Best Airline Miles and Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2015

Comparison of Best Airline Miles and Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Airline miles credit cards allow you to earn rewards on purchases that can than be redeemed for airline tickets, hotel rooms, and even cash back in some cases. When comparing these cards, it is important to understand that there are two types of cards which allow you to earn airline miles / travel rewards.

The Two Types of Travel Rewards Credit Cards:

  1. General Rewards Cards - General travel rewards cards like the Capital One Venture allow you to earn miles or points that are redeemable with any airline and for other types of travel and vacation costs For most people, we recommend choosing this type of card because you have more options when it's time to redeem​.
  2. Airline Specific CardsThese cards let you earn miles that can be redeemed with a specific airline, such as Delta or United.

We have hand-picked the best deals of 2015 for both types of cards below.

Top Choice: Earn the Most Miles with Capital One® Venture Rewards

The Capital One Venture Rewards Visa card stand out because you can 2 points for each dollar you spend - on all categories of spending. Plus, by spending $3,000 in your first three months, you can earn 40,000 bonus points (which is equivalent to $400 of travel rewards). All with no annual fee in the first year and a reasonable $59 annual fee after that.

Th Venture Rewards card ​recently took on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card in a rematch of travel rewards cards, and won handily.

Capital One® Venture Card Overview

Capital One Venture Rewards Card Review

CreditShout Rating

Excellent

Rewards Program:

  • ​2x Miles for each dollar spent
  • Unlimited Rewards
  • Visa® Signature Benefits (if you qualify)

Signup Bonus:

  • ​40,000 bonus miles—equal to $400 in travel—if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • No annual fee for Year 1 ($59/year thereafter)

Annual Fee: $59​ (Waived First Year)

Credit Required: Excellent

Intro APR

N/A

Intro Balance Transfer

N/A; but No Transter Fee

Regular APR

12.9% - 22.9% Variable on Purchases and Transfers

Read the Full Review

Best No Annual Fee Travel Rewards: Discover® it Miles 

The Discover it Miles card doubles as the best no annual fee travel rewards card, and the most flexible rewards credit card available. This is thanks to its offering of 1.5 point per dollar spent, first year bonus of doubling all points, and it lets you convert 1% of all your points into cash back!

If this was not a ​travel/airline rewards card, it Miles would be one of our top cash back cards. After all, who wouldn't want a no fee cash back card offering 3% back in Year 1 and 1.5% back thereafter?

Discover® it Miles Overview

Discover it Miles Credit Card Compared to VentureOne

CreditShout Rating

Excellent

Rewards Program:

  • ​1.5x miles for each dollar spent
  • No annual fee
  • No fee for first missed payment
  • Option to redeem rewards as 1.5% cash back
  • Annual credit of $30 for in-flight wi-fi charges

Signup Bonus:

  • Double all miles at the end of 1st year (i.e., 3x cash spent for year 1)
  • 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 Months*

* Then the variable APR applies, which is currently 10.99% - 22.99%.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Required: Excellent

Intro APR

0% for 12 Months on Purchases​

Intro Balance Transfer

10.99% for 12 Months + 3% BT Fee

Regular APR

10.99% - 22.99% Variable for Purchases and BTs

Read the Complete Review

Best Card if You Do Not Have Excellent Credit: Capital One® Venture One

Capital One's VentureOne Visa card is the no annual fee version of the Venture Rewards credit card. It offers 1.25 points for each dollar spent, and the potential for 20,000 bonus points by spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.

We do not think the rewards and benefits of this card are as generous as those for the it Miles card. However, if you do not have excellent credit, the VentureOne travel rewards card makes a great alternative.

Capital One® VentureOne® Overview

analysis of capitalone ventureone travel rewards credit card

CreditShout Rating

Very Good

Rewards Program:

  • 1.25x miles for every dollar spent
  • Unlimited rewards that never expire
  • Visa Signature benefits (if you qualify)

Signup Bonus:

  • 20,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months (equal to $200 in travel).
  • 0% APR on New Purchases until April 2016 (thereafter, regular variable APR of 11.9%-21.9% will apply)
  • No Transfer Fee on Balance Transfers (regular variable APR of 11.9-21.9% still applies)

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Required​: Good, Excellent

Intro APR

0% until April 2016 on Purchases​

Intro Balance Transfer

Regular APR, but No Transfer Fee

Regular APR

11.9% - 21.9% Variable on Purchases and Transfers

Read Our Review Here

Airline Miles Credit Cards Q&A

Q. How Do I Redeem My Points or Miles?

A.  Redeeming points and miles with a travel rewards card like those reviewed above  is pretty painless. You just book your trip with the card (it can be any airline, hotel etc..) and then you can apply the points you've earned towards those purchases, either online or over the phone.

Q. Are Airline Credit Cards Any Good

A.  Some airline specific cards do have solid rewards programs. If you are planning to apply for a specific airlines rewards card, make sure that your airport is a hub for that airline! For example: Even though Delta flies into pretty much everywhere, your life will be much easier when it comes time to book if you live near a Delta hub like Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York (JFK), or Salt Lake City because there will be more available flights to choose from.

This is why many times it can be good to go with a general travel rewards card like the Venture Rewards Visa. You can book with any airline or hotel and not have to worry.

Q. What is the Difference Between an Airlines Miles Credit Card and a Frequent Flyer Card?

A.  Frequent flyer programs work in conjunction with your airline or travel rewards credit card. By signing up for a frequent flyer program you receive miles and build status whenever you fly with an airline. These miles are usually in addition to the miles you earn on the purchases you make with your card.

Last Updated: May 19, 2015

About the author

Kevin

Kevin founded CreditShout in 2008 to help people manage their credit and finances. He wants to make it easy for anyone, regardless of their level of financial knowledge to understand credit cards and what may seem like the complex world of personal finance. | Author Google+