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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
Staying connected while traveling is important for many of us. To business travelers, however, it’s often crucial: In the course of a six-hour transcontinental flight or a 12-hour international trip, information may be missed and deals can slip through the cracks. We may complain about being chained to our electronic devices, but often that connection can make the difference between success and failure. Fortunately in-flight access is becoming more common, although it usually comes at a price.
There are travel rewards cards that offer the opportunity to stay connected either at the airport or on the plane, and the key to free Wi-Fi may already be in your wallet. Here are the options.
Boingo vs. Gogo
For starters, understand the difference between the two services. Boingo is a collection of over one million Wi-Fi hotspots around the globe, including airports (although the number of airports covered isn’t specified). The mobile plan costs $9.95 per month worldwide, with no data roaming fees; for the same price, you can also purchase unlimited access to hotspots in North and South America. $39 buys you 2,000 minutes of global access each month, and all plans cover up to four devices.
Gogo offers in-flight internet access on selected airlines, and passengers can buy passes in advance or on board. A pre-purchased, one-hour pass costs $7 for use on domestic flights on Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, United or Virgin America; you pay $19 for an all-day pass on the same carriers (again, domestic flights only). For $28, you can buy a Delta Global Day Pass that provides 24 hours of coverage on any Delta Gogo equipped flight.
Cards That Offer Boingo Coverage
The following travel rewards cards offer access to the Boingo network (annual fee in parentheses):
- The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550) (See Rates & Fees)
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express ($595) (See Rates & Fees)
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express ($0 first year, $95 thereafter) (See Rates & Fees)
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express ($0 first year, $95 thereafter) (See Rates & Fees)
- Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card ($450) (See Rates & Fees)
Cards That Offer Gogo In-Flight Passes
These are the cards that currently include Gogo passes as a benefit:
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express: 10 per year
- U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Signature Visa: 12 per year ($0 annual fee the first year, $49 thereafter)
- U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card: 12 per year ($400 annual fee)
- UBS Visa Infinite credit card: 12 per year ($495 annual fee)
- City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite: 12 per year ($400 annual fee)
Credit Cards With Travel Credits
Some rewards cards include travel credits to offset the annual fee. Although in-flight Wi-Fi is generally excluded, those fees may be applied in a few cases. The Citi Expedia + Voyager Card offers $100 in credits that can be used toward the purchase of airborne internet — not bad, considering that the card’s annual fee is $95. Another good option is the Discover it Miles Card, with a $30 credit and no annual fee — but this perk is being retired on March 31, 2019.
Airlines Offering Free Wi-Fi
Like most things in the tech world, the state of in-flight Wi-Fi is fluid. While it’s becoming more commonplace for airlines to offer internet access, finding a free connection can be challenging. Here are the exceptions:
Aer Lingus: Free Wi-Fi in business class
China Eastern: 258 yuan (about $38) of free Wi-Fi; must apply in advance
Emirates: First 20MB of internet are free for everyone. First and business-class passengers get unlimited free internet, as do those in Gold/Platinum economy class.
Finnair: Free for one hour for business class, Economy Comfort and Finnair Plus Gold members; free for the whole flight for Finnair Plus Platinum members.
Icelandair: Saga Class passengers and Saga Gold Members get free Wi-Fi for two devices.
JetBlue: Free for all passengers
Nok Air: Free for all passengers
Philippine Airlines: Free for 30 minutes or up to 15MB
Qatar Airlines: Free up to 15 minutes
SAS: Free for passengers in SAS Gold and business, as well as Gold and Diamond members
Singapore Airlines: On A380, A350 and Boeing 777-300ER planes, first class and Suites passengers receive 100 MB and business class passengers get 30MB. Solitaire PPS members will also receive 30MB for themselves and supplementary card holders when traveling in Economy or Premium Economy on the same planes.
Vueling Airlines: Free
You may not want to apply for a credit card for the Wi-Fi benefit alone, but it’s a nice perk to have if you’re a US-based traveler. The Gogo passes cover the three major airlines (American, Delta and United) plus Alaska Airlines.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the SPG Amex Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the SPG Amex Business Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the SPG Luxury Card, please click here.
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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), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at Marriott and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,200 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 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