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Credit Cards

5 Best Credit Cards to Use for Flights

5 Best Credit Cards to Use for Flights
Ariana Arghandewal

We all collect miles in order to avoid paying for airfare whenever it makes sense. However, there are times when we’re short or airfare is so cheap that it doesn’t make sense to redeem miles. In those instances, you’ll want to maximize your purchase by charging airfare to a credit card that pays out a category bonus.

Below are my top five picks of the best credit cards to charge your airfare.

1. Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige Card pays out 5x points per $1 on airfare, which is one of the highest bonuses you can get. Personally, I prefer 5 ThankYou points over 5 Ultimate Rewards points. There’s no transfer fee and the partner list is pretty similar to Amex’s. Plus, Citi Prestige cardholders get an annual $250 credit towards any travel charge. That makes it a great way to earn points and offset some of your travel expenses.

2. Chase Sapphire Reserve

The 3x travel category bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve makes it great for airfare purchases. Additionally, the card comes with a $300 travel credit, which can be applied to any travel purchase, including airfare. Chase Ultimate Rewards are hands down the best rewards currency out there. They’re easy to redeem, flexible, and valuable. You can get a ton of value out of redeeming points through their own travel portal or transferring them to one of the many great Chase transfer partners.

3. Amex Platinum

The American Express Platinum card earns 5x points on flights booked directly with the airline or Amex Travel. There are lots of great ways to redeem Membership Rewards points for maximum value. So stocking up on Membership Rewards points can be a good thing. Another bonus? Amex frequently runs travel promotions through Amex Offers. These consist of statement credits as well as bonus points for specific spending at certain airlines or via AmexTravel. Definitely check your Offers before booking airfare with the Amex Platinum Card.

The Amex Business Platinum card also offers 5x on airfare, though the bonus is restricted to flights booked on AmexTravel. That might not be the cheapest place to book, so I’d compare airfares before booking through this portal for the 5x bonus.

4. Barclay Arrival Plus

Before my Barclay shut-down, the Barclay Arrival Plus card was my go-to travel card. I charged everything on the card, including airfare, then used points to cover those charges. It saved me at least 50% on travel expenses. If you want to earn 2x points and offset your travel expenses, the Barclay Arrival Plus card is a solid choice. Keep in mind that airfare must be at least $100 to qualify for travel redemptions.

5. Airline Credit Cards

There’s virtually no benefit to charging airfare to airline credit cards, which pay out 2 miles per $1 spent. Unless it’s the only credit card you have that pays out any type of category bonus on airfare.

What are your picks?

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (4)

4 Comments

  1. JohnnyCG

    March 23, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    I have to disagree with the ‘virtually no benefit to charging airfare to airline credit cards’ statement.

    The most obvious benefit is the waived checked bag fees. For example, my Delta Gold Amex waives checked bag fees for up to eight people flying on an itinerary that I book and pay for with the card.
    That can easily offset the additional miles that come with non-airline cards.

    There is also priority boarding, and other small benefits, which one may or may not value.

  2. fliesdelta

    March 23, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    In (1) you say that you prefer TY points over UR points, but in (2) you say that UR points are hand down the best. Which is it?

  3. RobH

    March 24, 2019 at 7:42 am

    If the only criterion to be considered is miles this analysis might be correct. That approach is overly simplistic. I am a United Airlines frequent flier. The benefits from charging to my airline card include higher position on upgrade list, travel insurance, travel delay insurance. Due to my status I would get free checked bags and priority boarding anyway, but that might be important to others. Chase lets me pay off United charges with miles I earned from the card at one cent per mile. That lets me use my miles for paid flares, which in turn helps me achieve my status goals.

    I imagine that frequent flyers onother airlines’ credit cards have similar compelling benefits.

    Conclusion: disregard this article unless you’re a “free agent” with no loyalty to any airline.

  4. am1108

    March 24, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    #5. Airline Credit Cards… Both my United Explorer and Alaska AIr Visa cards offer me benefits that usually outweighs paying the fees, but that works for me because I take UA for most of my flights and AS for the companion fare, but still outweighs due to baggage fees that are not assessed, even for one trip.

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