Airline Credit Card Offers – Are Airline Credit Cards Worth It?

Are airline credit card offers the best way to earn free travel?

Airline Credit Card Offers and Answering the Question – Are Airline Credit Cards Worth It?

Do your summer plans include travel? Perhaps you’ve spent time in an airport recently. If you have, you’ve most likely seen airline credit card offers. This can lead you to wonder are airline credit cards worth it or if you should just skip it. So the simple answer is that it depends on how often you travel with the credit card’s airline.

In reality, this is more complex, but it boils down to brand loyalty. How often do you fly one particular airline? If the answer is a lot, airline credit card offers may be worth it for you. We’ll go over when airline credit cards are worth it. We’ll touch on the best travel credit cards to earn free travel as well.

How Do Airline Miles Work?

So the first thing you have to understand is how airline miles work. This will help you choose the best airline miles credit cards to suit your needs. Airline-branded credit cards work for the specific airline that’s linked to them. When you fly this airline and use this card, you gain rewards.

You can use these rewards for free tickets, seat upgrades, meals, in-flight entertainment, and more. So you typically earn around one mile for every dollar that you spend. You have chances to earn more for purchasing things directly from the airline or its partners.

Are Airline Credit Cards Worth It?

Airline credit card offers are good choices if:

  • You Check Bags: The typical cost of one checked suitcase is around $25 one way. If your airline credit cards give you a free checked bag, you save $50 round trip. So say that your card’s annual fee is $95. Two trips with a checked bag will give you enough rewards to pay for the airline card annual fee.
  • You Fly With a Specific Airline: Frequent flyers that are loyal to one airline benefit from airline credit card offers. You get more opportunities to earn more perks, discounts, and miles. Bonuses and easier more frequent redemption periods can pay for a trip.
  • You Need Travel Perks for Your Frequent Travels: The best travel credit cards that are airline specific give extra rewards. Also, you may gain access to airport lounges as you travel. Seat upgrades, priority boarding, and discounts are other perks that you get for frequent travels.

Airline Credit Card Considerations and Drawbacks

There are a few pieces that you want to consider when you’re shopping for the best credit card for airline miles. Keeping these in mind will help to ensure that you don’t get a nasty surprise later on.

1. Sign-Up Bonus Spending Amount

Many credit cards with airline miles offer a nice sign-up bonus. This entices people to sign up for the card in the first place. The average value hovers around $400. However, you want to pay attention to what you have to spend. The average amount you’ll spend to get your bonus is around $1,380. Some cards require you to spend between $3,000 and $5,000. In this case, the bonus doesn’t outweigh what you spend to get it.

2. Annual Fee

Even the best miles credit card has an annual fee. This is a rewards card, and this means that the annual fee is usually higher. So a lot of airline credit cards have an annual fee that ranges from $90 to $130. You pay this every year whether you actually use the card or not. The goal is to make the rewards outweigh the fee. This can be easy if you travel a lot and this will make paying the annual fee worth it.

3. Interest Rates

Carry a balance from month to month, and you’ll pay interest. Again, this is a rewards card. This means that both the annual fee and the interest rates are usually higher. This applies even if you have excellent credit. Generally, your interest rates range between 15 to 22 percent. If you carry a balance, this can add up very fast. It can also eat into your rewards because you pay more.

4. First Year Value Drop

The time to use your airline miles credit card the most is in the first year. This is when most lenders waive the annual fee and give you bonuses. After the first year is up, the reward value drops significantly. You’ll have to earn enough rewards to justify the annual fee. Also, you won’t have any bonuses to fall back on if you fall short. This can put a large dent in the travel discount value of your airline miles credit card.

Airline Miles Credit Card Examples

If you’re curious about airline-specific credit cards, we have two for you.

United TravelBank Credit Card

  • If you frequently fly United Airlines, look into the United TravelBank Chase Visa. It stands out because it has no annual fee. You get TravelBank cash at a rate of 2 percent for every dollar spent on airline tickets through United. You also get 1.5 percent TravelBank cash for everything else. Pay for food and beverages on your flight and get a 25 percent statement credit. You also get price protection, travel insurance, and no foreign transaction fee.

JetBlue® Plus MasterCard Barclaycard

  • For anyone who flies JetBlue, this card has huge earning potential. You get six points per dollar you spend with JetBlue. You get two points for everyday spending, and it’s unlimited rewards. There is no blackout dates and no foreign transaction fee with the JetBlue® Plus MasterCard. You’ll also get a 50 percent statement credit for any entertainment, cocktails, or meals you purchase in-flight. If you spend $50,000 per year, you’re eligible for the TrueBlue Mosaic rewards program.

Question Answered: Are Airline Credit Cards Worth It?

General Travel Cards

If you don’t fly a lot, you may want a general travel card. They don’t offer the specific perks that you get with airline credit card offers. However, they do have greater flexibility for rewards. You can earn rewards with every purchase you make. This includes everyday items.

A general travel card is a good choice if:

  • You Budget When You Travel: If you like traveling on the cheapest rate, this card can help. You simply book the flight and use your rewards to cover the cost. Depending on the card, you can earn two miles for every dollar you spend.
  • Match the Rewards to Your Travel Style: Strategy when you travel pairs very well with general travel cards. If you like to figure out how to maximize your rewards with a flexible card, a general travel card is a good choice.

General Travel Card Examples

If the answer to the question: Are airline credit cards worth it is no then CreditFast has other credit offer recommendations. We have what is arguably some of the best general travel rewards credit cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

  • These general travel cards from Chase come with huge perks. Compare the Chase Sapphire Preferred® and Reserve® Cards to learn which card is best for you. These two Sapphire travel reward cards from Chase offer some of the best travel rewards. Sapphire cards can earn rewards that can be redeemed for airline travel. Sapphire Reserve offers $300 travel reimbursement each year. Your Reserve card grants you complimentary lounge access at most major airports. Also, Chase will reimburse Reserve cardholders for TSA Precheck or Global Entry fees. So these can be huge airline travel perks. Depending on your needs a Chase Sapphire card can be better than any of the airline credit card offers discussed.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

  • This general travel card comes with no annual fee. Once you get your bonuses, you keep them. They don’t expire, and you can’t lose them unless you close your account. You can earn unlimited miles and rewards. The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card gives you 1.25 miles for every dollar you spend on everyday purchases. Additionally, you can use your miles on any airline and hotel. Finally, you also get 20,000 bonus miles by spending $1,000 in the first three months.

Airline Credit Card Offers Bottom Line

So, are airline credit cards worth it? If you choose the correct airline credit card offers, yes. Furthermore, the rewards can outweigh the costs very easily if you do your research. So take your time and look over different airline credit card offers. Finally, match the offer that fits your spending the closest and enjoy the air travel rewards.



CreditFast has reviewed the best travel credit cards on the market. Some of the credit card offers are from our advertising partners. CreditFast has objectively reviewed the features and benefits of each credit card. We have chosen travel and airline credit card offers based on our editor’s recommendations.

Monica Kowollik

Director at CreditFast.com
Monica has covered credit card and personal finance news for over 15 years. From an early age, she developed an interest in financial literacy and saving money. Monica hopes to help others to improve their personal finances one article at a time.