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How Do Credit Card Miles Work?

Updated
Brittney Myers
By: Brittney Myers

Our Credit Cards Expert

Ashley Maready
Check IconFact Checked Ashley Maready
Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. 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.

Earning airline miles with a credit card can be a great way to score free flights or boost your frequent flyer miles balance. You can also earn different kinds of miles that can be used on other types of travel. Knowing how credit card miles work can allow you to maximize your rewards -- and your travel options.

However, because there are so many different kinds of points and miles you can earn and redeem, it can be hard to know how to use them. We'll discuss the types of miles, as well as how to use them for free travel.

You earn miles on credit card purchases with travel cards

Miles are a type of rewards currency that you can earn with certain travel credit cards. In other words, when you make purchases with a miles credit card, you earn miles as a reward for using that card.

Learn more: The best travel rewards credit cards

How to earn credit card miles

The number of miles you earn on your purchase will depend on the card and the purchase type. Some cards offer a flat rate, meaning you earn the same number of miles per dollar spent no matter what you buy. Other cards will offer a flat rewards rate, plus bonus miles for purchases that fit into specific bonus categories.

However, not all miles you earn are the same. In fact, every card can earn an entirely different kind of miles. Knowing what kind of miles your card earns is key to figuring out how best to use them.

The types of credit card miles

    • Airline frequent flyer miles: The most common currency we think of as "miles" are frequent flyer miles earned with airlines. If you have a cobranded airline credit card, it earns frequent flyer miles for that airline. These will automatically show up in your associated airline loyalty account.
    • Cash-equivalent miles: Some cards earn "miles" that operate like cash back rewards. You can redeem them for statement credit to cover travel purchases made with your credit card. (The Discover it® Miles is a good example.)
    • Transferable miles and points: Many top travel credit cards earn points or "miles" that can be redeemed in a variety of ways. You can use them for statement credit, or you can transfer them to a partner airline program where they turn into airline frequent flyer miles. (Capital One's Venture cards and Chase Ultimate Rewards cards are good examples.)

    What the different types of mile rewards credit cards have in common is that they can all be used to travel for free. Next, we'll talk about how you can use your credit card miles.

    Learn more: How to travel for free with credit cards

How to use credit card miles

Each type of miles requires a different method to make the most of them. Let's take a look at how to use each type.

How do miles work on cobranded airline credit cards?

  • Using United MileagePlus miles

    United Airlines offers a variety of cobranded cards issued by Chase that earn United MileagePlus Miles on purchases. All of their cards earn at least 2X MileagePlus miles per dollar on United purchases, and 1X miles per dollar on other purchases.

    Learn more: Best United credit cards

    United uses dynamic award pricing, which means figuring out the United miles to dollars exchange can be difficult. The number of miles you need for a flight will vary based on the price, distance, and demand. The best way to figure out how many miles you need to travel is to look up your exact itinerary on United's website or mobile app.

    Using Delta SkyMiles

    Delta has a nice variety of cobranded credit cards offered via its partnership with American Express. These cards earn Delta SkyMiles on purchases that then show up automatically in your Delta account. Cardholders earn at least 2X SkyMiles on Delta purchases and 1X miles on other purchases.

    Learn more: Best Delta credit cards

    Delta uses dynamic award pricing, which means there is no official Delta SkyMiles redemption chart. Instead, the miles cost of a trip depends on factors like distance and demand. To see how many miles you need for a Delta flight, head to the Delta website (or mobile app) and look up that specific flight.

    Using American Airlines AAdvantage miles

    American Airlines has cobranded credit cards from two issuers: Citi and Barclays. Regardless of the issuer, these cards all earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles that will be deposited into your AAdvantage account. AA's cobranded cards earn a minimum of 2X AAdvantage miles per dollar on AA purchases, and 1X mile per dollar on other purchases.

    Learn more: Best American Airlines credit cards

    As with most other airlines, American Airlines now uses dynamic award pricing. This means the miles needed for a free AA flight vary based on demand (and other factors). The best way to plan your redemption is to look up the flight you want to see what it will cost. You could also check out any number of free third-party American Airlines miles calculator tools available online (note that these are not official tools, so your mileage may vary -- literally and figuratively).

How do miles work for statement credit redemption?

Some cards earn miles that can also be -- or only be -- redeemed for statement credit towards travel purchases. In this case, you would make an eligible purchase with your card. Then, you would use your online account to redeem miles to cover the cost of the purchase after it hits your account.

How do miles work on transferable points and miles credit cards?

Travel rewards cards with transferable points and miles are often the most complicated travel cards to use. That's because there are a lot of different ways to use your rewards. That said, the best value will usually come from transferring your rewards to a partner airline or hotel brand.

