Few credit card rewards and perks are more valuable than sign-up bonuses – also known as welcome offers, early spend bonuses, or new cardmember bonuses, depending on the issuer – are valuable. But unlike cash back credit card rewards, they’re effectively single-use. Once you sign up for a credit card and take whatever action is required to obtain its new cardmember bonus, that’s it for a while, possibly forever.
It’s not a good idea to apply for too many credit cards with new cardmember bonuses at once either. Applying for multiple credit cards over a short period can harm your credit profile, lower your credit score, and make it harder to obtain affordable financing.
This isn’t to say that new cardmember bonuses shouldn’t factor into your choice of credit card. Far from it. Some of the best credit cards around have attractive bonuses that complement generous cash back rewards prograMS, low APRs, VIP treatment, and other perks.
50,000 Bonus Points (worth Up to $625 on Travel) When You Spend $4,000 in Purchases in the First 3 Months
Going forward, dining and travel purchases earn 2 points per $1 spent, with no spending caps or restrictions. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent. The best way to redeem is for travel through the ultimate Rewards portal – you’re guaranteed to extract $0.0125 per point there, turning (for example) 50,000 points into $625 in airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel iteMS. You can also redeem for gift cards, cash (statement credits, direct deposits, or checks), and merchandise, mostly at a $0.01-per-point rate.
One of the best features of this card is a 1-to-1 point transfer arrangement that counts about a dozen participating travel loyalty prograMS as partners – including household names like Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and United MileagePlus. This is an extremely powerful benefit that can multiply the value of your points on long-haul flights and other redemption options for which points tend to have higher values.
The information for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card has been collected independently by Money Crashers. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Chase Sapphire Reserve’s steep $450 annual fee is enough to give frugal cardholders pause. However, if you can take full advantage of its ongoing rewards program and travel benefits, that’s a small price to pay. You earn unlimited 3 ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel and dining, plus 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Points are worth $0.015 when redeemed for travel – 50% better than most general-purpose travel rewards cards. Plus, you can transfer your points at a 1-to-1 ratio to about a dozen travel loyalty prograMS, including Southwest Rapid Rewards and United MileagePlus.
Still not convinced? Sapphire Reserves comes with free entry privileges at more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide thanks to your complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, a $300 annual travel credit redeemable against travel purchases charged to your card, and exclusive discounts and perks at major car rental companies.
75,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points (worth Up to $750 on Travel and Online Purchases) When You Spend $5,000 in Purchases in the First 3 Months
Once your account is open, this card earns unlimited 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on airfare purchased direct with the airline, as well as prepaid hotel and airfare purchases made through the American Express Travel portal. All other purchases earn unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
The Platinum Card from American Express is a charge card, meaning it doesn’t levy regular interest charges, but does require you to pay your balance on time and in full each month.
Beyond the inability to carry balances from month to month, The Platinum Card has a glaring drawback for frugal consumers: a hefty $550 annual fee. However, the fringe benefits are enormous: a $200 annual credit for incidental airline expenses, up to $200 in annual Uber credits, complimentary access to airport lounges worldwide, and more.
Going forward, all eligible purchases made with this card earn unlimited 2 miles per $1 spent. You can also look forward to a great 0% APR introductory promotion on balance transfers (rare in the travel category) and a nice menu of Mastercard travel benefits, including trip cancellation coverage and concierge service.
50,000 Bonus Miles (worth Up to $500 in Travel) When You Spend $3,000 in the First 3 Months
Going forward, purchases with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earn 2 miles per $1, with no spending caps or restrictions. You can redeem for flights, hotels, cars, cruises, and other travel purchases, either by booking directly through Capital One’s travel portal or using the Purchase Eraser tool to assign statement credits against purchases you’ve already made.
100,000 Honors Points (Up to 20 Free Nights) When You Spend $2,000 in Purchases in the First 3 Months
Going forward, this card has a generous rewards program that offers unlimited 12 points per $1 spent at participating Hilton properties, 6 points per $1 spent on select everyday purchases, and 3 points per $1 spent on everything else. There’s a small but helpful bonus for every online, paid-in-full Hilton booking made with the card. Plus, you enjoy complimentary Honors Gold status for as long as your account remains open and in good standing. Gold benefits include a hefty bonus on base Honors point earnings, complimentary room upgrades where available, welcome gifts at check-in, late check-out, and more.
Once your account is open, all Delta airfare and incidental purchases earn 2 SkyMiles per $1. All other purchases earn 1 SkyMile per $1. There aren’t any spending caps or restrictions. Plus, you get an excellent menu of traveler-friendly perks when you fly Delta, including priority boarding, a 20% discount on in-flight purchases, and a free checked bag.
Up to $250 Bonus When You Spend $7,500 in Purchases in the First 12 Months
Moving forward, all purchases earn unlimited 1.5% cash back, with no spending caps, rotating rewards categories, restrictions on how much you can earn. Cash back accrues as Reward Dollars, which you can redeem for statement credits, gift cards from select retailers, merchandise purchases, and other iteMS. Redemption minimuMS vary – for instance, gift cards require at least $25. For the first 15 months, you’ll enjoy 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
$200 Statement Credit When You Spend $1,000 in Purchases in the First 3 Months
Going forward, Blue Cash Preferred has a great cash back rewards program. You earn 6% cash back on supermarket purchases up to $6,000 per year. You also get unlimited 3% cash back on purchases at U.S. gas stations, and an unlimited 1% on everything else. Redeem your cash back as a statement credit, starting at $25, and for gift cards and general merchandise.
$150 Bonus When You Spend $500 in Purchases in the First 3 Months
On the cash back front, all purchases earn unlimited 1.5% cash back. There are no caps or rotating categories to worry about here – although certain purchases from the Chase ultimate Rewards portal can fetch up to 10% cash back in certain cases. You can redeem your points for a statement credit, bank account deposit, gift cards from select retailers, and merchandise purchases made through the ultimate Rewards portal. For new cardholders, there’s a 15-month, 0% APR promotion for purchases and balance transfers.
Credit card sign-up bonuses are more volatile and shorter-lived than most other types of credit card rewards. Many credit card issuers offer sign-up bonuses only in the first few months or quarters of a card’s existence, then discontinue the program and hope that their cards’ other benefits and rewards will be enough to keep new customers coming. Fortunately, it seeMS that every sign-up bonus that winks out of existence is replaced by another bonus of equal or greater value.
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.
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