Recently, I posted on Hotel Credit Card perks and received many emails requesting for a similar post in regards to airlines. So, here you go, a compiled list of all the perks you receive with an airline specific credit card (including status, waived baggage fee, priority boarding, etc.). If you travel often on one airline, it might be worth it to see if the yearly fee outweighs the benefits that you will receive.

Delta:

  • Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
    • Checked Baggage Fee: First checked bag free for up to 9 passengers on the same itinerary
    • Priority Boarding: Zone 2 priority boarding on Delta flights
    • Status: None
    • Lounge Access: $25 per visit per person
    • Other: 20% In-Flight Savings on food and entertainment
    • Current promotion: 30,00 Delta miles after spending $500 within 3 months; $95 annual fee waived first year
    • My Thoughts: If you fly Delta often, but do not have elite status, being able to check your bags for free is a great reason for having this card. While the bonus points are not 50K+ like many of the offers out there, Delta seldom has those “off the chart” offers. They recently did have a 45K offer, so if you are not in any rush, hold out to see if a limited time promotion runs again. However, be aware that many times the typical offer is 25K.
    • Application link; Blog Post
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
    • Checked Baggage Fee: First checked bag free for up to 9 passengers on the same itinerary
    • Priority Boarding: Zone 2 priority boarding on Delta flights
    • Status: Earn 5,000 MQMs towards status when you sign up for the credit card (1st year only)
    • Lounge Access: $25 per visit per person
    • Other: 20% In-Flight Savings on food and entertainment; Complimentary companion coach ticket each year upon renewal
    • Current promotion: 20,000 Delta miles upon your first purchase (which 5,000 are MQM eligible) + 5,000 Delta miles when you sign up for two additional cards; $150 annual fee
    • My Thoughts: This card is more expensive than the Gold Delta card but does include two added benefits: 1) Complimentary companion ticket each year (which sometimes has strict terms and conditions making it tough to use), and 2) 5,000 MQMs towards status. This sign up offer is also not as good as the Gold Delta card.
    • Application link; Blog Post
  • Delta Reserve Credit Card
    • Checked Baggage Fee: First checked bag free for up to 9 passengers on the same itinerary
    • Priority Boarding: Zone 2 priority boarding on Delta flights
    • Status: Earn 10,000 MQMs towards status when you sign up for the credit card (1st year only); Earn additional MQMs yearly (however, this might change at a later time): $30,000 spend a calendar year earns 15,000 MQMs and an additional $60,000 spend a calendar year earns another 15,000 MQMs (30,000 MQMs is needed for silver status)MQMs can be gifted to someone else
    • Lounge Access: Complimentary club access
    • Other: 20% In-Flight Savings on food and entertainment
    • Current promotion: 10,000 MQMs after upon your first purchase; $450 annual fee
    • My Thoughts: While this card is quite expensive, if you spend quite a bit on the card you can secure Silver elite status. You also get complimentary club access, which alone is about $400/year. I personally think this annual fee is too high for what it is worth. You are better off getting the American Express Platinum card if you are interested in lounge access.
    • Application link; Blog Post

American Airlines:

  • Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard
    • Checked Baggage Fee: 1st checked baggage fee waived for you and your companion on the same itinerary (up to eight additional passengers)
    • Priority Boarding: Priority check-in (where available), priority airport screening (where available), and priority boarding privileges when traveling on American Airlines operated and marketed flights
    • Status: Earn 10,000 AAdvantage elite qualifying miles towards status when you spend $40,000 on your card each year
    • Lounge Access: Free lounge access for you and your immediate family (or to two others)
    • Other: No foreign transaction fees; no mileage cap; All miles earned on credit card spend up until December 1, 2012 will count towards Gold or Platinum lifetime status
    • Current promotion: 25,000 AAdvantage miles after  spending $1,000 within 4 months; $450 annual fee
    • My Thoughts: Personally, I think this credit card is quite expensive and might not be worth the perks included. The only reason I would advocate getting this card is if you are looking to reach that million mile status (Gold or Platinum for life) with your credit card spend over the next 11 months. All the other perks are included in the Amex Platinum card plus more.
    • Application link
  • Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature / Citi Select AAdvantage American Express / CitiBusiness AAdvantage Visa
    • Checked Baggage Fee: No
    • Priority Boarding: No
    • Status: No
    • Lounge Access: Two free lounge passes (offer until 1/31/12)
    • Other: $150 statement credit after making any purchase from American Airlines (offer until 1/31/12)
    • Current promotion: $50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within 4 months; $85 annual fee waived first year
    • My Thoughts: While this isn’t as good as the 75K or 100K promotion they had last year, this is still a pretty decent promotion, especially with the statement credit included. While this card will not help you reach any elite status, it is a good way to get a quick and easy 50K points. Unlike other airlines, there are not too many perks by having the AA card (i.e, no free checked baggage). If you are looking to get the card for the long term and rack up miles with AA, I’d actually suggest the Starwood credit card instead – read this prior post to understand my reasoning behind this.
    • Application link

United:

  • The New United Plus Explorer Card
  • Checked Baggage Fee: First checked bag is free for up to two people per reservation
  • Priority Boarding: Priority boarding after elites
  • Status: No
  • Lounge Access: 2 free United Club passes each account anniversary (which means you will not receive them your first year with the card)
  • Other: Earn 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $25,000 or more each calendar year
  • Current promotion: 50,000 United miles upon first purchase + additional 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user (first purchase must be within the first two months of account opening); $95 annual fee waived the first year
  • My Thoughts: If you have not been targeted for the 60K promotion (which really is 50K as the additional 10K needed requires a huge minimum spend), the current promotion is quite low compared to other credit card offers out there. Like the Delta credit card, if you do not have elite status and fly United often, being able to check a bag for free is a decent perk (Delta, however, allows up to 9 people on the itinerary for free checked baggage, while United only allows 2).
  • United Application link (you must have at least one mile in your account to view this offer; or there is a up to 60k point promotion + $50 statement credit available for everyone)

