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8 Excellent Airline Credit Cards of 2021

Lots of airlines offer credit cards to give you big rewards when you fly. Compare these deals, some of which are from our partners, to find the one for you.

NerdWallet's Excellent Airline Credit Cards of 2021

Excellent for

Flat-rate travel rewards

Apply now

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Annual fee

$95

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel

  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day

  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn

  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®

  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of trip options

  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel

  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

  • No foreign transaction fees

Apply Now

on Capital One's website

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel

  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day

  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn

  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®

  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of trip options

  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel

  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

  • No foreign transaction fees

Apply Now

on Capital One's website

Pros

  • High rewards rate

  • Flexible rewards redemption

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Rewards have limited flexibility

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Read full review

Excellent for

Flat-rate travel rewards + no annual fee

Apply now

on Bank of America's website

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

4.3

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases

Regular APR

13.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire

  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions

  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout

  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR will apply.

  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 spent.

  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap

  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Apply Now

on Bank of America's website

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Intro APR period

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Flexible rewards redemption

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • No bonus categories

  • Best rewards limited to certain customers

Read full review

Excellent for

Airline Miles and a Large Bonus

Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$95

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.99%-22.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.

  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.

  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories

  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.

  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.

  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

Apply Now

on Chase's website

Pros

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Bonus categories

  • Primary rental car coverage

  • Flexible rewards redemption

  • Transfer partners

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • Complicated rewards

Read full review

Excellent for

Cash-Back Pairing with Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Regular APR

14.99%-24.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services

  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases

  • 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99% - 24.74%.

  • No annual fee

Apply Now

on Chase's website

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

  • High rewards rate

  • No minimum redemption amount

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Read full review

Excellent for

Flat-Rate Travel Rewards with Miles Match

Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Discover it® Miles

4.1

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months

Regular APR

11.99%-22.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.

  • Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.

  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.

  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.

  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.

  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.

  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match® details & other information.

  • View Rates & Fees
Apply Now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

  • Flexible rewards redemption

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • No luxury perks

  • Lower acceptance abroad

Read full review

Excellent for

Delta Air Lines + domestic airline card

Apply now

on American Express's website

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.74%-24.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn 40,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

  • Plus, earn up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.

  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.

  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.

  • $100 Delta Flight Credit: After you spend $10,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, receive a Credit to use toward future travel.

  • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees
Apply Now

on American Express's website

Pros

  • Free checked bag

  • Early boarding

  • Rewards don't expire

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Read full review
Apply now

on Chase's website

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

4.3

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$69

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.99%-22.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

  • Now enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn.

  • 3,000 anniversary points each year.

  • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.

  • NEW! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.

  • NEW! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.

  • NEW! 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year

  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.

Apply Now

on Chase's website

Pros

  • Anniversary perk

  • No reward caps

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Rewards have limited flexibility

Read full review

Excellent for

United Airlines

Apply now

on Chase's website

United℠ Explorer Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.49%-23.49% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United purchases

  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee Credit

  • 25% back on United inflight purchases

  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket

  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United ClubSM with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services

Apply Now

on Chase's website

Pros

  • Bonus categories

  • Luxury perks

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Free checked bag

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Rewards have limited flexibility

Read full review