The Benefits and Drawbacks of Getting an Airline Credit Card

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Getting an Airline Credit Card

If you frequently travel, you’ve probably seen in-flight advertisements for co-branded credit cards from airlines. With promises of exclusive benefits for cardholders, flight attendants frequently advertise airline credit cards.

However, take into account your travel preferences and style before applying. For instance, an airline card that allows priority boarding can be worth the yearly price if you frequently travel with the same airline and value boarding an aircraft early. A general travel card’s sign-up bonus, though, can help you acquire a free flight more quickly if you want your card to help pay for your next holiday.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Getting an Airline Credit Card

An airline credit card has the following benefits and drawbacks:


  • Preferential boarding
  •  complimentary seat upgrades
  • No additional baggage fees
  • Purchases made during the flight are eligible for discounts.
  • Companion passes are either free or significantly reduced.
  • Airport benefits
  • Simple methods to accrue miles


  • It perhaps restricts you to a single airline.
  • lower-value sign-up bonuses.
  • fewer opportunities to earn bonus miles
  • It is a complicated process to redeem rewards.
  • greater likelihood of an annual fee

The Benefits of Airline Credit Cards

There are several reasons to get one.

Priority Check-In

An airline credit card may be able to secure your seat if being among the first to board is crucial to you. Priority boarding is a benefit offered by some airline cards that you won’t find on a regular travel card.

Upgrades to your seat are free.

Even if you merely purchase an economy seat, joining an airline’s rewards program can increase your chances of getting a roomier seat closer to the front of the plane. Some airline credit cards come with perks like free seat upgrades when certain requirements are met.

Additionally, frequent passengers are sometimes eligible for complimentary seat upgrades through airline loyalty programs. You might need elite status to be eligible, but if you fulfill specific spending requirements, an airline credit card could help you obtain elite status with the airline more quickly.

Checked Baggage Is Free

Numerous airline credit cards also exclude cardholders from paying luggage charges. If you use that to book a round-trip Delta flight, you may save at least $60. (Unless you have elite status and qualify for free checked bags). 

Some credit cards will even pay for the baggage of other passengers flying on the same reservation as you. The annual charge for the card might be more than justified by just one group vacation. Credits that cover luggage fees may be available on general travel cards. However, such credits are limited, with some cards capping them at $100 or $200 annually, so using an airline card could result in more savings.

Reduced Prices on In-Flight Purchases

Some airline cards also provide savings on in-flight purchases of things like food, beverages, and WiFi, usually between 20 and 25 percent.

Companion passes at a reduced or no cost

Only a few airline credit cards provide companion passes, but they’re one of the most valuable benefits you can get. Some airline credit cards automatically give away at least one companion pass for free or at a significant discount each year, while others only give them out once you’ve spent a particular amount. On free companion passes, you’ll need to pay taxes and fees, albeit the card may have a cap on how much you can be charged. 2

Airport Benefits

Your airline card can also come with other perks, including admission to the airport lounge and complimentary food and beverages there, to help make your time in the airport less stressful. While more expensive cards will allow you entry at any time for free, cards with middle-of-the-road yearly rates (about $100) often give limited or subsidized lounge access. In order to bypass lengthy security lines, several airline credit cards also offer application fee credits for TSA Precheck or Global Entry.

Simple Ways to Collect Miles

Charging purchases to an airline’s co-branded credit card is a fantastic way to do so if you’re a part of the loyalty program and are searching for a simple way to earn more miles. While you can transfer miles from a general travel credit card to the airline of your choice, the procedure is more complicated.

The Drawbacks of Airline Credit Cards

Here are some other factors to think about when choosing a travel rewards card.

The Possibility of Restricting You to One Airline

A generic travel card often allows you to reserve flights on a number of airlines. When choosing an airline credit card, you agree to only fly with that company when using that card, though some cards allow you to utilize rewards earned on those cards to book flights on partner airlines.

Lower-Paying Sign-Up Bonuses

Compared to airline cards, general travel credit cards like the Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred typically provide better sign-up incentives. However, several airline cards, such as the British Airways Visa Signature, Delta Reserve Credit Card, and Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard, stand out for their hefty sign-up incentives.

Fewer Opportunities to Earn Bonus Miles

Additionally, many airline cards severely restrict the types of purchases that qualify for bonuses, making it difficult to accumulate enough miles to qualify for a free ticket. For instance, a lot of airline credit cards only give bonus points for flying. Some companies are a little more forgiving and grant a set number of miles on regular transactions like dining, shopping, or gas.

The Complex Redemption Process for Rewards

Booking rewards Traveling through an airline’s loyalty program can be difficult, which is one of the main drawbacks of using an airline credit card. Some airlines place restrictions on when you can travel, called “travel blackout dates.” Others restrict the number of reward seats that are offered, making it more difficult to locate an available seat.

The rewards program of an airline credit card may potentially change at any time. Since several airlines have revamped their loyalty systems in recent years, frequent flyers’ miles have less value when utilizing those miles to book flights.

Annual Charges

Most airline credit cards have an annual fee, which is often between $75 and $95 or more. (Some companies give the first year’s charge free.) Some high-end airline credit cards even levy fees of up to $550 annually in exchange for exclusive advantages. There are a few airline cards available without an annual cost, but they also don’t have as many benefits.

Who Should Obtain a Credit Card for an Airline?

To be eligible for an airline credit card, you normally need to have outstanding credit. Furthermore, many airline credit cards have a maximum APR of 24.99 percent or higher, with a minimum APR of 15%.This means that, in order to prevent interest from accruing, they are best for people who intend to pay off their obligations in full each month.

If you travel frequently enough to collect extra points on flights and recoup the annual charge of your airline credit card, you’ll benefit the most from it. You might also be an excellent candidate for an airline credit card if:

  • If you frequently travel in a group, checked luggage fees might add up quickly.
  • You want to be one of the first travelers to board.
  • When you travel, you value comfort and convenience.
  • You want a straightforward technique to accumulate more airline points.

In comparison to some travel rewards cards, the typical airline credit card doesn’t provide as many glitzy benefits or lavish prizes. But an airline credit card might be worth a deeper look if you’re searching for a quick solution to boost your points or save money on your next trip.

Leave a Reply