The Best Airline Credit Cards With Inflight Discounts

Jul 24, 2019

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®, Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Airline credit card benefits come in all shapes and sizes. Some offer huge sign-up bonuses worth tens of thousands of miles. Others include airport lounge access. A few offer companion tickets that can save travelers hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.

Of course, some airline credit card benefits are fairly standard these days. Those include earning bonus points or miles on airfare, free checked bags and priority boarding, among other perks. Some airline credit cards also offer discounts on inflight purchases, such as food and beverages, now that many carriers charge for these amenities, as well as onboard Wi-Fi.

Here is a rundown of the airline credit cards currently available to new applicants that provide discounts on inflight purchases, and how much you can expect to save with each.

Airline and Cards Discounts
ALASKA AIRLINES 25% off food and beverages
·      Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card

·      Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card

20% off food, beverages and Wi-Fi
AMERICAN AIRLINES
·    American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card 25% off food and beverages
·      Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

·      Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

·      CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

25% off food and beverages

25% off food and beverages

 

25% off in-flight Wi-Fi

·      Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard

·      Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard

·      Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard

Up to $25 back per day on food and beverages

25% off food and beverages

25% off food and beverages

DELTA AIR LINES
·    Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

·    Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

·    Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

 

20% off food, beverages and headsets
HAWAIIAN AIRLINES
·      Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard $100 per year off inflight purchases for Pualani elites
JETBLUE
·      JetBlue Plus Card

·      JetBlue Card

50% off inflight food and beverages
SOUTHWEST
·      Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card 20% off drinks and Wi-Fi
·      Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card Up to 365 $8 Wi-Fi credits per year
UNITED
·      United Explorer Card

·      United TravelBank Card

25% back on food, beverages and Wi-Fi

Now here are the details on each.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-900ER photographed in April 2016 by Chad Slattery.
Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-900ER photographed in April 2016 by Chad Slattery.

ALASKA AIRLINES

Alaska Airlines only has two cobranded credit cards — a personal one and a business one. Luckily, both offer discounts in the air and on the ground.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature

Inflight discounts: Cardholders are eligible for a 20% inflight rebate on food, beverages and Wi-Fi purchases on board. The 20% rebate comes in the form of a statement credit within seven days of the transaction posting date. Cardholders can also enjoy 50% off Alaska Lounge day passes, a savings of $25 per person.

Current welcome bonus: 40,000 miles and a companion fare from $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22) when you spend $2,000 or more in purchases within 90 days of account opening

Annual fee: $75

Other benefits: This card earns 3x miles per dollar on Alaska purchases and 1x on everything else. Its other perks include free checked bags for the cardholder and up to six guests on the same reservation and a well-publicized annual companion fare benefit. For more information on this card, read our full review.

Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card

Inflight discounts: The same 20% inflight rebate on food, beverages and Wi-Fi purchases on board and 50% off lounge passes as the personal version.

Current welcome bonus: 40,000 miles and a companion fare from $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22) when you spend $2,000 or more in purchases within 90 days of account opening

Annual fee: $50 for the company and $25 per card

Other benefits: Same as the personal version. For more information on this card, read our review.

American Airlines passenger jets parked at their gates on a rainy morning at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images.

AMERICAN AIRLINES

Thanks to partnerships with both Citibank and Barclays, American Airlines fields an impressive array of cobranded credit cards. Most offer inflight discounts, some of which are quite substantial. Let’s start with the Barclays cards, which recently revamped their benefits.

AAdvantage Aviator Red Card

Inflight discounts: Every year, cardholders can receive up to $25 back in statement credits when purchasing Wi-Fi on American Airlines flights. They also receive 25% inflight savings as statement credits on food and beverages when using their card on American Airlines-operated flights.

Current welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus miles plus a $99 companion ticket after making your first purchase within 90 days.

Annual fee: $99

Other benefits: The card earns 2x miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases and 1x on everything else. Among its new benefits is the chance to earn a $99 companion certificate for economy travel in the US every account year they spend $20,000 or more on purchases. Cardholders and up to four companions also get a free checked bag and priority boarding, and they can purchase extra American miles at a discount through the Flight Cents program.

AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard

Inflight discounts: Receive 25% inflight savings as statement credits on food and beverages when using your card on American Airlines-operated flights.

Current welcome bonus: Up to 75,000 bonus miles – 65,000 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Earn an additional 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card. 

Annual fee: $95

Other benefits: Earn 2x miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases and at eligible office-supply, telecom and car-rental merchants. Earn 1x mile per dollar on everything else. Get a 5% mileage bonus on all points earned over an entire year after your account anniversary. Earn a $99 companion certificate after your account anniversary date after spending $30,000 or more on eligible purchases. Preferred boarding and the first checked bag is free for the cardholder and up to four companions. Earn $3,000 in elite-qualifying dollars after spending $25,000 on purchases each calendar year.

Those with the AAdvantage Aviator Mastercard and the AAdvantage Aviator Blue Mastercard also receive a 25% discount on inflight food and beverage purchases. Unfortunately, none of these cards is available to new applicants right now.

The AAdvantage Aviator Silver, which is no longer available to new cardholders (though you might be able to upgrade from the Red), has some unique perks, both in terms of inflight purchases and otherwise. Cardholders are eligible for up to $25 back per day as statement credits on inflight food and beverage purchases. They can also receive up to $50 back on inflight Wi-Fi purchases on American Airlines flights every account year. That’s in addition to earning 3x miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases, 2x per dollar on hotels and car rentals, and 1x on everything else. Don’t forget, if you have this card, you can also earn up to 10,000 elite-qualifying miles by spending $40,000 or more on purchases in a calendar year.

Now let’s look at what some of the most popular Citi cobranded cards offer.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Inflight discounts: 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights when using your card.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $2,500 in the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $99, waived the first year

Other benefits: We’ve covered this card extensively, but for a brief rundown, it earns 2x miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases, at gas stations and restaurants, and 1x mile per dollar on everything else. The first checked bag is free on American flights for the cardholder and up to four companions on the same reservation, and you can earn a $125 flight discount after spending $20,000 or more during a card membership year.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

Inflight discounts: 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights when using your card.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $450

Other benefits: This is the most premium American Airlines credit card because it comes with Admirals Club membership for the primary cardholder and authorized users. It earns 2x miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases and 1x on everything else. Cardholders get slightly better priority boarding than those with other cards, and free checked bags for themselves and up to eight companions. Don’t forget about its Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement, either. Cardholders also have the opportunity to rack up 10,000 elite-qualifying miles by spending $40,000 or more in purchases per calendar year. For more information on this card, read our review.

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

 Inflight discounts: 25% savings on inflight Wi-Fi purchases on American Airlines flights when using your card.

Current welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months.

Annual fee: $99, waived the first year

Other benefits: The main AAdvantage business card offered by Citi earns 2x miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases and those from telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental agencies and gas stations. Earn 1x on everything else. Get the first checked bag free for yourself and up to four companions on the same reservation. Earn an American Airlines companion certificate for domestic main cabin travel after you spend $30,000 or more in purchases each card membership year. For more information on this card, read our review.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

 Inflight discounts: 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights when using your card.

Current welcome bonus: 10,000 bonus miles plus a $50 statement credit after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months.

Annual fee: $0

Other benefits: Earn 2x miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases and at grocery stores, then 1x on everything else on this recently introduced card.

(Photo by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy)
Photo by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy.

DELTA

Delta also has a variety of cards to choose from, all of which offer inflight discounts to their card members.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

Inflight discounts: Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your card on eligible Delta inflight purchases of food, beverages and audio headsets — but not Wi-Fi.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $2,000 in purchases within your first three months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first three months. Offer expires 10/30/2019.

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year (see rates and fees)

Other benefits: Earn 2x miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1x on everything else, and get a free checked bag for yourself and up to eight companions, plus priority boarding. If you are gunning for Medallion status, you are eligible for a Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQM) requirement waiver after spending $25,000 on the card in a calendar year ($250,000 for Diamond). Cardholders and up to two companions can purchase Sky Club passes for $29 per visit. For more information, read our review.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

Inflight discounts: Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your c ard on eligible Delta inflight purchases of food, beverages and audio headsets, but not Wi-Fi.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.Offer Expires 10/30/2019.

