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Purchasing flight tickets is one of the best ways to earn a lot of reward points and airline miles. Because airline tickets can be expensive and aren’t necessarily known to be everyday purchases, many cards 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, however, flexible travel credit cards can, actually, earn more points. But, are they the best credit cards for purchasing flight tickets?

In a way, yes. By earning transferrable points, you will have more redemption options that can be transferred to multiple travel partners. Depending on the card, 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, up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Keep reading to learn more about this premium card as well as the other options that do well when traveling via air.

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

Best credit cards for purchasing flights

The Best Credit Cards for Flights 2021

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.

New Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $1250 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This is the highest bonus offer ever for the Chase Sapphire Preferred!

You will also receive 2x points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases. This makes it a great option for purchasing airline tickets. Cardholders also earn 5x points on Lyft rides, through March 2022. 

But you can get even more value if you transfer your Sapphire Preferred points out to an Ultimate Rewards travel partner. Your points can be redeemed for award travel or as 1:1 point transfers to multiple airline and hotel partners. Points are worth 1.25 cents more when using their points to pay for all or part of a flight with a qualifying airline booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform.

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.

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 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 25% more when redeemed through the new Chase Dining hub in Ultimate Rewards, now through Sept. 30, 2021.

There is a $95 annual fee.

The 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 5x points, 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 (in the form of a statement credit; enrollment required)
  • 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 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. 

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.

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

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 Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership. There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about.

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®. 

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.

Cardholders can redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel, and more. Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Points don’t expire as long as the account is open. Additionally, cardholders get fraud protection and zero liability. Purchase protection covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account. 

Johnny Jet holding Chase Ink Business Preferred. His favorite card for buying flights

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – Best 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 2x miles per $1 spent. It doesn’t matter if your purchasing flight tickets, and Uber fare, or picking up your dry cleaning. Every purchase automatically earns 2x miles.

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 Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus miles after spending $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Learn more: Travel 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 6x 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 2x 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. All non-bonus purchases earn 1x point per $1 spent.

New consumer card cardholders can earn 65,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. 

Southwest consumer credit cards:

Southwest business credit cards

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

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.

Related Articles:

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.

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4 Comments On "The Best Credit Cards for Purchasing Flight Tickets (2021)"
  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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