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If you travel a lot for business, you probably have a few airlines in mind that you prefer. As you should—airlines provide their most loyal customers with special treatment, such as priority boarding and free baggage check. But to maximize the perks you receive from your favorite airline, you should consider investing in an airline-specific business credit card. These cards will not only ensure you get the best perks, but they’ll also increase the number of airline miles you receive.
But what is the best business credit card for miles?
Well, according to Forbes, the best airlines in America are Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Alaska, Hawaiian, and United Airlines, in descending order. Because airline-loyal frequent flyers are most likely to be loyal to the best airlines, we’ve compiled a guide to choosing the very best business airline credit cards for each of the top five carriers of 2020.
Some of the best business airline credit cards might be a bit obvious—you don’t need us to tell you a card made by an airline will be a good card option for that very airline. However, many of the top airlines will offer multiple co-branded business credit cards to choose from, and even the most obvious choices deserve a highlight and an explanation.
To judge the best business credit cards for miles, we primarily looked at the perks each card offered. This includes the airline miles you receive, but also additional incentives like welcome offers and associated discounts. We also took into consideration the fees that come with each credit card to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Here are the top six best business credit cards for airline miles.
Delta is ranked as the top airline in the United States for 2020, and it also offers the most impressive lineup of business credit cards—all of which are branded American Express business credit cards. But the Delta Platinum SkyMiles Business Credit Card earns the title for the very best business airline credit card for Delta Airlines frequent flyers.
With the Delta Platinum business credit card, you’ll be able to earn a three-pronged welcome offer. If you spend $1,000 during your first three months after opening your account, you’ll earn 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification miles. Plus, once you make a Delta purchase, you’ll earn a $100 statement credit applied to your account.
You’ll also earn 2x rewards for every dollar you spend on Delta purchases, along with priority boarding, accelerated Delta status, and free checked bags. What’s more, you’ll get a 20% discount on in-flight purchases with the Delta Platinum SkyMiles business credit card.
Though the Delta Reserve business credit card offers even more rewards than the Delta Platinum card, the Delta Reserve’s $450 annual fee ($550 if application is received on or after January 30, 2020) allows the Delta Platinum—at $195 a year ($250 if application is received on or after January 30, 2020)—to edge it out.
The business credit card for the second-best airline of 2020 is the appropriately named JetBlue Business Card.
The JetBlue business credit card, unlike many travel cards, will reward you for more than just your purchases with the airline. Though you will earn a whopping 6x rewards points for every dollar you spend on JetBlue purchases, you’ll also earn 2x points at restaurants and office supply stores, and 1x everywhere else you spend.
This airline business card also offers a welcome bonus along with account anniversary bonuses—you’ll earn 40,000 bonus points if you spend just $1,000 during your first 90 days with the card, plus 5,000 bonus points for every account anniversary you have with the card.
When you make inflight purchases with your JetBlue Business Card, you’ll be able to access a whopping 50% discount. The JetBlue Business Card also allows you and up to three companions on your reservation to check your first bag for free on JetBlue flights. There’s also a $100 statement credit if you buy a JetBlue Vacations package worth at least $100
Finally, if you earn 15,000 flight points within a year, then you’ll qualify for TrueBlue Mosaic status. That’ll open up travel perks like a second free checked bag, early boarding, and even complimentary alcohol onboard.
In terms of fees, you’ll have to pay $99 annually to access all the perks of the JetBlue business credit card. That said, you won’t have to pay a foreign transaction fee on any business spending you do abroad
Third in the top five U.S. airlines of 2020, Southwest has also managed to produce one of the greatest airline-specific business credit cards on the market.
Next on our list of the best business credit cards for airline miles is the aptly named Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card is a Chase business credit card that offers 2x rewards not only for the purchases you make directly with Southwest, but also for purchases you make directly with Southwest’s hotel and rental car partners, which is pretty rare for an airline-specific card.
This airline business card will also offer a 60,000-point welcome bonus if you spend $3,000 in your first three months after opening your account, along with a 6,000-point account anniversary bonus every year you keep the card—no matter how much you spend. You can redeem your Southwest business credit card bonus for free flights at a variable rate, but they’re usually worth around 1.5 cents for each point.
The Southwest business credit card also offers the very best companion pass deal on the market: If you complete 100 one-way flights or earn 110,000 points in a year, you’ll get a free companion pass that’s good for the rest of the current calendar year and through the entire following calendar year.
Note that this best business credit card for miles comes with a $99 annual fee that kicks in right away. However, there are no foreign transaction fees, and every employee card you add to your account is completely free.