Southwest:

  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card
  • Checked Baggage Fee: 2 checked bags for all passengers (no credit card needed)
  • Priority Boarding: No
  • Status: No
  • Lounge Access: No
  • Other: Others have reported that the credit card new applicant bonus counts towards companion pass status
  • Current promotion: 50,000 points upon first purchase, $99 annual fee; 6,000 bonus point each account anniversary (which is worth $50 towards free travel)
  • My Thoughts: I would only apply for this card if you are looking to get companion pass status. Currently, the 50,000 bonus points are counting towards companion status, and if you get both the personal and business credit card that will get you 100,000 points. To earn the companion pass, you only need 110,000 points. To learn more about the Southwest companion pass, read this prior blog post. If you are not applying for both cards and wont be able to get to the 110,000 points, I’d suggest instead applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This card also has a 50K offer and allows you to transfer your points to Southwest. This will give you much more flexibility.
  • Application link; Blog Post

*The Southwest Airlines Rapid Reward Plus Card currently only has a 25K bonus.

US Airways:

  • US Airways Dividend Miles Premier Wold MasterCard
  • Checked Baggage Fee: No
  • Priority Boarding: Zone 2 boarding
  • Status: With $25,000 spend on the card, earn 10,000 preferred qualifying miles (need 25,000 preferred qualifying miles for Silver)
  • Lounge Access: One complimentary US Airways Club day pass annually; $29 per visit when booked online in conjunction with a reservation
  • Other: 5,000 mile discount when you redeem for award travel on a flight operated by US Airways; 10,000 bonus miles each anniversary year; Two $99 companion tickets annually
  • Current promotion: 40,000 US Airways miles upon first purchase; $89 annual fee waived the first year
  • My Thoughts: This is a decent card with a decent promotion. If you will spend $25K+ on your card a year, getting the 10K preferred miles is not a bad perk. The best perk with this card is the 5K mile discount when redeeming for award travel and the two $99 companion tickets. Receiving 10K bonus miles each year helps make the annual fee worth it as well. Also, using the card during the US Airways Grand Slam Promotion in October will count as a “hit.”
  • Application link

If there are any other perks or credit cards you’d like included, please feel free to comment below and I will update the post accordingly. I included most of the major airlines. Also remember that these promotions do change – to see an up to date list of all the credit card promotions, visit this page on the blog.

Full Disclosure: I receive a commission if you are approved for some of these credit cards (Delta American Express personal, United Mileage Plus Explorer, Starwood Preferred Guest by American Express, and Chase Sapphire Preferred) by using my affiliate links. As always, I appreciate you using my links and will always include only the best promotions out there. Make sure to also check to see if you’ve been targeted for any better offers (i.e., Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer card).

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

  • Ken said,

    “…wait till the US Airways Grand Slam Promotion in October as getting the card counts as a “hit.”

    That’s not actually the case, you get a hit from using the car, not applying for it.

  • Ryan said,

    Just to confirm, I just had 50K points post from one of my Southwest cards, and it counted towards CP. Now just need my other statement to close at end of the month and should be good to go.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Ken – You are correct, not sure what I was thinking! I have updated the post.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Ryan – That’s great! I got both the cards last year and had my first spend a few weeks ago. Statement closed and have 100K towards companion status!

  • DL said,

    The CO Presidential Plus is still out there too. No great sign-up bonus at all ($95 statement credit) but still a cheaper way to get United Club access for everyone but 1Ks.

  • goheerow said,

    Taken from United Explorer offer details page:

    Two United Club Passes:
    You will receive two (2) Club passes after account opening and every account anniversary thereafter

  • Saurabh S said,

    Incredibly useful article. Thank you!

  • Rudresh said,

    I love the Delta Reserve Card. I’ve had it for 3 years now. The annual companion economy/biz certificate (which I’m not sure you mentioned in regard to this card) has always been used well and seemingly has no restrictions. I used it for a companion biz class ticket for my wife over Thanksgiving last year and for a West Coast vacation the year before. I typically accrue more MQMs than needed for Platinum (75,000) but not quite enough for Diamond (125,000). Using this card for all of my business expenses (easily over $60,000) gets me to Diamond every year. I believe one also receives club access to KLM and Air France lounges. One also receives double miles on Delta purchases. I buy most of my Delta flights on delta.com so an $800 ticket means 1600 miles. When buying tickets for my band, I end up accruing 10,000+ miles for one group roundtrip. “Delta Reserve” actually shows up in print on one’s boarding pass as well so there’s no hassle entering the lounges or taking advantage of priority boarding.

    However, I am concerned that your post says “Earn additional MQMs yearly (however, this might change at a later time).” Is there a change coming that you know about? if so, pLease do tell!

    I hope the rest of your trip in SE Asia was great and hope that you’ve recovered from the jetlag.

    I live in Brooklyn. i think you live close . . . .

    Best Wishes,
    Rudresh

  • dealswelike said,

    @Rudresh – Last fall there were rumors that this was going away, however, nothing has yet been 100% confirmed. Note that this MIGHT change,

  • dealswelike said,

    @DL – Thanks for pointing that out.

  • theblakefish said,

    The Citi AA statement credit is only valid for the Business Card, not the personal ones.

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