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Best Airline Credit Cards with No Annual Fee for June 2024

Earning airline miles is easy with one of these no-annual-fee credit cards.

  • CNET'S PICK
    CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
    6.2/10
    Annual Fee $0
    Rewards Rate
    1x - 2x Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting; Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
    Intro offer available Limited-time offer: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. Learn more.
  • CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
    5/10
    Annual Fee $0
    Rewards Rate
    1x - 2x Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services; Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases; Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
    Intro offer available Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
    6/10
    Annual Fee $0
    Rewards Rate
    1x - 2x Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.; Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.; Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
    Intro offer available Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
    6.2/10
    Annual Fee $0
    Rewards Rate
    1.25x - 5x Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options; Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
    Intro offer available Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel

Most airline credit cards offer valuable benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, discounts on flight awards or a head start toward achieving elite status. However, some cards charge an annual fee in exchange. While you’ll find the best benefits with airline credit cards that charge an annual fee, there are a few co-branded airline and general travel cards without annual fees that can still help you cut back on travel costs.

CNET’S PICK
6.2/10
CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
Earn 30,000 bonus miles Limited-time offer: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. Learn more.
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1x – 2x Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting; Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
Rec. Credit Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.
670 – 850 Good – Excellent
APR
21.99% – 28.99% Variable

The United Gateway℠ Card from Chase is a valuable option for travelers who want to earn miles for United Airlines or other Star Alliance partners. The Star Alliance includes 26 different member airlines and flies to more than 1,200 destinations around the world.

For a limited time, new cardholders can earn 30,000 bonus miles when they spend $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. The card itself earns 2x miles on United purchases, gas station spending and on local transit and commuting, plus 1x miles on other purchases. You can even avoid interest charges on an expensive trip while you work to pay it down thanks to its introductory purchase APR. You won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees, either.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
21.99% – 28.99% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
2x
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting
1x
Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

The United Gateway℠ Card from Chase is a valuable option for travelers who want to earn miles for United Airlines or other Star Alliance partners. The Star Alliance includes 26 different member airlines and flies to more than 1,200 destinations around the world.

For a limited time, new cardholders can earn 30,000 bonus miles when they spend $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. The card itself earns 2x miles on United purchases, gas station spending and on local transit and commuting, plus 1x miles on other purchases. You can even avoid interest charges on an expensive trip while you work to pay it down thanks to its introductory purchase APR. You won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees, either.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
21.99% – 28.99% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
2x
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting
1x
Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
5/10
CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
10,000 miles Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1x – 2x Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services; Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases; Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
Rec. Credit Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.
670 – 850 Good – Excellent
APR
21.24% – 29.99% (Variable)

The American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®* card lets members earn miles that work with American Airlines and its oneworld partners, which fly to more than 900 destinations around the world. The card starts new members off with 10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit when they spend $500 on purchases within three months of account opening. In addition to American Airlines rewards, it also earns rewards at grocery stores.

Members also get 25% back on American Airlines in-flight food and beverage purchases made with this card. The American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® also earns Loyalty Points that count toward American AAdvantage elite status requirements. American AAdvantage elite status benefits include complimentary upgrades for you and one companion and free checked bags, among others.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
21.24% – 29.99% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
2x
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services
2x
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
1x
Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases

The American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®* card lets members earn miles that work with American Airlines and its oneworld partners, which fly to more than 900 destinations around the world. The card starts new members off with 10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit when they spend $500 on purchases within three months of account opening. In addition to American Airlines rewards, it also earns rewards at grocery stores.

Members also get 25% back on American Airlines in-flight food and beverage purchases made with this card. The American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® also earns Loyalty Points that count toward American AAdvantage elite status requirements. American AAdvantage elite status benefits include complimentary upgrades for you and one companion and free checked bags, among others.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
21.24% – 29.99% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
2x
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services
2x
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
1x
Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
6/10
CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
Earn 10,000 miles Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1x – 2x Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.; Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.; Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
Rec. Credit Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.
670 – 850 Good – Excellent
APR
20.99%-29.99% Variable

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card makes it possible for cardholders to earn miles in the Delta SkyMiles program. Delta is in the SkyTeam alliance, which includes Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic. This means you can earn miles with Delta and redeem them in house or with Delta’s partners to get to more than 1,050 destinations worldwide.

