While traveling in premium class sounds amazing, it might not be the most realistic option for individuals or families. Premium class fares can be quite expensive, and the cost for economy fares is much more affordable — making cash back or flexible currency a great option for booking your travels. If you are an economy flyer, here are three credit cards you should consider.
Ultimate flexibility: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
You know what they say: Cash is king! The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a simple cash back card that works great for someone who flies economy.
While the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer lacks a welcome bonus, it offers 2% cash back: 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. This makes it a great option for those who want great rewards while not worrying about award redemption rules. Best of all, it has a $0 annual fee.
Since this card earns cash back, you can purchase any airfare, then redeem your rewards for a statement credit against your airfare charge. There’s no need to worry about airline blackout dates or airline program restrictions.
Additionally, you can move your rewards to Citi ThankYou points, then transfer them to one of Citi’s 16 different transfer partners. So, there is additional flexibility with your rewards.
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a fantastic option for someone who wants the freedom to book travel their way and avoid paying an annual fee.
» Learn more: Best Citi ThankYou redemptions
The free agent who wants options: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is another option that offers great value and flexibility for the economy flyer.
To start, it has a solid welcome bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.
The Capital One Purchase Eraser can be used for travel purchases within the last 90 days. So, if you happen to be short on miles for an award flight, you can redeem miles at a later date and still save on travel. Or, you could utilize transfer rewards to one of Capital One’s 15 airline transfer partners. This adds additional flexibility to your Capital One miles.
Earning Capital One miles is extremely easy because the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earns 2X miles on all purchases.
You’ll also receive a $100 TSA Precheck or Global Entry fee credit every four years, increasing the speed at which you can move through security and immigration.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95. With solid earning rates and a generous welcome offer, it’s a great option for economy flyers who would like a card with extra benefits and easy redemption options but a lower annual fee.
Premium benefits: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Flying economy doesn’t mean you can’t have nice things — and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® certainly gives you access to elevated benefits.
First up is the welcome bonus: Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® — and potentially worth even more if used for premium travel through one of Chase’s transfer partners.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® will earn 3x points on all travel and dining, so charging economy fare to the card pays off nicely.
You’ll also receive Priority Pass lounge access for yourself and up to two guests, which includes Priority Pass restaurants. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also includes a $100 TSA Precheck or Global Entry credit every four years. Additionally, you receive great travel protection benefits like trip delay reimbursement that kicks in after delays of six hours. All of these make traveling in economy class a bit more comfortable.
A very useful benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the ability to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for 1.5 cents per point through their travel portal. For an economy flyer, this can be a good use of points, especially since you’ll earn redeemable miles for those flights as well.
The bottom line
The best card for you comes down to the annual fee you are willing to pay and the amount of benefits you’d like. With these cards, you can earn plenty of rewards and make your economy flight cheaper and more comfortable.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Is premium economy airfare worth the money?
Ask a points nerd: How to beat basic economy at its own game
Find the best travel credit card for you