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Flight bookings are one of the highest bonus categories for many travel credit cards. When you’re buying multiple tickets, those earnings can add up quickly. Consider booking your next flight with these rewards credit cards to earn the most travel rewards.

best credit cards flight bookings
SFO outside terminal. Credit: United Airlines

The Best Credit Cards for Flight Bookings

You may be surprised to find that the best credit cards for flight bookings aren’t necessarily going to be co-brand airline credit cards. However, if you are loyal to one brand and fly them often, an airline credit card might be a better fit (more on that below).

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Starting August 16, 2021, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card starts earning 5x Ultimate Rewards on travel purchases you make with the Ultimate Rewards portal. Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points on dining, and 2x points on all other travel purchases, plus more.

Any flight you book directly from the airline or another third-party booking site will continue to earn 2x points.

Another new Chase Sapphire reward benefit is getting a 10% anniversary bonus each card renewal for the number of points you earn in the previous year.

When you’re ready to redeem Ultimate Rewards, each point is worth 25% more for award travel bookings. You can also transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to participating airlines and hotels.

This card is also offering a 100,000 Ultimate Rewards signup bonus ($1,250 value) after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This is the card’s highest-ever signup bonus.

The annual fee is $95 and $0 for secondary cards.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred Review

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® awards 5x Ultimate Rewards for flights you book on Ultimate Rewards (starting August 16, 2021).

You also get an annual $300 travel statement credit. Unfortunately, you won’t earn rewards points on the purchases this credit reimburses. Gas station and grocery store purchases will also count towards earning the annual $300 travel credit, through December 31, 2021.

Other travel perks include:

  • Priority Pass lounge access
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit
  • 50% travel redemption bonus
  • 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers

Plus, earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

New cardholders can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

The annual fee is $550 for the primary card and $75 per authorized user.

Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve Review

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is a perennial contender for being one of the best credit cards for flight bookings.

You can 5x Membership Rewards on flight bookings from the airline or on AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 in purchases per year). Most cards earn up to 3x points on purchases as a reference.

Other airline perks include:

  • Up to $200 annual airline fee credit on one airline of your choice (terms apply, enrollment required)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit (enrollment required)
  • Airport lounge access (Centurion, Priority Pass (enrollment required), Delta Sky Club, and others)
  • Savings on qualifying international flights
  • 1:1 airline point transfers
  • Terms apply

In addition to enjoying TSA PreCheck or Global Entry access, cardholders can also enjoy CLEAR perks. Cardholders can use their Card and get up to $179 back per year on their CLEAR® membership. Terms apply.

The annual fee is $695 (See Rates & Fees) for the primary card. A flat fee of $175 lets you request up to 3 additional cards.

This card also has one of the best 100k bonus offers.

New The Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $6,000 on purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. New cardholders also earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms apply. 

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards  

Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier® Card is the best card to earn ThankYou points on flight bookings. This card can be an excellent alternative to the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you’re currently subject to Chase’s 5/24 policy.

These purchases earn 3x ThankYou points:

  • Air travel
  • Hotels
  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants
  • Supermarkets

Each point is worth 1 cent each when booking award flights through Citi. You can also transfer them to participating airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

New Citi Premier Card cardmembers can earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. The 80k bonus points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com.

The annual fee is $95 and $0 for additional cards.

Compare the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Citi Premier to get more details on each card.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great option if you want a flat-rate rewards card. Each purchase, including flights, earns 2x Capital One Miles.

You might also prefer the Venture Card if you prefer redeeming your points as travel statement credits. With this strategy, you pay cash upfront for travel purchases but get to earn rewards points. Then, you get to redeem them to erase all or part of the recent purchase.

The two other redemption options are transferring your miles to airline and hotel partners or booking upcoming travel through Capital One Travel.

One additional benefit of note is the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.

The annual fee is $95 and $0 for secondary cards.

Related: How hard is it to get the Capital One Venture?

Airline Credit Cards

Co-brand airline credit cards can be the best credit cards flight bookings if you’re loyal to one airline. You might live near a carrier hub and rarely fly an alternate airline.

Another benefit of carrying a branded card is getting special perks like free checked bags, in-flight purchase rewards, and preventing your airline miles from expiring.

The best airline credit card depends on your preferred airline. As the largest airlines offer several card options, you must also decide what benefits you want and the highest annual fee you’re willing to pay.

These airlines offer several credit cards for earning miles:

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is a great option for business travel. Your first $150,000 in combined annual purchases earn 3x Ultimate Rewards:

  • Travel
  • Shipping
  • Search engine and social media advertising
  • Internet, cable, and phone services

The remaining purchases earn 1x points.

Your points are worth 25% more (1.25 cents each) when booking award travel on Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.

The annual fee is $95 and $0 for additional employee cards. You may consider another Chase business credit card if you don’t want an annual fee.

The signup bonus is 100,000 Ultimate Rewards ($1,250 value) after $15,000 in purchases during the first 3 months of account opening.

Related: Chase Ink Business Preferred Card Review

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offers these premium travel perks:

  • 5x Membership Rewards on flights and hotel bookings using AmexTravel.com
  • Get 35% points back on award flight bookings (up to 500,000 points back per year)
  • 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers
  • Airport lounge access (enrollment required, terms apply)
  • Up to $200 airline fee credit (terms apply)
  • Terms apply

TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credits are also included as well as CLEAR perks. Cardholders can use their Card and get up to $179 back per year on their CLEAR® membership. Terms apply.

Here’s how hard it is to get The Business Platinum Card.

This card’s welcome offer is 100,000 Membership Rewards ($1,000 value) after $15,000 in purchases during the first 3 months.

The annual fee is $595 (See Rates & Fees).

Related: American Express Business Platinum Card Review

American Express Business Gold Card

The American Express® Business Gold Card can be a more budget-friendly option if you want to earn bonus points from business flights but don’t need the premium benefits like airport lounge access.

You can compare the Amex Business Gold vs. Amex Business Platinum if you want more details.

You can earn 4x Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month (terms apply):

  • Airfare purchases directly from the airline
  • Advertising
  • Computer, software, and cloud systems from select providers
  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants
  • Shipping

4x points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. All remaining purchases earn 1x points. Terms apply. Here’s how hard it is to get the American Express Business Gold Card.

Other card travel benefits include:

  • 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers
  • 25% points back on award flight bookings (up to 250,000 points per calendar year)

The current welcome offer is 70,000 Membership Rewards ($700 value) after spending $10,000 in the first 3 months. Terms apply.

The annual fee is $295 (See Rates & Fees).

Related: American Express Business Gold Card Review

Summary

For most people, a travel credit card that earns bonus points on airline purchases from any carrier is the best option. Each card also offers additional ways to earn bonus points and may offer extra travel perks too. But if you’re loyal to one airline, a co-brand card is usually the better option as loyalty has its perks.

Related Articles:

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

And for rates and fees of The American Express® Business Gold Card, please click here.

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