Airline Credit Cards VS Travel Credit Cards


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Airline Cards orTravel Rewards Credit Cards?

Choosing between an airline co-branded credit card and a general travel rewards credit card may not be that easy as you could think at first. There are a number of best airline credit cards that may be good for others but will not work for you simply because you are not loyal to that airline. For example, if you do not fly Southwest, there is no sense in having a Southwest Airlines Credit Card. Everything's much simpler with travel rewards credit cards. They all work, even if you do not travel. The trick is to choose the right credit card for you. Here you can see some popular travel cards below.




This is an unbeatable option for someone who does not spend much on travel but still wants to be able to redeem for airfare, hotel stays or car rentals. The rewards program is straightforward which makes this card a good option for those who want to get acquainted with the world of travel rewards. Avid travelers can as well find this offer worthwhile as this card allows to increase rewards earnings on everyday purchases. There are no annual fee and no foreign transactions fee.


Rewards Earning
Rewards Earning

While airline credit cards offer bigger rewards on airfare, they basically limit you to specific airline purchases. Take Southwest credit cards from Chase as an example, the cards allow to earn additional points on Southwest purchases and on some partner purchases, all other purchases earn basic 1 point per $1. You can use Chase Southwest credit card login to track your points, but basically, you will have to fly Southwest a lot to earn an award ticket. As for travel rewards credit cards, even if they limit you to a travel category, they do not limit you to a specific airline. Travel category usually includes airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, cruises, travel packages, and gas purchases. Also, there are travel credit cards that give equal rewards on all purchases - an ideal option for those who do not travel often or want to maximize rewards on everyday spendings.

No Redemption Limitations
No Redemption Limitations

An airline credit card won't allow you to redeem miles the way you want, any way you slice it. Basically, you will be limited to award ticket redemptions from the issuing airline. More than that, airlines usually limit the number of award seats and impose blackout dates which makes it rather hard to use earned miles. For example, if you are a Southwest frequent flyer, you will need to use Southwest login to see available points and rewards options. Travel rewards credit cards work differently. Since they are not tied to any airline, you have the freedom to redeem earned miles with any airline, any time through credit card account. There are no limits or blackout dates. The only requirement is you should buy your airline ticket using your travel rewards credit card.

Lower Fees
Lower Fees

We all know that airline credit cards may have frequent flyer perks like priority boarding, free checked bag, or complimentary assess to airline lounges. However, all those perks and benefits do not come for free. Most likely the airline card, that offers some or all of those perks, will have a high annual fee. If you use all benefits an airline credit card has, then it may be worth paying the annual fee. If not, then you may want a cheaper option, which can be a travel rewards credit card. Such a card may not offer you a free first checked bag, but at the same time, it won't charge you high annual fee. Many travel credit cards come without annual fees at all. In addition to low fees, best travel credit cards may come with 0% intro APR allowing you to save on interest payments.

Not Sure Which Card to Choose?

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User Questions about Travel Credit Cards

I have a Southwest credit card which I haven't used for quite a long time but it has some lingering points on it. So I...
There can be two reasons you cannot redeem your miles. The first is you are trying to redeem Southwest points for a travel after the date your miles are due to expire. Since you haven't used your card for a while, we can assume that you haven't had...
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I have a Southwest Airlines credit card but my Southwest points expired! I’ve been saving for a family trip, I’ve...
Judging from what you are telling, you haven't been flying Southwest for quite a while. Southwest's policy is that your miles expire after 24 months of inactivity. “Inactivity” in Southwest's terms is a little different from other airlines....
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I read a Southwest credit card review and it sounded great to have a Southwest Rewards credit card. I often fly Southwest,...
Certainly, when you acquire a credit card for travel, you want it to be versatile and convenient for any needs. Unfortunately, airlines want you to be loyal and only grant you rewards when you fly that one airline. Southwest wants you to fly...
Read more
I often fly with Southwest Airlines but I also fly with other airlines, so I don’t want to apply for their Rapid credit...
It's understandable that you do not want to apply for the Rapid Visa card as it won't allow you to earn big rewards everywhere and won't allow you to redeem the way you want. Therefore, we can recommend you to consider a general credit card with...
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Updated: July 17, 2019


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