Credit Cards That Offer Free Inflight Wi-Fi
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Staying connected while traveling is important for many of us. For business travelers, it can be crucial. Without consistent and functional Wi-Fi on a six-hour transcontinental flight or a 12-hour international stretch in the air, information or even whole deals can slip away. Even if we just want to post on Instagram while airborne, inflight access is valuable and becoming more common, but it may be years until more airlines offer it for free.
However, there are travel-rewards cards that offer the opportunity to stay connected at the airport or on the plane and the key to free Wi-Fi may already be in your wallet.
Boingo vs. Gogo
For starters, it’s important understand the difference between these two services. Boingo is a collection of more than one million Wi-Fi hotspots around the globe, including airports and other public locations (although the number of airports covered isn’t specified). You can either buy a day pass for $7.95 or sign up for a $14.99 monthly plan and get unlimited access to hotspots worldwide.
Alternatively, you can get an unlimited plan for free as a benefit of The Business Platinum® Card from American Express or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. All plans cover up to four devices. However, Amex will no longer enroll Business Amex Platinum cardholders in the Boingo Preferred Plan as of Jan. 1, 2020. Those who have the card and are enrolled in the plan as of Dec. 31, 2019 will keep their access until June 30, 2020. As of July 1, 2020, the Boingo Preferred Plan will also no longer be a benefit on the Bonvoy Brilliant card.
Gogo offers inflight 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, Delta or United; 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.
Note that some airlines, such as United, use multiple Wi-Fi services in addition to Gogo, such as ViaSat or Panasonic, and it’s not always easy to know in advance what service your particular flight will offer. Prices can also vary depending on which service is being used.
Cards That Offer Inflight Wi-Fi Passes
These are the cards that currently include Gogo passes as a benefit:
- The Business Platinum Card from American Express: 10 free Gogo inflight internet passes per year ($595 annual fee) (see rates & fees)
- 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)
Southwest uses Global Eagle Wi-Fi on its aircraft. The new Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card, with an $195 annual fee, includes reimbursement for up to 365 $8 inflight Wi-Fi purchases on Southwest each year in the form of a statement credit. Southwest charges $8 for an all-day Wi-Fi pass, so this card effectively gets you free Wi-Fi on Southwest every day of the year. Just pay for passes with the card and your account will automatically be credited for the cost.
Airlines Offering Free Wi-Fi
Like most things in the tech world, the state of inflight Wi-Fi is fluid. It’s becoming more commonplace for airlines to offer internet access, but finding a free connection can be challenging. Here are the exceptions:
Aer Lingus: Free for business-class passengers
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 with Gold/Platinum status in economy class.
Finnair: Free for one hour for business class and Economy Comfort and for 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.
Philippine Airlines: Free for 30 minutes or up to 15MB
Qatar Airways: Free when booked at qatarairways.com
SAS: Free for passengers in SAS Gold and business class, 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 cardholders when traveling in economy or Premium Economy on the same planes.
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. To summarize, complimentary Gogo passes cover Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Delta and United, but it’s also possible to get free Wi-Fi on Southwest with its cobranded card. If you’re after Wi-Fi on an airline not listed or don’t want to pay a high annual fee, remember that many cobranded airline credit cards offer discounts on inflight purchases, including onboard Wi-Fi.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, please click here.
Additional reporting by Mark Spivak.
Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.
With the Southwest Performance Business card you'll earn 9,000 bonus points each year after your cardmember anniversary. Southwest also offers one of the most lucrative airline perks - the Companion Pass.
- Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
- 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines?® purchases.
- 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
- Inflight WiFi Credits
- Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
- Employee cards at no additional cost, earn points on employee spending.