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Best Airline Credit Cards

Michelle Brooks

Michelle Brooks

Financial Advisor

More Articles

The credit card industry provides a range of different options – you can choose a credit card that has the features and benefits you’re looking for. If you’re in the market for a rewards card, airline credit cards are often the best cards to obtain. This is especially true if you’re someone who travels regularly. If you approach the situation correctly, an airline credit card can be the best way to get more out of your travel.

If you’ve never had an airline credit card before, you may find the whole concept confusing. For this reason, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you fully understand the industry. This article will provide you with all the information you need to choose the right airline credit card. Applying for a credit card is an important decision – make sure you’re as prepared as possible to choose the right card!

What to Look For

When shopping for an airline credit card, it’s important to look at a few different components when you’re trying to find the perfect card. Below we will analyze the different features to look for when doing your research.

  • Airline – Make sure that the airline the card is provided through is accessible to you and your family. It is often best to work with an airline that is headquartered in your nearest airport. Check what routes they fly to make sure it is an airline that you can benefit from.
  • Miles – Head online and research the value that you get from the miles that you earn through the airline credit card. There are plenty of online forums and blogs that analyze the true value of airline miles – don’t be fooled by big numbers!
  • Additional Benefits – See if any other additional benefits are provided. Many airline credit cards come with travel insurance, extra baggage, and lounge access. Read the fine print to see what else the card offers you. Some may even offer purchase insurance on certain items!
  • Sign-Up Bonus – One of the best things about airline credit cards is their sign-up bonuses. The best airline credit cards provide their users with large sign-up bonuses. This is where you can accumulate large amounts of miles for future travel.
  • Interest Rate – Try and find a card with a low interest rate. We recommend that you don’t carry a balance on your airline credit card at all – the interest you pay will result in the benefits not being worth the cost.

Airline Partners Matter

It isn’t just the airline that you should be considering, you should also be considering the airline’s partners. Most major airlines have a network of partners across different regions. This helps them cater to different areas of the world – it also means that their clients can enjoy benefits in various regions, instead of only the ones they cater to. This has opened up a variety of different benefits to individuals who are seeking airline credit cards.

Firstly, you’ll be able to enjoy your miles and lounge passes with these partner airlines. This means that you’ll benefit from being able to fly within different regions and take different routes. Secondly, you’ll accumulate miles and benefits for using the services of other partner airlines.

In addition, this means that if your favorite airline doesn’t offer a credit card partnership, you can just obtain a credit card from one of their partner airlines and enjoy similar benefits on both airlines. You should ensure that there is a reciprocal agreement to share benefits and miles – not all partnerships are completely mutual.

Regardless, inspecting the partner network of an airline is an important part of choosing the right airline credit card for you and your family. You want to make sure that you’re receiving the card with the most value possible!

Advantages

It can be hard to take in so much information when you’re trying to decide on a credit card to use. That’s why it’s important to make sure to view things from a concise perspective – our advantages section is dedicated to helping you understand the main benefits of this type of credit card. Check out the primary advantages of airline credit cards below:

  • Large Sign-Up Bonuses – Many credit card providers give new applicants large sign-up bonuses. Some of these bonuses are only available for a limited amount of time, so you have to be wary to take advantage of them. Some credit card companies have been known to offer 100,000 miles for signing up for a new airline credit card!
  • Miles – One of the primary benefits associated with airline credit cards is the miles that you accumulate when you spend money. In addition, they may provide additional miles for booking flights or hotels with you credit card. You should make sure that each dollar you spend results in a competitive reward.
  • Additional Benefits – Some airline credit cards also offer additional benefits. For example, you may receive access to their business lounge whenever you fly. Some cards offer free checked baggage for individuals who have their credit card. This is a great benefit that can save you considerable amounts of money if you travel often.
  • Travel Insurance – Some airline credit cards provide their users with travel insurance if the travel is booked through the credit card. This is a great way to receive a premium insurance policy at no additional cost. Make sure to read the terms and conditions of your insurance policy.

