Best Airline Credit Card 2022 | American, Delta, Southwest, United

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The Platinum Card® from American Express card is annual fee waived for military. Terms apply.

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The best airline credit card includes airlines based in the United States and international. The big 4 US airlines of American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, and United all offer multiple airline miles credit cards that allow you to earn miles on spending and flying.

Military servicemembers and their spouses have a unique benefit on Citi, Chase and American Express airline credit cards: their annual fees are waived down to $0. That means they can get the most premium airline rewards cards and they don't need to pay the annual fee.

Military annual fee waivers on cards is an amazing benefit that more servicemembers and spouses are becoming aware of everyday. Learn more about how the military fee waivers work in my free course and free podcast.

In this article we'll compare the airline credit cards offered by the big four US airlines.

Best Delta Airlines Credit Card

AMEX Delta Reserve card free for US military

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Annual Fee: $550 per year, waived for US military servicemembers and spouses to $0

Welcome Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus Skymiles and 10,000 Medallion(R) Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Amex Delta Reserve Card in your first 3 months.

  • This is my top recommended Amex Delta card for military
  • $550 annual fee waived for US military (active duty and Title 10/32 Guard/Reserve)
  • Annual Companion Certificate – earn a domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+, or Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate every year on your account anniversary. *Payment of government taxes and fees of no more than $80 is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions may apply, see terms and conditions.
  • 3x miles on Delta purchases, 1x on all other eligible purchases
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club (airport lounge) access when travelling on a Delta flight in any class
  • Complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book and fly a Delta Flight with your Reserve Card
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck (military should get Global Entry)
  • First checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Earn up to 60,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM) with Status Boost® every year. After you spend $30,000 on your card, you can earn 15,000 MQMs four times per year. MQMs are used to determine Medallion Status and are different from the miles you earn towards flights.
  • No foreign transaction fees, terms apply

Delta partners with American Express to offer 4 version of the Amex Delta cards:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

The best Delta card available is the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. This is my #1 recommended Delta card for military troops and their spouses.

The chief benefit of the Amex Delta SkyMiles® Reserve card is the annual companion pass. You can earn a domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+, or main cabin round-trip companion certificate every year. You can use this certificate to fly you and a friend, family, partner, loved one, or spouse round-trip anywhere in the contiguous United States (lower 48 states).

If you have an Alaska of Hawaii address loaded in your Delta Skymiles account, you can also use the annual companion pass to fly round-trip from those states, provided your trip starts and ends in the state of your address. For instance, if you are stationed in Hawaii, you and your companion could fly round-trip from Honolulu to Atlanta with the Amex Delta Reserve companion pass.

The Amex Delta SkyMiles® Reserve card has a variety of valuable benefits and usually offers a large welcome Skymiles bonus after you meet the minimum spending requirements.

Learn more about the American Express Delta credit cards.

Best American Airlines Credit Card

Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard Military

Citi® AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® Bonus Miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation

Best Southwest Airlines Credit Card

The best Southwest Airlines Credit card allows you to earn Southwest points, an annual travel credit on Southwest tickets, and points towards a Southwest Companion Pass.

chase southwest rapid rewards priority credit card
  • Learn how to apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • $149 annual fee waived for military and mil spouses
  • Earn 3x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases
  • Earn 2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • Earn 2x points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming services
  • 7,500 bonus points on card anniversary
  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded boardings per year
  • 25% back on in flight WiFi and drink purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Best United Airlines Credit Cards

The best United Airlines card includes unlimited access to the United Club Lounge when you fly United airlines.

United Club Infinite Card
Learn how to apply at our partner's secure site

  • Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months from card opening.
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases including tickets, Economy Plus, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee credit
  • Free first and second checked bags – a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip. Terms Apply
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights when you pay with your Club Infinite Card.
  • Get one-year complimentary DashPass, a membership for both DoorDash and Caviar that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. After that, you are automatically enrolled in DashPass at the current monthly rate. Activate by 12/31/24.

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Airfare Purchase

Even though each airline above offers airline branded credit cards specifically for their airline, you can earn even more points by using a travel rewards credit card.

For instance, The Platinum Card® from American Express earns 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airline or through amextravel.com.

Military SCRA MLA AMEX Platinum
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express – learn how to apply
  • Annual fee of $695 waived for US military personnel and spouses
  • Best Ever Public Offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Reward Points welcome bonus (valued at $2000+) when you spend $6000 in the first 6 months
  • Earn 5x points on airfare booked directly with airline or on amextravel.com up to $500,000 per calendar year
  • Earn 5x points on prepaid hotels at amextravel.com
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credits: Up to $20 in monthly statement credits when you use your Platinum card to pay for: Peacock, Audible, Sirius, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, and the New York Times. Enrollment Required.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on Uber Eats and rides
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at 1 qualifying airline
  • $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, can be used for gift cards, enrollment required
  • 40 Centurion Lounges and 1200+ Priority Pass airport lounge access for free
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card(R). Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Heavy metal card that looks and feels really cool
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express – learn how to apply
  • Read my full review of the Amex Platinum card for military, terms apply

If you prefer earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, don't neglect the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card. The annual fee is waived for US military servicemembers and spouses.

Chase Sapphire Reserve No Annual Fee for Military
  • Learn how to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
  • $550 annual fee waived to $0 for US military + spouses with Chase MLA policy
  • Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points after $4000 of spend in the first 3 months – $900 value when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • 10x points on hotels and rental cars & 5x points on air travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards after the first $300 spent on travel annually
  • 3x Points on other Travel (airfare, hotels) after earning the $300 travel credit
  • 3x Dining restaurants, takeouts, delivery)
  • Chase Ultimate Reward Points redeemed through the Chase travel portal are worth 1.5 cents, a 50% bonus
  • Priority Pass lounge and restaurant access with over 1300+ airport lounges worldwide
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry
  • Primary car rental auto insurance and trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Learn more in the Chase Sapphire Reserve review
What are the best credit cards for airline miles?

The best credit cards for airline specific miles are the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, the Citi® AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, and the United Club℠ Infinite Card. However, you can get even more value from airline purchases with The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card.

What are the best airline credit cards?

The best airline credit cards are offered by Delta, American, Southwest, and United Airlines through American Express, Citi, and Chase.

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