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Thread: Best Airline Rewards Credit Cards

  1. #1

    Best Airline Rewards Credit Cards

    As HTTD and I combine accounts and start life DINKs, we're looking for the best credit card to have. I'm open to rewards cards in general but one of the things we'd really like to do before kids is travel a little bit so I'm particularly interested in airline rewards cards. What's the best airline rewards card? We're making fairly large student loan payments every month so it would be great to do that with a credit card that give us something in return.


    (I know that there was a thread about reward cards at some point but I couldn't remember if it was here or on DS and I couldn't find it here)

  2. #2
    +1

    Good thread - I'd like to know what other people are using as well.

  3. #3
    word. I was actually just about to start this thread myself.

  4. #4
    I think it kind of depends on where you are and what airlines are convenient for you. Living in Atlanta, I am a total Delta loyalist (both because I can fly almost anywhere direct on Delta and because it is usually the cheapest option as well - we'll see if that continues with the AirTran/Southwest merger). Because of this, I have a Platinum SkyMiles AmEx. I get miles for everything, double miles for certain things, and when I hit annual spending targets, I get miles that are medallion qualification miles. I would almost never hit medallion status without those miles, so that is a big reason I have the card.

    Also, you mentioned making student loan payments with a credit card - I'm not sure about all of the student loan processors, but I know that I cannot use a credit card to make payments with Access Group (sucks - I would have so many more miles if I could put the student loan payments and my mortgage on my AmEx) - I hope your processor allows it.
    Last edited by Wakelaw2006; 12-29-2011 at 02:30 PM.

  5. #5
    If you're planning on spending $3,000 in the first three months, then you have to check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

    It offers 1-to-1 transfers to any frequent flyer program, and you get 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. You also get 2 points for every dollar spent on dining and travel.

    So you could be looking at 55,000 points after three months that you can transfer to any frequent flyer program for only spending $3,000.

  6. #6
    Capital One Venture Rewards is also pretty solid. Two points for every dollar spent (which is essentially equal to cash). For a $750 plane ticket, for example, you'll need 75,000 points (earned by spending $37,500). You also get 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

    Some people prefer the VentureOne Rewards card which has no annual fee (Venture Rewards is $59 / year after the first year), but it only rewards 1.25 points per dollar spent. So in my opinion, that's more of a balancing act of how much you're going to spend (will you spend enough per year to earn $59 worth of points?)

  7. #7
    Not an airline rewards card but still in the travel realm, the Starwood American Express card is one of the best rewards cards there is. The cash equivalent of the points you earn is about $0.024 per dollar spent on normal purchases, and $0.048 per dollar spent at Starwood properties. And, in my opinion, Starwood has the best offering of hotels there is (Westin, Sheraton, W, Le Meridian, aloft, Four Point, St. Regis, Element, Luxury Collection).

  8. #8
    jon gruden's haircut smallbigtall's Avatar
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    I have the Southwest card. Don't know if it's the best but I like it. They sometimes have a promo giving you 50,000 points with your first purchase, which comes to about $800 in free airfare. No blackout dates, no restrictions, no baggage fees.

  9. #9
    As WakeLaw pointed out, an awful lot of this will have to do with where one lives and the airline associated with the card.

    Then again, I'm not sure I would ever want to fly with Delta ever again even if I lived in Atlanta and had their rewards card, but maybe that's just me.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Wakelaw2006 View Post
    I think it kind of depends on where you are and what airlines are convenient for you.
    True. I've got the USAirways Dividend Miles World Elite Mastercard thru Barclays.....used to be Bank of America VISA, but BAC got out of their CC deal w/USAir. Interest rate of 5.24% and Zone 2 boarding. No problems with them.

    Gotta second Waldo on the Starwood Amex. Have a crapload of points there and they are pretty easy to redeem.

  11. #11
    Marriott rewards are pretty good. I agree that Starwood hotels are nicer, but they are sometimes hard to find. I do a lot of travel to Charleston, which has no Starwoods so I went with the Marriott card. I think there is a 60 dollar fee after the first year but you get a voucher for a free stay at a hotel, so as long as you need to stay in one hotel a year it seems like a good deal to me.

