An airline credit card that gives you airline miles or points whenever you use your card is an unbeatable option for the avid traveler. Broadly speaking, such credit cards can be divided into two categories: (1) credit cards co-branded with specific airlines, and (2) credit cards not aligned with specific airlines. For the first group, co-branded airline credit cards let you earn miles which are credited directly into your account with that airline's frequent flyer program. For the second group, such credit cards offer flexibility in the sense that the reward points you earn can either be used to offset your travel purchases, or be transferred to frequent flyer programs of your choice. I used both types of airline credit cards to help me reach my One Million Air Miles goal in 2016 which I used to redeem for US$54,000 worth of air tickets.

Here, we at GET.com have done the research to pick the best airline miles cards this season.

GET.com's Best Airline Credit Cards

Best ForCredit Card
Double MilesCapital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Signing BonusChase Sapphire Preferred® Card
All RoundBank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
Free Airport Lounge AccessThe Platinum Card® from American Express
Delta RewardsGold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
United RewardsUnited MileagePlus® Club Card
Southwest RewardsSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Here are GET.com's Best Airline Credit Cards:

Best for Double Miles on Any Purchase: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least liket_cc_credit_requiredRelated links
Capital One<sup>®</sup> Venture<sup>®</sup> Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Get a metal Venture Card when you apply today

N/A

13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)

$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Why we like it
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.
We least like
  • No low introductory APR period.
Excellent, Good
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a fantastic miles card that has a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles ($500 in travel) when you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. What we love most about Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is you earn 2 miles (unlimited) per $1 spent on any purchase, which means that your mileage will increase twice as fast. You can book travel when you want, with no blackout dates. There's a $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that. Here's our Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card review.

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Best for Signing Bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

N/A

16.99% - 23.99% Variable

Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Why we like it
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Excellent Credit

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a highly recommended travel rewards credit card that offers you 50,000 bonus points worth $625 in travel rewards after you spend just $4,000 in the first 3 months. Plus 5,000 bonus points after adding the first authorized user and making a purchase within the first 3 months of account opening. You earn 2 points per dollar for travel and restaurant purchases around the world, and 1 point per dollar for everything else. What we really love about Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is that you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for airline tickets which are good for any airline, hotel stays, cash, merchandise and other rewards. There are no travel restrictions or blackout dates when redeeming for travel. You can also do a points transfer to participating frequent flyer programs at a 1:1 rate! There's an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95. $0 foreign transaction fee. You can read more about the 4 reasons why Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is ideal for a traveler or expat, or read our Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

Best for Free Airport Lounge Access: The Platinum Card® from American Express

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The Platinum Card<sup>®</sup> from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

N/A

N/A

$550

Why we like it
  • Rewards program.
  • Platinum benefits.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
We least like
  • Annual fee.
Excellent/Good

The Platinum Card® from American Express, a GET.com advertiser, is a great Card that lets you travel in style and earn points quickly if you love traveling more than anything else. This Card gives you free access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide across 120 countries, including the International American Express lounges, The Centurion® lounge network, Airspace Lounges, and Delta Sky Clubs. Plus, you get to enroll in Priority Pass™ Select for free, courtesy of American Express. Additionally, besides rewarding you with 5X points for flights booked with American Express Travel or flights booked directly with airlines and on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com, The Platinum Card® from American Express lets you earn 60,000 points after you use your new Card to spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Terms Apply. The Platinum Card® from American Express has a $550 annual fee. Read our review of The Platinum Card® from American Express here to learn more about the card.

Best for Frequent Domestic Travel: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

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Citi<sup>®</sup> / AAdvantage<sup>®</sup> Platinum Select<sup>®</sup> World Elite™ Mastercard<sup>®</sup>

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

APPLY NOWAt Citi's secure website
  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases¹
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*
APPLY NOWAt Citi's secure website

N/A

16.99% - 24.99%* (Variable)

$95, waived for first 12 months*

Why we like it
  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*.
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*.
Excellent, Good

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, a partner card, is a great airline credit card for those who fly with American Airlines as you can earn a limited time offer of 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. This Citibank card gives you double AAdvantage miles for each dollar you spend on (eligible) purchases from American Airlines, and 1 AAdvantage mile for every dollar you spend on other purchases. After redeeming your miles you will earn back 10% of the AAdvantage miles you redeem, up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles each calendar year. When flying with American Airlines on domestic itineraries, your first eligible checked bag will be free. There is a $95 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months). Here's our Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® review. We love Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® for its many benefits.


