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Every time you purchase an airline ticket with your credit card, you could be earning valuable bonus points or miles toward your next award trip.
Before you miss the opportunity earn additional rewards on this spending, consider opening and using one of these top cards for airfare purchases:
The Top Cards for Airfare Purchases
1. The Platinum Card® from American Express
2. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
3. Chase Sapphire Reserve
4. Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
5. American Express® Gold Card
6. Citi Premier Card
|Card||Bonus for Airfare Purchases/Return Based on TPG Valuations||Notes||Annual Fee|
|Platinum Card from American Express||5x points/9.5%||5x on flights purchased directly from the airline or at Amex Travel. Terms Apply.||$550|
|The Business Platinum Card from American Express||5x points/9.5%||5x on flights purchased through Amex Travel. Terms Apply.||$450|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3x points/6%||3x on travel, including flights||$450|
|Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||3x points/6%||3x on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year across the categories of travel (including flights); shipping purchases; internet, cable and phone services; and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines. This is a business card.||$95|
|American Express Gold Card||3x points/5.7%||3x points on flights purchased directly from the airline or at Amex Travel||$250|
|Citi Premier Card||3x points/5.1%||3x points on travel including gas stations||$95 (waived the first year)|
The Amex Platinum card has always been known for its impressive benefits, but not for any special rewards for spending. It now offers you 5x points for airfare booked directly through the airline or through Amex Travel. You also earn 5x points on hotels booked through Amex Travel, 2x points on other purchases from Amex Travel, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.
Among numerous other card holder benefits are a $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 in annual Uber credits and a $100 credit toward a Global Entry or $85 credit toward TSA PreCheck application. You also get access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta, plus a Priority Pass Select lounge membership and access to the Centurion network of lounges. Finally, you receive Gold status with Hilton and Marriott, and elite status with Avis, Hertz and National car rentals. There’s a $550 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
The business version of the Platinum card also offers you 5x points on airfare and on prepaid hotels booked though Amex Travel. But unlike with the personal Amex Platinum, you won’t earn 5 points per dollar on tickets purchased directly through the airline, but if you’re able to find what you need through the Amex portal, paying with the business card will get you the same impressive 9.5% return (based on TPG’s valuations). Plus, with the Business Platinum, if you pay with points for first or business-class airfare on any airline or any class of airfare on your airline of choice, you get a 35% rebate, which effectively gets you 1.54 cents per point in value.
Other benefits include a $200 annual airline fee credit, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application and Priority Pass lounge access with two free guests. This card has a $450 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
The introduction of this card was the number-one story in the credit card industry in 2016. Its popularity went mainstream, and for good reason. With the Sapphire Reserve, you earn 3x points on all travel expenses, including not just airfare, but hotels, car rentals and even parking and tolls. You also get 3x points on all dining purchases, and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. According to TPG’s latest monthly valuations, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents each. Points are earned in the Ultimate Rewards program, which includes 11 airline and hotel transfer partners. Or, points are worth 1.5 cents each toward travel and activities booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center.
Other benefits include an annual $300 travel statement credit, a Global Entry application fee credit and a Priority Pass Select membership that includes guests. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
Chase introduced the Ink Business Preferred Card in 2016, replacing the Ink Plus for new applicants. This card offers 3x points on airfare and everything else that Chase includes in its travel classification. You also receive 3x points on all shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. Note that the 3x earning rate applies to the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases across those categories. You’ll also earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. New applicants can earn 80,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 on their card within three months of account opening. This bonus alone is worth $1,600 according to TPG’s valuations. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
This card is another great choice for airfare purchases, as you earn 3x points on all travel expenses. You also receive 2x on dining and entertainment and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. The points you earn are part of the Citi ThankYou Rewards program and are worth 1.7 cents each, according to TPG’s valuations.
Currently, you can transfer your ThankYou points to several different partners, now including JetBlue. Points can also be redeemed for 1.25 cents each toward airfare purchased through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center. There’s a $95 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months) for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
Bonus: Citi Prestige
The Citi Prestige Card hasn’t been available for applications for the last several months, but we just learned that it will be coming back in Jan. 2019, at which point it will offer 5x points on air travel as well as dining. Based on TPG’s valuations, that equates to an 8.5% return. The card will see some other changes as well, including a twice-a-year cap on 4th Night Free bookings starting in Sept. 2019, an annual fee increase to $495 and the addition of a 3x bonus category for cruises. Once the Prestige starts earning 5x on air travel next year, it will be a great choice for airfare if you’re able to maximize Citi’s transfer partners.
What’s your favorite card to maximize airfare purchases?
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees