Best Credit Cards for Miles — Free Flights

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best credit cards for miles

LAST UPDATE: 05.23.18

Added Chase Ink Unlimited With $500/(50,000 points) Bonus and No Annual Fee (scroll down to Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards).

DISCLAIMER: The 4 links below are my affiliate links. Please apply if you want to support this blog! To the best of my knowledge, you won’t find a better offer for these cards anywhere. If I didn’t believe it was the best value, I wouldn’t put it here.

Note: My understanding is you probably can’t have both Spark Cards for business at the same time (Cash and Miles).

Please keep in mind:

  1. My threshold for a credit card bonus is $400. Normally, I won’t apply for less. However, if you already “collect” certain currencies, like American Express MR or Chase UR points, do go for a lesser bonus from another credit card to top up your points.
  2. Know the rules. Many banks are limiting our abilities to apply for credit cards nowadays. Check the Credit Card Rules section at the bottom of this page and choose wisely.

NON-AFFILIATE Credit Card Links

Some offers come and go… and then come back again. To preserve my sanity and myself from hard manual labor (read the title of this blog again) I will use the following legend.

  • BOLD BLUE TYPEFACE – THE OFFER IS CURRENTLY WORKING.
  • REGULAR TYPEFACE – THE OFFER IS DEAD OR “ON HOLD”.

Whatever you do, read the fine print in a credit card’s T&C before applying. Most of these offers have spending requirements and annual fees (that are sometimes waived for the first year). Know what you’re going into and make sure you’re OK with it.

I only post publicly available offers on this page unless it’s easy to get a targeted or a non-public offer.

THE BIG THREE

American Airlines

Attention: some applications do not mention the bonus but you will most certainly get it! If you’ve read my book, you do know that sometimes a leap of faith is required to get the best offers that are out there. If any of the links below stop working, check the Wiki and latest posts from this thread and this thread.

In doubt? Check the corresponding thread anyway before applying. 

Citibank American Airlines AAdvantage 60,000 Miles Personal Card

best credit cards for miles Citi AAdvantage

  • The bonus is up from 50,000 for a limited time
  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths for personal.
  • Annual fee: $95 waived for the first year.

Citibank American Airlines AAdvantage 50,000 Miles Plus $200

  • The bonuses is up from 50,000 for a limited time.
  • Spending requirement: $2,500/3mths.
  • Must spend $200 on AA to get the credit (gift cards should work).
  • Annual fee: $95 waived for the first year.

Citibank American Airlines AAdvantage 75,000 Miles Business Card

best credit cards for miles Citi AAdvantage Business

  • The bonus is up from 50,000 for a limited time.
  • Spending requirement: $5,000/5mths.
  • Annual fee: $95 waived for the first year.

Citi American Airlines AAdvantage Executive 50,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Citi AAdvantage Executive

  • Spending requirement: $5,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $450.

Barclaycard American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red 50,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator

  • The bonus is up from 50,000 for a limited time
  • After first purchase within 90 days
  • Annual fee: $95

Barclaycard American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Business 50,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Barclaycard Aviator Business American Airlines AAdvantage

  • The bonus is up from 40,000 for a mited time
  • After First Purchase within 90 days
  • Annual Fee: $95 waived for the first year.

Check this FT thread before applying to guesstimate your chances.

Please note that Citi AA links often go dead while new ones get uncovered, so check the threads above.

United Airlines

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Personal 55,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Chase MileagePlus Explorer United

  • 50,000 plus 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user.
  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $95.

Chase United Business 50,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Chase MileagePlus Explorer United Business

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $95 waived for the first year.

Chase United Club 50,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles United MileagePlus Club United

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths(
  • United Club Membership
  • Annual fee: $450

Delta Airlines 

UPDATE: GONE for NOW. 

Delta Amex Gold Business Card 60,000 Miles + $50 Statement Credit

best credit cards for miles American Express Delta SkyMiles

  • $0 Introductory annual fee for the First Year, thereafter $95
  • Spending requirement: $2,000 in the first 3 months for 50,000 or $3,000 for 60,000 miles

Delta Amex Platinum Personal Card 70,000 Miles, 10,000 MQM, and $100 Statement Credit

best credit cards for miles American Express Delta Platinum

  • $195 annual fee for the First Year
  • Spending requirement: $3,000 in the first 3 months

Gold (50K) and Platinum (60K) Delta Credit Card Personal Offers

Gold and Platinum Delta Credit Card Business Offers 

OTHER U.S. AIRLINES

Southwest Airlines 

UPDATE: Back to 40,000. The Business card 60,000-mile offer still works. Wait for a better offer.