The exact method you use to transfer your rewards will depend on the rewards program. For more details on the four most popular rewards programs, check out our detailed guides:

How to choose the best credit cards for airline miles

    • Do you want a cobranded airline card or a card with transferable rewards? Airline cards can be easier to use, but transferable rewards can offer more flexibility. Avoid choosing a card that earns a type of miles you can't or won't use.
    • New cardholders are often eligible to earn a welcome bonus once approved that can be worth tens of thousands of miles. Make sure you can meet the spending requirement without making unnecessary purchases.
    • A lot of the best airline cards come with valuable perks, such as priority boarding, free checked bags, or lounge access.
    • The more perks and features a travel card offers, the more it costs. But a card with a big fee can be worth it if you'll actually use what it has to offer.

    The plus side to so many options is that most travelers can find a miles card that works for them. If you travel frequently, you may even benefit from multiple cards, such as one airline cobranded card and one transferable rewards card. Explore your options for the best way to maximize your rewards.

    Learn more: How to maximize credit card rewards

Transferable points and miles credit cards

Some of our favorite cards with transferable points and miles include:

As of Nov. 27, 2023
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Citi Premier® Card The Platinum Card® from American Express Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
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4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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= Excellent
= Good
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4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
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4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Apply Now for The Platinum Card® from American Express

On American Express' Secure Website.

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Credit Rating Requirement: Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Recommended Credit Score required for this offer is: Good/Excellent (670-850)

Good/Excellent (670-850)

Credit Rating Requirement: Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Recommended Credit Score required for this offer is: Good/Excellent (670-850)

Good/Excellent (670-850)

Credit Rating Requirement: Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Recommended Credit Score required for this offer is: Good/Excellent (670-850)

Good/Excellent (670-850)

Credit Rating Requirement: Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Recommended Credit Score required for this offer is: Good/Excellent (670-850)

Good/Excellent (670-850)

Welcome Offer: Circle with letter I in it. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

60,000 bonus points

Welcome Offer: Circle with letter I in it. Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.

60,000 ThankYou® Points

Welcome Offer: Circle with letter I in it. Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

80,000 Membership Rewards® Points

Welcome Offer: Circle with letter I in it. 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

25,000 bonus points

Rewards Program: Circle with letter I in it. Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, and $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, plus more.

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases

Rewards Program: Circle with letter I in it. 3x points at restaurants, supermarkets, at gas stations, for air travel, and on hotels, 1x points on other purchases

1x - 3x points

Rewards Program: Circle with letter I in it. Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Earn 1X Membership Rewards® Points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.

1X-5X Membership Rewards® Points

Rewards Program:

1.5 points per dollar

Intro APR: Circle with letter I in it. N/A

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: N/A

Intro APR:

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: N/A

Intro APR:

Purchases: n/a

Balance Transfers: n/a

Intro APR: Circle with letter I in it. 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases. 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers will apply. Balance transfers include a fee of 3% for 60 days from account opening, then 4%.

Purchases: 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases

Balance Transfers: 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Regular APR:

21.49%-28.49% Variable

Regular APR:

21.24% - 29.24% (Variable)

Regular APR:

See Pay Over Time APR

Regular APR:

18.24% - 28.24% (Variable)

Annual Fee: Circle with letter I in it. N/A

$95

Annual Fee:

$95

Annual Fee:

$695

Annual Fee:

$0

Highlights:

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, and $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Other Hotels
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 60,000 ThankYou® Points are redeemable for $600 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

Highlights:

  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership (subject to auto-renewal) with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card®. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Up Benefits are excluded.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $300 back in statement credits per calendar year on an Equinox membership, or an Equinox club membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required. Visit https://platinum.equinox.com/ to enroll.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Breeze through security with CLEAR Plus at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Platinum Card®. Learn more.
  • $100 Global Entry Credit: Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 years for a TSA PreCheck® (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $300 SoulCycle At-Home Bike Credit: Get a $300 statement credit for the purchase of a SoulCycle at-home bike with your Platinum Card®. An Equinox+ subscription is required to purchase a SoulCycle at-home bike and access SoulCycle content. Must charge full price of bike in one transaction. Shipping available in the contiguous U.S. only. Enrollment Required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Highlights:

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 18.24% - 28.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Apply Now for The Platinum Card® from American Express

On American Express' Secure Website.

Terms apply

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Cobranded airline credit cards

Some of our favorite cobranded credit cards for airline miles include:

As of Nov. 27, 2023
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United℠ Explorer Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Rating image, 4.00 out of 5 stars.
4.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
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Rating image, 4.00 out of 5 stars.
4.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Rating image, 4.00 out of 5 stars.
4.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Apply Now for Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

On American Express' Secure Website.