    50,000 points when you sign up and they always run promotions to get free nights. I think you get 1 point per dollar spent, 2 for money spent on food and 5 additional for money spent at Marriott (with the Marriott rewards card I think you get 10 per dollar at Marriotts so it is basically 15 with the credit card). Guy at work said he spent 180k and had a week stay in Aruba at an all inclusive place.

  12. #12
    [QUOTE=Also, you mentioned making student loan payments with a credit card - I'm not sure about all of the student loan processors, but I know that I cannot use a credit card to make payments with Access Group (sucks - I would have so many more miles if I could put the student loan payments and my mortgage on my AmEx) - I hope your processor allows it.[/QUOTE]


    Ahh I didn't think of that. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case but HTTD handles all of the loan stuff so I'll have to ask him about it.


    We live in GSO so the Southwest card wouldn't be too terrible but obviously not as convenient right now. I thought I heard that SW would be coming to GSO at some point though, am I wrong?

  13. #13
    Hilton Honors Amex Card.

    No annual fee.

    I can't remember the last time I paid for a hotel room.

    (*Disclaimer: My wife travels a ton for work, so we've got more Delta SkyMiles that we could possibly use.)

  14. #14
    Waldo is spot on with the Chase Sapphire and Starwood AmEx.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by qcdeac View Post
    True. I've got the USAirways Dividend Miles World Elite Mastercard thru Barclays.....used to be Bank of America VISA, but BAC got out of their CC deal w/USAir. Interest rate of 5.24% and Zone 2 boarding. No problems with them.
    Their highest card also allows you to go through the First Class line to check in (or when it is very helpful, rebook a cancelled flight while the regular line has 300+ people in it).

    If you live in NC, this is certainly a good bet. Sorry if this covers stuff someone else said, I didn't read them all.

  16. #16
    The delta amex has different levels and if you have gold or platinum you can get a $99 or free companion certificate for a US flight, preferred boarding (just after first class boards), and $25 daily access to skylounges which is key if you plan on having a few drinks at the airport.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by deac04 View Post
    The delta amex has different levels and if you have gold or platinum you can get a $99 or free companion certificate for a US flight, preferred boarding (just after first class boards), and $25 daily access to skylounges which is key if you plan on having a few drinks at the airport.
    Yeah, the annual companion flight and $25 skyclub access are nice, as is the zone 2 boarding if you aren't medallion level (and also free first checked bag). If I flew a little more, I would think about going up to the reserve card from the platinum card for the skyclub access, but for the amount of times I fly, paying the $25 is cheaper than the annual fee for the card.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Wakelaw2006 View Post
    Yeah, the annual companion flight and $25 skyclub access are nice, as is the zone 2 boarding if you aren't medallion level (and also free first checked bag). If I flew a little more, I would think about going up to the reserve card from the platinum card for the skyclub access, but for the amount of times I fly, paying the $25 is cheaper than the annual fee for the card.
    Only thing that the Reserve card has for me is the bonus MQMs in case I was stretching it (though I did manage to squeak out 127k MQMs on Delta this year from flying).

    While I enjoy the SkyClubs (albeit I get it for free), I could live without it most of the time - a lot of 45 minute connections in LA, Atlanta and Minneapolis for me, so if I use it, it's often only for about 5-10 minutes. The longer layovers would be worth paying the $25 a pop.

    If I was making Platinum and only having to pay $300 a year for it, I'd think I'd pay that amount for it as that's only 12 visits, but if you're a Gold or lower, the Reserve card is meh. Also doesn't get you into Alaska lounges which are pretty nice (better food and beer).

    I just like Chase Sapphire a lot as you can transfer points to United (where it's nice to have easy access to points) and Hyatt (my primary hotel chain).

  19. #19
    Did I mention I'm a South Carolina fan? You know, the other, shittier Carolina? captruss24's Avatar
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    Can anyone confirm making student loan payments with a credit card? I did not know that was an option. If so, I'm about to start racking up some serious rewards.

  20. #20
    It varies by the loan lender.

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