Best Credit Cards for Unique Airline Benefits

From discounts on award tickets to complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi, here are our favorite unique benefits offered by airline credit cards.
Craig Joseph
By Craig Joseph 
Updated
Edited by Erin Hurd

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Airline credit cards earn frequent-flyer program miles every time you use the card, but some cards come with valuable perks that can be just as exciting as earning miles for flying. The right credit card can make your journey cheaper and less stressful through benefits like free checked bags, a credit for TSA PreCheck and priority boarding.

But a range of lesser-known card benefits can also enhance your travel experience. Here are our favorite unique benefits offered by airline credit cards:

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Delta Airlines cards from American Express

Benefit we love: Discounted award flights

Cards that offer a 15% discount on Delta award flights
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
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on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
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on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
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on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$0 intro for the first year, then $150
$350
$650

Terms Apply.

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Key benefits:

  • Eligible Card Members get 15% off when using miles to book Award Travel on Delta flights through delta.com and the Fly Delta app. Discount not applicable to partner-operated flights or to taxes and fees. Terms apply.

Why we like it

You’ll use 15% fewer miles for award flights if you hold a Delta Airlines credit card that carries an annual fee (both consumer and business cards). Simply use your card to pay for the taxes and fees on the award booking and the discount will automatically apply. The discount only applies to award booking on Delta-operated flights; partner bookings won’t qualify.

United Airlines cards from Chase

Benefit we love: Increased award availability

Cards that offer increased United Airlines award availibity
Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card
United℠ Explorer Card
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on Chase's website

Chase United Quest Credit Card
United Quest℠ Card
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on Chase's website

Chase United MileagePlus(R) Club Card Credit Card
United Club℠ Infinite Card
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on Chase's website

Annual Fee
$0 intro for the first year, then $95
$250
$525
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Key benefits:

  • Access increased award availability when you hold a qualifying United Airlines credit card.

Why we like it

Being an eligible United Airlines cardholder is the easiest way to gain increased access to saver awards on United-operated flights (only the $0-annual-fee United Gateway℠ Card is ineligible). This perk can mean you pay significantly less for award space than non-cardholding MileagePlus members, which could easily justify your annual fee. United cardholders also won’t deal with blackout dates or capacity controls when using miles to book a United-operated flight.

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The United℠ Business Card and United Club℠ Business Card also provide increased access to award space on United-operated flights.

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

New! Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
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Benefit we love: Free in-flight Wi-Fi

Annual fee: $199

Key benefits:

  • Receive an $8 Wi-Fi credit on Southwest Airlines flights, up to 365 times per year. 

Why we like it

For business travelers, staying connected can mean the difference between a productive and a wasted day. Fortunately, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card can help you stay connected in the air with free Wi-Fi. When you charge it to your card, you'll get reimbursed for the $8 Wi-Fi charge on Southwest flights. Cardholders can receive up to 365 credits per year, allowing you to keep costs down while you stay plugged-in, no matter how frequently you travel.

Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card
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Benefit we love: Annual companion fare

Annual fee: $95

Key benefits:

  • Get a Companion Fare from $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) each account anniversary after you spend $6,000 or more on purchases within the prior anniversary year. Terms apply.

Why we like it

The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card offers a best-in-class companion fare. By spending only $6,000 throughout your cardholder anniversary year (not calendar year), you’ll earn a companion fare that allows you to buy one regularly-priced ticket on Alaska Airlines and have a friend or loved one join you for only $122. Other cards that offer a companion fare can require up to $30,000 in spending to qualify (like the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, making the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card companion fare the clear winner.

JetBlue Plus Card

Barclays JetBlue Plus Credit Card
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Benefit we love: Rebates on award flights

Annual fee: $99

Key benefits:

  • 10% points rebate when you redeem rewards for JetBlue flights. 

Why we like it

As a JetBlue Plus Card holder, you’ll get 10% back every time you redeem your TrueBlue points for a JetBlue-operated flight. You’ll receive the miles back into your JetBlue TrueBlue account within four to six weeks after your flight, and there’s no cap on the number of miles you can receive back as a rebate. Depending on your frequency of award bookings, those rebated miles could more than make up for the card’s annual fee.

Aeroplan® Credit Card

Aeroplan Credit Card
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Benefit we love: Bonus miles for credit card spending

Annual fee: $95

Key benefits:

  • 500 bonus points for every $2,000 you spend in a calendar month - up to 1,500 points per month.

Why we like it

The Aeroplan® Credit Card lets big spenders rack up points fast. Cardholders can earn 500 bonus points for every $2,000 in spending per calendar month, up to a maximum bonus of 1,500 miles per month. The card already earns 3 points per $1 spent on grocery, dining and Air Canada purchases, so if your spending is concentrated in those categories, you can earn bonus miles for booking award flights in no time.

SunCountry Credit Card from FNBO

Benefit we love: Free premium drink

Annual fee: $69

Key benefits:

  • One free premium drink per flight.

Why we like it

If you’re looking to start your vacation early, the SunCountry Credit Card can help. Cardholders will receive one free premium drink per flight by showing their card to the flight attendant, including an assortment of beer, wine, spirits and even cold brew coffee. As of this writing, these beverages cost up to $9 each. This benefit along with discounted seat-selection and baggage fees could make the card a great travel companion for frequent SunCountry fliers.

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