4 Best Travel Credit Cards for In-Flight Purchases

Aircraft crew in protective suits and masks during a pandemic
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There are all kinds of travel cards for all kinds of travelers. Some cards are meant for frequent flyers, others are better for those who like to breeze through security and others make sense for people who want the best deals on hotels and rental cars.

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But if in-flight purchases like food and beverages, Wi-Fi and streaming media are your biggest priorities, you won’t find a card designed specifically for that. Even so, there are a few great travel cards that can certainly serve that purpose — you just have to know where to find them.

The following is an introduction to the best travel cards currently on the market for flyers who care most about spending in style while they’re in the air.

The Capital One Venture Suite of Cards

If in-flight purchases are your biggest concern — or you’re just looking for a great all-around travel card that has an option for everyone — take your pick from the Capital One Venture card collection.

All of them let you pile up unlimited miles that never expire from everyday purchases — including in-flight spending — with extra miles for purchases in certain categories. None have foreign transaction fees. Here’s a look at the Capital One Venture lineup, which makes it easy to find your balance between perks and fees:

  • VentureOne Rewards: An excellent starter card that doesn’t require you to keep up with rotating categories, VentureOne Rewards gives you 20,000 bonus miles with a low $500 minimum spend in the first three months, including in-flight purchases. You get 1.25X miles per dollar on all daily purchases and 5X miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel — all with no annual fee.
  • Venture Rewards: This card has a $95 annual fee, but it offers 75,000 miles as a sign-up bonus — among the best in the industry — with a $4,000 minimum spend in three months. It offers 2X miles on all daily purchases and 5X on rental cars and hotels booked through Capital One Travel.
  • Venture X Rewards: The tradeoff for this card’s $395 annual fee is a whole bunch of premium travel perks, including 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary and a $300 annual travel credit — those two perks alone negate the fee. You get the same 75,000 sign-up bonus miles as Venture Rewards after $4,000 spent within the first three months, as well as the same 2X miles on daily purchases. But you get 10X miles on rental cars and hotels booked through Capital One Travel and 5X on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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The biggest reason that all three of these cards are so good for in-flight purchases is that you can redeem points for all travel-related spending for up to 90 days — including whatever you buy on the plane.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

With perks that more than outweigh the card’s annual fee, Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. That’s good for $1,000 in travel purchases when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or an $800 statement credit — right now, there’s not a better bonus offer on the market.

Each account anniversary, you get bonus points equal to 10% of your purchases made the previous year along with up to $50 in statement credits for the previous year’s hotel purchases. You get 3X points for dining, streaming and online grocery purchases, and you get 5X points for travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The real reason this card is so good for in-flight purchases, however, is that you get 2X points on all other travel purchases — including those you make while you’re in the air.

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Discover it Miles

You can look for a travel card that delivers more perks with no annual fee than Discover it Miles, but you might never find one. It’s great for in-flight purchases in two specific ways. First, you get 1.5X miles for every $1 in purchases — including those you make on the plane. Second, you can redeem the miles you earn not just for airfare, but for travel spending, in general, including in-flight purchases.

Beyond that, there are plenty of reasons to make Discover it Miles your go-to travel card. Only Discover matches the miles you accumulate during your first year as a cardholder — if you earn 40,000 miles, for example, that becomes 80,000, or $800. There’s no minimum spending requirement, no blackout dates, no foreign transaction fee and no annual fee.

The is great for in-flight purchases because it pays a flat 1.5 points for every dollar you spend, no matter where you spend it — including at 30,000 feet. There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee, and you get 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening — that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases. As a cherry on top, the card comes with a applies.

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.
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