The best airline and travel credit cards for bad credit

Getting a secured card is probably your best bet.

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While it’s easier to get an airline or travel card if you have good credit, a few airlines offer secured cards you can qualify for if your credit isn’t great.

You’ll also find bad-credit products that — while not airline or travel products specifically — can help you earn rewards on all purchases.

Compare airline and travel credit cards for bad credit

Name Product Foreign transaction fee Welcome offer Rewards Filter values
Credit One Bank® Visa® Cash Back Rewards
3% of the transaction value or $1, whichever is higher
N/A
1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
See terms
See terms
Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®
3% of the transaction value or $1, whichever is higher
N/A
1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
Official NASCAR® Credit Card from Credit One Bank®
3% of the transaction value or $1, whichever is higher
N/A
Up to 1% cash back on eligible purchases determined by Credit One and double cash back at the NASCAR Shop
Get up to 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases determined by Credit One and double cash back rewards at the NASCAR Shop.
AeroMexico Visa® Secured Card
3% of the transaction value
Receive 3,500 bonus miles after your first card use.
2x miles for purchases on gas, groceries, AeroMexico airfare and vacation packages.
Earn miles while building your credit.
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Can I get an airline or travel credit card if I have bad credit?

While not impossible, it can be very difficult to get an airline or travel card if you have bad credit. That’s because these cards often come with the best rewards and perks, which providers usually want to give to highly qualified applicants.

So while that means you have options, you could consider narrowing your choices.

Which are the easiest airline credit cards to get approved for?

If you have less-than-stellar credit, you’ll have the best odds with secured credit cards. There are currently a few secured airline cards on the market.

To get a secured card, you must first put down a security deposit — usually $200 to $300. If you don’t repay your card debt, your provider can take this deposit. With this collateral, banks are more willing to issue secured cards to those with bad credit.

If you’re willing to forego a travel card, you’ll find several secured cards that offer rewards on all purchases. This means you can earn cash back or points on travel purchases such as flights, hotels and car rentals.

The best airline and travel credit cards for bad credit

Best for…CardAnnual feeMinimum deposit
Airline discountLATAM Visa® Secured Card$0 first-year intro annual fee, then $25 after that$300
Bonus airline milesSKYPASS Visa® Secured Card$50$300
General rewardsDiscover it® SecuredNone$200
BusinessWells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card$25$500
Unsecured cardCredit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®$0 to $99N/A

Airline credit cards — such as those listed below — often come with carrier-specific benefits.

They also offer flexible rewards. LATAM, for example, is part of Oneworld Alliance, so you can redeem LATAM Pass points for flights with other carriers in the alliance. The same concept applies to Aeroméxico and Korean Air, which are part of SkyTeam.

You can also check out cards that offer general rewards. These products can be useful even when you’re not traveling.

Airline alliances mean flexible rewards

After earning rewards with certain airline credit cards, you can use your points or miles to book flights with alliance carriers. This makes these cards more flexible than they may seem.

Oneworld carriers

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines
  • Royal Air Maroc

SkyTeam carriers

  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolíneas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Middle East Airlines — Air Liban
  • Saudia
  • Tarom
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Air

Best for airline discount: LATAM Visa® Secured Card

LATAM Visa® Secured Card

With a $0 intro annual fee your first card year, then $25 each year after that, this card is the most affordable secured airline card on our list.You’ll get a 10% discount on your first LATAM purchase each calendar year. This could result in big savings, especially if you buy multiple flight tickets in one transaction.

Best for bonus airline miles: SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card

SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card
This card has a $50 annual fee and a foreign transaction fee. But you’ll earn 1,000 miles after every card renewal, which can help offset the card’s cost. Also, you get to earn a solid 5,000 bonus miles as soon as you make your first purchase.

Best for general rewards: Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured
This card has a $50 annual fee and a foreign transaction fee. But you’ll earn 1,000 miles after every card renewal, which can help offset the card’s cost. Also, you get to earn a solid 5,000 bonus miles as soon as you make your first purchase.

This is one of the best secured cards you’ll find. With no annual fee, solid rewards and an option to check your FICO score every month for free, it’s an excellent choice for building credit.It can be a good card for your next vacation — a road trip, perhaps — as it offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%. It also has no foreign transaction fees.

Best for business: Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

This product is a strong choice if you have an eligible business. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases — a solid rate that can apply to a wide array of travel spending. Or, you can earn 1.5x points and 1,000 bonus points each month you spend at least .On the downside, there’s a higher minimum deposit of $500. However, the card has no foreign transaction fees.

Look into this product if you want an unsecured card with rewards

The Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa® is an unsecured card, meaning you don’t have to put down a security deposit to get it. You may also earn 1% cash back on select purchases — such as gas and dining — depending on your credit.

Watch out for the downsides, though, which include an ongoing annual fee up to $99, the potential lack of a grace period and foreign transaction fees.

How we chose our best credit cards

We looked for cards ideal for consumers with bad credit, and that offered airline or general rewards. For non-airline products, we considered whether they had rewards that could apply to travel purchases.

What’s changed in 2020

The Discover it® Secured continues to be one of the best secured cards on the market, with rewards, a reasonable minimum security deposit, a signup bonus and monthly access to your FICO score.

On the other hand, the AeroMexico Visa® Secured Card, which was one of the best airline cards for bad credit in 2019 is no longer available to apply for.

Pros and cons of airline and travel credit cards for bad credit

Pros

  • Several cards offer general rewards on all purchases.
  • Some cards offer airline-specific benefits.

Cons

  • There aren’t many airline or travel cards for bad credit.
  • You’re usually limited to secured cards or unsecured cards with high annual fees.

How to choose an airline or travel credit card for bad credit

  • Annual fee.
    Annual fees for secured airline cards usually range from $25 to $50. This cost can eat into your rewards, so consider whether you’ll get enough value from a card to offset its price.
  • Security deposit.
    Locking down funds to get a credit card can be a drag, but that’s the price of a secured card. If this is an issue, look for a card with a lower minimum security deposit.If you’d like to avoid paying a security deposit, consider an unsecured card. Be very cautious with subprime unsecured products, as they often come with high fees.
  • Rewards.
    When considering a card, check its reward structure and what type of rewards you get. Airline miles can be useful, as you can often redeem them with alliance partners. Or you might want cash back, which is usually simpler to redeem.Consider where you spend the most money, as a card may offer bonus rewards for certain categories.
  • Airline alliance.
    The airline cards we’ve listed in this article fall under the oneworld and SkyTeam alliances. Check if you fly with carriers in these alliances, as your miles could prove flexible.
  • Benefits.
    While bad-credit airline cards don’t offer the best perks, you can find some surprisingly good deals. Consider what kind of flyer you are and whether you can take advantage of your card’s benefits.
  • Foreign transaction fees.
    Unfortunately, secured airline cards usually have foreign transaction fees. If this is a problem, you might like a general-rewards card that doesn’t charge these fees.
  • Signup bonus.
    In some cases, you can earn a small bonus soon after you open your card. Airline miles are often worth over 1 cent apiece, so they can be more valuable than they seem.

Bottom line

While travel cards are usually aimed at those with good credit, there are a few secured airline cards you may qualify for.

If airline cards aren’t your style, compare other secured card with rewards to find something that suits your needs.

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