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Airline credit cards or
rewards credit cards?

When you decide between an airline co-branded credit card and a travel rewards credit card you may find this task quite challenging. You may come across many best airline credit cards that are good for others but will not work for you simply because you are not loyal to that airline. For example, if you don't use CheapOair, there is no sense in having a CheapOAir Visa Credit Card. Everything's much simpler with travel rewards credit cards. They all work, even if you do not travel or fly different airlines. Here you can see some popular travel cards below.

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Experts are not recommending getting a new co-branded airline credit card now.

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our choice

Rating 4.7
on Discover's secure website

Excellent/Good Credit 

Rating 3.0
Offer is not available on Credit-Land.com

Excellent / Good Credit 

Rating 5.0
on Citi's secure website

Excellent, Good Credit 

Rating 4.4
on Citi's secure website

Excellent, Good Credit 

Excellent, Good Credit 

Rating 5.0
on Discover's secure website

Excellent/Good Credit 

Rating 4.2
on Citi's secure website

Excellent, Good Credit 

Rating 4.7
on Citi's secure website

Excellent, Good Credit 

Excellent, Good Credit 

REWARDS
Rewards bonus
UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
Earn a $50 statement credit when you make purchases of $500 or more during the first 90 days of opening your CheapOair credit card account9
Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
No
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Rewards on everyday purchases
1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases
2 Points for every dollar spent on purchases, everywhere Visa Credit Cards are accepted.9
Earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Purchases
Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
-
1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically
Earn 1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases
Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
Rewards expiration
Rewards never expire
Points will not expire as long as a Qualifying Purchase was made through your CheapOair or OneTravel Rewards Program account at least once every two years9
Points do not expire provided your account is active and in good standing
Points do not expire provided your account is active and in good standing
Miles will not expire if you earn or redeem miles once every 18 months
Cash rewards never expire.
Miles will not expire if you earn or redeem miles once every 18 months
Your cash rewards balance will expire if you have not earned any cash back from purchases or payments for 12 months
Miles will not expire if you earn or redeem miles once every 18 months
Fly any airline
Any Airline
CheapOair Partners Only
Any Airline
Any Airline
American Airlines and Partners
Any Airline
American Airlines and Partners
Any Airline
American Airlines and Partners
RATES AND FEES
Intro APR on purchases
0% Intro APR (14 months on Purchases)
No intro APR9
0% (15 months on Purchases)
N/A
N/A
0% (14 months on Purchases)
N/A
N/A
N/A
Regular APR
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
15.99% - 25.99% Variable9
13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0
$09
$0
$95
$99, waived for first 12 months
$0
$0
$0
$450
Foreign transaction fee
None
3% of each transaction.9
3%
0%
0%
None
3%
3%
0%

More about
top travel CREDIT CARD
2021

Discover it® Miles apply
on Discover's secure website
Rating 4.7

GREAT BONUS OFFER

UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

GOOD REWARDS

  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.

Expert's opinion

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.

Excellent/Good Credit

Why travel cards are
more flexible THAN AIRLINE
CO-BRANDED CARDS?

Earn Rewards
Rewards Earning

While airline credit cards offer bigger rewards on airfare, they basically limit you to specific airline purchases. Take CheapOAir Visa Credit Card as an example, the card allows to earn 6 points on CheapOair.com purchases and 4 points on dining, all other purchases earn basic 2 points per $1 spent in eligible purchases. 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.

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apply on Discover's secure website
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
Redeem Rewards for Travel
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. Of course, you may be able to redeem for hotel stays or car rentals, but redemptions for airline tickets bring the best value. 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. There are no limits or blackout dates. The only requirement is you should buy your airline ticket using your travel rewards credit card.

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apply on Citi's secure website

You can redeem ThankYou® Points for things like gift cards or for travel rewards

Low Fees Credit Cards
Lower Fees

We all know that airline credit cards may have frequent flyer perks like priority boarding, free checked bag, or complimentary access 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.

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apply on Citi's secure website

Annual Fee: $95

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

questions ABOUT
TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS

I was looking to apply for the Cheapoair Visa Signature card, but cannot find where to apply. Can you help?

You can find all information about CheapOair credit card on the company's website. Note that you won't be able to choose which card to apply. The issuer will approve for a card based on your credit worthiness and it can...

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I'm already a member of the CheapOair Rewards program and want to apply for their credit card. Do you think it is good idea? My credit is excellent and I have ones store card and freedom card form Chase.

It may be worth applying for the CheapOair credit card if you always book your flights using that agency and use other services it offers. Also, you should have a good habit of paying off your credit card balances in...

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If have Cheapoair credit card, not Visa one, and Chase freedom card, now I'm looking to apply for a card that I will be able to use abroad and that doesn't charge a fee for purchases in foreign currency. Do you have such card?

You can apply for a travel rewards credit card. Most travel rewards come with a $0 foreign transaction fee. Plus, such cards come with an EMV chip embedded in them, which guarantees acceptance abroad and adds an...

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comments ABOUT
TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS

† With current restrictions and uncertainty about future travel, co-branded airline credit cards with perks like lounge access, upgrades, free checked bag, priority boarding, rewards for airfare, and other travel benefits won't be of great use to you now. General-purpose travel cards that are not tied to any airline and offer rewards on all purchases, including elevated rewards in select categories, are a better choice in the age of social distancing.

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