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Purchasing flight tickets is one of the best ways to earn bonus rewards points and airline miles. They can be expensive and you can earn multiple points per $1 when buying flight tickets. You might think that co-branded airline miles credit cards will earn the most miles on flight tickets, flexible travel credit cards can actually earn more points. But are they the best credit cards for purchasing flight tickets?

By earning transferrable points you will have more redemption options if you can transfer your points to multiple travel partners, so you wouldn’t be required to redeem your miles with a single airline when you use the best credit cards for flight purchases.

My favorite credit card for buying flights is currently The Platinum Card® from American Express because you get 5x points per $1 on airline purchases, but it does have a hefty annual fee, so one of the other options below may be a better fit for you. If you want a lower annual fee credit you can earn 2x points per $1 on flights with the Sapphire Preferred. See how the Sapphire Preferred and Amex Platinum compare here.

Best credit cards for purchasing flights
Best credit cards for purchasing flights

The Best Credit Cards for Flights 2020

The Best Credit Cards for Purchasing Flights

Chase Sapphire Preferred – The Best Credit Card for Booking Flights

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best credit cards for booking flights. It recently raised its bonus to 80,000 points ($1000 at least in travel) which is the largest public bonus offered on this popular travel card. New cardholders earn the 80k after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

You will also receive 2x points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases. This makes it a great option for purchasing airline tickets.

The $95 annual fee isn’t waived for the first year. However, the increase in bonus points makes up for the annual fee. That’s because 10,000 points have a $100 cash value or $125 travel credit.

But you can get even more value if you transfer your Sapphire Preferred points out to an Ultimate Rewards travel partner. To receive a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points you must spend $4,000 in the first 3 months on eligible purchases.

Platinum Card from American Express – Best Credit Card For Airline Purchases

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 airline fee 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.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

For business travel, the Business Platinum Card from American Express 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 purchased directly from the airline or another third party booking site will only earn 1 point per $1 spent on the business platinum.

New cardholders have the opportunity to earn 75,000 Membership Rewards as part of the welcome offer.

To earn the 75k, you’ll have to spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. The annual fee is $595 (See Rates & Fees). 

Chase Sapphire Reserve – Best Credit Cards for Flights

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. You can earn the $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – Business Credit Card for Flights

If you want an affordable business rewards card, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card 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 Business Preferred. His favorite card for buying flights

Capital One Venture Card – Best Credit Card to Buy Airline Tickets

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 miles per $1 spent. It doesn’t matter if your purchasing flight tickets, and Uber fare, or picking up your dry cleaning.

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

JetBlue Plus Card – Best Credit Card for Flights on JetBlue

The information for the JetBlue Plus Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The JetBlue Plus Card is one of the few co-brand airline credit cards to make this list of the 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, you can get a free checked bag for you and up to 3 companions on the same ticket. You will also get two TrueBlue points per $1 you spend 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. However, 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 – Best Credit Cards for Flights on Southwest

The many Southwest Airlines’ credit cards make the best credit cards for flights list, mainly because of the ability to earn the Companion Pass and because Southwest still lets travelers check-in two bags for free. Southwest Airlines offers three personal credit cards and two business credit cards 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 125,000 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 (depending on how quickly you get the pass).

For example, any Ultimate Rewards points you transfer from your Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits 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.

The Southwest credit cards are as follows:

Related: Best Southwest Credit Cards

As a new consumer cardholder, you can also qualify for a signup bonus that gets you closer to earning the pass. New consumer cardholders can earn 40,000 points by spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

These points plus purchase rewards count toward the annual 125,000-point Companion Pass requirement. This is a great option for those purchasing flight tickets with groups.

The Best Credit Cards for Purchasing Flights

Summary of the Best Credit Cards For Purchasing Flight Tickets

The best credit cards for flights make the list because they not only earn you those coveted points or miles, they also come with benefits. Depending on the credit card, these benefits can include everything from travel statement credits, lounge access, and even the ability to transfer points or miles.

Most of the best reward credit cards are in this best credit cards for flight purchases list because of their versatility. In other words, you won’t have to commit to one airline. However, we did mention two airline credit cards, mainly because they have benefits that are worth mentioning. Both are budget-friendly airlines as well.

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.

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

Geoff Whitmore
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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.

4 Comments On "The Best Credit Cards for Purchasing Flight Tickets (2020)"
  1. David & Doris Bowma|

    My wife and I are at retirement age and our children but and grandchildren live in different cities. We need to have the comfort of visiting them at times. We have Visa credit cards, however we want to be more flexibility! Thank You.

  2. Johnny Jet Editorial|

    Happy to help! Safe travels.

  3. Karla Hernandez|

    I am wanting to apply for a credit card to purchase air line tickets, but I want to make the best, most safe and smart decision as far as being in debt goes. Could you please help me out in making this decision? We don’t fly often, so point and rewards are not my first concern, I don’t want to pay more in the long run just for a vacation that will cost me more by getting a credit card.

    Thank you,
    Karla Hernandez

    1. Johnny Jet Editorial|

      Hey Karla, thanks for reading the blog! The Sapphire Preferred has generally been considered the best starter card for rewards travel. It earns Ultimate Rewards points which can be transferred out to numerous travel partners (United, Southwest, etc), and it comes with a 60,000 point bonus. It also earns 2x points per $1 on travel purchases. Of course, only apply for a credit card if you can manage your cc spending, and you have a good credit score. Hope this helps!

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