credit & debt

Airline Rewards Cards Without the Fee

You can take advantage of new no-fee card offerings from Delta and United to buy plane tickets with miles or credits.

Frequent fliers can now sign up for a dedicated airline credit card from a major airline without paying up front. Delta and United have introduced no-fee cards that offer miles or credits that cardholders can redeem for flight purchases. The American Express Blue Delta SkyMiles card (16.74% to 25.74% annual percentage rate; 2.7% foreign-transaction fee) offers two SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at U.S. restaurants; other purchases earn one mile per dollar. Cardholders also get a 20% discount on in-flight purchases. By contrast, Delta’s Gold Delta SkyMiles card ($95 annual fee) pays out only one mile per dollar on dining, but it offers perks such as free baggage and priority boarding, and it charges no fee for foreign transactions.

Rather than rewarding you with United MileagePlus miles, the no-fee Chase United TravelBank card (16.99% to 23.99%; no foreign-transaction fee) offers cash back that you can use to purchase United flights. You’ll earn 2% back on United ticket purchases and 1.5% on all other spending. Plus, cardholders get 25% off in-flight food and beverage purchases.

Even if your preferred carrier doesn’t advertise a no-fee credit card, you may be able to bypass the fee. “It never hurts to ask if there’s a no-fee or low-fee alternative,” says Brian Karimzad, analyst for MileCards.com. For example, the no-fee Citi/AAdvantage Bronze MasterCard from American Airlines is generally not available to new applicants. But the issuer may be willing to give the card to customers who ask—especially those who already hold another of the airline’s cards. If your airline card has an annual fee, the issuer may waive it for a year on request instead of downgrading you to a no-fee version.

Most Popular

Senate Passes $3,000 Child Tax Credit for 2021
Coronavirus and Your Money

Senate Passes $3,000 Child Tax Credit for 2021

The provision would temporarily increase the child tax credit to $3,000 or $3,600 per child for most families and have 50% of it paid in advance by th…
March 6, 2021
Senate Passes Bill with More "Targeted" Stimulus Payments
Coronavirus and Your Money

Senate Passes Bill with More "Targeted" Stimulus Payments

The Senate finally passes the $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill. But fewer people will get a third stimulus check under the Senate version than under th…
March 6, 2021
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021

Recommended

How to Keep Tabs on Your Credit Report
Coronavirus and Your Money

How to Keep Tabs on Your Credit Report

Free weekly access is ending, but several services let you view your credit files more than once a year.
March 5, 2021
The IRS Can Take Your Recovery Rebate Credit for Child Support or Other Debts Owed
Coronavirus and Your Money

The IRS Can Take Your Recovery Rebate Credit for Child Support or Other Debts Owed

Restrictions put in place to protect your stimulus check from garnishment don't apply to "recovery rebate" tax credits.
January 30, 2021
Refer a Friend to Your Bank or Credit Card—and Reap Rewards
Making Your Money Last

Refer a Friend to Your Bank or Credit Card—and Reap Rewards

Some major card issuers are giving referral bonuses to eligible cardholders.
January 27, 2021
6 Money-Smart Ways to Spend Your Second Stimulus Check
Coronavirus and Your Money

6 Money-Smart Ways to Spend Your Second Stimulus Check

If you don't have to use your second stimulus check for basic necessities, consider putting the money to work for you. You'll thank yourself later.
December 28, 2020