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9+ 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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Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardBest for signup bonus
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Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit CardBest value for the cost
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Aeroplan® Credit CardBest for international flexibility
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United℠ Explorer CardBest for United
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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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Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express CardBest for Delta
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Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express CardBest for companion certificate
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Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®Best for American Airlines
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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
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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 signup bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Finder rating 4.6 / 5 ★★★★★

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on Bankrate's secure site
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The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has finally found its niche after several years of getting overshadowed by the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It now offers the largest signup bonus among all Chase cards and one of the largest signup bonuses in the airline space, period. The card also greatly benefits from an improved earning rate of 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on dining, among its other rewards. The card also stands as the cheapest and simplest way entry into transferring points with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

Best value for the cost

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Finder rating 4.6 / 5 ★★★★★

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on Capital One's secure site
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Capital One's premium card the Venture X packs in all the value you'd expect from a premium travel card but at an asking price sizably lower than its main competitors. The card's $300 travel credit takes care of most of the $395 annual fee and the anniversary miles take care of the rest, each year. As long as you travel at least once a year or so, you'll gain the full value of the card's excellent reward rate and airport lounge access.

Best for international flexibility

Aeroplan® Credit Card

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on Creditcards.com's secure site
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The Chase Aeroplan® Credit Card is designed primarily as a rewards option for Air Canada flyers, and it performs this role very well thanks to excellent earning rates in popular categories like dining and grocery stores, bonus point opportunities and a great signup bonus. But Air Canada's membership in the Star Alliance means you can redeem those miles on various international airlines, such as Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and EgyptAir.

Best for United

United℠ Explorer Card

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

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on Creditcards.com's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
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The midtier United℠ Explorer Card continues to offer great value for its price. You 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 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 Southwest

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Finder rating 4.1 / 5 ★★★★★

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on Creditcards.com's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
Read review
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 ★★★★★

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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.

Best for Delta

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Finder rating 4 / 5 ★★★★★

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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 U.S. supermarkets. But the real kicker: it comes with an annual companion certificate, a perk worth far more than the card's annual fee. Delta power travelers will find the Delta Reserve well worth the price as well, though the earning rates aren't much different from the Platinum.

Best for companion certificate

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Finder rating 4.3 / 5 ★★★★★

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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 more than 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.

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 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 and 2021, 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. As a result, we slightly tweaked our categorizations of our picks to better reflect their value.

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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 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, make sure 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 for use 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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