Best for Delta Air Lines Rewards: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

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Gold Delta SkyMiles<sup>®</sup> Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

See Rates & Fees

See Rates & Fees

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Why we like it
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
Excellent/Good

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, a partner card. With this card, you can earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, as well as a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile per $1 spent on other eligible purchases. One of the highlights of this card is that it lets you get your first bag checked in for free on Delta flights for you and companions booked on the same reservation (up to 9 waivers per reservation) when purchasing your tickets with this card. Why is this perk so notable? Because just using this card to book round-trip tickets for a family of 4 can save you $200! You will also benefit from priority boarding and other premium travel perks. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. Terms Apply. See our full review of Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express to find out more.

Best for Delta Air Lines and Restaurant Rewards: Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

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Blue Delta SkyMiles<sup>®</sup> Credit Card from American Express

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

See Rates & Fees

See Rates & Fees

$0

Excellent Credit

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express lets you earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in the first 3 months of card ownership and a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets. You earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend on purchases you make directly with Delta and 2 miles per $1 spent at US restaurants. Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. Something noteworthy about this card is that it has no annual fee. You will also benefit from a host of other travel perks. Terms Apply.

Best for United Rewards and United ClubSM membership: United MileagePlus® Club Card

Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least liket_cc_credit_requiredRelated links
United MileagePlus<sup>®</sup> Club Card

United MileagePlus® Club Card

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • United Club℠ membership - up to a $550 value per year
  • Check your first and second bag for free (a savings of up to $240 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket.
  • Enjoy Premier Access® travel services to ease your way through the airport with priority check-in, security screening (where available), boarding and baggage handling privileges.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United.
  • Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

N/A

16.99% - 23.99% Variable

$450

Excellent Credit

United MileagePlus® Club Card offers 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Enjoy access to all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance™ affiliated lounges worldwide for you and your eligible travel companions (up to a $550 value per year). Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United and on all other purchases earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent. The points you earn are unlimited, don't expire and can be redeemed toward travel on United, travel upgrades, inflight Wi-Fi, hotel stays and car rentals, gift cards and more. Some other great travel perks include free first and second checked bags, no foreign transactions fees, Premier Access® (priority check-in at the airport, security screening and boarding and baggage handling privileges), etc. This card has a $450 annual fee.

Best for United Rewards with No Annual Fee: United℠ TravelBank Card

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United℠ TravelBank Card

United℠ TravelBank Card

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • $150 in TravelBank cash after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Earn 2% in TravelBank cash per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased from United
  • Earn 1.5% in TravelBank cash per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Enjoy 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food and beverages onboard United-operated flights, when you pay with your United TravelBank Card.
  • TravelBank cash is easy to use. $1 in TravelBank cash = $1 when used toward the purchase of a United ticket.
  • Your TravelBank cash accumulates in your United TravelBank account on United.com. There's no limit to how much TravelBank cash you can earn.
  • $0 Annual fee
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

N/A

16.99% - 23.99% Variable

$0

Excellent Credit

United℠ TravelBank Card is a no annual fee card that can be especially rewarding for those who travel often with United. As a bonus offer earn $150 in TravelBank cash after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Keep earning: 2% in TravelBank cash when you make purchases on airline tickets from United and 1.5% in TravelBank cash per $1 spent on all other purchases. The TravelBank cash you earn is unlimited and $1 in TravelBank cash equals $1 when used toward the purchase of a United ticket. As an extra perk enjoy 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food and beverages onboard United-operated flights, when you pay with your United℠ TravelBank Card. This card includes many other benefits such as no foreign transaction fees, Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance, Purchase Protection, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver and more. Take a look at our review of United℠ TravelBank Card.

Best for Budget Travel: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least liket_cc_credit_requiredRelated links
Southwest Rapid Rewards<sup>®</sup> Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions, Bags fly free® and no change fees
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

N/A

16.99% - 23.99% Variable

$99

Why we like it
  • Rewards program.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
We least like
  • No introductory APR available.
Excellent Credit

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is one of our favorite travel credit cards in the U.S. as it lets you earn points on all your purchases. Here's how it works: earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. You will earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. This chip technology card has a great bonus point promotion which allows you to earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Points don't expire as long as your account is open. Points can be redeemed as travel credit for travel booking on airlines as well as hotels, access to events, gift cards and more. You will also receive 6,000 points yearly after your Cardmember anniversary. $0 foreign transaction fee. See our review of Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. There's a $99 annual fee.