Annual fee: $195 ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) (see rates and fees)

Other benefits: With a higher annual fee, this card also confers additional perks. It earns 2x miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1x on everything else. Cardholders receive a domestic main cabin round-trip companion certificate each year. Earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 or more in purchases in a calendar year, and an additional 10,000 MQMs and bonus miles after spending an additional $25,000. This card has the same MQD waiver, checked bag, boarding and Sky Club pass benefits as the Gold version. For more information, read our full review.

Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express

Inflight discounts: Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your card on eligible Delta inflight purchases of food, beverages and audio headsets, but not Wi-Fi.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your card in the first 3 months of account opening. Offer ends 10/30/19.

Annual fee: $450 ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) (see rates and fees)

Other benefits: Cardholders can access Delta Sky Clubs for free and bring up to two companions for $29 each. They receive a domestic round-trip companion certificate each year for travel in the main cabin or first class. Earn 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 or more in purchases in a calendar year, and an additional 15,000 MQMs and bonus miles after spending an additional $30,000. This card has the same MQD waiver, checked bag and boarding benefits as the other cards. It earns 2x miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1x on everything else. For more information, read our full review of the card.

The business versions of these cards – the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express and the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express – all have largely the same benefits as their personal counterparts, including the 20% discount on inflight purchases, excluding Wi-Fi.

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES

Flying to paradise? You’ll need elite status with Hawaiian Airlines to enjoy its inflight savings perks.

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Inflight discounts: Only Pualani Platinum and Pualani Gold elite HawaiianMiles members are eligible for a $100 annual statement credit toward inflight purchases. There is a $10 maximum inflight credit redemption per day. Qualifying purchases including onboard entertainment, beverages and premium meals on Hawaiian Airlines.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Annual fee: $99, waived the first year

Other benefits: Earn 3x miles per dollar on Hawaiian purchases, 2x miles per dollar on gas, dining and grocery store purchases, 1x miles per dollar on everything else. First checked bag free for the primary card member. Share miles with friends and family without a fee up to 10 times per calendar year. Receive a single companion travel discount of 50% off the full price of a coach round-trip fare between Hawaii and North America good for 13 months from the time of account opening. Receive a $100 discount off one companion ticket each account anniversary. For more information on this card, read our full review.

Unfortunately, the Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard does not offer any inflight purchase discounts.

Your friends will soon be able to help get you closer to JetBlue Mint. Photo by Benji Stawski.
Photo by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy.

JetBlue

JetBlue offers free Wi-Fi, so the discounts flyers can enjoy with their credit cards are largely for inflight meal purchases, and they’re the most generous savings out there.

JetBlue Plus Card

 Inflight discounts: Card members qualify for a 50% savings on eligible inflight food and drink purchases including cocktails, beer, wine and meals on JetBlue-operated flights.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days and payment of annual fee.

Annual fee: $99

Other benefits: Earn 6x points per dollar on JetBlue purchases, 2x points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores and 1x point per dollar on everything else. Earn TrueBlue Mosaic status for one year after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases with your card annually. Get 10% of your points back on redemptions and a $100 statement credit after you purchase a JetBlue Vacations package. Receive 5,000 bonus points on your account anniversary each year. You can find our full review here.

The JetBlue Business Card offers almost the exact same benefits, only it earns 2x points per dollar at restaurants and office supply stores. Its annual fee is also $99, though its sign-up bonus is up to 60,000 bonus points – earn 50,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and earn 10,000 points when a purchase is made on an employee card. Its inflight savings benefit is the same, though.

