Best Credit Cards for Earning Travel Miles

The right credit card can be an incredible value for frequent fliers. Not only can they accumulate miles and points that can be redeemed for free or low-cost flights, but many credit cards offer extra perks, including free checked bags, priority boarding and concierge service. The hard part is figuring out which card best serves each traveler. After all, there are so many from which to choose, but these are some of the best:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa

With an annual fee of $95 starting after the first year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a great value to frequent travelers. With hefty introductory offers such as 40,000 points when a customer spends $4,000 with the card in the first three months, cardholders will be booking flights in no time at all. The card also earns twos points per dollar spent on dining and travel-related purchases, as well as 1 point per dollar on everything else, Chase Sapphire Preferred offers one of the most generous award structures, and customers can even book discounted travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program, or – if they prefer – have their points transferred to their frequent flier membership with a particular airline. The card does not bill foreign transaction fees, but it also fails to provide other travel perks such as free checked bags or priority boarding.

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Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard

With Citi’s AAdvantage card, customers earn double miles on all purchases made to American Airlines and one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. New cardholders are also eligible for introductory bonuses such as 30,000 miles after making $1,000 purchases in the first three months. The card also entitles customers to a free checked bag and Group 1 boarding with American Airlines, as well as an inflight food and beverage discount. Although the card has a $95 annual fee, the charge is waived for the first year. Frequent fliers will also appreciate receiving 10 percent of their redeemed miles back each year, up to 10,000 miles.

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United Mileage Plus Explorer

Customers who frequently fly with United Airlines can find the Mileage Plus Explorer Visa to be a great value. The card earns double miles on all United ticket purchases, as well as one mile per dollar on all other purchases. The card offers some hefty sign-up bonuses, such as 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 with the card in the first three months. Cardholders also enjoy perks such as no foreign transaction fees, a free checked bag on each United flight, priority boarding, two annual one-time passes to the United Club and an additional mileage bonus for adding an authorized user to the account. Plus, each year that a cardholder spends $25,000 with the card, they receive an additional 10,000 miles. All combined, cardholders certainly receive perks and miles exceeding the $95 annual fee (waived the first year).


British Airways Visa Signature

With just a $95 annual fee – waive the first year – the British Airways Visa is a tremendous value for frequent international travelers. Cardholders earn three miles per dollar spent with British Airways, as well as one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, if a cardholder spends at least $2,000 in purchases within the first three months of the account’s opening, they earn an additional 50,000 miles. Then, for each additional year a cardholder spends $30,000, they earn a Travel Together companion pass. The card also has no foreign transaction fees.


Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Visa

Earn double points on Southwest Airlines purchases and partnered Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental purchases, as well as one point per dollar on everything else. Earned Rapid Reward points can also be accumulated to earn a companion pass. The card offers various signup bonuses, which can be qualified for by making fewer purchases than that offered by competitors, and features a 6,000 point anniversary bonus each year, not dependent upon spending. Cardholders benefit from no foreign transaction fees, although the $99 annual fee bills the first year.


Which travel rewards credit card is the best value to you?

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