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It’s no secret that flying in first class is a completely different experience than flying in coach. What you may not realize is that some credit cards make it easy to achieve first-class travel more often. If you enjoy the finer things in life, make sure you use one of the best credit cards for first-class travel.

Emirates_Boeing_777-200LR_First_Class_Suite credit cards for first class travel
Use one of the best credit cards for first-class travel and fly in an infamous Emirates Boeing 777-200LR First Class Suite. Photo by Pyonko Omeyama on Flickr

Best Credit Cards for First Class Travel

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

Editor’s Note: Some of the offers below may have expired or are no longer available on our site. 

The Platinum Card from American Express

If you fly often, the Platinum Card® from American Express deserves a spot in your wallet. Earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Cardholders also earn 5x points on prepaid hotel bookings through amextravel.com.

Most airline credit cards only award 2x points on flight bookings.

You can then transfer your points to over a dozen airline loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. Redeeming your points for first-class travel usually gives you the highest redemption values of up to 6 cents each. Some of the best airlines include Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, Flying Blue, and Delta.

Other premium air travel benefits of the American Express Platinum include:

  • Annual $200 airline fee credit (in the form of statement credits, enrollment required)
  • Airport lounge access including Centurion, Priority Pass (enrollment required), and Delta Sky Club
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

It can also be enough to fly in the swanky Singapore Suites from New York to Frankfurt.

Additional Benefits

Cardholders can get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when paying with their Platinum Card®.

If you ride Uber or use Uber Eats, this credit will make you happy. Cardholders can enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.

Plus, American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.

Terms apply. Enrollment may be required.

New The Platinum Card from American Express Benefits

There’s also a new digital entertainment credit. Cardholders can get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with The Platinum Card® from American Express at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.

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.

Another exciting new benefit is the ability for cardholders to enjoy up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. This amounts to up to $300 annually. Enrollment required. 

Get the full details and learn more in our in-depth The Platinum Card from American Express review.

The annual fee is $695 (See Rates & Fees) but can be offset with the perks, which are valued at over $1,400.  

Welcome Bonus

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  

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

Travel for business often? The Business Platinum Card® from American Express earns 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.com. Additionally, cardholders can get a 35% airline bonus when using their points to pay for all or part of a flight with a qualifying airline booked on amextravel.com, up to 500,000 bonus points annually.

This redemption bonus makes each point worth 1.35 cents each. However, you may still find more value in transferring your points to a 1:1 travel partner.

Like the personal Amex Platinum, the Amex Business Platinum card comes with annual travel credits, airport lounge access (enrollment may be required), and other air and hotel perks. This is also one of the strongest and most lavish cards available to the public — literally! Made of metal, it is one of the best metal cards that doesn’t require an invitation in order to apply.

There is also a 50% bonus (1.5 points per $1) on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million points annually).

Plus, cardholders can now breeze through security with CLEAR® (where available) and get up to $179 back per year on your membership when you use your Card. Terms apply.

Cardholders can get up to $200 airline fee credit (in the form of statement credits—enrollment required) at one qualifying airline annually for baggage fees and other incidentals charged by the airline to your Business Platinum Card. Also, cardholders can take advantage of the Pay Over Time Option, a flexible payment option to help manage cash for purchases of $100 or more.

Another business perk you may appreciate is a Dell Small Business statement credit. To get the credit, cardholders must enroll to get up to $200 in annual Dell statement credits (cardholders get up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. Dell purchases – terms apply).

New The Business Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders have the opportunity to earn 100,000 Membership Rewards as part of the welcome offer. To earn the 100,000 bonus points, they need to spend $15,000 on eligible purchases on their card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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

Terms apply.

Related: Best Amex business credit cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on all dining purchases around the globe. Other premium benefits include an annual $300 travel credit, Priority Pass lounge membership, and a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The Chase Sapphire Reserve also earns 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.

Gas station and grocery store purchases will also count towards earning the annual $300 travel credit, through December 31, 2021.

Cardholders can also earn up to $120 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021. 

This is in addition to the complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription that lets cardholders get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees. They also earn up to $120 in statement credits on DoorDash purchases ($60 in statement credits through 2020 and another $60 in statement credits through 2021).

Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn 10x points on Lyft rides, including bikes and scooters. Complimentary Lyft Pink Membership is also available when activated by March 21, 2022. Points are worth 50% more through Sept. 30, 2021, when redeemed for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories with the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature. Points are also worth 50% more when redeemed through the Chase Dining hub in Ultimate Rewards, now through Sept. 30, 2021.

New Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardmembers can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $900 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 

Your points are worth 1.5 cents each when booking award travel on the Chase travel portal. You can also transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to airlines and hotels including United, Southwest, British Airways, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines. There are no foreign transaction fees either, making this one of the best credit cards for international travel.

Also, the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits update includes new ridesharing and food delivery perks.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card gives you 2x miles per $1 spent on every purchase. Earning double miles can help you earn a small fortune of miles quickly. Your redemption options include redeeming miles for a travel statement credit and booking upcoming flights for one cent each.