Terms apply

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Credit Rating Requirement: Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Recommended Credit Score required for this offer is: Good/Excellent (670-850)

Good/Excellent (670-850)

Credit Rating Requirement: Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Recommended Credit Score required for this offer is: Good/Excellent (670-850)

Good/Excellent (670-850)

Credit Rating Requirement: Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Recommended Credit Score required for this offer is: Good/Excellent (670-850)

Good/Excellent (670-850)

Welcome Offer: Circle with letter I in it. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Earn 60,000 bonus miles

Welcome Offer: Circle with letter I in it. Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.

70,000 bonus miles

Welcome Offer: Circle with letter I in it. Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Earn Companion Pass® plus 30,000 pts

Rewards Program: Circle with letter I in it. Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

N/A

Rewards Program: Circle with letter I in it. Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at U.S. Supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.

1X-2X Miles

Rewards Program: Circle with letter I in it. Receive 7,500 anniversary points, 4 upgraded boardings per year when available, and a $75 Southwest® travel credit each year. Enjoy benefits including 3X points on Southwest purchases, 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming, 10,000 Companion Pass® qualifying points boost each year, and more.

Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

Intro APR: Circle with letter I in it. N/A

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: N/A

Intro APR:

Purchases: n/a

Balance Transfers: n/a

Intro APR: Circle with letter I in it. N/A

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: N/A

Regular APR:

21.99% - 28.99% Variable

Regular APR:

20.99%-29.99% Variable

Regular APR:

21.49%-28.49% variable

Annual Fee: Circle with letter I in it. $0,First Year

$95

Annual Fee:

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $150.

Annual Fee: Circle with letter I in it. N/A

$149

Highlights:

  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks when you pay with your Explorer Card
  • Free first checked bag - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip. Terms Apply.
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United ClubSM with 2 one-time passes each year
  • Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $150.
  • Card Members get 15% off when using miles to book Award Travel on Delta flights through delta.com and the Fly Delta app. Discount not applicable to partner-operated flights or to taxes and fees.
  • ENHANCED! $200 Delta Flight Credit: After you spend $10,000 in purchases in a year, you can receive a $200 Delta Flight Credit to use toward future travel.
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at U.S. Supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Receive Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights; board early, stow your carry-on bag and settle in sooner.
  • NEW! $100 Delta Stays Credit: Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Members can earn up to $100 back annually on eligible prepaid Delta Stays bookings on delta.com.
  • Want even more flexibility? Take up to $50 off the cost of your flight for every 5,000 miles you redeem with Pay with Miles when you book on delta.com.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit on eligible Delta in-flight purchases after using your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • With Send & Split®, you can send money and split your Card purchases with any other Venmo or PayPal user, directly from the Amex App. Enroll today.
  • Terms Apply.

Highlights:

  • Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Member FDIC
Apply Now for Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

On American Express' Secure Website.

Terms apply

Rates & Fees External Link Icon

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The information related to United℠ Explorer Card has been collected by The Ascent and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer.

Are airline credit cards worth it?

Whether an airline credit card is worth it for you will depend a lot on how -- and how often -- you travel. For instance, if you frequently travel and always use the same airline, an airline credit card can be worth getting for the extra perks, like free checked bags and priority boarding.

Learn more: The best airline credit cards

However, if you don't travel often, or if you simply choose whichever airline is least expensive, then the airline-specific perks will be of limited use to you. In this case, you may be better off with a card that earns transferable points or miles.

Choosing a credit card

Don't you wish you could take a peek inside a credit card expert's wallet sometimes? Just to see the cards they carry? Well, you can't look in anybody's wallet, but you can check out our experts' favorite credit cards. Get started here:

FAQs

  • The value of credit card miles depend on how you redeem them. As a general rule of thumb, consider credit card miles to be worth a baseline of $0.01 per mile.

    Airline miles with dynamic pricing tend to be worth $0.01 to $0.0125 per mile.

    Miles that are redeemed for statement credit are typically valued at $0.006 to $0.01 per mile.

    Cards with transferable points and miles can be worth $0.006 to $0.02 per mile -- or more -- depending on how you choose to use them. The best value usually comes from transferring your rewards to an airline or hotel partner for free flights and hotel stays.

  • The number of credit card miles you need will vary depending on the program and redemption type.

    If you pay the cash fare for your flight and redeem miles as statement credit to cover that purchase, you will typically need 100 miles per $1.

    If you are redeeming airline frequent flyer miles -- either from earning them directly or from transferring other points or miles -- it's more complicated. Most airlines use dynamic award pricing, which means the number of frequent flyer miles you need for a given flight will vary based on factors like distance and demand. In these cases, you'll need to look up your specific itinerary to see the cost in miles.

Our Credit Cards Experts