Best for Fast Rewards: JetBlue Plus Card

Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least liket_cc_credit_requiredRelated links
JetBlue Plus Card

JetBlue Plus Card

APPLY NOWAt Barclaycard's secure website
  • Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days
  • Earn 6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates on JetBlue-operated flights & redeem for any seat, any time on JetBlue-operated flights. Points required for an Award Flight will vary based on the published base fare at the time of booking
  • Points awarded in your TrueBlue account don't expire
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases like cocktails and food & the primary cardmember's first checked bag is free on JetBlue-operated flights
  • Enjoy TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases each calendar year with your card
  • Enjoy a $100 statement credit after purchasing a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Plus Card
APPLY NOWAt Barclaycard's secure website

0% on balance transfers for first 12 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to account within 45 days of account opening

12.99%, 20.99% or 25.99% Variable

$99

Why we like it
  • Earn 6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases like cocktails and food & the primary cardmember's first checked bag is free on JetBlue-operated flights.
Excellent

JetBlue Plus Card is a powerful airline credit card for JetBlue flights. You earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in your first 90 days after account opening. Plus, you earn 5,000 bonus points annually after your account anniversary each year. You earn 6 points for every $1 of JetBlue purchases, which is a very high earning rate. But you also earn 2 points per $1 you spend on purchases at grocery stores and restaurants, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. That means you can chalk up miles just by using this card for everyday spending. Every time you redeem your points, you get 10% of your points back to use toward your next redemption. Benefits include 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases (including food, cocktails, and more), first checked bag free on JetBlue operated flights, upgrade to TrueBlue Mosaic for 1 calendar year after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases after your anniversary date, and a $100 statement credit when you purchase a Jetblue Vacations package of $100 or more using this card. You also get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening followed by 12.99%, 20.99% or 25.99% variable APR. You pay a $99 annual fee. Read our review of JetBlue Plus Card here.

Best General Travel Card for All Purchases: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least liket_cc_credit_requiredRelated links
Bank of America<sup>®</sup> Travel Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 15.99% - 23.99% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%

0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases

15.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

$0

Why we like it
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
Excellent/Good

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card lets you earn 1.5 points per 1 dollar spent on all purchases. Points do not expire and there is no limit to the total amount of points you can earn. Redeem points for statement credit toward travel purchases you make with this card. Bank of America customers with an active Bank of America® checking or savings account will benefit from an additional 10% customer points bonus on each purchase. That bonus can increase to 25%-75% if you're a Preferred Rewards client. Earn 20,000 online bonus points when you use your new credit card account to make at least $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of opening your account (that can be a $200 statement credit towards travel purchases). Here's our Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card review. No foreign transaction fees. No annual fee.

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What is an Airline Credit Card?

There are many airline credit cards that give you special airline privileges and let you earn miles or points through the airline loyalty program. If there are 1 or 2 airlines that you always fly with, then using an airline-specific credit card can be a good way to earn miles fast. Most of these cards let you earn miles on every purchase you make.

If you always fly with different airlines, then a more general travel credit card like Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could work better. This card lets you earn points (2X points per $1 spent on travel and restaurant dining worldwide, 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases) that can be redeemed to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs at full value (1:1 point transfer). So 1,000 points converts to 1,000 frequent flyer miles/points with partner airlines.

Airline-branded cards usually let you earn actual frequent flyer miles or points with one airline. Other more flexible travel cards have more complicated miles reward programs.

Here we highlight some of the most popular credit card rewards programs:

1. Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is one of the best rewards programs in the US. Only certain Chase credit cards participate in this program. You get 1:1 point transfer when you convert the points you earn with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to frequent flyer programs such as Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air SKYPASS and British Airways Executive Club. This means you get to enjoy flexibility of your points without them losing value.

Alternatively you can also convert points to Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Hyatt Gold Passport.

Transfer to frequent flyer programs cannot be reversed, so only convert your points to miles when you are sure which airline you are flying with. You can also choose to redeem your points for gift cards, merchandise, or cash back. And points never expire as long as your account is in good standing. All things considered, Chase Ultimate Rewards is a pretty good travel rewards program.

2. Capital One® Rewards

This rewards program is used by certain Capital One® travel cards like Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card. You can choose to book travel through the Capital One rewards program. You can also choose to book travel yourself, and then just redeem your miles for a statement credit towards the cost of your travel purchases.

That makes this a very flexible travel rewards program to use. But the rate of miles to dollars is 100 miles to $1, or 1 mile per cent. That means redeeming 100,000 miles would get you $1,000 worth of travel. So your miles aren't worth quite as much as frequent flyer miles with airlines, as they don't convert 1 to 1. It may help to look at the miles you earn through this program as cash back or points rather than actual frequent flyer miles.

On the whole, this is a very flexible program that also lets you redeem miles for merchandise, gift cards (minimum 1,000 miles to redeem for a $10 gift card) or cash back.

3. FlexPerks℠ from U.S. Bank

This program lets you earn FlexPoints℠, which can be redeemed for airline tickets, travel gift certificates, cash back, merchandise and gift cards. You will have to book your tickets through the FlexPerks Rewards Center (powered by Travelocity®) when redeeming points for flights. It's easy and convenient, but you have to redeem points for travel through FlexPerks only, so it isn't as flexible as other programs.