If any link below stops working, go to this thread and read the Wiki

Chase Southwest Airlines Plus 50,000 Miles 

best credit cards for miles chase southwest plus

  • Spending requirement: $1,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $69 Not waived.

Chase Southwest Airlines Premier 50,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles chase southwest premier

  • Spending requirement: $1,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $99 Not waived.

Chase Business Southwest Airlines Premier 60,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Chase southwest premier business

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $99 Not waived.

If you live in California, you can apply for a 40,000-Point card that comes with a Companion Pass! Check this Reddit Thread.

Hawaiian Airlines

Barclays Hawaiian Airlines Personal 50,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Barclaycard Hawaiian Airlines

  • Spending requirement: $3k/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $89 NOT waived.

Read my post on how you might get the same offer with a lighter spending requirement

  • Spending requirement: $1k/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $89 NOT waived.

Barclays Hawaiian Airlines Personal 40,000 Miles

  • Spending requirement: $1k/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $89 (waived for the first year).

Read my post about this offer.

Barclays Hawaiian Airlines Business 40,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Barclaycard Hawaiian Business

  • The bonus is up from 35,000 for a limited time.
  • Spending requirement: none, after first purchase.
  • Annual fee: $89 NOT waived.

JetBlue

JetBlue Plus 40,000 Miles 

best credit cards for miles JetBlue Card

  • The bonus is up from 30,000 points.
  • $99 annual fee, not waived.
  • 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

JetBlue 40,000 Points Business Card 

best credit cards for miles Barclaycard JetBlue Business

  • The bonus is up from 30,000 points, limited time (6.29.18).
  • $99 annual fee, not waived.
  • 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Alaska Airlines

BoA 30,000 Miles + $100 Statement Credi + 2 Companion Fares

best credit cards for miles Bank of America Alaska Mileage Plan

  • Spending requirement: $1,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $75 NOT waived.
  • One free Companion Fare and One $99 Companion Fare.
  • Make money on this one! 

BoA Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card 30,000 Miles

  • Spending requirement: $1,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $75 NOT waived.

Frontier Airlines

Barclaycard Frontier Airlines 40,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Barclaycard Frontier

  • Spending requirement: $500/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $69 NOT waived.
  • $100 Voucher after spending $2,500 within your cardmember year.
  • No redemption fee when pay taxes with the card.

Spirit Airlines

BoA Spirit Airlines Personal and Business 15,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Bank of America Spirit

  • Spending requirement: First Purchase.
  • Annual fee: Waived for the 1st Year.
  • 15K miles are good for up to 3 RT flights. Read my series on Spirit Airlines HERE

FOREIGN AIRLINES

The Chase credit card for British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia have identical terms for the welcome bonuses.

British Airways

Chase British Airways 50,000-100,000 Avios

The Alternative Link

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths for 50,000 and $10,000 in 12 months for 75,000 Avios.
  • Annual fee: $95, not waived.

Chase Aer Lingus 50,000 to 100,000 Avios

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths for 50,000; $10,000 in 12 months for 75,000 Avios; and $20,000 in 12 months for 100,000 points.
  • Annual fee: $95, not waived.

Chase Iberia 50,000 to 100,000 Avios

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths for 50,000; $10,000 in 12 months for 75,000 Avios; and $20,000 in 12 months for 100,000 points.
  • Annual fee: $95, not waived.

Virgin Atlantic

UPDATE: Currently unavailable.

BoA Virgin Atlantic 25,000 – 90,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Bank of America Virgin Atlantic

  • 20,000 Flying Club bonus miles after your first purchase.
  • 5,000 miles for adding 2 authorized users
  • 50,000 miles after you spend at least $12,000 in qualifying purchases within the first 6 months
  • 15,000 miles for spending $25,000 within the first year

I don’t like this offer for high spending requirements, but it’s been the only Virgin Atlantic credit card bonus in quite a while.

Lufthansa

Barclaycard Lufthansa 50,000 Miles

best credit cards for miles Barclaycard Miles & More Lufthansa

  • Spending requirement: $5,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $89 NOT waived.

