Airline Credit Cards for Bad Credit: A Comprehensive Guide

If you have bad credit, it may be more difficult to get approved for an airline credit card. But don’t worry, there are still options available to you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about airline credit cards for bad credit.

Airline Credit Cards for Bad Credit: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding Airline Credit Cards

Before we dive into the specifics of airline credit cards for bad credit, let’s first review what exactly an airline credit card is and how it works.

An airline credit card is a type of rewards credit card that allows you to earn points or miles towards air travel. With each purchase you make on the card, you earn a certain number of points or miles based on the reward structure of the specific card. These rewards can then be redeemed for flights with a particular airline or its partners.

Many airline credit cards come with additional perks such as priority boarding, free checked bags, lounge access, and more. However, these benefits often come with an annual fee and typically require good to excellent credit scores for approval.

Can You Get Approved for an Airline Credit Card with Bad Credit?

Having bad credit doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get approved for an airline credit card. However, it does mean that your options may be limited and that you may not qualify for some of the top-tier cards with the most generous rewards and perks.

When applying for an airline credit card with bad credit, keep in mind that lenders will look at your overall financial health, including your income and debt-to-income ratio. They will also consider your payment history and any past delinquencies or bankruptcies.

If your application is denied due to bad credit, it’s important not to give up hope. Instead, focus on improving your score by making timely payments on all of your debts and reducing outstanding balances.

Best Airline Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Now that we’ve covered the basics of airline credit cards and the approval process for those with bad credit, let’s take a look at some of the best options available.

Discover it® Secured

The Discover it® Secured card is a great option if you have bad credit but are interested in earning rewards. With this card, you can earn 2% cash back on gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, you’ll earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

This card also has no annual fee and offers automatic reviews for potential APR reductions after eight months.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Another solid choice for those with bad credit is the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®. This card comes with a lower-than-average security deposit requirement of $49, $99 or $200 depending on your creditworthiness.

With this card, you can receive access to a higher credit limit after making five monthly payments on time. You’ll also receive fraud liability protection if your card is ever lost or stolen.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card isn’t necessarily marketed towards those with bad credit, but it does have more lenient approval requirements than some other airline cards.

With this card, you’ll earn 2X miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and restaurant purchases worldwide. You’ll also earn 1X mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

This card doesn’t come with an annual fee and has a variable APR from 15.74% to 24.74%.

Tips for Using Airline Credit Cards Responsibly

Regardless of which airline credit card you choose, it’s important to use it responsibly in order to maximize rewards and avoid negative impacts on your credit score.

Here are some tips:

  • Pay your bill on time every month
  • Keep your credit utilization low
  • Avoid carrying a balance and paying interest
  • Research and understand the rewards structure of your chosen card
  • Take advantage of additional perks such as priority boarding and free checked bags

By following these tips, you can make the most of your airline credit card while also building positive credit habits.

Final Thoughts

If you have bad credit, getting approved for an airline credit card may seem like a daunting task. However, there are options available that can help you earn rewards and improve your financial standing.

Remember to do your research, compare options, and use your chosen card responsibly in order to reap the benefits without hurting your credit score.


What are airline credit cards for bad credit?

Airline credit cards for bad credit are credit cards designed for individuals with a bad or limited credit score who still wish to earn rewards such as airline miles while improving their credit score.

How do airline credit cards for bad credit work?

Airline credit cards for bad credit work like any other typical reward card, allowing you to earn points or miles on purchases made. The difference is that they are easier to qualify for but offer lower benefits than those offered by traditional airline rewards programs.

What is the benefit of having an airline credit card for bad credit?

The primary benefit of having an airline credit card for bad credit is that it helps you rebuild your damaged or limited credit score while earning rewards towards future travel.

Can I use my airline credit card miles on any airlines?

It depends on the type of airline reward program your card belongs to. Some programs allow you to redeem your points/miles across multiple airlines, while others require you to stick with a specific partner airline.

What should I consider before applying for an airline rewards card if I have bad credit?

Before applying, consider interest rates and fees, annual fees, rewards structure, and redemption options offered by the card issuer. It’s also essential to ensure timely payments to avoid high-interest charges and build a good payment history.

How long does it typically take to rebuild my poor or limited credit standing with an airline rewards card?

This may vary depending on how much debt you currently have and whether you make timely payments every month. However, using your rewards card successfully over six months should help improve your score relatively quickly.

Are there any downsides or limitations to using an air miles reward card instead of cashback-based cards?

Yes, one limitation of airline miles reward cards is that their redemption options are typically limited to air travel or upgrades. In contrast, cashback-based cards offer more flexibility in how you can redeem your rewards.

What is the minimum credit score required to apply for an airline rewards card?

Typically, most major airlines will require a credit score of at least 580 to apply for airline reward cards. However, some airlines may consider applications from individuals with scores as low as 550.

Can I apply for multiple airline rewards cards at once?

It’s not recommended to apply for multiple airline rewards cards simultaneously because each application triggers a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can negatively impact your credit score.

Should I close my airline rewards card after getting a few miles?

Since closing a credit card account impacts your credit history and utilization ratio, it’s best to keep using the card rather than canceling it after earning miles or points. Consider utilizing them on upcoming travels or save them up for future redemptions instead of leaving them unused.

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