How Do Co-Branded Travel Credit Cards Work?

A co-branded travel card is a card that’s issued by a bank or a general credit card issuer, but it carries specific credit card benefits for a certain travel company. For example, if a card functions for Southwest Airlines but is also a general Visa card, that’s a co-branded travel credit card. How do these types of credit cards work, and how can you get the most out of them?

Travel Benefits

The most common benefit of co-branded travel credit cards is that you can get a variety of benefits with the travel company that issued the card. For example, if you have a travel credit card with United Airlines, you’ll be able to get travel benefits every time you travel with United Airlines. These benefits may vary widely depending on what card you have, so it’s important to look at the terms and conditions.


Cashback is another common benefit from a co-branded travel credit card. Because this card is just like a credit card from a general institution, you can get cashback from a variety of purchases, but you’ll likely get the most cashback from the travel company that your card is co-branded with. You may get three or more times the cashback from this travel company as from general purchases.

Fee Waivers

Many travel credit cards provide fee waivers for certain fees. For example, you may be able to get a waiver or a credit statement for TSA Pre-check, discounts on purchases you make at your hotel room or during your flight, and more. Often, you’ll get a certain number of fee waivers per year, which will refresh either on your anniversary or at the beginning of the year.

General Usage as a Credit Card

Travel credit cards allow you to use them as a general credit card. “In-house” credit cards typically don’t allow for you to use them as a real credit card, instead only allowing for purchases at the travel company in question. However, with a travel credit card, you can use it as a typical credit card that just happens to give you benefits on your travel experiences.

Sign-On Bonuses

One of the benefits that you might receive with a co-branded travel credit card is a sign-on bonus. When you make a certain dollar amount of purchases within the first few months of having your card, you may get an additional number of points. It’s a good idea to check with United Explorer card before you choose a specific credit card, which can be a great way to get the best possible credit card.


A co-branded travel credit card allows you to reap the benefits of a general credit card while also getting benefits that are commonly associated with rewards programs. No matter what credit card you’re most interested in signing up for, it’s a good idea to look at a variety of different credit cards for the best overall experience and a more tailored rewards system.