Best Airline Credit Cards of 2023
Airline credit cards help you earn helpful bonus miles and travel rewards. Read ahead to learn more about the best airline credit cards of 2023.
When you travel you often incur multiple expenses? Spur of the moment purchases are also possible. If you are a frequent airline traveler, you might want to open an airline credit card account. Airline credit cards are different from general travel credit cards because they are often affiliated with one specific carrier. Rewards miles, bonus points and purchase promotions are all earned largely based on business done with or in connection with the affiliated airline. Read ahead to learn more about the best airline credit cards of 2023.
What Are Airline Credit Cards?
A credit card is method of payment using funds from a revolving credit account. The accounts have spending limits, but each payment made replenishes the amount available to spend. General types of credit cards with varying terms and interest rates are issued by countless companies around the world. Multiple travel-based credit cards are also available with benefits associated with hotel reservations, rental cars, and airline travel.
Airline credit cards are largely affiliated with airline carriers. While it is possible to use the cards for general purchasing purposes, most of the perks and benefits are experienced through purchases made in association with the linked airline carrier itself. Many credit cards offer cash back and rewards programs for a variety of purchases. When you buy plane tickets or purchase other items on your credit card you receive bonus miles and other travel-based or cash back benefits. This makes airline credit cards an excellent choice for frequent flyers, especially those who use preferred airlines when traveling.
How to Choose the Right Credit Card for You
Choosing a credit card always involves comparing what it offers you to how much it costs to maintain the account. One of the primary considerations when choosing any credit card account is the annual percentage rate (APR) on the account. Another consideration is how the card’s benefits vs. costs compare with those offered by competitor credit card issuers. Comparison-shopping is a tool used by consumers when making most purchases and shopping for airline credit cards is no different.
Know Your Creditworthiness
The first thing to do when researching credit cards is to research your own credit score and overall credit rating. Your credit score (FICO) is the most significant determining factor pursuant to the quality and types of credit card accounts available for you. Your FICO score is a three-digit number ranging between 300 and 850. Higher FICO scores represent better credit ratings and better credit card offers (including lower APRs). The most trusted and reliable free source for checking your credit score is through the AnnualCreditReport.com website. The service is provided for free once each year per consumer. Knowing your FICO score helps you know which credit card offers create deals aligned with your credit rating.
Know Your Wants and Needs
Once you know your true creditworthiness it is time to evaluate your wants and needs. Some credit cards are designed to help you rebuild and elevate your credit status. Some cards offer low APRs for the life of the account if all payments are made in full and on time. Some cards even offer zero percent introductory APRs when you transfer balances in from other accounts. Other cards offer competitive to above-average APRs but counter the higher rates with excellent cash back, bonus points or rewards. You might want a card with great perks but need one with a money-saving APR. When it comes to airline credit cards you need to comparison-shop offers from various airlines and choose the card that offers the best overall package for your traveling needs. For example, a card might have an above-average APR but an excellent bonus miles program. If you fly every week and pay off your bills each month without accruing interest, this type of card might be your best choice.
Ask Questions Before Applying – Not After
If you have any questions about bonus miles programs, annual fees, APRs, and hidden charges it is best to ask them before applying. Soft credit checks do not damage your FICO score but too many full credit checks in a short period of time do. Ask what limitations or blackout terms there are regarding bonus miles and travel dates. Find out what purchases earn you miles, bonuses, perks and rewards and if international purchases are included.
Airline Credit Cards – Pros and Cons
Every type of credit card has pros and cons. Weighing out the positives and negatives is an important part of the decision-making process when choosing the best card for you. Airline credit cards are affiliated with or issued directly by specific airline carriers. This means benefits might be significant when applicable to airline-based purchases but limited overall. Below is an overview of some of the most significant pros and cons pursuant to airline credit cards today.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of an airline credit card is its ability to quickly turn purchases into free miles. It is common for airlines to offer one free mile for every dollar you spend on the card, plus run bonus promotions with additional miles benefits. Travel perks such as a free additional bag, free checked baggage and priority boarding status make traveling more enjoyable and convenient. Sometimes airline credit cards have affiliate deals with rental car services, which get you discounts on car rentals from certain airports. Premium airline credit cardholders also commonly receive free upgrades for first-class seats, free in-flight meals, and comfort-related perks.
Because perks are generally plentiful as they pertain to airline-specific purchases and travel, certain benefits associated with non-travel credit cards might not be available. For example, airline credit cards often charge an annual fee of approximately $100 and sometimes much more. The miles benefits are excellent for people who fly weekly or even two-to-three times a month. If you are not a frequent flyer the rewards specific to airline credit cards might not offset the annual fees and higher APRs.
Who Should Open an Airline Credit Card Account?
Consumers who frequently travel by airplane are the best candidates to open an airline credit card account. This also applies to consumers who have family or friends who also frequently travel by airplane. Even if you do not travel frequently but still book with the same airline every time you do, an airline credit card might be right for you.
Will my bonus miles expire? This depends on your program. Many miles have expiration dates, but some do not.
Do all airline credit cards charge annual fees? At the time of this writing all available airline credit cards include an annual fee.