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Airline credit cards used to be all about the miles, so much so that people often called them “frequent flyer mile cards.” But as award travel enthusiasts have learned, these miles aren’t what they used to be. Between the expensive fuel surcharges often imposed, soaring number of miles typically required, the scarcity of award seats at the lowest mileage levels, airline miles are not nearly as valuable as they used to be.
To compensate for this, credit card issuers started adding valuable benefits to their airline credit cards. Today’s airline credit cards will almost always come with a free checked bag, priority boarding, and some savings on in-flight purchases.
But that’s just the beginning. Here’s a list of the four best airline credit card benefits, and the cards you need to have to enjoy them:
1. Companion Certificates
What can be better than getting two airline tickets for the price of one? With the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express and personal version, you receive a round-trip, domestic (within the contiguous 48 states) companion certificate that’s valid for economy class tickets. And with the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card and personal version, you receive a similar version that’s valid for first class tickets as well. Also the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card all offer sign-up bonuses and points from spending that apply toward the 110,000 needed for their Companion Pass, which offers unlimited companion airfares until the end of the following year. Finally, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers you a Travel Together companion certificate that you can use for award bookings on round-trip flights operated by British Airways. To earn this certificate, you have to spend $25,000 on your card in a calendar year, and pay all the taxes and fees on both the primary traveler and the companion.
2. Upgrade Priority
Business travelers are used to staring at their names on the upgrade list, giving them hope of not being crammed into economy class. But both the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card and personal version are the only cards to offer you upgrade priority over other flyers with the same elite status.
3. Airport Business Lounge Membership
Another great airline credit card perk is a lounge membership. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®. This card offers you a membership that’s good for your immediate family, or yourself and two guests. But amazingly, it also grants the membership to all of your authorized users, with no additional annual fee.
4. Credit Towards Elite Status
Another great airline perk is the ability to earn elite qualifying miles, to get you to the next level of Elite status. the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express and personal version, you can earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 or more in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year. You can also earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $50,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year for a total of 20,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs. With the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card and personal version, you can earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $30,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year. You can also earn an additional 15,000 MQMs and an additional 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in the same calendar year.