JetBlue Card

Inflight discounts: Receive 50% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases, just like with the JetBlue Plus Card.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Annual fee: $0

Other benefits: Earn 3x points per dollar on JetBlue purchases, 2x at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1x on everything else.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 takes off from San Antonio International Airport. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Photo by Robert Alexander / Getty Images.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

Only some of Southwest’s credit cards offer a modest discount on inflight purchases, including drinks and Wi-Fi.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card

Inflight discounts: Receive 20% back on inflight purchases made with your Southwest Airlines Rapid Reward credit card for drinks and Wi-Fi in the form of a statement credit that will post to your credit card account the same day as your purchases and will appear on your monthly credit card billing statement within two billing cycles.

Current welcome bonus: Earn Up to 60,000 points: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.

Annual fee: $149

Other benefits: This relative newcomer has the richest benefits of any of Southwest’s credit cards. Earn 2x points per dollar on Southwest purchases and at Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, then 1x point per dollar on everything else. Receive a 7,500-point anniversary bonus and a $75 annual Southwest travel credit, four upgraded boardings per year based on availability, and earn 1,500 Tier Qualification Points toward A-List and A-List Preferred status for every $10,000 you spend up to $100,000 per year.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card

Inflight discounts: Receive 20% back on inflight purchases made with your Southwest Airlines Rapid Reward credit card for drinks and Wi-Fi in the form of a credit card account statement credit that will post to your credit card account the same day as your purchases and will appear on your monthly credit card billing statement within two billing cycles.

Current welcome bonus: Earn Up to 60,000 points: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.

Annual fee: $99

Other benefits: Earn 2x points per dollar on Southwest purchases and at Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, then 1x point per dollar on everything else. Receive a 6,000-point anniversary bonus. Earn 1,500 Tier Qualification Points toward A-List and A-List Preferred status for every $10,000 you spend up to $100,000 per year.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

Inflight discounts: Receive inflight Wi-Fi credits in the form of credit card statement credits for purchases of Wi-Fi access made on Wi-Fi-enabled Southwest aircraft with your card. Inflight Wi-Fi credits are limited to a total of 365 $8 credits per year for all Wi-Fi transactions on the overall business-card account.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $,5000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

Annual fee: $199

Other benefits: This recently launched card is packed with perks. Earn 3x points per dollar on Southwest purchases, 2x points per dollar on social media and search engine advertising as well as internet, cable and phone services. Earn 1x point per dollar on everything else. Enjoy 9,000 bonus points every card member anniversary and four upgraded boardings per year. It also offers a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application-fee credit once every four years. You can also spend your way toward A-List and A-List Preferred by earning 1,500 Tier Qualification Points for every $10,000 spent up to $100,000 per year.

 

The Polaris cabin on a United high-J 767. Image by Zach Honig/TPG.
The Polaris cabin on a United “High-J” 767. Image by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.

UNITED

Nothing’s free on United. Luckily, a cobranded credit card will come in handy.

United Explorer Card

Inflight discounts: In 2018, this card began offering 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi onboard United-operated flights.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Other benefits: Earn 2x miles per dollar on United purchases as well as at restaurants and on hotel stays. Expect a free checked bag for the cardholder and up to one companion on the same reservation plus priority boarding. There is also a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application-fee refund once every four years plus two United Club one-time passes each anniversary.

United TravelBank Card 

Inflight discounts: This card launched in 2017 with an inflight savings benefit. Cardholders now enjoy 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi onboard United-operated flights when they pay with their United TravelBank Card.

Current welcome bonus: Earn $150 in United TravelBank cash after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $0

Other benefits: Earn 2% in TravelBank cash (to put toward United purchases) per dollar spent on airline tickets purchased from United, and 1.5% in TravelBank cash per dollar spent on other purchases.

Strangely enough, neither the premium United Club Card, the United Explorer Business Card, nor the United Club Business Card offer inflight discounts.

Bottom Line

As airlines have stripped included amenities from the flight experience, cobranded credit cards have stepped into the breach to offer cardholders discounts on purchases including food, beverages and Wi-Fi. However, these benefits vary, not only from airline to airline, but even from card to card within the same family of products. Before flying, make sure to review your card benefits and use the one that will earn you the deepest discount on the purchases you intend to make on board.

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

Featured photo by Tais Policanti / Getty Images.

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