I last updated a top 10 list of best current credit card signup offers in August. Some of the offers change, like the Starwood American Express bonus has dropped back down to 25,000 and Chase has brought back the 50,000 point offer for the Southwest card. As a result I put together this updated list for folks to use in deciding which cards to sign up for.
Here’s what I consider the current 10 best credit card signup bonuses currently available:
- 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. They have a $0 fee the first year, $95 thereafter.
Points transfer to United, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak.
If you’re wondering whether a small business card makes sense for you, read Why You Should Add a Small Business Card to Your Wallet.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a $0 fee the first year ($95 thereafter), 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.
This is the card I recommend most to beginners in the hobby for getting started, but it’s one that beginners and experts alike can benefit from.
- Citi American Airlines Visa : 50,000 bonus points after $3000 spend within 3 months, no fee the first year. (This link does not have a landing page, just an application, but reports generally are that it works.) There’s a useful Wiki that gets updated with working links to this offer.
- The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN: 50,000 points after $5000 spend within 3 months, $0 introductory fee ($175 after the first year if you keep the card.
The card earns triple points on airfare and double points on purchases in the U.S. for advertising in select media, gasoline at U.S. stand-alone gas stations, shipping, and US purchases made directly from select computer hardware and software providers as well as of course one point on other purchases.
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card: 50,000 Avios points after $2000 in spend within 3 months, $0 fee the first year, $95 thereafter. The $0 fee the first year is a great change to the offer.
If you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year you earn a companion certificate so you can redeem miles and a second passenger travels on the award for no additional miles (but does pay the taxes and fuel surcharges). Here’s my full discussion of this offer.
British Airways offers family accounts so you can pool your miles. One person could get the card, spend $30,000 on it this year and earn 87,500 points (signup bonus plus 1.25 points per dollar for spending). A second person gets the card, and gets only the 50,000 point bonus. Together they then have 140,000 points that can effectively be used twice for 280,000 points worth of travel as long as they fly together and exclusively on British Airways.
- Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum card: 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after $3000 spend within 3 months, $475 annual fee (which also gets you a $200 airline fee credit, $100 credit if you are signing up for Global Entry, and lounge access with American, US Airways, and Delta — plus a Priority Pass Select card for Alaska Airlines and many international lounges). Here’s a roundup of the various offers for different American Express Platinum cards.
- United Explorer Card: There’s a 50,000 mile signup bonus with additional miles possible, it is targeted but many have been able to get the card. I love that the card comes with primary collision damage waiver benefits for rental cars. If the offer was generally available to everyone it would be higher up on my list. There’s also a small business version of the card — log into your MileagePlus account and click on the Explorer card for business. Some people click around to other cards and back and see the 50,000 point card offered to them.
- Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: 50,000 points after $2,000 within 3 months, that’s ~ $714 worth of airfare, and it’s even incrementally better than that because you only pay the segment (security) taxes and not the excise taxes you’d be out of pocket for on a paid ticket. Up through the end of March the points are actually worth $833, so if you get the card now and redeem for travel by then you do even better.
When you earn 110,000 points in a year in the Southwest program (e.g. this 50,000 point signup bonus, and also getting a business card linked ont he same page, plus transferring in some points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt to Southwest or a little bit of spending on the cards) you can earn a pass that allows someone to travel with you for free whenever you travel. Apply now, finish meeting your minimum spend on the card statement that ends at the beginning of January to maximize the length the companion pass is valid.
- US Airways Mastercard 35,000 points after first purchase and fee waived the first year. It’s not the best offer I’ve seen, there have been 40,000 mile offers in the past, but it’s the best current offer I’m aware of. It’s another with no landing page — so again, if you prefer a landing page here’s an offer for 30,000 miles without the first year fee waiver.
- A quartet of free hotel night credit card offers:
- The Citi Hilton Reserve Visa comes with Gold status (upgrades, breakfast, free internet) and 2 free weekend nights after $2500 spend at nearly every Hilton family property. There’s a $95 annual fee. An amazing deal when Gold status stays as long as you keep the card.
- The Hyatt Visa offers two nights at any Hyatt in the world after $1000 in spend.
As of this writing you can get this offer with both a $50 statement credit and $0 annual fee the first year if you walk through the process of making a reservation on the Hyatt website. On the page to enter booking details, towards the bottom you should see a banner add for a $50 statement credit offer. The landing page the link takes you to is also showing the annual fee waived on the card at this time.
- The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card give you an 85,000 point signup bonus — 50,000 after first purchase and 35,000 more after $2500 spend within 90 days plus Gold status in the program and your last night on every award redemption free. The annual fee is $75. (The business version of the card has a $15 lower annual fee)
- The Fairmont Visa offers 2 free nights at any Fairmont, including breakfast.
Probably the next-best card, just shy of making the list, would be the Alaska Airlines Visa from Bank of America.
And while these cards can get you award tickets in premium cabins all over the world, and can get you free hotel nights, travel isn’t free. You pay taxes and fees on tickets, sometimes resort fees (With some chains) even on hotel award nights. And there’s ground transportation, food and activities.
One card that can help is the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard which earns 2 points per dollar that are worth a penny towards travel so it’s a 2% cash back. There’s also a 10% bonus on travel redemptions which makes the return on the card 2.2% cash back — the highest cash back return for across the board spending that I know of.
Most importantly, it comes with a 40,000 point signup bonus after $1000 in spend within 90 days — worth $440 when spent on travel. That will help cover some out of pocket cost! (There’s a $0 fee the first year, $89 thereafter, has no foreign currency transaction fees and comes with complimentary TripIt Pro membership which is normally $49.)
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.
Are there any better offers for these cards that I’ve missed? Please share those in the comments.
(Several of the cards – more than half – in the list above offer referral credit to me if you are approved after applying through the links in this post. I greatly appreciate it when you do choose to use them. Of course I always want to share the best available offers no matter what, so several links aren’t mine as I’ve found better offers elsewhere and share those with you instead.)
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