In addition to no annual fee, the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card earns new cardholders 10,000 miles after they spend $1,000 on purchases within six months of account opening. This Delta card will reward you for eating at restaurants wherever you choose to land, and make your inflight purchases a bit less expensive with a 20% discount (in the form of a statement credit) for eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
20.99%-29.99% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
2x
Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
2x
Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
1x
Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card makes it possible for cardholders to earn miles in the Delta SkyMiles program. Delta is in the SkyTeam alliance, which includes Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic. This means you can earn miles with Delta and redeem them in house or with Delta’s partners to get to more than 1,050 destinations worldwide.

In addition to no annual fee, the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card earns new cardholders 10,000 miles after they spend $1,000 on purchases within six months of account opening. This Delta card will reward you for eating at restaurants wherever you choose to land, and make your inflight purchases a bit less expensive with a 20% discount (in the form of a statement credit) for eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
20.99%-29.99% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
2x
Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
2x
Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
1x
Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more
6.2/10
CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
20,000 miles Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1.25x – 5x Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options; Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
Rec. Credit Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.
670 – 850 Good – Excellent
APR
19.99% – 29.99% (Variable)

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card* doesn’t earn miles within a specific program. Instead, you’ll earns miles on everyday purchases that can be used to book travel through Capital One or transferred to Capital One airline and hotel partners. Miles earned with this card can be transferred to Air France / Flying Blue, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, TAP Portugal and other programs. Capital One partners with more international partners than other issuers.

You can finance your trip and avoid interest for a period of time by using the card’s intro APR offer. Its welcome bonus is also slightly better than other cards on this list, with an overall higher payout.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Intro Purchase APR
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Regular APR
19.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
3% for the first 15 months; 4% at a promotional APR that Capital One may offer you at any other time
5x
Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options
1.25x
Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card* doesn’t earn miles within a specific program. Instead, you’ll earns miles on everyday purchases that can be used to book travel through Capital One or transferred to Capital One airline and hotel partners. Miles earned with this card can be transferred to Air France / Flying Blue, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, TAP Portugal and other programs. Capital One partners with more international partners than other issuers.

You can finance your trip and avoid interest for a period of time by using the card’s intro APR offer. Its welcome bonus is also slightly better than other cards on this list, with an overall higher payout.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Intro Purchase APR
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Regular APR
19.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
3% for the first 15 months; 4% at a promotional APR that Capital One may offer you at any other time
5x
Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options
1.25x
Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.

What is a no-annual-fee airline credit card?

An airline credit card with no annual fee is typically a co-branded credit card offered through an airline or credit card issuer, without charging a yearly fee. No-annual-fee airline cards tend to offer fewer benefits as a result. There are also general travel credit cards that aren’t tied to a specific airline brand but provide rewards for purchasing airfare.

Airline credit cards that charge annual fees tend to offer higher earning rates for spending and more perks like annual travel credits and airport lounge access. If you can take advantage of these benefits or travel frequently, an airline card with an annual fee might better fit your spending habits.

Pros and cons of an airline credit card without an annual fee

Before you pick up an airline credit card with no annual fee, you should compare it to its annual fee counterpart to determine if saving on the yearly price tag is worth fewer rewards and perks. Here are some benefits and drawbacks to weigh:

Pros

  • Avoid paying a yearly fee

  • No pressure to use your card to offset an annual fee

  • Earn miles with your preferred airline

Cons

  • Fewer perks and rewards than airline cards with an annual fee

  • Lower welcome offers

How to choose an airline credit card

Choosing between airline credit cards comes down to more than just their annual fees. Consider the following as you choose a credit card that earns airline miles.

