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What’s the Best Credit Card to Earn Free Domestic Flights?

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card,  Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

TPG reader Stacey tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy—”What’s the best travel rewards credit card to earn free flights for domestic travel?”

The answer to this question depends heavily on another: what airline(s) do you like to fly?

I think the 50,000 point sign-up bonus offers on the Southwest credit cards are a great deal, and are worth over $700 in Wanna Get Away fares. Plus, the Southwest Companion Pass can potentially double the value of your ponits, and if you get it soon, you’ll get almost two full years of free companion travel. It’s an incredible perk, and it’s fairly easy to get if you earn the bonus on both the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card.

You have a lot of options when it comes to credit cards. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
You have a lot of options when it comes to airline credit cards. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

As for other options, the United MileagePlus Explorer and the Gold Delta SkyMiles card have offered sign-up bonuses of 50,000 miles in the past year (though not currently). The US Airways Premier World MasterCard and the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard also currently offer 50,000 miles, which is generally enough for two domestic round-trip flights at the saver level. The US Airways card also gets you a 5,000 mile discount on US Airways awards, which is a great perk.

If don’t want to be aligned with a specific program, get the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard or the Capital One Venture Rewards card, both of which will give you sign-up bonuses worth $400 or more to use toward booking any flight you want. The advantage of these cards is that you can book yourself on any flight, and you’ll earn miles and elite credits for your trip.

Clearly, you have a lot of options, so first decide which airline you’d prefer to fly, and that will make it easier to pick the best card to suit your needs.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Apply Now
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.24%, 20.24% or 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers.
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%, 20.24% or 23.24% Variable $89 - Waived first year 0% Excellent/Good