You might be confused to see the American Express Business Platinum Credit Card as the next card on our list for the best business credit cards for miles. After all, Forbes ranked Alaska Airlines as the fourth-best airline of 2020—and Alaska Airlines does offer their own business credit card (the Alaska Airlines business credit card).
However, the number one business credit card for Alaska Airlines is not the Alaska Airlines business credit card. Even though this Bank of America business credit card offers a welcome bonus and a companion pass, the worth of these perks won’t quite make up for the employee card fee that this option charges.
You’ll have to pay a base of $50 a year, plus $25 per year, per employee card you attach to your account. And—besides free checked bags, a 40,000 mile sign-up bonus, and a low-limit companion pass—the Alaska Airlines business credit card doesn’t offer enough airline-specific perks to justify its limited rewards program.
As a result, we suggest that you look into more general business travel cards if you’re an Alaska Airlines devotee. A travel card like American Express Business Platinum will grant you a $200 credit toward incidental charges (like, let’s say, checked luggage) with any airline of your choice. Plus, it’ll allow you to earn a welcome offer of up to 75,000 points.
You’ll also earn five Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend on flights and prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, and 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on each purchase that’s worth $5,000 or more. This rate will only apply for up to 1 million additional points per year.
Granted, the Amex Business Platinum card will cost an annual fee of $595, but you won’t have to pay an additional fee for attaching employee cards to your account. If you’re planning to attach eight or more employee cards to your account, then the Alaska Airlines business credit card will cost you just as much—if not more—than the Amex Business Platinum every year—and offer you a fraction of the value.
However, the Amex Business Platinum is a charge card, which means you won’t be able to carry a balance month-to-month. If you don’t, you’ll have to pay hefty fees in the form of late payment penalties.
The next best business credit card for miles with Hawaiian Airlines is their co-branded Barclays business credit card, the Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard.
Unlike the Alaska Airlines business credit card, the Hawaiian Airlines business credit card offers substantial rewards to earn the title as the top miles credit card for this airline. This airline business card offers a great welcome offer–depending on how much you’ll spend. You can receive up to 60,000 bonus miles. How? Earn 50,000 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, and earn an additional 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card.
Plus, for every year that you spend $100,000 or more with the card, you’ll earn another 40,000 bonus miles. Or, if you’re not such a big spender, you’ll still earn 20,000 miles each account anniversary if you’ve spent at least $50,000 over the previous year.
What’s more, this business airline credit card offers 3x HawaiianMiles on purchases with the airline; 2x miles per dollar you spend on gas, dining, and office supplies; and 1x miles on all other purchases. Finally, your Hawaiian Airlines business credit card will come with a one-time 50% off companion discount on a round-trip ticket from North America to Hawaii.
In terms of fees, you’ll pay a variable APR rate that will depend on the market Prime Rate and your creditworthiness. There’s also a $99 annual fee.
Though you might think of yourself as a devoted, airline-specific business traveler, there might be a better business credit card out there for you—especially if you ever waiver in your travel habits.
Once you become an airline-specific business credit cardholder, you won’t be as inclined to hunt for the best flight deal available. The sunk cost for your business airline credit card’s annual fee might sway you toward lesser deals in order to fly your carrier of choice. As a result, your airline will be less inclined to compete for your business.
If these caveats are changing your mind about business airline credit cards, then it’s time to consider your contingency plan—more general business travel rewards cards. Luckily, non-airline business travel cards make up some of the best business credit cards on the market overall.
Some top options for more general and more generous travel rewards include:
With the Amex Business Gold Card, you’ll get 4x rewards in the two expense categories you spend the most in every month out of the following six:
Beyond that, you’ll earn 1x points on every other purchase you make with the card. Other perks include a 25% bonus if you redeem your rewards points through Amex’s travel portal, rendering the rewards points you earn all the more valuable. There’s also a $500 statement credit welcome offer.
On the downside, Amex Business Gold comes with a hefty annual fee—$295. If that doesn’t faze you, this is a great option for redeeming travel rewards.
Another great alternative to the best business credit cards for miles is the Chase Ink Business Preferred. This card comes with an 80,000 point welcome offer when you spend $5,000 in the first three months with your card. This can be worth up to $1,000 in travel.
In terms of ongoing rewards, you will earn 3x points for every dollar you spend on:
Outside of these purchases and beyond that spending cap, you’ll earn 1x point for every dollar you spend with your card. But similar to Amex Business Gold, you’ll have to pay $95 every year in order to be a Chase Ink Business Preferred cardholder
Airline credit cards are only worth their limited rewards and high annual fees if you travel often and always on the same airline. Otherwise, consider pivoting your business travel credit card search to more general travel rewards cards.
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