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  • If you fly even just a couple of times a year, it’s worth having an airline credit card.
  • Perks and benefits that come with these cards, like free checked bags, priority boarding, or lounge passes, make flying easier and more enjoyable — and can save you money.
  • We compared some of the most popular mainstream credit cards from the three big US airlines — American, United, and Delta.
  • Read on to see what we found, and which one is best for you.

One of the best ways to earn a bunch of frequent flyer miles quickly is to open an airline credit card and earn the new card member bonus

While a card that earns transferable points — like the Chase Sapphire Preferred — typically has more valuable and flexible rewards than fixed program cards, airline cards win in two respects.

If you generally fly with one preferred airline, and earn frequent flyer miles on that program when you travel, then it can make sense to earn the same kind of miles from your credit card. Between the mileage earning from both, your miles will add up quicker.

Second, airline credit cards come with various perks, specific to that airline, that can save you a ton of time and money. Things like complimentary checked bags, priority boarding, and even day passes to airport lounges will have you feeling like you’re flying first class even when you’re in basic economy.

Each of the three major US airlines (American, Delta, and United) offers a few different credit cards, but among the most popular are the “mainstream” cards. These products have annual fees between $95–$99 — often waived the first year — and feature benefits that appeal to everyone from casual fliers to road warriors.

Obviously, if you typically fly just one airline, or if you live somewhere that serves as a hub for one carrier, that airline’s card is the best for you. However, if you live in an area serviced by several airlines or you have your choice, then you should consider each card before choosing one. While they all have similar features and benefits, and all offer a great value to cardholders, we’ve compared them and found that one stands out above the rest. Read on to see which it is.

Keep in mind that we’re focusing on earning rewards and perks, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards or benefits.

When you’re working to earn credit card rewards or take advantage of travel benefits, it’s important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back — or spending more than you would otherwise. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

Click here to learn more about the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select card from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.

Click here to learn more about the United MileagePlus Explorer card from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.

Click here to learn more about the Gold Delta SkyMiles card from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.