Airline business credit cards that offer the best non-airfare category bonuses

Nov 11, 2019

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In the past, airline credit cards typically only offered multiple miles per dollar on one single category of purchases, airfare. Specifically, airfare on the associated carrier. That meant airline credit cards were best for frequent travelers purchasing a lot of tickets. They were also decent options for regular consumers hoping to rack up enough miles on everyday purchases every year or two for a free award trip.

Faced with increasing competition from premium cards such as The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, however, airlines have begun building and diversifying their portfolios of cobranded credit cards and expanding their benefits — not just in terms of personal credit cards, either, but also on the business side.

Business credit cards from American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United now all field non-airline bonus categories such as dining, gas and office supplies.

Here are the seven best airline business credit cards that offer non-airfare bonus earning opportunities, and the categories in which you can maximize them.

Card Earning Categories Welcome offer Annual fee
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® 2x on gas, rental cars, cable and satellite, and telecommunications 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening. $99, waived first year
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express Starting 1/30/2020: 3x at hotels and 1.5x on purchases of $5K or more 35,000 miles and 5,000 MQMs after you spend $1K in the first three months $195, $250 after 1/30/2020 (see rates and fees)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express Starting 1/30/2020: 2x at restaurants, on select media, and U.S. shipping and advertising 30,000 miles after you spend $1K in the first three months, plus $50 statement credit $95, $99 after 1/30/2020 (see rates and fees)
Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard 2x on gas, dining and office supply stores 70,000 miles after you spend $1K and make an employee card purchase in the first 90 days $99
JetBlue Business Card 2x on restaurants and office supplies 60K points after you spend $1K in the first 90 days plus make an employee card purchase $99
Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card 2x on social media, paid search advertising, internet, cable, phone services Earn up to 100,000 bonus points; earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first six months. $199
United Explorer Business Card 2x at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores 100,000 miles after you spend $25K in the first six months $95

Now, for the details on each.

In This Post

American Airlines

American’s main business credit card is a top earner when it comes to category bonuses.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Bonus categories: In addition to American Airlines purchases, cardholders can earn 2x miles per dollar at gas stations and on rental cars, on cable and satellite providers and with select telecommunications merchants.

Current welcome offer: Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.

Annual fee: $99, waived the first year.

Other reasons to consider it: Among the other great reasons to consider American’s main business credit card is the fact that it confers free checked bags for the cardholder and up to four companions on the same reservation, priority boarding, and a 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases made with the card. Cardholders can also earn a $99 (plus taxes) companion ticket when they spend $30,000 or more in a cardmembership year and renew.

Read our review of the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® here.

Delta Air Lines

After an overhaul that starts in January, Delta’s American Express cobranded cards will offer some interesting new bonus opportunities.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

Bonus categories: As part of the major changes Delta and American Express announced recently, this card will begin earning 3x miles on Delta purchases and at hotels, and 1.5x miles on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 50,000 miles) starting Jan. 30, 2020. The current rate is 2x for purchases made directly with Delta and 1x on everything else.

Current welcome offer: 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months, plus a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase in the first three months.

Annual fee: $195, or $250 if application received on or after Jan. 30, 2020 (see rates and fees).

Other reasons to consider it: This card offers members an annual companion certificate good for a round-trip Main Cabin fare each year, free checked bags for themselves and up to eight companions on the same reservation, along with priority boarding and a 20% discount on inflight purchases. Cardholders can earn 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles when they spend $25,000 in a calendar year, and 10,000 more MQMs and bonus miles for hitting $50,000, though this will only be MQMs starting next year. Cardholders can also purchase discounted passes to Delta Sky Clubs, and can expect up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application reimbursement once every five years (four for PreCheck) after January.

Read our review of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express here.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

Bonus categories: After Jan. 30, 2020, this card will earn 3x on Delta purchases, but also 2x miles at restaurants and on U.S. shipping, U.S. advertising and select media. it currently offers 2x on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and 1x on everything else.