The best option can be transferring your Capital One miles to hotel and airline partners including Avianca, Emirates, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines. You also get a fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

New Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card cardholders can earn 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Learn more: Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Along with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Capital One Venture Rewards is considered one of the best travel credit cards. Learn more in our comparison of the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Capital One Venture review.

Singapore Airlines’ Suites

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is a great card for frequent Delta flyers for a number of reasons. Cardholders can receive a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+® or Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of their Card. *Payment of the government-imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.

Other air travel benefits include:

  • Complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges (additional fee for companions) when flying on a Delta flight
  • Free first checked bag on Delta flights for you and up to 8 companions
  • Upgrade Priority (when available)
  • 20% in-flight purchase savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Terms apply

Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge or Escape Lounge – The Centurion® Studio Partner when you book a Delta flight with your Reserve Card.

Your purchases earn 3x miles per $1 spent on eligible Delta purchases. All other eligible purchases earn 1x mile per $1 spent. Plus, earning MQMs can make it easier to achieve airline elite status. Cardholders can accelerate their path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost.

For a limited time, new cardholders can earn 80,000 Bonus Miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $5,000 in purchases on their new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.

Plus, earn up to 60,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 15,000 MQMs four times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.

The annual fee is $550 but there are no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees).

Terms apply.

Related: Best Delta Air Lines credit cards

British Airways Visa Signature Card

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a top contender for international first-class travel.

New British Airways Visa Signature® Card cardholders can earn 100,000 Avios after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

New cardholders also earn 5 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and LEVEL within the first 12 months from account opening (earn 3 Avios thereafter). New cardholders can also earn 3 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel within the first 12 months from account opening (earn 2 Avios thereafter).

Plus, new British Airways Visa Signature® Card cardholders can get 10% off British Airways flights starting in the United States when you book through the website provided in the welcome materials.

This card has a $95 annual fee but doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.

Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier® Card is another great option if you’re comfortable transferring points to a frequent flyer program. You earn triple ThankYou points on air travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets, and restaurants, and 1x point for everything else.

This is also one of the best Citi credit cards available.

You can transfer your ThankYou points to the various airline partners. Most of these airlines are international carriers including:

  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • FlyingBlue
  • Qantas
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Avianca LifeMiles lets you book award flights on Star Alliance partners including United and Lufthansa. When flying Lufthansa, you can avoid the fuel surcharges that you pay when booking directly from Lufthansa. However, make sure award space is available before you transfer points. Otherwise, you may need to settle for flying coach on a different airline to use your miles.

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 Citi Premier can be a good Chase Sapphire Preferred alternative if you’re breaking the Chase 5/24 rule. Learn more in our Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Citi Premier comparison.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Another excellent business credit card is the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. This is the business version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred and also one of the best small business credit cards for travel rewards.

You earn 3x Ultimates Rewards on the first $150,000 in combined annual purchases for:

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

All remaining purchases earn 1 point per $1.

Your points are worth 1.25 cents each when booking award travel on the Chase travel portal. You also have access to the 1:1 Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners. This card also has a handsome signup bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points by spending $15,000 in the first 3 months.

Learn more: Best Chase business credit cards

Summary of Best Credit Cards for First Class Travel

The quickest way to book first-class travel more often is to transfer your points directly to the airline. Some credit cards offer fringe benefits like travel credits and airport lounge access that can improve your travel experience.

FAQs

What credit card gives the best travel rewards?

The best travel rewards can be a little different for each person as we all have different travel habits. That said the Platinum Card from American Express offers the most travel benefits. You get complimentary airport lounge access to several networks, airline fee credits, Uber credits, and free Global Entry to name a few perks. Enrollment may be required. Terms apply.

For other travelers, redemption bonuses and a wide portfolio of 1:1 transfer partners can be more valuable. In that case, you might consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Your points are worth 1.25 cents each when booking award travel directly through Chase. Transfer partners include United, British Airways, Emirates, Flying Blue, and Singapore Airlines. These airlines offer some of the best first-class redemptions.

Which airline has the best first class?

The best first-class experience overall can be Singapore Airlines. While they may not offer the best experience for every destination, you have lots of booking options. You should focus first on flying the Singapore Suites class which gives you a private room with a dedicated bed. One of the most affordable routes is from New York to Frankfurt starting at 86,000 miles.

Singapore Airlines also lets you redeem KrisFlyer miles on Star Alliance partners, Alaska Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia. You have plenty of options, to say the least.

Finally, Singapore Airlines partners with most of the best credit card reward programs to transfer points. Chances are you can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One miles directly to your KrisFlyer account.

Is it worth flying first class?

First-class travel is expensive but the experience can be well worth it. Instead of paying cash for tickets, you may decide to wait and book a first-class flight with points. The main reason why is that each point can be worth as much as 6 cents each for first class but closer to 2 cents each for main cabin flights.

You should pay attention to the additional fees and fuel surcharges as well. Domestic airlines including United, Delta, and American are less likely to charge add-on fees. But international airlines like Lufthansa or British Airways are more likely to. It’s possible to avoid these fees by booking flights through Avianca LifeMiles which is an American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou transfer partner.

Also, flying first class can be better when you have a long international flight. Not only do you get to spend more hours in luxury but the award flight cost may not be that more expensive than a short-haul domestic flight.

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

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.

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

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