Airline Credit Cards Look More Appealing in Light of Fees

a man hands over a credit card airline credit cards
a man hands over a credit card airline credit cards

Airline-branded credit cards have been around for decades. While they're handy for people like frequent business travelers who can accrue a lot of miles that can be redeemed for free flights, they never had the reputation of being a great deal for those of us who don't know the fastest way between Terminals A and B.

By and large, most partner-branded airline cards (that is, ones with a particular airline's logo on them) came with relatively high annual fees and didn't offer as much in terms of rewards as more general points-based or cashback reward cards. It's notoriously difficult to wrangle a free flight on a popular route or date, and the airlines have increased the number of points needed for a freebie over the years. Sure, you could also buy merchandise with miles in some cases, but those goodies and gadgets are often marked up to a much higher value than what you'd pay for them in a store.

Now, though, the proliferation of airline fees makes these cards look like a better deal, and card issuers are taking advantage of that.