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Best airline credit cards of 2022

We compared nearly 100 airline cards to find the best deals and perks.

Finder’s credit card experts spend more than 200 hours comparing and rating nearly 100 airline cards based on must-have features including mileage earning rates, rewards amendments in the face of the pandemic, redemption values and additional travel benefits. We’ve placed the top-performing cards into eight categories to help you best fly in style. Finder’s experts provide unbiased, trustworthy evaluations of all airline credit cards and providers, not just those we partner with on the site.
Credit cardsBest for…Learn more
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Best for travel credits
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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit CardBest for Southwest
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The Platinum Card® from American ExpressBest for lounge access
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United℠ Explorer CardBest for United
Read review
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express CardBest for Delta
Apply now on American Express's website
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express CardBest for companion certificate
Apply now on American Express's website
Citi Prestige® Credit CardBest for earning points from airlines
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®Best for American Airlines
Read review

Quick look at the best airline credit cards

Best for travel credits

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Finder rating 4.6 / 5 ★★★★★

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on Creditcards.com's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve®'s annual-fee increased, the card still boasts an impressive travel credit to make up the difference. Not only does this card feature one of the highest travel credits available on a travel card, but it's the most flexible, allowing you to redeem it on any travel purchase. Similar cards, such as the Amex Platinum Card, restrict how and where you can use your credit.

Best for Southwest

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Finder rating 4.1 / 5 ★★★★★

See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
This is the highest-priced Southwest credit card, but you can offset the annual fee with the yearly $75 travel credit and the 50,000 anniversary points you get each year (valued around $97). This essentially negates the annual fee while still delivering a suite of perks, including priority boarding and in-flight discounts. Considering the card pays for itself, its the de facto choice for Southwest fliers.

Best for lounge access

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express has a steep $695 annual fee, but it offers a stellar 5x points on flights on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x) as well as prepaid hotels you book through Amex Travel. It also happens to be one of the most coveted credit cards for airport lounge access, with premium benefits such as access to the Global Lounge Collection, Priority Pass, and most notably, Centurion Lounges. No matter where you fly with this card, you can wait for your flight in style.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.

Best for United

United℠ Explorer Card

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

Read review
Terms apply, see rates & fees
The midtier United℠ Explorer Card continues to offer great value for its price. You'll find accelerated rewards on restaurant purchases and hotel stays, as well as perks like first checked bag free, annual United lounge passes, and credit toward your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee. You'll also find a great signup bonus value for the card's annual fee. Your other United card option, the United Club Infinite Card, is a luxury card and only suitable if you're a hardcore United customer.

Best for Delta

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Finder rating 4 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
This card offers the best bang for your buck among the Delta line of cards. On top of the new Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, it offers increased rewards on Delta purchases and accelerated rewards at hotels, restaurants and US supermarkets. But the real kicker: it comes with an annual companion certificate, a perk worth far more than the annual fee of the card.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.

Best for companion certificate

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Finder rating 4.3 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
While you can find a companion pass on other Delta cards, including the Delta Platinum, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card's companion pass allows your friend to fly with you on a first class booking. The other Delta card companion pass offerings are just for main cabin booking, which while valuable, can't compare to a free first class flight for your friend. This pass alone pays for the cost of the card, so if you have a friend to bring along with you for a trip each year you could consider this luxury card free to own.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.

Best for earning points from airlines

Citi Prestige® Credit Card

Finder rating 3.4 / 5 ★★★★★

The Citi Prestige offers an excellent 5x points not only on air travel, but on restaurants as well. This is incredibly uncommon for a general travel card — other cards that earn 5x points on travel are usually restricted to certain airlines. And while the annual fee is high, the statement credits and assorted travel perks more than make up for the cost. The only tradeoff is Citi's transfer partners are largely international airlines, but if you're someone who doesn't stick to a single airline, this is an impressive travel rewards card.

Best for American Airlines

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Finder rating 4.1 / 5 ★★★★★

The mid-tier AAdvantage card is a safe bet during these uncertain times when travel may not be top of mind. It offers a lot of value for a low annual fee, including 2x miles on American Airlines purchases and on restaurant and gas station spending, which is more categories than you'd find with the similarly priced AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®. You'll also get access to useful American Airlines perks, as well as flight discounts after meeting annual spend requirements and renewing your card.

What’s changed in 2022

Given safety concerns related to travel in 2020, our favorite airline picks remained relatively unchanged in 2022, though the cards themselves received some small tweaks to help consumers continue to find value while they’re not traveling.

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Compare all airline credit cards

There are dozens of airline credit cards on the market. You can compare all airline card options to see how they stack up and find one that best suits your travel needs.

How to choose the best airline credit card

Since there is no single “best” airline credit card for all types of travelers, you’ll need to consider a few factors to find the card that best fits your individual needs.

  • Look at your options from your preferred airlines. Most airlines offer at least a few credit cards that can help you earn and redeem miles on flights. However, some airlines offer more choices than others.
  • Pick based on your travel frequency. If you travel a lot, you’re bound to get more value out of an airline card with a larger annual fee thanks to the additional perks it offers.
  • Review the card perks. Airline cards can come with a variety of perks, ranging from free checked bags to in-flight discounts. If you’re looking for a specific perk you’ll want to ensure that it’s listed on the card’s features.

You asked, we listened: Top 5 common questions

With so many airline credit cards to choose from, it’s only natural to have some questions. Here are the 5 most common questions we receive on the subject.

  1. How much are credit card airline miles worth? The ultimate value of an airline mile can vary greatly depending on the specific loyalty program and how you redeem your miles.
  2. Can I get an airline credit card with bad credit? Most airline credit cards require a good or better credit score. However, you can still use another type of credit card for your airline purchases.
  3. What kinds of airline cards are there? Airline credit cards come in two varieties: cobranded, which are released under the umbrella of a specific airline, and general, which can be used on any airline.
  4. Do I need a frequent flyer number to use an airline card? Only if you’re using a cobranded credit card. These cards need to be linked to your frequent flyer number to generate miles and provide rewards.
  5. What’s the difference between airline credit cards and travel credit cards? Airline credit cards generate miles and offer rewards specifically for flights. Travel credit cards offer general points that can be used on airlines as well as other travel options, such as hotels and cruises.

Bottom line

The best airline credit card for you will depend on your credit score, spending habits and how often you fly. We’ve highlighted some of the top performing cards on the market, but if none of these cards quite hit the mark, compare more airline credit cards to find the right fit.

Credit card ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

Our team evaluates credit cards to determine their value against similar cards on the market.

We rank card types — travel, cash back, business — on a set of factors that are most relevant to that type of card. We create these rankings to help you narrow down a credit card that best suits your spending and budget.

Learn the details of our methodology and scoring.

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