Top 3 Airline Miles Earning Credit Cards

Airline credit cards can be effective ways to rack up points for your next trip to an exotic location, or to take the family to see the in-laws.   But, they may not always be the best card for you.   You should use BestCashCow's credit card maximizer tool to review the best travel rewards cards for your spend profile.   You should also check out BestCashCow's list of the top travel rewards credit cards for spend and our list of the top 10 travel rewards credit card sign-up bonuses.

Here are our 3 favorites among the airline cards:

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

The British Airways Visa credit card ranks highly on our list of the best airline mile-earning credit cards because of the flexibility of the British Airways Avios program, which allows redemption for flights on OneWorld partner carriers, including American Airlines, Qantas and Cathay Pacific.  While fees and taxes for booking travel on British Airways itself from the US to Europe are ridiculous, BA's distance based reward chart creates outstanding reward opportunities on short haul American Airlines flights, such as 9,000 miles for a round trip from New York to Toronto or Montreal, or 15,000 miles for a round trip from the East Coast to Chicago.  

Key features are as follows:

  • Cardmembers receive 50,000 Avios after you spend $2,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Cardmembers receive an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after spending $10,000 within the first year of account opening, plus an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you make an additional $10,000 in purchases also within the first year of account opening (for a total of an additional 50,000 Avios after $20,000 in promotional spend in the first year).
  • Every calendar year in which you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you’ll earn a Travel Together Companion Ticket good for two year.
  • No foreign transaction fees; Smart chip with Signature Technology allows you to use your card in Europe.
  • Members earn 2.5 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1.25 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchase.

Citi American Airlines Platinum Select World MasterCard®

The American Airlines Citibank Visa card (also available as a business card) offers 50,000 miles after promotional spend of $3,000 in your first 3 months.   40,000 American miles can be redeemed for a low season round trip coach class ticket to Europe.

Key features are as follows:

  • 50,000 Bonus AA Miles after you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months.
  • First bag checked free, certain boarding privileges, 10% discounts on certain redemptions.
  • $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.

United Mileage Plus Explorer Card®

This card (also available as a business card) offers 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 with your first 3 months of card membership as long as you have not received the same bonus in the prior 24 months.    The sign-up offer is sometimes reduced to 40,000 points so if 50,000 points isn't offered, you should wait until it is.

Key features are as follows:

  • 50,000 Mileage Plus Miles after you spend $3,000 within 3 months of receiving the card.   50,000 miles is enough for a free reduced award Business Class RT ticket from the East Coast to California. 
  • 5,000 bonus Mileage Plus Miles if you add an additional authorized user during your first 3 months.
  • Free first checked bag on United.  
  • 2x points for purchases on United. 
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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