Are foreign airline credit cards worth it?

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Most foreign airlines have domestic partners where you can use your points

Personal finance writer
Rewards expert who writes the “Cashing In” reader Q&A column for CreditCards.com

Foreign airlines and their U.S. partners

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers.

Last month, Chase announced
the debut of two new airline credit cards: the Iberia Visa and the Aer
Lingus Visa. Iberia is the national carrier of Spain. Aer Lingus is the
national carrier of Ireland.

Chances are that many people who saw news of the
announcement quickly tuned it out. After all, how many of us travel regularly
to Spain or Ireland? Aren’t these cards just for people who fly regularly on
Iberia or Aer Lingus?

Use points for domestic travel

While that is often the case for people with domestic
airline cards – those with American Express Delta SkyMiles cards probably fly
Delta a lot, for instance – it’s not necessarily the case with international
airline cards. That’s because credit cards linked to international airlines can
be an important resource for reward travel. You can use those credit cards and
those international airline programs to earn free flights. You can get an
international airline card and get rewarded with travel that is entirely in the
United States, without even setting foot on that foreign airline.

That’s because foreign airlines typically have partnerships
that allow you to use rewards with U.S. carriers. 

Foreign airlines and their US partners

Chase Aer Lingus Visa

Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus:
Unknown; card coming this spring
How to use in U.S.:
Can book American flights on Aer Lingus, starting at 7,500 miles each way in
North America. Or can transfer to British Airways Avios and book there.

Chase British Airways Visa

Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: Up
to 75,000 Avios miles: 50,000 after spending $3,000 in three months, plus
25,000 after spending $10,000 in the first year.
How to use in U.S.:
Avios miles can be used on American Airlines, starting at 7,500 miles each way
on North American flights, depending on flight distance. You can search for
American flights on British Airways’ website. Search ahead of time because
flights are limited.

Chase Iberia Visa

Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: Up
to 75,000 Avios miles: 50,000 after spending $3,000 in three months, plus
25,000 after spending $10,000 in the first year.
How to use in U.S.:
Avios miles can be used on American Airlines, starting at 7,500 miles each way
in North America, depending on distance. You can search on Iberia’s site or
transfer your Iberia Avios to British Airways Avios and search there.

TD Air Canada Aeroplan Visa

Annual fee: $95, waived first year
Sign-up bonus:
25,000 Aeroplan miles after spending $1,000 in three months.
How to use in U.S.:
Air Canada’s Aeroplan miles can be used on Star Alliance partners, including United,
by searching through Aeroplan’s site. Round-trip awards on United in the U.S.
start at 25,000 miles.

Bank of American Asiana Visa

Annual fee: $99
Sign-up bonus:
30,000 miles after spending $3,000 in first 90 days.
How to use in U.S.:
Asiana miles can be used on United. Round-trip flights in the U.S. start at
25,000 miles. You might have to call Asiana to book.

US Bank Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Signature

Annual fee: $80
Sign-up bonus:
15,000 miles after first purchase
How to use in U.S.:
SkyPass miles can be redeemed on Delta, Hawaiian, and Alaska on the SkyPass
website. Round-trip flights in the U.S., including flights to Hawaii, start at
25,000 miles.

Synchrony Bank Cathay Pacific Visa

Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in first 90 days
How to use in U.S.:
Miles can be used in U.S. on American and Alaska, though understanding rules
and booking flights can be
complicated.

These cards might not make sense for everybody. But before
dismissing them outright, take time to consider how you might be able to use
the miles, even if they are on a foreign airline.

 See related: Picking the right credit cards for around-the-world travel, Best airline credit cards





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