The best free flight credit card is Chase Sapphire Preferred because it gives new cardholders up to 2.5 free flights (round-trip) between New York and Los Angeles for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. Specifically, Sapphire Preferred’s initial bonus is 50,000 points, which is worth $625 in travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. And that in turn is worth up to 2.5 free flights, based on current fares. You can also transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to Chase’s seven airline partners, including Southwest, United and JetBlue. How many free flights you can get that way depends on those transfer partners’ ticket prices.
Chase Sapphire Preferred will also help you earn free flights over time, giving 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining (1 per $1 on everything else). And its $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. But for all that if offers, Sapphire Preferred is still a general travel card. That means it lacks a lot of the perks normally found on airline-specific cards, such as free checked bags and priority boarding. The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard offers both. It also gives 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,500 in the first three months, plus 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases, dining and gas.
Sometimes, airline credit cards will actually say straight up that they’ll give you free flights, rather than a certain number of miles worth a certain amount in airfare. And several airline cards currently offer companion tickets – allowing a guest to travel with you for free – as part of your sign-up bonus, as an annual renewal bonus or both. The British Airways Signature Visa is a good example. Also, it’s worth noting that you will need good to excellent credit to qualify for most of these cards.
Here are the best credit cards for free flights:
Chase Sapphire Preferred: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. Bonus worth $625 in free flights or other travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining. $0 annual fee first year, $95 after. Excellent credit required.
Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard: 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months and 10,000 when you spend 6,000 in the first 12 months. 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, gas stations, and American Airlines purchases. $0 annual fee for first year, $99 after. Good credit required.
British Airways Visa Signature: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. 25,000 more points for spending $10,000 in the first year, plus another 25,000 for spending $20,000. Free companion ticket (good for two years) when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year. 3 points per $1 spent on British Airways and partner purchases. $95 annual fee. Good credit required.
United MileagePlus Explorer: 40,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. Additional 5,000 miles when you add an authorized user and make a first purchase in the first 3 months. 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, restaurants and hotel accommodations purchases directly with the hotel. $0 annual fee for first year, $95 after. Good required.
AAdvantage Aviator Red Credit Card: $95 annual fee. 60,000 bonus miles when you make your first purchase in the first 90 days and pay the annual fee. 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases. $100 American Airlines flight discount when you spend $30,000 in a card membership year. Good credit required.
Capital One Venture: $0 for first year, $95 after. 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Bonus worth $500 in free flights or other travel. 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases (except 10 miles per $1 on hotels.com/venture). No foreign transaction fee. Good credit required.
Free flight credit cards obviously offer a lot of perks. And while you will likely have to contend with an annual fee, the card should more than pay for itself if you travel a lot and take advantage of all the benefits at your disposal. Just make sure to pay your entire balance each month so that interest charges don’t cancel out your rewards earnings.
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