Why I Won't Get an Airline Credit Card

by Christy Bieber | Published on Sept. 1, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
A woman smiling in an airport with her suitcase and passport.

Image source: Getty Images

There's a better card out there for me. Keep reading to see why.

There are plenty of great airline credit cards available. Many come with no annual fees or with low annual fees, and they often provide generous perks such as airline lounge access.

Despite all that, I will never sign up for an airline credit card. Why? I don't want to be tied down to using a particular preferred airline when I travel somewhere.

The trouble with airline cards

Most airline cards provide the best rewards for customers who are loyal. Even if the credit card comes with miles that transfer to other partner airlines, many of the cardholder benefits and perks are exclusive to the card issuer that branded it.

For example, the card might provide free checked bags -- but you'd have to fly on that particular airline in order to be able to bring your suitcase at no cost. Partner airlines wouldn't honor that offer.

Now, obviously I could get an airline card and only use it when I fly on that airline while using other cards for other types of travel. But there's no one airline that I tend to use most often. I mix up which companies I fly with since I shop based on flight times and price alone. So it would be difficult or impossible to pick which card provided the best value.

I don't want to have credit cards for every airline as that would be too many cards to manage and keep track of. It would also make it much more difficult for me to get enough miles on any one card to actually redeem them. Opening so many cards would also reduce my average age of credit and could prevent me from getting a better rewards credit card. Some card issuers limit the number of new cards you can open within a limited time period.

Furthermore, I tend to think that many of the travel credit cards offering the best and most worthwhile perks are cards that charge an annual fee. And I wouldn't want to pay a fee for every airline card, just to cover my bases.

The bottom line is, I don't want my decision on which airline I fly to hinge upon the fact that I happen to have a particular airline card in my wallet. And I don't want to sign up for cards if I won't take full advantage of the perks they provide. Instead of opting for an airline card, I have one great travel card that I pay a small annual fee for, and that serves my needs much better.

Now, if you happen to fly on a specific airline most or all of the time, then the decision may be a different one for you. Just remember to compare credit card perks to see which card really makes the most sense over the long term.

Top credit card wipes out interest until 2024

If you have credit card debt, transferring it to this top balance transfer card secures you a 0% intro APR for up to 21 months! Plus, you'll pay no annual fee. Those are just a few reasons why our experts rate this card as a top pick to help get control of your debt. Read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

About the Author