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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 for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Keep reading to learn more about this premium card.

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 Card – 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 60,000 points ($750 at least in travel). New cardholders earn the 60k 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.

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 60,000 points you must spend $4,000 in the first 3 months on eligible purchases.

Additional Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits include unlimited deliveries with no delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with a DoorDash DashPass subscription. Activate your card by December 31, 2021.

Cardholders also earn 5x points on Lyft rides, through March 2022. Through April 30, 2021, cardholders automatically earn 2x points per $1 spent at grocery stores, up to $1,000 per month.

Additionally, cardholders can earn up to $60 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021. Points are worth 25% more now through April 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 25% more when redeemed through the new Chase Dining hub in Ultimate Rewards, now through April 30, 2021.

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. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.

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:

  • Up to $200 in annual airline fee statement credits for incidental fees at one qualifying airline
  • Global Lounge Collection access
  • 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.

New cardmembers can earn 75,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. Cardholders also earn 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership.

The annual fee is $550 (See Rates & Fees).

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

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 (prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com also earn 5x points). 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.

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

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.

New cardholders can earn a 100k mile bonus by spending $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Learn more: Rewards Credit Cards

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 that all earn 2 points per $1 on Southwest ticket purchases.

However, for a limited time, cardholders can earn 5x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases, up to $2,000 spent per month. This offer is available through March 31, 2021.

New consumer card cardholders can also earn up to 80,000 bonus points! New cardholders will earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Then, they can earn an additional 30,000 points after spending $10,000 in the first 9 months of account opening.

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

The signup bonus 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.

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

Geoff Whitmore
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.

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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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