How to Earn Free Flights Through Rewards Cards
Finance

How to Earn Free Flights Through Rewards Cards

Lissa P.
Dec 20, 2020

If you have a standard credit card that doesn’t give you rewards for spending you’re already doing, you’re missing out on bonuses that could include big discounts when you spend and free travel. Credit cards partnered with airlines aren’t just meant for frequent fliers, which is an oxymoron as 2020 comes to a clue. Anyone can earn miles to use toward free flights, even if it’s just to take one getaway a year.

New cardholders can really get that free flight fast with signup bonuses that may feature up to 100,000 miles just by spending a certain amount during the first three months. This spending can be done on everyday expenses like groceries, getting takeout, or filling up the gas tank — things you were already going to need. So, by simply using a new card with a big bonus, you can plan on a trip in 2021, courtesy of your miles.

Here are some of the best travel rewards cards that can get you a free flight.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

You can use the points you earn using Capital One Venture, one of the best travel cards for all-around use, to transfer to any airline loyalty program and redeem for flights with any airline of your choice. Other benefits of this card are the points earned can be used instantly at Amazon.com checkout and you’ll receive up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

  • Bonus miles: 60,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Rewards earnings: 2x miles to dollar on every purchase you make, no restrictions or limits
  • Annual fee: $95
  • APR: 17.24% - 24.49%

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card

For those who won’t spend as much and who don’t want to pay an annual fee, the Capital One VentureOne is also a good choice, even if it does pay a little less on the dollar. This card also gives you a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

  • Bonus miles: 20,000 miles after you spend $500 in the first 3 months
  • Rewards: 1.25x miles to dollar on every purchase you make, no restrictions or limits
  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% first year, then 15.49% - 25.49%

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card (2)

This card is for Delta loyalists and provides extra perks like free checked bags and the ability to pay for flights even if you don’t have enough to earn a free flight. You can take $50 off your flight cost using 5,000 miles with the Pay with Miles option. You’ll also earn a $100 flight credit if you spend $10,000 within a calendar year.

  • Bonus miles: 35,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first three months
  • Rewards earnings: 2x miles to dollar on Delta purchases, U.S. grocery stores, and worldwide restaurants (delivery and takeout included); 1x miles to dollar on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0 the first year then $99
  • APR: 15.74% to 24.74%

Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express

Another option, minus the annual fee, is the Blue Amex, with many of the same features. With this card, you can get 20% back on your in-flight purchases and you won’t have any foreign transaction fees when using it outside of the country.

  • Bonus miles: 10,000 miles after you spend $500 in the first three months
  • Rewards earnings: 2x miles to dollar spent on Delta and restaurants
  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 15.74% to 24.74%

Discover it Miles

This travel card can be used for your choice of airline loyalty programs. It also allows you to redeem miles in any amount to credit purchases on your card, so the card can pay for itself. You can also use the card for checkout on Amazon.com and PayPal. Plus? Miles never expire.

  • Bonus mile: 100% match of all miles earned the first year of being a cardholder
  • Rewards earnings: 1.5x miles to dollar on all purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% for the first 14 months, then 11.99% to 22.99%

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

If you dine out and travel, this card will give you fast points — 2x the points to your dollars. If you redeem them on travel, the 60,000 points are worth $750, and you can use that value to pay yourself back and credit your statement. Additional benefits include a complimentary subscription to DoorDash and 5x the points when you use Lyft through March 2022.

  • Bonus miles: 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in first three months
  • Rewards earnings: 2x points to dollar on travel and dining and 1x point on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $95
  • APR: $15.99% - 22.99%

Chase Sapphire Reserved Card

For even more rewards, but at a much higher annual fee, you’ll get 3x your spending and your 50,000 bonus also is valued at $750 that you can keep for yourself. Every year that you have the card, you’ll also earn $300 in travel credit. Other benefits include complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership for entry into more than 1,000 airport lounges, and free Lyft and DoorDash membership.

  • Bonus miles: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in first three months
  • Rewards earnings: 3x points to dollar on travel, dining and groceries
  • Annual fee: $550
  • APR: $16.99% - 23.99%

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

For American Airlines’ flyers, this card does the trick and earns you faster miles, fast. There are no foreign transaction fees and if you spend $20,000 or more each year, you’ll earn a $125 flight discount on American Air. You’ll also have your first bag checked for free, 25% off on inflight purchases, and preferred boarding.

  • Bonus miles: 50,000 points after you spend $2,500 in first three months
  • Rewards earnings: 2x AAdvantage miles for every dollar spent at gas stations, restaurants and American Airlines purchases
  • Annual fee: $0 first year, then $99
  • APR: 15.99% - 24.99%

Summary

The only way to get the miles as a reward is to spend as you would normally, but make sure you use the cards for select purchases to give you the biggest bang for your buck. And, avoid carrying interest, if you can, so you aren’t spending more than you need to… it devalues the miles you’ll earn.

Sources

  1. CapitalOne: https://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/lp/travel/lp4/
  2. American Express: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/card/delta-skymiles-gold-american-express-card/
  3. American Express: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/card/delta-skymiles-blue-american-express-card/
  4. Discover: https://www.discovercard.com/application/displayLanding
  5. Chase: https://creditcards.chase.com/a1/sapphire/dual
  6. Citi: https://creditcards.aa.com/

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