There’s been a ton of changes to credit card offers in the past two months since I last compiled a list of best signup bonus offers.
For folks with reasonably good credit (and see my thoughts on the effects of credit card signups on credit scores, in many cases it can actually help), the banks still want you to travel around the world in a premium cabin almost for free. A plurality of all miles are earned through credit cards, and the big bonuses offered remained the best, fastest, easiest, and most lucrative way for most people to earn miles.
The offers change frequently, some get pulled and other new big offers appear. The biggest changes since I last put together a top 10 list in September are that the Chase Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards have reduced their spending requirement to get the 50,000 point bonus (from $10,000 down to $5000), that there is now an ‘official’ albeit limited-time offer for the American Airlines 50,000 point bonus, and that many of the methods for getting the United Visa with 50,000 points or more no longer seem to be working consistently (at least when I try them). But Chase has brought out a new 50,000 point offer on the Southwest Visa (previously only available on the business Visa), and there’s also an American Express Platinum 50,000 point offer (previously only available for the $25 more expensive Mercedes-Benz co-branded version of the card).
Here’s what I believe to be the current 10 best credit card signup bonuses on offer:
- Ink Bold charge card and Ink Plus credit card are small business cards that both offer 50,000 point signup bonuses after $5,000 spend within 3 months. Points transfer to United, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak. They earn quintuple points on wireless/telecommunications services, cable and satellite TV and radio, and office supply stores and double points on hotels and gas stations up to 200,000 points per year.
Many folks can get small business cards, it’s fine to be a sole proprietor. That just means you list your own social security number under the place for tax ID. And you may have some side income in addition to your job, that’s your business income (whether from consulting or selling stuff on Craigslist). Or you may be contemplating starting a business, putting GoogleAds up on a blog, what have you.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred offers no fee the first year, 40,000 points after $3000 in spend within 3 months, no foreign currency conversion fees, double points on travel and dining, points transfers to United, Hyatt, Southwest, Amtrak, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Marriott Priority Club, and Ritz-Carlton. Probably the best all-around credit card, and with a great signup bonus. There was for a few days a similar offer with just $2000 rather than $3000 as the required spending, but that was pulled rather quickly.
- Citi® Platinum Select®/AAdvantage® Visa Signature® Card 50,000 point signup bonus, no fee the first year — 40,000 points after $3000 spend within 3 months and 10,000 points after $10,000 spend within 12 months. This is a published, limited time offer scheduled to be pulled on December 13th and with a landing page detailing the offer. If you prefer there’s also an Citi American Airlines American Express or American Airlines Visa: 50,000 bonus points after $2500 spend within 4 months, no fee the first year. The links are direct to application pages, I’ve gotten only one report of a reader being told the correct bonus wasn’t tied to their account.
- US Airways Mastercard 40,000 points after first purchase and fee waived the first year. This is from Barclay’s Bank so gets a plus for not being Chase/Amex/Citibank, and has been churnable in the past — you can get the bonus more than once in a lifetime for this card. My 10,000 mile annual retention bonus posted a month before the annual fee on the card hits.
- Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum card: 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after $1000 spend within 3 months, $475 annual fee.
There’s also an offer of 50,000 Membership Rewards points after $3000 spend within 3 months for the traditional American Express Platinum card, $450 annual fee.
- Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Small Business Visa each offer 50,000 points, worth up to $835 in travel. It’s a big bonus number but for someone like me looking to use miles for international premium class travel it isn’t high on my list, plus they’re Chase cards and there are better ones to accomplish my goals. But I list them because for folks for whom Southwest works it’s a lucrative offer.
- A troika of free hotel night credit card offers: The Hyatt Visa offers two nights at any Hyatt in the world after $1000 in spend (Platinum members also get 2 confirmed suite upgrades for use on paid nights, Diamond members get their two signup nights in a suite) and a $100 statement credit which more than covers the $75 annual fee for the card. I used mine at the Grand Hyatt Singapore but could just as easily have used them at the Park Hyatt Maldives. The Fairmont Visa offers 2 free nights at any Fairmont, including breakfast. And the Citi Hilton Reserve Visa comes with Gold status (upgrades, breakfast, free internet) and 2 free weekend nights after $2500 spend, (a handful of Waldorf=Astoria and properties without standard rooms are excluded). An amazing deal when Gold status stays as long as you keep the card.
- Starwood American Express and Starwood American Express Business card each has up to 25,000 points as a signup bonus. The cards also come with 2 stays and 5 nights towards elite status, and $30,000 spend gets you Gold. These cards make the list despite having the lowest signup bonuses because of their value and flexibility — points transfer to the largest array of airline programs of any card, and when you transfer 20,000 miles at once you get 5000 bonus miles (so it’s like earning 1.25 miles per dollar on all spend). Annual fee waived the first year. The business card also comes with OPEN savings, I like it for domestic Hyatt spending because you earn the Starwood point and a 3% cash back savings as well.
I usually try to grab no more than one card from each issuer at a time, though often I’ll grab a personal and small business card and those will be treated separately. The really advanced churners will pay attention to which issuers pull credit reports from which companies in their home state to try to spread out their credit inquiries, I don’t worry about it to that same degree.
Note that this list of cards is of best signup bonuses, meaning the best for big points up front, which is different from the best cards to carry in your wallet for travel benefits (some cards with lounge access or companion tickets, etc. may make sense to carry) and different from the most rewarding for actual spending. Put enough spending on these cards to meet the minimums for signup bonuses, but in between card churns they may not make sense for more spend than that.
Are there any better offers for these cards that I’ve missed? Please share those in the comments.
(Many although far from all of the links in the list above offer referral credit to me if you use them, as always I want to share the best available offers so several like the US Airways card and American Express Platinum aren’t my links. When I’m aware of an offer that’s better than something that will provide any credit to me, that’s the offer I share. Nonetheless, when the best available offer is available through one of my links, I greatly appreciate it when you do choose to use it.)