Rewards

Make sure the airline card you select makes sense for your home airport and where you typically fly. This is important regardless of where you live but may be crucial if you live in an airline’s hub city and have scarce options from other airlines and alliances. 

For example, people who live in Delta hub cities like Atlanta and Minneapolis may have an overwhelming number of flight choices with Delta and SkyTeam partners and fewer options from other airlines to choose from.

Redemption options

You should also know how a card’s rewards program works and how easily you’ll be able to use your miles. You can do this by playing around with various airline’s websites and searching for flights you may want to book in the future. This can help you get an overview of typical availability and how many miles you’ll need for specific destinations.

If you’re planning to transfer points or miles to airline partners, like with the VentureOne card, check to see which airlines are partnered with the card you’re looking into. Reward transfers could increase the value of your rewards.

Perks

Airline cards with no annual fees have very few perks compared with their more expensive counterparts. If an annual fee fits into your travel budget, you can get an airline credit card with benefits like free checked bags, elite status points, early boarding on the plane, travel credits and airport lounge access.

How to maximize your airline credit card

Once you find the right airline credit card, consider these tips:

  • Be flexible with travel dates. Many frequent flyer programs limit award availability throughout the year, particularly over peak travel dates like holidays. To get more value for your miles, consider several sets of travel dates and even destinations for each trip.
  • Look for additional ways to rack up miles. Airline mile shopping portals and dining clubs may help you earn additional miles when you make eligible purchases. Just avoid overspending for the sake of earning more rewards.
  • Never carry a balance. Airline credit cards tend to have high APRs, and paying interest can typically wipe out the value of the miles you earn. You should charge only purchases you can afford to pay off quickly.
  • Take advantage of frequent flyer perks. Make sure you use any card perks, such as free checked bags and early boarding, to get the full benefit of your card. You can do this by adding your frequent flyer account number to your flight reservation each time you travel.

Alternatives to airline credit cards with no annual fee

If an annual fee of $95 to $550 fits into your travel budget, consider an airline card with an annual fee. Those at the lower end of the scale can still come with lucrative benefits like free checked bags and discounts on award flights. Some credit cards might waive their annual fees for the first 12 months.

You can also look at general travel credit cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards points or points in the Citi ThankYou program. Cards in all of these programs let you book airfare through a travel portal, and some let you transfer rewards to an array of airline and hotel partners.

If you don’t travel often enough to warrant an annual fee, a general cash-back card might work better for you.

How to apply for a credit card

Follow these steps to apply for an airline credit card:

  1. Find out if you have a frequent flyer account: If you belong to a frequent flyer program already, you’ll have a frequent flyer number you can list on your credit card application. If not, you’ll be assigned a frequent flyer number when you apply for your card and get approved.
  2. Apply for a card: Airline card applications ask for information like your full name, address, phone number, frequent flyer number, monthly housing payment, household income and Social Security number.
  3. Get your card: Earn the welcome offer if you can through your normal spending and remember to pay your card bill in full and on time each month.

FAQs

A co-branded credit card is a type of card that is offered through a credit card issuer and a third-party company, such as a travel brand. For example, airline credit cards are offered by issuers like American Express and Chase partnered with brands like Delta Air Lines, Southwest Rapid Rewards and United MileagePlus.

Annual fees may make sense if the benefits you get are worth more than the annual fee. For example, an airline credit card that charges a $95 annual fee can be a good value if you fly a few times per year and save $30 on a checked bag for you and a travel companion for each trip you take.

CNET’s pick for the best airline credit card with no annual fee is the United Gateway℠ Card. We like the card’s competitive ongoing rewards rate and welcome offer, as well as its discounts on in-flight purchases and intro APR offer.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card, click here.

*All information about the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp and the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and hasn’t been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Holly Johnson is a credit card expert and writer who covers rewards and loyalty programs, budgeting, and all things personal finance. In addition to writing for publications like Bankrate, CreditCards.com, Forbes Advisor and Investopedia, Johnson owns Club Thrifty and is the co-author of "Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love."