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Best Credit Card For Miles

By Nanette Pawelek | Last updated on

Best Credit Card For Miles Beach Vacation

The notion that “cash is king” wanes more and more as transactions processed via credit cards take center stage, namely airline credit cards or credit cards that earn miles.

In fact, some establishments around the world no longer accept cash, so if you’re going to use a credit card, why not get something more out of the deal and choose the best credit card for airline miles or points?

Note: AirHelp is NOT sponsored by any of the credit card companies mentioned in this post.

credit-card-tip-best-credit-card-for-miles

Crucial Point For Mileage Credit Cards

When browsing through credit cards that earn you miles or points, it’s important to realize this critical issue:

  • If you have owned any of these cards within the last year or two, you can’t sign up again and get the new member benefits. To be sure, always check with the credit card company directly.

Now, let’s get going and detail out some travel savvy rewards cards, including credit cards with no annual fees.

Best Credit Card for Miles: What to Look For

As you launch into your search for the best card for airline miles or points, you’ll want to evaluate some key factors that could greatly impact your decision. Be on the lookout for:

  • Miles or Points Per Dollar Spent
  • Purchase Rate (advertised APR)
  • Annual Membership Fee
  • Foreign Transaction Fees
  • New Cardmember Offer (sign-up bonus)
  • Referral Bonus
  • Added Perks

In an effort to simplify the process and provide you with optimal travel tools, we’ve put several top air miles credit cards to the test to help you decide the best credit card for miles. The credit cards listed below are the most advantageous for rewards and miles.

First, we’ll look at each card in detail and then we’ll sum it all up with a comparison chart.

You have the ultimate say, but here are specific features and benefits to help you determine which card suits you.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

best-credit-cards-delta-skymiles

With several hubs across the US, Delta has well-established partnerships with more than 20 airlines worldwide. So, you’ll have plenty of options to earn miles and use miles.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Benefits

Miles Per Dollar Spent

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
    • Examples: tickets on Delta.com, in-flight services, Delta Vacations, Delta memberships or passes, etc.
  • 1 mile per dollar spent on everyday purchases.
    • This includes paying for food, gas, clothes, books, or anything that you normally buy.

Purchase Rate (Advertised APR)?

  • 17.49% to 26.49% (variable).

Annual Membership Fee?

  • $0 for the first year and then $95 per year after that.

Foreign Transaction Fees?

  • None.

New Cardmember Offer?

  • 30,000 – 50,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
    • This offer fluctuates depending on the time of year, so it’s always best to go straight to the American Express website.
  • $50 statement credit if you make a Delta purchase within 3 months.

Referral Bonus

Added Perks

  • Priority Boarding on Delta flights (you’ll get to board in Zone 1, essentially following first class passengers).
  • Free checked bag on Delta flights.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card

best-credit-cards-for-miles-united-explorer-card

This United Visa credit card really rewards its users with additional options to earn twice the miles for hotel accommodations and dining out.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card Benefits

Miles Per Dollar Spent

  • 2 miles per dollar on United purchases.
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on restaurants.
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on hotels (purchased directly with the hotel).
  • 1 mile per dollar spent on other types of purchases.

Purchase Rate (Advertised APR)?

  • 17.49% – 24.49% (variable).

Annual Membership Fee?

  • $0 for the first year, and then $95 per year after that.

Foreign Transaction Fees?

  • None.

New Cardmember Offer (Sign-up Bonus)?

  • 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months after opening your account.
  • $100 statement credit after making your first purchase.

Referral Bonus?

  • NO (well at least not at the moment).
  • Chase has been known to offer a referral program from time to time as part of the United MileagePlus Explorer card. However, the “Refer-A-Friend” promotion is not currently in effect. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on, just in case it comes back.

Added Perks

  • Priority boarding on United flights.
  • New benefits include earning 2 times the miles at restaurants and on hotel accommodations, 25% back on in-flight purchases, and more.
  • Free checked bag on United flights.
    • Key Stipulation = free checked bag is for United flights.

VentureOne from Capital One

best-credit-card-for-miles-ventureone-card

The VentureOne credit card from Capital One offers an impressive 0% introductory APR for 12 months, along with a world of Visa signature benefits including the potential to earn 10 miles per dollar on certain hotels.

Capital One’s site also provides an embedded slider to get a quick view of how many miles you could earn based on your monthly spending.

VentureOne from Capital One Benefits

Miles Per Dollar Spent

  • 1.25 miles per dollar spent.

Purchase Rate (Advertised APR)?

  • 0% intro APR for 12 months; 13.49% – 23.49% variable APR after that.

Annual Membership Fee?

  • $0

Foreign Transaction Fees?

  • None.

New Cardmember Offer (Sign-up Bonus)?

  • 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months after opening an account.

Referral Bonus?

  • NO.
  • As noted in the Bonuses and Benefits section of this robust analysis, the VentureOne card does NOT offer referral bonuses.

Added Perks

  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when paying with the VentureOne card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card allows you to earn points and transfer those points to several frequent travel programs at a 1:1 value.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits

Points Per Dollar Spent

  • 2 points per dollar spent when your card is used for purchases in the travel category.
  • 1 point for every dollar spent on everyday purchases.

Purchase Rate (Advertised APR)?

  • 17.49%–24.49% (variable).

Annual Membership Fee?

  • $0 for the first year, then $95 per year after that.

Foreign Transaction Fees?

  • None.

New Cardmember Offer (Sign-up Bonus)?

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Referral Bonus?

  • YES!
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points for each friend who signs up and is approved.

Added Perks

  • Make your first purchase and add an authorized user to your card to get 5,000 bonus points.

