2023 Edition: Best Credit Cards for Airline Tickets

Buying or redeeming air tickets? Earn up to 6 mpd by selecting the right credit card.

Using the right credit card for airlines can help rack up extra miles to fund your next trip, whether you’re buying commercial tickets or redeeming award seats. 

In this post, we’ll cover the best cards to use for this category of purchases, as well as some potential pitfalls to take note of. 

💳 What’s the Best Card for…
This guide forms part of the “best card” series. Check out other category specific guides below, or the overall guide here.
✈️ Air Tickets
💗 Charity 🚗 Car Purchase
🍽️ Dining
🏫 Education 🥡 Food Delivery
🏥 Hospitals 🏨 Hotels
☂️ Insurance
Petrol 🚍 Public Transport 🛒 Supermarkets
🚰 Utilities

How do airline transactions code?

Most airlines will code in the MCC 3000-3299 range, and major carriers have their own unique MCCs. For example, Singapore Airlines is MCC 3075, and British Airways is MCC 3005 (see the full listing here).

However, some carriers like Scoot may fall under MCC 4511, the generic code for Airlines Not Elsewhere Classified.

Do note that the MCC will be the same whether you’re booking a commercial or award ticket. In other words, all the cards in this post will be equally applicable when you’re paying the taxes and surcharges component on an award ticket.

In case you’re uncertain about the MCC, there’s three ways of looking it up before making a purchase:

Method Ease of Use Reliability
HeyMax ●●●
📱 Instarem app ●● ●●
🤖 DBS digibot
●●●

All airlines

The following credit cards award bonus miles on all air ticket purchases, regardless of airline.

Tickets purchased in SGD

Card Earn Rate Remarks
UOB Lady’s Card
Apply
6 mpd Max S$1K per c. month. Must choose Travel as bonus category
Review
UOB Lady’s Solitaire
Apply
6 mpd Max S$3K per c. month. Must choose Travel as bonus category
Review
DBS WWMC
Apply
4 mpd Max S$2K per c. month
Review
HSBC Revolution
Apply
4 mpd Max S$1K per c. month
Review
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature
Apply
2.8 mpd* Min. retail spend of S$800 per c. month, capped at S$10K of air tickets per c. month
*Temporarily upsized to 3.2 mpd until at least 31 Jan 2024, refer to this post for details

Tickets purchased in FCY

Card Earn Rate Remarks
UOB Lady’s Card
Apply
6 mpd Max S$1K per c. month. Must choose travel as bonus category
Review
UOB Lady’s Solitaire
Apply
6 mpd Max S$3K per c. month. Must choose travel as bonus category
Review
DBS WWMC
Apply
4 mpd Max S$2K per c. month
Review
HSBC Revolution
Apply
4 mpd Max S$1K per c. month
Review
UOB Visa Signature 
Apply
4 mpd Min S$1K max S$2K FCY spend per s. month
Review
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature
Apply
2.8 mpd* Min. retail spend of S$800 per c. month
*Temporarily upsized to 3.2 mpd until at least 31 Jan 2024, refer to this post for details
❓ Where’s the Citi Rewards Card?
The Citi Rewards Card earns 4 mpd on all online transactions, except travel (defined as airlines, cruises, hotels, rental cars, trains) Therefore, it wouldn’t be the right card to use here, as you’ll earn just 0.4 mpd.

Selected airlines

In addition to the cards mentioned above, here are some options if you’re travelling on specific airlines.

SIA & Scoot

✈️ For Singapore Airlines & Scoot
Card Earn Rate Remarks
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card
Apply
3 mpd SIA and Scoot
Review
AMEX HighFlyer Card
Apply
2.5 mpd^ SIA and Scoot
Review
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card
Apply
2 mpd* SIA only
Review
AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend
Apply
2 mpd* SIA only
Review
AMEX Platinum Charge
Apply
1.95 mpd SIA and Scoot
Review
*For travel originating in Singapore, in SGD
^Earn up to 6 mpd extra from HighFlyer account, depending on fare class

Other airlines

Both the DBS Altitude Card and UOB PRVI Miles Card offer up to 6 mpd on air ticket bookings with selected airlines. However, you must book these tickets through the special landing pages linked to below. You will not earn the bonus miles if you book your tickets on the official airline website.

