 10 authorized users at no charge – Authorized users also have lounge access – Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit
My Personal Strategy for Using the Best Airline Credit Card Options
I currently have the Citi AAdvantage Executive Platinum credit card because it provides access to the Admirals Club lounges no matter which airline I’m flying. When the entrance rules change in November 2019, the value will decline considerably.
Since I’m not focused on airline status, I may abandon premium airline credit cards and downgrade to the mid-tier airline cards or another travel credit card. They’ll provide most of the same benefits and then I’ll access the Centurion Lounge and Priority Pass lounges through other premium credit card options.
Do you have one of the best airline credit cards? What is your favorite benefit of your card?
For rates and fees of The Delta Reserve Credit Card, please click here.
The information for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, the Delta Reserve® Credit Card, the United MileagePlus® Club Card, and the United℠ Explorer Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Premium credit cards are a popular option with consumers looking to benefit from sign up bonus miles and earning potential. But, airline credit cards are the best way to rack up benefits with an airline you fly often. From lounge access to priority and a free checked bag, here are three of the best airline credit cards to enhance your next travel experience.
United MileagePlus Club Card Airline Credit Card
First introduced in 2012, the United MileagePlus Club Cardis great for travelers who value lounge access and fly regularly on United. The $450 annual fee is hefty when compared with competitors. But, it is actually a more economical way to purchase a membership to the United Club network. Membership costs $550 per year, so you’d be saving $100.
You’ll gain full access to some of the best airport lounges, as well as unrestricted access to Star Alliance business lounges when flying on a Star Alliance airline. This is one of the best airline credit cards if you want lounge access.
Another reason to relax about the annual fee is the earning rate. The United MileagePlus Club Card earns 1.5 United miles per dollar spent on all purchases. If you use this card for everyday spending, your earnings will quickly add up to serious savings toward future flights. This is especially enticing.
United MileagePlus miles are the most valuable of the three legacy airline loyalty currencies. Considering the 50,000 miles you’ll receive as a sign-up offer after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, you’ll have enough miles to book a flight in no time. This covers the annual fee for the first year, plus extra that you can put towards upcoming travel plans.
Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
If you’re looking for an airline credit card with a lower annual fee (See Rates & Fees) and spend requirement, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is the perfect addition to your wallet.
This card comes with the opportunity to earn 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 on your card within the first 3 months of account opening. New cardholders can also earn a $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase on their new card within the first 3 months of account opening.
With such a low threshold, you should be able to start earning in no time.
Other benefits include priority boarding, a free checked bag, 2 miles per dollar when you make a Delta-related purchase, and payment flexibility. This last reward is especially helpful in managing large monthly expenses because it allows you to carry a balance (interest rates apply) instead of paying it in full each month.
However, we wouldn’t recommend using this benefit unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Furthermore, you’ll benefit from a 20% discount on all in-flight purchases, car rental insurance, and discounted access to the lounge. If you value lounge access above other amenities, know that Delta is more restrictive than the United MileagePlus Club Card.
American Express is known to provide excellent benefits and insurance protection. If you choose the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express option, all you’ll need to worry about is what the weather will be like in your destination. This a good offer if you prefer flying Delta exclusively.
American Airlines Citi AAdvantage Platinum Credit Card
Another option for a travel credit card is the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Credit Card. There is a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. You can earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles after a total of $6,000 in purchases is made within the first 12 months.
With this bonus, you can travel roundtrip to destinations as far as Europe for only the cost of taxes and fees.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Best Airlines Credit Cards 2019 – Earn Miles, Perks and Airline Status