Are Airline Credit Cards Worth it?

Airline credit cards can offer some great advantages for both frequent and occasional travelers. If you select an airline credit card that’s a good fit for you, you may be able to access valuable benefits that reward your spending with travel perks, welcome bonuses and travel rewards. Let’s take a look at some benefits that can help you decide whether an airline credit card is worth it.

The benefits of airline credit cards

The first step in figuring out whether an airline credit card is worth it is to look at the benefits it offers.

If you’re considering an airline credit card for its benefits, it’s a good idea to look at a card associated with an airline you prefer. Keep in mind that some airline credit cards offer travel rewards not only for their airline but also for partner airlines, so you may also want to check out an airline’s partners when shopping around for cards. For example, Citi® / AAdvantage® cards let you earn miles that can be redeemed for flights on American Airlines and any eligible partner airlines directly on

The more you use your airline credit card, the more points or miles you can earn to redeem on travel rewards with your preferred airline and eligible partners. The benefits of airline credit cards are more focused on a specific airline than the benefits you might receive from a general travel card.

Sign-on or welcome bonuses

While not all airline credit cards offer sign-on or welcome bonuses, if bonuses are available, they can be a convenient perk of signing up for a card. Typically, these welcome bonuses may involve you earning miles if you make a certain dollar amount of purchases on the card within a specified timeframe of opening your account. 

It should also be noted that welcome bonuses are subject to change, so be sure to confirm the terms, conditions and timeframe of any welcome offer before you apply for a card.

Travel benefits

Airline credit cards can offer travel benefits for cardmembers. Since airline cards focus primarily on one brand – the airline – they may allow you to tap into airline-specific travel perks, such as early boarding, free checked bags, flight upgrades or access to airport lounges. Depending on the airline, some benefits may also extend to those you are traveling with. For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® offers preferred boarding on American Airlines flights, the first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries (for you and up to 4 companions traveling with you on the same reservation) and 25% savings on American Airlines inflight food and beverage purchases.

Travel rewards

The more you use your airline credit card, the closer you get to elite status and impressive travel rewards, such as companion passes, which allow you to choose one person to fly free of airline charges.

You may also be able to qualify for discounts on flights. For example, The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® offers an annual $125 flight discount when you spend $20,000 in a cardmembership year and renew your card.

How to know if an airline credit card is worth it

Whether an airline credit card is worth it depends on whether you want to take advantage of the benefits of a particular airline. If you prefer to fly using one airline and its partners, an airline credit card can help you miles to spend on travel rewards. You can also earn benefits with that airline that can make your trip more comfortable. You may also find it’s worth it for the bonus miles you’ll accrue for meeting the terms of a welcome bonus, provided the card you’ve chosen offers one.

Choosing the right airline credit cards

When applying for an airline credit card, do your research and choose the card that fits your preferences and offers the benefits you are looking for. Once you’ve considered these options, you can make an informed choice that could significantly improve your airport experience and make your next trip more straightforward and convenient.

Disclosure: This article is for educational purposes. It is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and is not a substitute for professional advice. It does not indicate the availability of any Citi product or service. For advice about your specific circumstances, you should consult a qualified professional.

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