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Best card for american and southwest flights?


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One of the kids moved to florida, I am tempted to get the southwest card but sometimes fly american. Mainly booking direct with airlines and not click through on credit card. We fly about 3 to 4 times a year maybe.

Which card would give the best return on either points or cash back or best flying perks?  

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Look at the various cards co-branded with both airlines and determine if they actually work well with that limited amount of travel when contrasted with, for example, the BoA Custom Cash that you could set to 3% on travel or other card that has decent travel-related rewards. 


I believe SWA is still only booking through their site, which takes out the various rewards options on other cards (for example, I do a lot of travel booked through AXP for the 5x points for putting it on the Plat card through their travel site). 

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I can't speak to Southwest, but the American Airlines credit cards yield limited, not not negligible, value for ongoing travel.


It gets you a free checked bag for you and any companions on your ticket ($30 ea otherwise).  But, personally, I only check a bag once or twice a year when packing 2 people for 1+ weeks travel.  We fly AA fairly frequently, so our status gets us something like 5 free bags and the card benefit is of no consequence.  But for a non-tier couple with a couple of checked bags, 2 RT's a year, that's a $120 savings.


It also gets you boarding prior to the non-status customers.  With carry-on space at a premium, this is hardly a throw away benefit.


The typical American credit card awards 2 FF miles per $1 AA spend.  My personal mileage redemptions for travel net about $.012 to $.016 per mile in savings.  So we're talking about just shy of 3% effective cashback.  Because there are plenty of credit cards that rebate 3% on travel charges, and cash is must more flexible, I would recommend such a card for actual spend over the American credit cards.  (No reason you have to use the AA credit card if you get it for the benefits.)


The basic two AA card options are issued by Citi and Barclays.  On the whole, I find them equivalent.  The base cards have $95 annual fees and feature of sign up bonus of between 50k and 80k in AA miles.  (50k might get you a couple of RT coach tickets; 80k will more confidently get you 2 tickets, even cross country.)


If you traveled more frequently, there are higher fee cards I might delve into, but won't recommend for your travel.







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6 hours ago, PhoenixDown said:

In addition to what HDPorter said, you can book the flight on one card (Chase Sapphire Preferred for example) and still get the priority boarding and (I believe) the free checked bags. I prefer UR points over the miles but the AA card has its perks and keeps my miles from expiring.


Good catch!  The benefits from the AA credit card are not dependent upon you charging a ticket to that card.  They accrue to any flight you take, irrespective of payment method.

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for that few flights a year a general card that earns UR, TYP, or MR may be best. The AA cards largely stink IMHO but then I also refuse to fly AA. The chase SW card is okay but then you're locked in. Then there are travel cards like Patelco's that might serve you well enough.

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