Best Airline Credit Card

How we picked the cards to evaluate:

NerdWallet reviewed about 25 co-branded airline credit cards. The cards we reviewed include products issued by NerdWallet partners, but this did not influence our selection of the winner.

How we chose the winner:

When choosing our best airline credit card, we considered the following factors in descending order of importance:

  • Cardholder perks (such as free checked bags, priority boarding, lounge access, elite status and companion discounts).
  • Rewards rates (including miles earned per dollar spent and the average value per mile).
  • Airline’s scope (meaning how large its presence and reach are).
  • Annual fees.
  • How much spending qualifies for elevated rates (beyond airline spending).
  • Sign-up bonuses.

In the case of cards with annual fees, we looked at how much spending or travel would be necessary before a consumer would come out ahead — in rewards or perks — compared with no-fee options.

Cards' NerdWallet star ratings alone do not determine awards. Here's how our credit cards team distinguishes between star ratings and award selections:

  • Star ratings are quantitative: We assess the features of a card, score those features according to how they compare with other options on the market and assign the card a rating of 1 to 5 stars based on those features. In general, a card that rates 4.5 stars will be a better value for more people than a card that rates 4.0 stars. However, the 4.0 card might be better than the 4.5 card for an individual consumer depending on that person’s circumstances.
  • Selection for awards is both quantitative and qualitative: Selection for the awards is based on discussion among editorial team members and relies on the same criteria used for the star ratings. However, star ratings alone do not dictate awards. Rather, the awards identify the best cards for specific uses or specific types of consumers, such as frequent flyers.

How we verified our data:

NerdWallet gets credit card information from partner issuers through automated data feeds. Information about cards from nonpartner issuers is verified on the issuers’ websites.