Although ticket prices and associated fees have crept higher
over the past few years, the right airline
can save you enough cash to offset the cost of air travel. Four of
today's best travel credit cards offer bonus perks that can make
your next trip relaxing and rewarding.
American Express Platinum Card
This much beloved charge card earned its place in business
travelers' wallets by offering no preset spending limit and easy
corporate reimbursement tools. Despite a generous Membership
Rewards program, brand-specific airline cards started encroaching
on the American Express Platinum Card's turf, making many
executives question the account's $450 annual fee.
AmEx responded in a big way, adding hefty perks that help the
card pay for itself. $200 in annual bag check credits and automatic
access to a network of over 600 airport lounges appeal to fliers
with scaled-back travel budgets.
travel specialists can also book Platinum Card members' itineraries
at up to 20 percent off published rates. This card charges no
foreign transaction fees, saving globetrotters up to 5 percent per
purchase compared to typical airline credit cards.
Virgin America Visa Signature from Barclaycard
A pair of British upstarts want to disrupt the North American
airline business. Barclaycard US, a division of UK's Barclays Bank,
offers a Virgin America Visa Signature account tied to the
airline's Elevate rewards program. Signup bonuses have included up
to 15,000 rewards points for cardholders who complete both a
purchase and a
in their first 30 days. Under Elevate's discount program, that's
enough for three round trips on certain routes.
With just a $49 annual fee, this card offers one of the least
expensive ways to gain Visa Signature benefits. Regardless of
issuing bank, Visa Signature offers cardholders access to
experienced concierge team members who can help book travel,
reserve restaurants, and secure tickets to hot events. They'll even
find local services to help carry out routine errands while you're
away from home. Virgin America doesn't fly everywhere, but
earned on competitors' airlines still count towards free
Citi Executive / AAdvantage World Elite
Despite rumors that American Airlines might merge with a rival
carrier, AAdvantage offers one of the world's most comprehensive
route maps. With help from AA's partner network, you'll get to earn
and redeem AAdvantage miles nearly anywhere you want to fly.
Cardholders earn a mile for every dollar spent on the card, with
double miles for AA flight purchases. Signup offers for this card
have scored new customers as many as 25,000 bonus miles, enough for
a round trip using this card's discounted redemption rates.
Wave your AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard at the airport to
get escorted through a priority security line, so you can spend
more time relaxing with your included Admirals Club membership.
AA's gate agents will even let you board your flight early. This
unusual airline credit card combines World Elite MasterCard
benefits with no preset spending limit. Therefore, the card
includes access to expert concierges, automatic airfare price
assurance, and comprehensive travel insurance for every trip. With
this $450 annual fee card, Citi has created an interesting
alternative to the American Express Platinum Card for travelers who
prefer to fly American.
British Airways Visa Signature from Chase
Frequent visitors to the U.K. may have noticed that the
country's retailers, like those throughout Europe, now plug credit
cards into chip readers instead of swiping magnetic stripes. While
Visa and MasterCard officials promise that the chips are just a
step toward an eventual contactless payment standard, you're still
stuck holding the bill in many restaurants and shops that won't
accept your American credit card without "chip-and-PIN."
Chase and British Airways teamed up to make the embedded EMV
format accessible to American travelers with BA's Visa Signature
card. Along with being one of the easiest ways to guarantee your
card's acceptance in Europe, this account packs some big bonuses.
Signup awards have scaled as high as 100,000 rewards points (called
"avios"). Pay about the same as a regular New York to Heathrow
flight, and that balance can treat you to one of BA's long haul,
"lie flat," sleeper seats. If you've ever stumbled, half-asleep,
onto the London Underground from Terminal 5, you'll really
appreciate this perk.
Expect to see other airlines and credit card issuers announce
even stronger deals throughout the year, as more Americans look to
save money on travel. Compare credit cards from your favorite
carriers with the deals on this list to learn whether you could be
missing out on major rewards.