The Best Credit Cards for Purchasing Flight Tickets

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Purchasing flight tickets is one of the best ways to earn bonus rewards points. Although you might think that co-brand airline credit cards earn the most points, flexible rewards cards can actually earn more. Plus, you have more redemption options and aren’t required to redeem your miles with a single airline.

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Platinum Card from American Express

If you want to earn the most points possible from any flexible travel rewards credit card, the Platinum Card from American Express is your best option.

You’ll earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline or AmexTravel.com. As long as you don’t buy your tickets from third-party booking sites like Expedia or Priceline, you’ll earn 5 points.

Your Amex Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for award travel on AmexTravel.com or 1:1 point transfers to multiple airline and hotel partners. In more cases than not, transferring your Membership Rewards points is the better deal. Some of the travel partners include Delta, Emirates, Etihad, and British Airways Avios.

As a premium travel credit card, the Platinum Card® from American Express also lets you enjoy these air travel benefits:

  • $200 annual air travel credit
  • Complimentary airport lounge membership
  • Global Entry and TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement

There’s plenty to love about the Platinum Card besides purchasing flight tickets and receiving double the average reward rate.

AMEX business gold

American Express Business Platinum Card

For business travel, the Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN boasts the same air travel benefits as the personal Platinum Card. You will also earn 5x Membership Rewards points, but only by purchasing flight tickets from AmexTravel.com. All tickets purchases directly from the airline or another third party booking site will only earn 1 point per $1 spent on the business platinum.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining. You can also earn 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. As you might have already guessed, you get 3 points per $1 on any airline ticket purchase regardless of where you buy it from.

Redeeming your Ultimate Rewards points is also a cinch because they are worth 1.5 cents each for award travel booked on Chase or they can be transferred on a 1:1 basis. Although there aren’t as many 1:1 travel partners as the Amex Platinum, some of the exclusive Chase travel partners include Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and World of Hyatt.

Other Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel benefits include a $300 annual travel credit and Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership.

Chase Ink Business Preferred

If you want an affordable business rewards card, the Chase Ink Business Preferred costs $95 per year and earns up to three points on travel purchases, including every airline ticket purchase.

You will earn 3 points per $1 in combined annual spending on these purchases:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Cable, Internet, and Phone services
  • Search Engine and Social Media advertising purchases

All bonus category purchases exceeding the $150,000 spending amount will continue to earn 1 point per $1 until your next card anniversary. This is a great deal for purchasing flight tickets.

Your Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card purchases earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. These points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed for award travel through Chase. Or, you can transfer them on a 1:1 basis to any Ultimate Rewards travel partner too.

Johnny Jet holding Chase Ink Preferred

Johnny Jet holding Chase Ink Preferred

Premier Rewards Gold from American Express

The Premier Rewards Gold from American Express earns 3 points per $1 spent on tickets purchased directly from the airline. You will also earn 2 points per $1 at U.S. gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.

Every purchase earns Amex Membership Rewards points that can be redeemed for award travel or transferred to a 1:1 travel partner.

Each year, you’ll also get a $100 air travel credit that can reimburse checked baggage fees and in-flight purchases.

Capital One Venture Card

If you crave flat rate rewards, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card might be a good option as well. Every single purchase earns 2 points per $1 spent. It doesn’t matter if your purchasing flight tickets, and Uber fare, or picking up your dry cleaning.

Each point is worth one cent each and can be redeemed for future award travel on the Capital One travel portal. With the Capital One purchase eraser, you can also redeem your points for statement credit by “erasing” past travel purchases. Regardless of which redemption method you choose, your points are always worth one cent each.

Capital One Venture Card Link: Find more information & apply here.

JetBlue Plus Card

The JetBlue Plus Card is one of the few co-brand airline credit cards to make this list of best card for purchasing flight tickets. The primary reason why is because it earns more than 2 points per $1, which is the benchmark reward rate for airline purchases.

You’ll earn 6 TrueBlue points per $1 spent on JetBlue purchases plus a free checked bag. You will also get two TrueBlue points per $1 spent at restaurants and grocery stores. With the family pooling benefit, you can combine your points from multiple family members to book award tickets sooner.

JetBlue is a discount carrier that doesn’t fly everywhere, but you can find some good deals along the Eastern U.S. and to the Caribbean. If you live by a JetBlue airport, consider this card when purchasing flight tickets.

Southwest Airlines Credit Cards

Southwest Airlines offers two personal credit cards and a business credit card that all earn 2 points per $1 on Southwest ticket purchases. While this might not be anything to write home about, these Rapid Rewards points are more valuable than some of the other ways you can earn them.

The main reason why is because all the Rapid Rewards points you earn with a Southwest credit card count towards the bi-annual 110,000 point requirement to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. With the Companion Pass, your travel companion only has to pay fees and taxes to fly with you for up to two years.

For example, any Ultimate Rewards points you transfer from your Chase Sapphire Preferred to Southwest won’t count towards the Companion Pass. So if you fly Southwest on a regular basis and are tired of constantly paying full price for a second ticket, consider adding one of their cards to your wallet.

As a new cardholder, you can also qualify for a signup bonus that gets you halfway there. This is a great option for those purchasing flight tickets with groups.

Summary of the Best Cards For Purchasing Flight Tickets

While you won’t get free checked bags or priority boarding with the flexible rewards cards mentioned in this article, you will earn more points per $1 spent. If you prefer earning more points compared to more lavish air travel benefits, these cards are your best option when purchasing flight tickets.

Mary Renking

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The Best Credit Cards for Purchasing Flight Tickets
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About the Author

Mary Renking
Mary writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews top travel credit cards, and basic rewards news.

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