Earn even more points with this card by glancing at these strategic things to do when you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

The Platinum Card from American Express

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This card is ideal for the perpetual traveler. It’s also a card that active duty US military members should check out because the annual fee is waived for US service members. Military spouses are also eligible! Essentially, American Express avidly supports SCRA (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act) benefits. Make sure you read the fine print regarding eligibility requirements.

The Platinum Card from American Express Benefits (Attention US Military)

Points Per Dollar Spent

  • 5x the Membership Rewards points on American Express Travel or flights booked directly with an airline.
  • 5x the Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Purchase Rate (Advertised APR)?

  • Variable.
  • There’s not much disclosure here, but American Express provides resources on its site about qualifying considerations for this card.

Annual Membership Fee?

best-rewards-cards-platinum-card-military

  • Annual fee is waived for active duty US military members and spouses of service members ($550 of savings).
  • If you are not an active duty service member, the annual fee is $550, but for frequent travelers and for those who routinely utilize hotel accommodations or Uber, the list of perks makes a convincing argument.

Foreign Transaction Fees?

  • None.

New Cardmember Offer (Sign-up Bonus)?

  • Earn 60,000 reward points after using your card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Referral Bonus?

  • YES!
  • This card lets you earn up to 55,000 Membership Rewards points per calendar year.

Added Perks

  • Free Checked Bags on Various Airlines
    • Participating airlines include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines.
  • Custom Travel Itineraries
    • Consult Platinum Travel counselors who specialize in providing custom itineraries and tailored recommendations for your travel needs.
  • Uber Rides
    • Uber VIP status and free rides up to $15 each month (in the US).
  • Save an average of $550
    • Savings stem from complimentary benefits as part of the Fine Hotels & Resorts Program.

At a Glance: Best Travel Card Comparison

Travelers have different needs, so here’s a quick visual comparison of the best credit cards for miles and rewards mentioned above. This way, you can zero in on which card you want based on what you need.

Scroll down and across to compare:

 

Gold Delta SkyMiles

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer

VentureOne from Capital One

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Platinum Card American Express

Miles Per Dollar Spent:
2
(Delta Purchases)
1
(Everyday Purchases)
Miles Per Dollar Spent:
2
(United purchases OR hotel and restaurants)
1
(everyday purchases)
Miles Per Dollar Spent:
1.25
(any type of purchase)
10
(paying with VentureOne at hotels.com/venture)
Points Per Dollar Spent:
2
(travel category purchases)
1
(everyday purchases)
Points Per Dollar Spent:
5x Points
(American Express Travel or flights booked directly with airline)
5x Points
(prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com)
Purchase Rate (APR):
17.49%
to
26.49%
Purchase Rate (APR):
17.49%
to
24.49%
Purchase Rate (APR):
0% intro rate 12 months; then 13.49% to 23.49%
Purchase Rate (APR):
17.49%
to
24.49%
Purchase Rate (APR):
Variable
(apply first)
Annual Fee:
$0 first year, then $95 per year
Annual Fee:
$0 first year, then $95 per year
Annual Fee:
$0
Annual Fee:
$0 first year, then $95 per year
Annual Fee:
Waived for active duty military
($550 savings)
Foreign Transaction Fees:
None
Foreign Transaction Fees:
None
Foreign Transaction Fees:
None
Foreign Transaction Fees:
None
Foreign Transaction Fees:
None
Sign-Up Bonus:
30,000 – 50,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
Sign-Up Bonus:
40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months
Sign-Up Bonus:
20,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
Sign-Up Bonus:
50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
Sign-Up Bonus:
60,000 rewards points if you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months
Referral Bonus:
Yes
(specific bonus not specified)
Referral Bonus:
No
Referral Bonus:
No
Referral Bonus:
Yes
(10,000 bonus points for each friend approved)
Referral Bonus:
Yes
(up to 55,000 Membership Rewards points per calendar year)
Additional Perks:
– Priority Boarding
– Free Checked Bag
– $50 credit if you make a Delta purchase in the first 3 months
Additional Perks:
– Priority Boarding
– Free Checked Bag
– $100 statement credit after making your first purchase
Additional Perks:
– Redeem miles as statement credit
– Car rental insurance waiver
Additional Perks:
– Make first purchase and add an authorized user for 5,000 bonus points
Additional Perks:
– Free Checked Bags
– Custom Travel Itineraries from Platinum Travel counselors
– Up to $200 Uber savings
– Save an average of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts Program benefits.

Which Card Is the Best?

Depending on your average monthly spending and what you’re after (sign-up bonuses, mile, points, or added perks), the best can vary considerably from person to person.

0% Plus No Annual Fee

  • If a 0% plus no annual fee card is on your mind, then you’ll want to go with the VentureOne card from Capital One.

Spend the Least to Get the Most Miles

  • If you’re looking to spend the least for the most amount of miles, you’ll want the Gold Delta SkyMiles card.

Best Referral Bonus with High Intro Points

  • If you want to share your knowledge with friends and get rewarded for it, choose the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You’ll also receive 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.
  • However, if you travel a lot The Platinum Card from American Express also offers attractive referral incentives.

More Miles and Points

  • For the highest miles per dollar spent, you’ll want to go with either the Gold Delta SkyMiles card or the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer. Yet, if you book hotel rooms often, remember that the VentureOne card from Capital One lets you collect up to 10 miles per dollar spent.
  • For the highest points per dollar spent, choose The Platinum Card from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Best Card for US Military Members

  • Hands down, go for The Platinum Card from American Express. There are so many incredible benefits with this card!

The choice is up to you, but these 5 cards offer a great amount of versatility.

No matter which card you choose, it’s always a plus to have helpful options so you can travel smarter and focus on where you want to be.

 

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