Avianca

Banco Popular Avianca Vuela 60,000 Miles

(choose the “Vuela” on the right and DO NOT FORGET to enter the promo code AVSPWE)

best credit cards for miles Banco Popular Avianca LifeMiles Vuela

  • First purchase within 90 days
  • Annual fee: $149

Cathay Pacific

Synchrony Cathay Pacific 35,000 to 60,000 Miles
best credit cards for miles Synchrony Cathay Pacific

  • Spending requirement: $2,500 in the first 90 days.
  • The second bonus is up for limited time: earn additional 25,000 miles when you spend $7,500 more in the first 12 months (6.30.18).
  • Annual fee: $95 (NOT waived for the first year with this offer).

OTHER CREDIT CARDS

You can transfer points from many hotel and general credit card programs to airline frequent flyer programs or redeem them for free flights. 

American Express Membership Rewards Cards

The American Express Membership Rewards program encompasses several Platinum and Gold cards. Some of them are as follows:

AMEX Platinum 60,000 MR Points.

best credit cards for miles American Express Platinum Card

AMEX Platinum Mercedes Benz 60,000 MR Points

UPDATE: Gone for good!

best credit cards for miles american express platinum mercedes benz

AMEX Platinum Charles Schwab 60,000 MR Points 

Must have or open a $1,000 Charles Schwab account

best credit cards for miles american express platinum charles schwab

Benefits for all American Express Platinum cards:

  • Spending requirement: 5,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $550 (NOT waived).
  • Transfer points to multiple airlines and hotels.
  • Lots of other goodies

There is also a 100,000-point Platinum offer with a mammoth $25,000 spending requirement — not recommended.

AMEX Business Gold Rewards 50,000 Points

  • Spending requirement: 5,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $175 (waived for the first year).

AMEX Gold Ameriprise 25,000 MR Points

best credit cards for miles american express ameriprise

  • Spending requirement: 1,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $160 (waived for the first year).

AMEX SPG Personal and Business 25,000 Points Each

UPDATE: The bonuses are dead. Don’t apply for any of these cards with their ridiculous current bonuses. Wait to see what happens in August.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from AMEX

best credit cards for miles AMEX SPG Card

  • Spending requirement: $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived for the first year)

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from AMEX

best credit cards for miles AMEX SPG Business Card

  • Spending requirement: $5,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived for the first year)
  • More goodies

Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve 50,000 UR Points 

best credit cards for miles chase sapphire reserve

  • Spending requirement: $4,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $450.
  • Tons of fantastic benefits.
  • Transfer points to several airlines and hotels.

Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000 to 80,000 UR Points  

best credit cards for miles chase sapphire preferred

  • Spending requirement: 4,000/3mths for 50,000 points and $16,000 more within the first 12 months for additional 30,000 points.
  • Annual fee: $95 waived for the 1st year.
  • Transfer points to several airlines and hotels

Chase Business Preferred 80,000 UR Points 

best credit cards for miles chase business preferred ink

  • Spending requirement: 5,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $95 not waived.
  • Transfer points to several airlines and hotels.

Chase Ink Business Cash $500/50,000 points

 

 

 

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths.
  • No annual fee.
  • Can transfer to airlines and hotels if you have a premium UR card

Chase Ink Unlimited $500/50,000 points

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths.
  • 1.5X on everything
  • No annual fee.
  • Can transfer to airlines and hotels if you have a premium UR card

Citi ThankYou Cards

Citi ThankYou Premier Card 50,000 Points

best credit cards for miles citi thankyou premier

  • Spending requirement: 4,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: Waived for the 1st year, $95 thereafter.

Citi ThankYou Prestige Card 75,000 Points Offer

  • Spending requirement: 7,500/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $450, not waived.
  • Too many goodies to list.

The next 4 cards below are my affiliate links, and they are the best available offers anyway. You don’t have to click on them, as a simple internet search will reveal the direct links to the bank’s offers, but I would appreciate if you did.

Capital One

Don’t be confused by the “miles” thing. You can redeem them for any kind of travel at 1: 100.

Capital One Venture Rewards 50,000 Miles

  • Spending requirement: $3,000 in first 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year).

Capital One Spark Miles for Business 50,000 miles

  • Spending requirement: $4,500 in first 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year).

Capital One Spark Cash for Business $500

  • Spending requirement: $4,500 in first 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $59 (waived first year).

Bank of America

Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card 50,000 points

  • Spending requirement: 3,000/3mths.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • $100 incidental airline credit per calendar year.
  • Other goodies

Barclays

Barclaycard Arrival Plus 50,000 Miles

UPDATE: Gone

  • Spending requirement: $3,000 in first 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $89 (waived first year).

