[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — Capital One Venture Rewards, American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles and the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Dreaming of going somewhere new but want to kick it up a notch? Flying first class may be just the ticket.
“Travel rewards cards are a great tool for consumers who do a lot of traveling,” Thomas Nitzsche, media relations manager for ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, said. “Travel rewards cards come with many perks, most of which are based on a points system rewarding those who use the card the most.”
If one of those perks you’re looking for is a way to travel in style, a travel credit card may be able to help you do so. Here are three cards that may be what you’re looking for.
For Flying With Any Airline: Capital One Venture Rewards
The Capital One Venture Rewards credit card (which you can read a full review of here) offers new cardholders a nice reward of 40,000 bonus miles (equal to $400 in travel) after spending $3,000 in the first three months after signing up. From there, you’ll get two miles for every dollar spent — and there’s no cap on how many points you can earn. Keep in mind, however, that the card comes with a $59 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year. Your points are redeemable for airline tickets — including a luxurious first class seat on any qualifying airline. It carries a variable purchase annual percentage rate (APR) between 13.24% and 23.24%.
Bonus: Through January 2017, you can use your card and get 10% off any hotels booked through HotelTonight, carrying your first-class status even further.
For Loyal Delta Airline Travelers: Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card From American Express
If you’re frequently jet-setting on a Delta aircraft, this credit card may be the best route for you. Not only will you get 50,000 bonus miles when you sign on and spend $1,000 in the first three months, but you’ll also get a $50 credit when you make a Delta purchase on the card during the same time frame. There is no annual fee with this card during the first year, but will raise to $95 after that. You’ll enjoy priority boarding any time you fly. So, even if you’re not using the points you’ve earned using your Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card from American Express (which you can read a full review of here) to book a first class seat, you’ll still get to enjoy some of the perks. The card carries a variable APR from 15.49% to 19.49%. [Editor’s Note: The APR on this card has changed since this article originally ran. It is now a variable 16.49% to 25.49%, depending on your credit.]
For Loyal American Airlines Travelers: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
Pack your bags — and check them for free, too. That’s right, you can lock in a first class seat on an American Airlines flight when you use your reward points and get your first checked bag free for you and eight others booked on the same reservation. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, as well as American Express and Capital One, advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.) You’ll get 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months to help you get started. With this card, you’ll earn two miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines transactions, and one mile for every dollar spent elsewhere. The card does carry a $450 annual fee, however, so this card is best suited to very frequent fliers and big spenders. It carries a standard variable purchase APR of 15.49%.
Before You Pack…
Nitzsche noted that some of the biggest pitfalls people have when using these cards include “failing to cost-compare against other airlines just because you have the branded card” and “being convinced to spend on a card for items you don’t really need just to accrue points.” It’s important you keep these things in mind so you can use your card responsibly.
If you decide you want to sign up for one of these cards, you may want to take a look at your credit before doing so, as they typically require a good or excellent credit score to qualify. (You can see two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) After all, you don’t want to suffer the hard inquiry ding just to find out the issuer denied you. If you discover your scores aren’t riding in first class, you can take steps to change that, like paying down debts and fixing any errors you find on your credit reports.
At publishing time, the Capital One Venture Rewards, American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles and the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.