Disadvantages

While there are plenty of advantages, there are still some drawbacks to consider. Check them out below:

  • Higher Interest Rates – As with all rewards credit cards, interest rates are much higher on airline credit cards. That’s why it’s important that you don’t obtain one of these cards unless you know you are likely to pay the balance in full every month. If you start accumulating debt, the rewards that you earn will not be worth the interest that you’re paying.
  • Harder to Obtain – Again, rewards credit cards are also much more difficult to obtain. We will discuss this in more detail later in this guide.
  • Annual Fees – Not only do airline credit cards have high interest rates, they also typically have high annual fees. Some lenders will waive the fee for the first year, but you’ll still have to pay it if you want to keep the card in the future.
  • Lack of Additional Bonuses – While sign-up bonuses can be quite enticing, they don’t continue after the initial offering. Many airline credit cards don’t offer additional deals or bonus miles – you’ll be stuck earning rewards by spending money.

Authorized Users

Many Americans have authorized users on their credit cards. This means that someone is able to use the card without being responsible for the payments on it. Many American families may use this function to provide their child with a credit card for emergencies. With many credit cards, it costs little to nothing to add someone onto the account as an authorized user. The downside with airline cards is that you often have a pay an additional annual fee if you want to add on an authorized user.

If you’re planning on having a number of authorized users on your card, top rewards cards are often not the best option to work with. You will end up paying considerably more for the annual fee each year.

Credit Requirements

As mentioned previously, credit requirements tend to be quite high for rewards cards. Lenders want to know that they are providing cards to individuals who will be able to use them responsibly. This is because they are often providing you with large sign up bonuses that opens them up to risk – you may not pay the money you borrow back, which will result in lost capital and lost benefits. For this reason, most people need around a 700 FICO or Vantage score to be eligible for airline credit cards.

This requirement will vary depending on the card, so don’t lose hope if you fall outside this range. Head online to the lender’s site and try and find out what type of credit scores they accept. If you can’t find it on their site, and a customer service representative won’t tell you, there are plenty of credit card forums where people post what scores they had success with. Regardless, there are a couple things you can do to prepare yourself for your airline credit card application – check out our tips below.

Reduce Credit Card Balances

Most credit scores use your available credit as a measure of how trustworthy you are. If you currently use a lot of your credit limit, your credit score will be quite low. Your credit card company sends your credit balances to the reporting bureaus at the end of every month. This means that you have a chance every four weeks to bump up your score. If you pay down your current credit card debt, you may see up to an 80 point in improvement – this is truly the quickest way to have a serious impact on your score.

Fix Errors

If you don’t have high balances, or you can’t afford to pay down your balances, you still have another option. You should check your credit report to see if there are any errors. If there are, credit repair companies can help you get them removed. They can also help you get other items removed – such as inquiries. Make sure to work with a company that only makes you pay for results – you shouldn’t have to pay any money upfront for a repair service.

It is estimated over 20% of Americans have errors on their reports – it’s worth investigating if you’re one of them.

Process

So, what’s the airline credit card application process? You should start by deciding which airline credit card is right for you. You need to narrow the selection down to a single card – you don’t want to apply for multiple credit cards at once, it will damage your credit score. Once you know what credit card is right for you, head online and submit an application. You’ll need to know your SSN, as well as personal information, such as your address and income data.

You’ll typically receive a decision in a matter of moments – most credit card applications are completely automated, which means a computer determines whether or not you are eligible. If they decide they need to review your application, it may take up to five days to receive a decision.

Once you’re approved, you’ll typically receive your card within about a week. Once you receive your card, you call the hotline on the card to activate it and begin spending!

Spending Requirements

Some airline credit cards require you to spend a certain amount of money to unlock the initial sign-up bonus. It’s important that you know what this requirement is. Sometimes you will have to spend up to $4,000 in your first three months to simply qualify for the sign-up bonus – this won’t be worth it to someone who doesn’t believe they will spend this much money. Don’t spend over what you normally would to unlock the bonus – it isn’t worth it.

Verdict

After reading this guide, you probably have a much deeper understanding of airline credit cards. It’s important to recognize that these cards should be used with caution – high interest rates mean they’re only suitable for those who won’t carry a balance on the card. Make sure to assess the airline that is perfect for you – there is no point in accumulating miles on an airline that you can’t effectively use. You should always be looking for the best airline credit cards for you and your family.

As with any financial decision, it’s important to give yourself time to decide on the right card. Don’t rush to judgement – a denied application will leave you with a lower credit score than you started with.

If you don’t think that airline credit cards are right for you, you should check out some of the other credit card articles we have posted on our site – we provide analysis on a range of different credit cards. Review the various benefits of alternative cards prior to making a decision.