Current welcome offer: 30,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 in the first three months, plus a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase in the same time frame.

Annual fee: $95, $99 after Jan. 30, 2020 (see rates and fees).

Other reasons to consider it: This card offer the same checked-bag, priority boarding and inflight purchase benefits as its Platinum counterpart.

Read our review of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express here.

Hawaiian Airlines A330 Aircraft
(Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines)

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard

Bonus categories: Earn 3x miles on Hawaiian Airlines purchases; 2x on gas, dining and office supply store purchases; and 1x on everything else.

Current welcome offer: 70,000 bonus miles — earn 60,000 after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days, and earn an additional 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card.

Annual fee: $99

Other reasons to consider it: This card has mostly the same benefits as the personal version, just no checked bags or annual companion discount. Instead, those who spend $100,000 or more in purchases each year get 40,000 bonus miles.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

JetBlue

JetBlue Business Card 

Bonus categories: Like the JetBlue Plus Card, this one earns 6x points on JetBlue purchases. However, it earns 2x points at restaurants and office supply stores, too.

Current welcome offer: Earn up to 60,000 bonus points — 50,000 after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days and 10,000 more when a purchase is made on an employee card in the first 90 days.

Annual fee: $99

Other reasons to consider it: Cardmembers receive a 50% discount on inflight food and cocktail purchases, a free checked bag for themselves and up to three companions, 10% of their redeemed points refunded and 5,000 anniversary bonus points each year. They can also achieve TrueBlue Mosaic status for one year after spending $50,000 or more on purchases in a calendar year.

(Photo by Eric Helgas / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Southwest Airlines

Only the most recently launched of Southwest’s credit cards accrues multiple points per dollar on non-airline (or partner) purchases.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

Bonus categories: Unlike all of Southwest’s other cards, this one actually offers bonus earning categories aside from airline and partner purchases. Cardholders can rack up 3x points on Southwest buys, including those made with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; but also 2x points per dollar on social media and paid search advertising; internet, cable and phone services; plus 1x on everything else. Remember, points earned through Southwest cobranded credit cards count toward Companion Pass qualification.

Current welcome offer: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points; earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first six months.

Annual fee: $199

Other reasons to consider it: Cardholders can expect a 9,000-point anniversary bonus, four upgraded boardings per year, an up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee waiver once every four years and up to $8 per day in statement credits toward onboard Wi-Fi. For every $10,000 spent, they also earn 1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points toward A-List status.

Read our review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card here.

The information for the Southwest Performance Business card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

United Airlines

Don’t forget about United’s business credit card, which has a wide range of bonus categories.

United Explorer Business Card

Bonus categories: Like its personal counterpart, this card offers some interesting travel-related purchase bonuses. Cardholders can earn 2x miles on United purchases as well as at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores.

Current welcome offer: This card is currently offering a phenomenal welcome bonus worth up to 100,000 United MileagePlus miles. Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, plus an additional 50,000 miles after you spend $25,000 total within the first six months of account opening.

Annual fee: $95

Other reasons to consider it: Along with priority boarding and checked bag benefits, the United Explorer Business Card awards members two, one-time United Club passes each year.

Bottom line

Airlines have been hard at work improving their co-branded credit cards lately, including both personal and business versions. Not only have many added benefits like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee refunds, but several now earn multiple points or miles per dollar on non-airfare purchases. They also confer elite-style perks like free checked bags and priority boarding.

That said, other business cards such as The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card earn multiple points per dollar on a wide range of travel and other purchases that can then be transferred to dozens of airline and hotel partners and include benefits like airport lounge access.

Before applying for an airline credit card, look at your travel spending habits, determine which airline might be the right choice for you, and pick a card that will earn the most miles in the categories where you tend to make a lot of purchases.

Featured photo by GeorgeRudy/Getty Images.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business card, click here.

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