The best credit card to buy airline tickets is Amex Platinum, thanks to its 60,000-point initial bonus, $200 annual airline credit and 5 points per $1 spent on airline purchases. You just need to have at least good credit and spend enough for your rewards to offset the card’s $550 annual fee. But Amex Platinum isn’t the only choice. Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred are also strong contenders, along with Barclaycard Arrival Plus and Capital One Venture. It really comes down to how much you plan to spend and how you plan to book your airfare. Let’s go through each of these cards’ benefits and drawbacks.
Here are the best credit cards to buy airline tickets:
Amex Platinum. 60,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. 5 points per dollar (worth ~1 cent each) on all airfare purchased through the airline or Amex Travel (plus hotels booked through Amex Travel). 1 point per dollar on everything else. $200 airline fee credit annually. Point transfer to 20+ airline and hotel partners (at varying ratios). Complementary airport lounge access. Annual fee of $550. Requires good credit.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. 3 points per dollar on all travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else, worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. 1:1 point transfer to 7 airline loyalty programs. $300 annual travel credit and free airport lounge access. Annual fee of $450. Requires excellent credit.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. 2 points per dollar on all travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else, worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. 1:1 point transfer to 7 airline loyalty programs. $95 annual fee waived the first year. Requires excellent credit.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus: 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. Miles worth 1 cent each toward travel. $89 annual fee waived the first year. Requires excellent credit.
Capital One Venture: 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. Miles worth 1 cent each toward travel. $95 annual fee waived the first year. Requires good credit.
All of these cards are great options, but be careful of the annual fees. It’s better to go for the less expensive cards if you don’t travel very frequently, since you need to earn a lot of rewards to make high annual fees worthwhile. Also, keep in mind that some cards have more restrictive booking than others; for example, Amex Platinum allows you to book directly through the airline while Chase Sapphire Preferred requires you to book through Chase to get your extra points. Another option is to see if the airline you fly with most frequently has a credit card. If they do, they often have perks like increased miles on tickets from that airline, along with other things like lounge access, early boarding, or free checked baggage.
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