Delta SkyMiles is the best airline rewards program, according to WalletHub’s Frequent Flyer Program report, marking Delta’s fifth straight year atop the list. Next in line are United Airlines MileagePlus and Mileage Plan from Alaska Airlines.
Unfortunately, most of the airlines with the best rewards programs don’t have credit cards that are available to people with bad credit.
Airline Credit Cards, by Minimum Credit Needed:
- American Airlines: American Airlines credit cards require good credit or better for approval.
- Delta Air Lines: Delta credit cards require good credit or better for approval.
- United Airlines: United credit cards require good credit or better for approval.
- Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines credit cards require good credit or better for approval.
- JetBlue Airways: JetBlue credit cards require good credit or better for approval.
- Spirit Airlines: Spirit Airlines credit cards require good credit or better for approval.
- Aeromexico: The Aeromexico Secured Credit Card for people with bad credit is no longer available to new applicants.
- Hawaiian Airlines: Hawaiian Airlines credit cards require good credit or better for approval.
Fortunately, both of the airlines with credit cards for bad credit belong to a major airline alliance. That gives you worldwide coverage for earning miles and redeeming them for free flights. Aeromexico and Korean Air, which the SKYPASS Visa represents, belong to the SkyTeam alliance. And LATAM Airlines, which has direct flights from six U.S. cities to destinations in South America, is part of the oneworld Alliance.
You might not need to limit your rewards to even one airline alliance, either. Your options get a bit more interesting when you consider other types of travel rewards. For example, there’s a case to be made that the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card is the best travel credit card for bad credit because it gives you bonus rewards in a category of your choice, that can include travel, gas stations, dining and more.
Altogether, WalletHub’s picks are the cream of the travel rewards crop for folks with poor credit. And for your convenience, we’ll recap the selections below.
2021’s Best Airline Credit Cards for Bad Credit
|Best For…||Card Name||Annual Fee||Min. Deposit Required|
|Low Annual Fee||LATAM Secured Credit Card||$0 1st yr, $25 after||$300|
|Low APR||SKYPASS Secured Credit Card||$50||$300|
|Unsecured||Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card||$0 - $99||N/A|
|Overall||Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card||$0||$300|
Finally, don’t forget that most valuable reward you can get from a credit card for bad credit is a better credit score. You’ll earn it as long as you pay your bill on time every month. All major credit cards, including secured cards, report information to the credit bureaus each month. And if that information is positive, as is the case when you pay on time, it will help cover up past mistakes. You can check your latest credit score and get personalized credit-improvement tips for free on WalletHub.
WalletHub’s editors select the best airline credit cards for bad credit by comparing the expected rewards earnings, after applicable fees, that each rewards card available to people with poor credit is likely to provide on airfare purchases over two years of use. We use spending data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate expected earnings. We also regularly evaluate new cards and offers that have changed significantly for inclusion on this page.