But you can book tickets with no blackout dates on over 150 airlines as long as you have a minimum of 20,000 FlexPoints. FlexPerks has 16 different redemption tiers which let you get up to 2 cents in value for every point you redeem. That means you could redeem 20,000 points for an airline ticket that costs up to $400.

If you redeem 30,000 points, you can receive up to $600 in airfare. You can get a lot of travel for your points if you play these cards right. Most other programs give you 1 cent for every 1 point you redeem, which would only be $200 in airfare for 20,000 points.

With FlexPerks, you can get up to double that amount. Unfortunately, FlexPoints have a lifespan of 5 years, after which they expire. So if you want to save up a huge amount of points for a world tour, this may not be the program to use.

4. Citi ThankYou® Rewards

This rewards program actually earns points that can be redeemed in many different ways. One big travel perk that you get with some Citi cards is that you can convert points to these frequent flyer programs at a 1:1 rate (minimum 1000 points): Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer, Etihad Guest, EVA Air Infinity MileageLands and Asia Miles, Flying Blue Award Miles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Qatar Airways Privilege Club, Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Airline Card Benefits

First Checked Bag Free

Some airline credit cards let you get a certain number of checked bags free when you use them to pay for your booking. For example, if you purchase your ticket in full with Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express you'll be able to check your first bag for free on every Delta flight, which comes out savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.

Travel Insurance

When you pay for travel bookings using some airline credit cards, you automatically receive travel insurance coverage for your trip. The most common types of coverage you receive are travel accident insurance (covers death or severe injury on a common carrier) and a secondary auto rental collision damage waiver which adds coverage above what your auto insurance policy gives you.

Better cards give you more comprehensive insurance coverage. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, gives you trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance and a primary auto rental collision damage waiver.

Here is a summary of what types of travel insurance coverage you might want to look for when choosing an airline credit card.

  • Travel Accident Insurance

    This type of travel insurance is offered by many credit cards. If the plane, cruiseship or other common carrier you travel on is involved in an accident, you can receive compensation for injuries, loss of mobility and more. For example, Chase Freedom® gives you up to $250,000 coverage for accidental death or dismemberment.

  • Trip Interruption/Cancellation Coverage

    This is one of the most useful types of travel insurance to have. Unfortunately not very many cards give you this coverage. This insurance covers you if a qualifying emergency like an unexpected illness of you or a family member/business partner forces you to cancel your trip.

    This insurance may also refund certain expenses like hotel stays or restaurant meals when a trip is interrupted unexpectedly (unexpected bad weather or technical difficulties, for example). This coverage and reimbursement only applies to purchases made with your card.

    If you have the Visa Signature version of Chase Freedom®, you can get reimbursed for up to $5,000 of non-refundable, pre-paid travel expenses (passenger fares, tours, hotels) per trip. Using the right card to pay for your bookings means you probably won't need to buy additional travel insurance.

  • Luggage Loss/Damage Insurance

    This is pretty self explanatory. If your luggage gets lost or damaged by a common carrier, you will get reimbursed up to a certain limit. For example, Chase Freedom® provides up to $3,000 of coverage per passenger with the Visa Signature version).

  • Rental Car Loss/Damage Waiver

    Rather than paying extra for auto rental insurance when you rent a vehicle, just pay for the rental using a credit card that gives you this insurance coverage. Many airline cards give you secondary auto rental insurance, and this may be limited to only a certain amount of coverage.

    But some cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card give you primary coverage up to the actual cash value of the vehicle. In every case, this coverage applies to collisions (and usually theft), but may not include things like windscreen damage or mechanical breakdowns.

  • But some cards give you primary coverage up to the actual cash value of the vehicle. In every case, this coverage applies to collisions (and usually theft), but may not include things like windscreen damage or mechanical breakdowns.

  • Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance

    This is a very useful insurance to have, but here again, this coverage only comes with a few credit cards. When you use a card that offers this insurance to pay for your travel bookings, you will be covered for the cost of transporting you to certified medical facility or even back to the US for care.

  • How we rate Airline Credit Cards

    At GET.com, we look at the miles you earn, if miles expire or not, and how much those miles are really worth in travel. We also look at the airline benefits that these cards offer, such as free checked bags, priority boarding, lounge access and on-board credit. We pay a lot of attention to bonus offers as well.

    Other important factors are flexibility in how you can earn and redeem rewards, and introductory low APR periods. Other benefits like travel insurance, shopping perks and travel discounts also feature highly in our rating process.

    We also consider the annual fee, standard APR, foreign transaction fees and compare these to the benefits the card offers to give you a clear picture of what each airline card really gives you.