Best Airline Credit Card 2024 | American, Delta, Southwest, United

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The Platinum Card® from American Express is my #1 recommended card

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The best airline credit cards 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 military spouses have a unique benefit on Citi and Chase airline credit cards: their annual fees are waived down to $0. Active duty, Guard and Reserve on 30+ day orders, and military spouses can get the most premium airline rewards cards and they don't need to pay the annual fee, thanks to the Military Lending Act.

See the detailed American Express military article for a full explanation of those benefits.

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 credit card annual 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
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

Annual Fee: $650 per year* *see more details on American Express protections for you and spouse

Welcome Bonus: Earn 60,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

  • This is my top recommended Amex Delta card for military
  • Enjoy the lounge life with complimentary access to the Delta Sky Club® and bring up to two guests or immediate family members at a rate of $50 per person per visit when flying Delta. Effective 2/1/25, Reserve Card Members will receive 15 Visits per year to the Delta Sky Club; to earn an unlimited number of Visits each year starting on 2/1/25, the total eligible purchases on the Card must equal $75,000 or more between 1/1/24 and 12/31/24, and each calendar year thereafter.
  • Flying with someone? Receive four Delta Sky Club® One-Time Guest Passes each year when you fly together on Delta. After that, you may bring up to two guests at a per-visit rate of $50 per person, per location.
  • When you book a Delta flight with your Reserve Card you'll get complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge.
  • Want status? Earn $2,500 Medallion® Qualification Dollars each Medallion Qualification Year to get closer to Higher Status with MQD Headstart.
  • You can earn $1 Medallion® Qualification Dollar for each $10 of purchases made on your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card in a calendar year giving you a boost toward achieving elevated Medallion Status for next Medallion Year.
  • Traveling with friends is better, especially in first class. Receive a Companion Certificate on First Class, Delta Comfort+®, or Main Cabin domestic, Caribbean, or Central American roundtrip flights each year after renewal of your Card. The Companion Ticket requires payment of government-imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights and no more than $250 for roundtrip international flights (both for itineraries with up to four flight segments). Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Make eating out easier with $240 Resy Credit: With the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Resy Credit, earn up to $20 per month in statement credits on eligible Resy purchases using your enrolled Card.
  • Enjoy $120 Rideshare Credit: Earn up to $10 back in statement credits each month on U.S. rideshare purchases with select providers after you pay with your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. Enrollment Required.
  • Save 15% on travel as a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express member by booking Award Travel using miles on Delta flights through Delta.com and the Fly Delta app! Discount not applicable to partner-operated flights or to taxes and fees.
  • Increase your chance for a better seat with your Card. Receive upgrade priority over other Medallion Members within the same Medallion level and fare class.
  • Get on the upgrade list! Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Members with an eligible ticket will be added to the Complimentary Upgrade list, after Delta SkyMiles Medallion Members.
  • 3X Miles on Delta purchases.
  • 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • 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 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $7,000 in purchases in 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 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

American Airlines AAdvantage miles are tough to acquire because they have no travel transfer partner. The easiest way to build a large collection of American Airlines miles is to open co-branded credit cards, like the Citi® AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®.

The Citi® AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® also provides Admirals Club access for you and up to 2 guests when traveling on an American Airlines ticket. This can be very useful if other airport lounges are overcrowded.

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

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • $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, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 7,500 Anniversary points each year.
  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded boardings per year
  • 25% back on in flight WiFi and drink purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Member FDIC

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 purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on qualifying United® purchases
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other eligible travel and dining purchases with your card
  • Also earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Free first and second checked bags – a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip (terms apply) – and Premier Access® travel services
  • 10% United Economy Saver Award discount within the continental U.S. and Canada
  • You can earn up to 10,000 Premier qualifying points (25 PQP for every $500 you spend on purchases)
  • Member FDIC

United is a travel transfer partner of Chase. Sometimes, it might be more worthwhile to acquire Chase Ultimate Reward points and transfer them to United. It may be easier to accumulate many Ultimate Reward points than United miles.

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 on our partner's secure site

  • Annual fee of $695* See more details about military protections for you and your spouse 
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership
  • 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
  • $200 Annual Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Note that The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on Uber Eats and rides every year. Only available to the basic card member, Terms Apply
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at 1 qualifying airline
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • This is a MAJOR time saver–$100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®! Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Complimentary access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection® lets you visit more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting. You can love the lounge life with more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $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.
  • Up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, enrollment required
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 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 bonus

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • $550 annual fee waived to $0 for US military + spouses with Chase MLA policy
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases 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 Chase Travel℠ 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 every 4 years
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Primary coverage with Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • No foreign transaction fees, Member FDIC
  • Learn more in the Chase Sapphire Reserve review

Airline Credit Cards FAQ

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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