In general, air tickets should price roughly the same on these special landing pages as they do on the official website, but you should always make a point of comparison shopping. Unlike hotels, air tickets booked via third-party OTAs are still eligible to earn miles and status credits, subject to the fare class.

DBS Altitude Card

DBS Altitude Card
Apply (AMEX)
Apply (Visa)

DBS Altitude Cardholders will earn 6 mpd on air ticket bookings made via this Expedia link with the following airlines:

  • Cambodia Airways
  • China Eastern 
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Gulf Air
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Myanmar Intl Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Srilankan Airlines
  • THAI
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines
The above list is subject to change, so be sure to confirm it with the latest T&Cs before booking. 

This applies to bookings made by 31 March 2024, and capped at S$5,000 per month. The full T&Cs of this offer can be found here.

A similar offer applies to the DBS Insignia and DBS Vantage Cards as well, with the same S$5,000 cap. 

UOB PRVI Miles Card

Apply (AMEX)
Apply (MC)
Apply (Visa)

UOB PRVI Miles Cardholders will earn 6 mpd on air ticket bookings made via this Expedia link with the following airlines:

  • Cambodia Airways
  • China Eastern 
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Gulf Air
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Myanmar Intl Airways
  • Qatar Airways
  • Sichuan Airlines
  • Sri Lankan Airlines
  • THAI
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines
The above list is subject to change, so be sure to confirm it with the latest T&Cs before booking. 

Bookings must be made by 30 April 2024. The full T&Cs of this offer can be found here.

Alternatively, UOB PRVI Miles Cardholders will earn 6 mpd on air ticket bookings made via UOB Travel with the following airlines:

  • Air China
  • Air France
  • American Airlines
  • Asiana
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Japan Airlines
  • KLM
  • Lufthansa
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • STARLUX
  • SWISS
  • United

Bookings must be made by 31 December 2023. The full T&Cs of this offer can be found here.

What if I’m redeeming award tickets?

When it comes to earning miles, there’s no substantial difference whether you’re using your credit card to buy a commercial ticket outright, or paying for taxes and surcharges on an award redemption. 

What if I’m buying airline miles?

Purchases of airlines miles from Points.com (which processes sales for Air France/KLM, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, and United Airlines), do not code as airline transactions.

Instead, these code as foreign currency transactions under MCC 7399 (Business Services Not Elsewhere Classified), and you can use the following cards instead:

Card Earn Rate Remarks
Citi Rewards Card
Apply
4 mpd Cap of S$1K per s. month 
UOB Visa Signature
Apply
4 mpd Min S$1K, max S$2K FCY spend per s. month
SCB Visa Infinite
Apply
3 mpd Min spend S$2K per s. month
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature
Apply
2.8 mpd* Min. retail spend of S$800 per c. month
UOB PRVI Miles
Apply
2.4 mpd No cap 
UOB VI Metal Card
Apply
2.4 mpd  No cap
HSBC TravelOne Card
Apply
2.4 mpd No cap
S. Month= Statement Month | C. Month= Calendar Month
**Temporarily upsized to 3.2 mpd until at least 31 Jan 2024, refer to this post for details

If you’re buying airline miles directly from the airline (Avianca LifeMiles, Singapore Airlines), then the purchase will code as an airline transaction, and you can use the cards mentioned earlier in this article.

Conclusion

Using the right card for air tickets can earn you up to 6 mpd towards your next trip, but do take care when it comes to caps. If a purchase is likely to bust the bonus cap on a given card, you may want to see if the airline offers gift cards, because this is basically a way of splitting up a  transaction over multiple cards.

In addition to miles, you might want to consider other factors like complimentary travel insurance- a topic which I’ll cover in a separate post.

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Ryan

Thanks for this article. I often book flights through Online Travel Agencies like Agoda, as this is sometimes cheaper than going directly through the airline. Which credit card would you currently recommend in those cases?

Last edited 5 months ago by Ryan
K C

Is doing an upgrade after purchasing the ticket coded differently? I recall that the description of the transaction for Singapore airlines mySQUpgrade was not the usual “Singapore air”

CD.

Hi Aaron, slightly tangential, but what would be the best credit card for pairing with Alipay and WeChat for use in China?

Peter

hi, Can you also list the travel insurance offered by each card in the same article, especially the amount of medical coverage and whether pre trip registration is required.