As I’m sure you know, 2013 is just a few days away from being history, and it was a decent year for earning miles and points. Not record breaking, but decent. My own family earned hundreds of thousands of miles and points very easily in 2013 via rewards credit card sign-up bonuses. This was thanks in large part to my husband seriously revamping his wallet after joining the world of excellent credit. If you have good credit and aren’t tempted to run up debt simply because you have a new credit card, then there is no faster or cheaper path to (almost) free travel than getting a rewards credit card or two. I posted about some of my favorite limited time sign-up offers not that long ago (several of which are already gone), but I want this post to look at my overall favorite public sign-up offers that are still available as the year comes to a close.
Offers don’t usually change just because the calendar does, but you never know what 2014 will hold. Offers may get better, worse, or stay roughly the same. Here are some of my favorite sign-up offers that are currently available.
Ink Bold® Business Card or Ink Plus® Business Card – 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $5,000 in first three months
These small business cards give a fantastic sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Reward points that can transfer 1:1 to hotel and airline partners like United, Hyatt, British Airways, Southwest, Marriott, IHG Rewards, and more. This means you aren’t locked into one program when it comes time to redeem! The card also earns Ultimate Reward points at a rate of 5x per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, on cable and wireless service, and landline communications. It awards 2x points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually on gas and hotel expenses paid directly to the hotel. It has a $0 introductory annual fee the first year, and $95 in subsequent years. The Bold is a charge card while the Plus is a credit card, and yes you can have both.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - 40,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $3,000 in the first three months plus an extra 5,000 for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first three months.
Being able to get up to 45,000 total points for the sign-up bonus is pretty great, and you can transfer these Ultimate Reward points to the same transfer partners as with the Ink cards. This is my personal favorite all-around rewards credit card, and one that I think everyone should get at some point. It has a $0 introductory annual fee the first year, and $95 in subsequent years.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express – 25,000 points (10,000 after first purchase and 15,000 after spending $5,000 in six months)
This card is good for SPG point earning – especially since it is one of the very few ways to earn SPG points outside of actual SPG hotel stays. SPG points are useful not only for redeeming for SPG hotel stays, but also to transfer to many airlines at a rate of 20,000 SPG points = 25,000 airline miles. There is also a small business version of this card available, and you can have both versions. Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Both have a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65 in subsequent years.
Citi AAdvantage Visa Signature/Citi Platinum Select Card – 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in three months
This card is not only a good way to get AA miles, but it also gives other perks like 10% of your redeemed AA miles back (up to 10,000 annually), first checked bag free, and early boarding. No one knows for sure what the US/AA merger will do to the available credit cards, so this is one to consider sooner rather than later just in case a new version is launched after the merger.
British Airways Visa – 50,000 Avios after spending $2,000 in first three months, 25,000 bonus Avios after $10,000 in purchases within the first year, plus an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you make an additional $10,000 in purchases also within the first year
That is up to 100,000 bonus Avios for $20,000 in spending in the first year. That’s a lot of spending to get the full bonus, but it is also a lot of points. You can use Avios on partner airlines American Airlines and Alaska Airlines for as low as 4,500 miles for short direct flights. 100,000 Avios can go a long way if you know how to use them. This offer has a December 31st expiration date and comes with a $95 annual fee.
US Airways MasterCard – 35,000 miles after first purchase
This card has a $0 introductory fee the first year and $89 in subsequent years. In addition to the sign-up bonus miles, it gives you a 5,000 mile discount on awards solely on US Airways operated flights. The future of this card after the merger is murky, so it is one to consider sooner rather than later.
Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases - $400 toward travel charges after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
I really like this card for people who want to earn “cash” to use toward travel instead of traditional miles and points. It awards 2x on all purchases, and gives a 10% rebate on redeemed points. This means if you redeem the 40,000 sign-up bonus points for $400 toward a travel expense then you will get 4,000 of those points back to use on a future redemption. They also have an online community where you can earn bonus points, and make the redemption process pretty simple and painless. There is a $0 introductory annual fee the first year, and $89 in subsequent years.
Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature - up to 85,000 bonus points after spending $2500 in the first 90 days
This card awards 5 Club Carlson points per dollar on everyday spending, 50,000 points after the first purchase, and 35,000 more points after $2500 in spending within the first 90 days. Perhaps best of all it gives the “last award night free” on redemptions. This means that a two night reward stay will only cost you points for the first night! There is a $75 annual fee, but it also awards 40,000 points annually for card renewal.
Hyatt Visa – Two Free Nights to Use at Any Hyatt Worldwide after spending $1,000 in three months
If you want a couple nights in a top tier Hyatt, this is the best card to do it. The Hyatt award chart will be changing in January, and nights at the very top Hyatts will increase from 22,000 to 30,000 points per night, but you can still get the same two nights at any Hyatt with this card. In fact, if you want to bring your kids to the new all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos resort, this is the best way to do it as you can have up to two adults and two kids in the room for two nights with this sign-up bonus (instead of having to pay extra for the 3rd and 4th person if you use points). There is a $75 annual fee for this card, but it does give an annual category 1-4 certificate at renewal.
This card admittedly does not have one of the best sign-up bonuses out there, but it is still making my top list because it is such an easy way to earn Ultimate Reward points without an annual fee. Plus, the sign-up bonus is twice as good as normal for a limited time. This card earns 5x Ultimate Reward points at rotating bonus categories, up to $1500 per quarter. In other words, it can give your family an easy 30,000 UR points per year for just $6,000 in spending. These points transfer to Ultimate Rewards hotel and airlines partners if you also have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus cards.
There are dozens of other very good credit card offers out there, so this isn’t an exhaustive list of everything good that is available. These are just currently the top public rewards card offers for families in my view. Some are my affiliate links, and many aren’t. Let me know if you have any questions and good luck if you decide to apply for one!