The Best Cards to Earn United, American, Delta, Alaska, Southwest, Singapore, and British Airways Miles

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This was a popular post two years ago, and I want to update it with all the cards to earn the following miles, which I consider the most important:

  • American
  • Delta
  • United
  • Alaska
  • Singapore
  • British Airways
  • Southwest

This is a good reference if you want to collect a certain type of miles, but this should not be construed as an endorsement to open all the cards on any of the lists.

I haven’t included any analysis, just the sign up bonus. These cards have annual fees, minimum spending requirements, and category bonuses. Read their terms and conditions before applying.

See the footnotes at the bottom for further explanation of some points. The number in parentheses is the sign up bonus of the card.

American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® (50k)
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® (50k)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Citi Gold American Airlines personal cards (I saw a targeted 50k by mail in April 2015, online the best I see is 25k)

Delta SkyMiles

Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz (50k MR1)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN (25k MR2)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (30k)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express (30k)
Platinum Card from American Express (25k MR1)
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (25k MR1)
Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express (10k, also earns MQM)
Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express (earns MQM)

United MileagePlus Miles

United MileagePlus Explorer Card (personal) (up to 55k, any 30k offer can add an authorized user for 5k, and can be matched 20k higher with a secure message to Chase)
United MileagePlus Explorer Card (business) (50k, inside your United account)
Ink Plus (50k UR+5)
Sapphire Preferred (45k UR+5)
Ink Cash (20k UR-6)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (15,000 to 15,6254)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (15,000 to 15,6254)
Freedom (10k UR-6)
United Club Card (0, but 1.5 miles per dollar on all spending)

Alaska Mileage Plan

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card (25k)
Alaska Airlines Business Card (25k)

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles

Citi Prestige® Card (40k)
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card (40k)
Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz (50k MR2)
Ink Plus (50k UR+5)
Sapphire Preferred (40k UR+5)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN (25k MR2)
Platinum Card from American Express (25k MR2)
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (25k MR2)
Ink Cash (20k UR-6)
Freedom (10k UR-6)

British Airways Avios

Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz (50k MR2)
British Airways Visa Signature (50k)
Ink Plus (50k UR+5)
Sapphire Preferred (40k UR+5)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN (25k MR2)
Platinum Card from American Express (25k MR2)
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (25k MR2)
Ink Cash (20k UR-6)
Freedom (10k UR-6)

Southwest Rapid Rewards

Southwest Premier Personal Visa (25k, I cover frequent 50k offers here and there are 50k referral links from other readers in the thread)
Southwest Premier Business Visa (25k, I cover frequent 50k offers here)
Southwest Plus Personal Visa (25k, I cover frequent 50k offers here)
Ink Plus (50k UR+5)
Sapphire Preferred (40k UR+5)
Ink Cash (20k UR-6)
Freedom (10k UR-6)

  1. Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Delta with a $0.60 fee per 1,000 transferred. There were transfer bonuses, but the last was November 2011.
  2. Membership Rewards transfer to British Airways Avios and Singapore KrisFlyer miles with no fee. There are frequent transfer bonuses to Avios. The last was 40% in December 2014. There has never been a transfer bonus to Singapore miles.
  3. Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Delta, American, Alaska, Singapore, and British Airways miles with a 5k mile bonus for every 20k Starpoints transferred. 25k Starpoints would transfer to 30k miles, but 25k Starpoints transferred as part of exact 20k increments represents 31,250 miles.
  4. Starpoints transfer 2:1 to United miles with a 2.5k mile bonus for every 20k Starpoints transferred. Avoid this horrible deal.
  5. UR+ are Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, and Southwest among other loyalty programs
  6. UR- are Ultimate Rewards that cannot be transferred 1:1 to airline miles and hotel points. But you can transfer these points to an Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred account and from there to airline and hotel points.

Did I make any mistakes? Correct them in the comments.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Hello. Thank you for today’s posting. You mention that with the United Mileage Explorer card you can earn up to 55K points… “United MileagePlus Explorer Card (personal) (up to 55k), any 30k offer can add an authorized user for 5k, and can be matched 20k higher with a secure message to Chase”

    Can you explain how the 20K match works? I do not understand what you mean by “with a secure message to Chase”

    Thanks!

    • Inside your Chase online account, there is a button that says Send a Secure Message. After applying for the United card at the 30k + 5k for authorized user offer, you use it to contact Chase and say that you’ve seen others get a 50k offer and would like to get matched to that offer. For at least eight months, they have matched people to the 50k offer who send something like that.

  2. That 20k match isn’t guaranteed. I tried your explanation and it didn’t work. They pulled my history and said that within the last 2 years I received a similar promotion so I wasn’t eligible for this one. I can’t remember exactly their words but unless we are rabid MV readers, you probably won’t remember your credit card activity chasing on every card.

  3. There’s a current 50K offer after 1k spend for the AMEX premier rewards gold that seems too good to pass up! (There’s a thread on flyertalk and I think you can see it by viewing all cards on the AMEX website). I was wondering, for a future trip hoping to get to Spain, Norway, Greece, and Thailand, would I be better off getting the AMEX and the Thank You Premier for maximum flexibility? Already have the Sapphire Preferrd, and was considering the AAdvantage Platinum, but the earning potential seems a lot more difficult than the other two.

    • No you’d be best off with United miles. Europe to Asia will incur fuel surcharges with all the TY and MR partners.

  4. Scott,

    Any advice on dealing with Chase on the Southwest credit cards? I have a good income and credit score but they are unwilling to provide me a 4th Chase card in a few month period so that I can do the Southwest companion fare deal. They were willing to give me two business cards and one personal card in a three month period but will not let me add to the Saphire, Ink, and SW business without first “developing a history with them”. I asked to just have credit reallocated from my $27,000 limit on my Saphire but the personal credit analyst at their 888 number wouldn’t budge. He suggested waiting an unspecified period of time and reapplying but I am worried that the 50 K may not be available in January when I plan to use another hard pull on my credit to reapply. What would you do?

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