US BANK

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Card 25,000 points

UPDATE: Now you can redeem the FlexPerks points at only 1:1.5 ratio, so you might want to wait until the next Olympics.

  • Spending requirement: $2,000 in first 4 months.
  • Annual fee: $49 (waived first year).
  • You would have earned 7,450 Bonus FlexPoints during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 in addition to the 25,000-point bonus
  • More goodies

US Bank FlexPerks Gold 30,000 Points

Pick the card in the middle. You can redeem 30,000 points for a flight up to $450.

best credit cards for miles us bank flex perks gold

  • Spending requirement: $2,000 in first 4 months.
  • Annual fee: $85 (Not waived).

US Bank Altitude Reserve 50,000 Points

You can apply online only if you’ve had a prior relationship with US Bank for at least 35 days. Otherwise, apply in the branch.

best credit cards for miles us bank altitude reserve

  • Redeemable for up to $750 in travel purchases.
  • Spending requirement: $2,000 in first 4 months.
  • Annual fee: $400 (Not waived).
  • Lots of other goodies

UBS Visa Infinite 50,000 Points (must call: 888-762-1232)

UBS Visa Infinite

  • 50,000 miles (good for up to a $900 flight ) after spending $3,000 in first 3 months.
  • $495 annual fee.
  • Lots of other goodies.

Wells Fargo Business Platinum Credit Card $500

Must be a banking customer for 12 months prior or read this DOC post on maximizing Wells Fargo bonuses

  • $500 miles after spending $5,000 in first 3 months.
  • No annual fee.

Credit Card Rules

Please read carefully before applying for any credit card

CHASE:

You can’t get most Chase cards if you have received more than 4 cards from any issuers within the last 2 years (that’s including AU cards, although you might be able to remove AU cards from your credit report or during the reconsideration call). Notable exceptions:

  • British Airways
  • Iberia
  • Aer Lingus
  • Marriott Business
  • Ritz Carlton
  • IHG
  • Hyatt

You can still apply for these cards even if you’re 5/24 or more. Most business cards don’t count, even Chase’s own business cards.

AMERICAN EXPRESS

You can’t get a sign-up bonus for the same card if you have received it in the past. Exceptions:

  • Targeted offers that don’t carry this policy language.
  • There is some leeway about products that are “same/different.” For example, I’ve gotten the bonuses from the regular Platinum and Platinum for Mercedes Benz cards.
  • A lot of time has passed. Some suggest 4-7 years.

There are suggestions that AMEX won’t allow you to have more than 4-5 credit cards at the same time (charge cards don’t count). I know I’ve had 6 AMEX credit cards at the same time, but it doesn’t mean that this datapoint is not accurate. YMMV.

Another datapoint indicates that you can’t get more than 2 credit cards in 90 days (again, charge cards don’t count). I can report that I have applied and received up to 4 credit cards in 3 months — although, once again, you might want to stay within the suggested parameters.

CITI

You can’t get a sign-up bonus for the card from the same “family” if you’ve opened or closed the card within the last 24 months. For example, you can’t get the bonus for the Premier card if you’ve had the Prestige card, and you can’t get a bonus for the Executive AAdvantage card, if you’ve opened or closed the regular AAdvantage card within the last 24 months. Exceptions:

  • Occasional public and targeted offers that don’t have this policy language.

You can open 2 Citi cards within 60 days and one business Citi card within 90 days. Add 2-3 days to this count to be on the safe side.

BANK OF AMERICA

This rule is very new (Fall 2017)

  • You can get 2 BoA cards within 60 days
  • 3 cards within 12 months
  • 4 cards within 24 months

Business cards don’t count (supposedly).

BARCLAYCARD

Barclaycard doesn’t have any hard rules. In general, they don’t like too many inquiries in the last 2 years and they don’t like it when you put their cards in a sock after getting the bonus. Keep it in mind if you are preparing to apply for a Barclaycard product.

CAPITAL ONE

You can get one card only (personal or business) within 6 months.

US BANK

It used to help when you froze the reports from 2 minor CRAs: Sage Stream and ARS before applying for a US Bank card. Not the case anymore, so don’t. Other than that, they don’t like too many recent inquiries, and they can shut down all your accounts if they determine (in their sole discretion, of course) that you’re abusing the program. Meaning — be very, very, very careful buying gift cards with a US Bank card.

Photo by 贝莉儿 NG on Unsplash

 

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