Everybody wants to fly at the front of the plane. The bigger, more comfortable seats, a constant supply of snacks and drinks, and boarding and deplaning first are some of the perks that come with first-class or business-class seating. International and U.S. transcontinental flights often offer both classes. Shorter-duration flights may only offer one, generally business class.
Unfortunately, it’s no easy task to land those premium seats without paying full fare unless you fly frequently. If you don’t fly much for business, one of the best ways to fly first class is to use your credit card. Travel-themed credit cards offer rewards you can redeem as loyalty points with major airlines.
1. Capital One Venture Rewards
Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening or 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. You can redeem your points for flights that could include first-class seats. There is no annual fee, and the 15.49%, 21.49%, or 25.49% interest rate (based on creditworthiness) falls within the range of most travel cards.
Add to that a 0% introductory rate for the first year and no foreign transaction fees, and you can see why it’s such a popular card among travelers, recommended by 92% of reviewers on Capital One’s website.
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Earn two points for every $1 spent on travel and dining at restaurants. For all other purchases, you earn one point. Chase offers a one-to-one redemption, meaning 1,000 Chase reward points equals 1,000 miles with participating airlines. Other perks include trip cancellation insurance, auto rental collision damage waivers, and no blackout dates or travel restrictions.
The annual percentage rate (APR) varies from 15.99% to 22.99%, based on your creditworthiness. If you spend more than $4,000 in the first three months of having the card, you receive 100,000 bonus points. There is no foreign transaction fee.
3. Discover it Miles
Since 1986, the Discover card has been a favorite among consumers for its no-nonsense rewards and use of the most current technology. Recently, the company announced that customers can now instantly turn the card on or off from their app if it is lost or stolen. If the card is found, simply go to the app and turn it back on.
Like most companies, Discover has a travel card. The it Miles card offers 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend, and for your first year, Discover gives you double miles. The APR is 0% for the first 14 months and 11.99% to 22.99% after that, based on your creditworthiness. There is no annual fee, and there are no blackout dates.
4. BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card
Earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend with the card. Points can be redeemed for travel rewards of any type, including first-class seating on airlines. The APR is 13.99% to 23.99%, depending on your credit, with a 0% APR for the first year.
The card has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, and there are no blackout dates or travel restrictions. If you spend at least $1,000 in the first 90 days, Bank of America will give you 25,000 bonus points—equal to about $250 in rewards.
The Bottom Line
Airline business cratered in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is on its way back now that vaccines are making air travel safe again, according to reporting by CBS News—which means that even with plenty of miles to redeem, getting a spot at the front of the plane is not going to be easy. Business travelers who fly multiple times per week often get the seats first, but plenty of other travelers use their rewards to fly in the cushy seats from time to time. Vacation travelers may be more flexible, which can give them more options to try.
The travel cards described above help with flights from virtually any airline. If you mostly fly a particular carrier, having its credit card can also help you land first-class seats for that airline.