Airline Reward Cards

Knowing the value that airline reward cards offer and how you can maximize those rewards can lead to big savings on air travel.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do airline reward cards work?

    Most airline reward cards offer a certain number of points or miles for every dollar you spend. In many cases, you'll earn more rewards when you make a purchase with the airline. Your rewards will accrue in your frequent-flyer account. When you're ready to book a flight with your rewards, perform a search and click the "Search by miles/points" option.

  • Which airlines offer rewards cards?

    All major U.S. airlines offer rewards credit cards: Delta, United, American, Southwest, and JetBlue. Smaller airlines such as Spirit and Hawaiian offer cards, too. And, in many cases, an airline will offer several cards with varying fees and benefits.

  • Can I get free flights with airline cards?

    Yes. In most cases, you'll earn enough points or miles through spending and your sign-up bonus to book an award seat for travel in the U.S. However, keep in mind that "free" implies you won't pay anything for the flight. In reality, you'll pay modest taxes and fees (usually around $11), an annual fee for your card, and any applicable interest charges or late fees.

  • Are there non-branded airline cards you can use to earn award flights?

    Yes. There are several rewards cards that allow you to transfer the rewards you earn to airline frequent flyer programs. For example, you can transfer the points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to the United, Southwest, and JetBlue loyalty programs.

  • Do airline cards offer perks besides rewards?

    Yes. Many cards offer priority boarding, a free checked bag, and discounts on in-flight purchases. Other perks include trip cancellation insurance and coverage for car rentals.

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