It’s been a while since I posted a list of my current favorite credit card sign-up bonuses (since you can get them here any time you want).  However, since we have seen some big offers end (100k and 75k AA Executive, sniff) and other limited time offers sprout up, I think it is time for a refresher post on some of the top current offers.  It is important to get as many miles and points as possible when you sign-up for a rewards credit card, so knowing what the best offers are is something that is pretty important in the miles and points game.  Often there are multiple offers for the same card available at the same time, so finding the best one can be a little trickier than just doing a simple search.

To decide which offers are the “best” you have to consider whether they are a limited time only, how much the points are worth to you based on your travel plans and goals, how high the sign-up bonus is compared to other previous offers, and how easily you can meet the spending requirement.   Ultimately, my favorite offers may be different than yours simply because our situations and goals are not identical.

As always, I don’t recommend dabbling in the world of rewards credit cards if you don’t have good credit and/or you cannot use them to only buy what you otherwise would and pay the balances off each month. 

Here are the current rewards credit card sign-up offers that I think are currently most valuable for families (and a brief word on why):

**This United offer has expired.  Please go to ‘Credit Card Offers’ on homepage for latest offer.

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card: Limited time offer of 50,000 United miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months + additional 5,000 miles when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months.  This is a big increase over the standard 30,000 mile offer that is usually available.  There is even an offer that also includes a $50 statement credit floating around, though it does not work consistently for everyone (or at least it doesn’t for me).

There is a $0 intro annual fee the first year, and $95 thereafter.  50,000 United miles are enough for two round trip tickets within the lower 48 and Canada, not to mention that is a good chunk of miles to get you on your way to the different awards United has to offer.

Some (including myself) are even able to get a business version of this card with 50,000 miles or a United Club Card with the first year fee waived.  Head to Run For Miles for a post on these targeted offers.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: 40,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $3,000 in the first three months + an additional 5,000 points for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first 3 months.   There is a $0 intro annual fee the first year, then $95 annually thereafter.  This card has been the darling of the miles and points world since it came out, and it is consistently a top recommendation for those new to this hobby because of the valuable and flexible Ultimate Reward points and access to the online Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.  Ultimate Reward points can transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Southwest, Hyatt, Korean Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Marriott, IHG Rewards, and more. The card also pays out 2x on travel and dining expenses (3x on “First Fridays” dining).  If you don’t yet have this card, I would fix that when the time is right for you to get a new rewards credit card!

Ink Bold® Business Card or Ink Plus® Business Card: Both of these cards offer 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $5,000 in three months, and they are considered separate products so you can have both.  The Ink Plus even has a 70,000 point offer that is reportedly available if you can get in person to a Chase branch to apply!  The Bold is a charge card and the Plus is a credit card.  There is a $0 intro annual fee the first year, then $95 annually thereafter.  These small business cards come with tremendous earning power since they pay out 5x Ultimate Reward points for office supply store, cell phone, internet, landline, and cable charges.   You don’t have to have a huge business in order to qualify for a small business cards – truly small businesses that many of us run on the side can also count.

Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® Visa Signature® Card 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in three months.  There is a $95 annual fee, but it is waived for the first year.  In addition to a good sign-up bonus this card is also helpful if you fly American as it provides free checked bags for you and four companions, priority boarding, 10% of your redeemed miles back, and more.  Read this Flyertalk thread for the most up to date info on these cards, but this is a very solid offer for American Airlines miles.

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®: 40,000 miles after the first purchase with $89 annual fee.  This is a great card because it awards miles on the first purchase, it will go away at some point when the AA merger happens, you get a 5k mileage discount when you book award tickets on US operated flights, and you get an annual $99 companion fare that allows up to two companions to fly on your US operated itinerary for free (though 2014 will be the last year for that perk).  Due to the very, very low spending requirement and the fact that this card will go away, this is an easy card to include when it is time to get a new rewards credit card.

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card 85,000 Club Carlson points (50k after first purchase, and 35k more after spending $2,500 in the first three months.)  There is a $75 annual fee, but you do get 40,000 bonus points at each renewal.  The bonus points with this card are good, but what makes this card a “must have” for us is that the last award night is free.  That means, if I redeem for two rewards nights then I pay for the first one with points, and the second is free!  While my favorite Club Carlson hotels are in Europe, there are also some pretty good family options here in the US.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®: $400 toward travel charges after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.  There is a $89 annual fee that is waived the first year.  What I love about this card is that the points can be used toward any type of travel and it comes with an EMV chip that makes it extraordinarily useful for travel overseas.  Another perk is that you don’t have to have enough points to redeem for the full amount of a charge in order to use your points.  For example, if you have a $600 hotel charge, but only $400 worth of points then you can still redeem the portion that you have toward the travel charge.  The card earns 2x on all purchaes and you also get 10% of your points back when you redeem the points toward travel charges.  This is a very, very good card to get and use for everyday purchases if your travel goals include primarily domestic and/or economy class redemptions.

Southwest Airlines: 50,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first 3 months of opening your account.  This card has a $99 annual fee.  50,000 points are worth over $700 toward “Wanna Get Away fares.  The official public offer for this card is 25,000 points right now, but a TPG contributer found this link and it seems to be working just fine!

British Airways Visa Signature® Card: 50,000 Avios after spending $2,000 on the card in the first three months.  There is a $95 annual fee for this card.  This card is pretty awesome because the spending requirement is pretty low, and the points can be insanely valuable when used on short haul flights on partners like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.  For example, you can fly round trip from many West Coast cities to Hawaii for 25k points using BA partners Alaska Airlines and American Airlines.  I would recommend getting this card with the intent to fly British Airways flights to Europe and beyond unless you are very familiar with the fuel surcharges and fees that will entail, but using them for flights within the US and to nearby destinations like Canada and the Caribbean can be very rewarding.  If Europe is your goal you can also use Avios to fly on partners such as Aer Lingus and airberlin with low/no fuel surcharges.

The Hyatt, Hilton and Fairmont hotel credit cards:  These hotel cards all are fantastic, but get grouped in my head since all of their sign-up offers are similar.  With all three you have to hit the spending requirement and then you are given two free nights to use at their respective hotels across the world.  Which one is the best for you depends on where your travels will take you.  Do note that with the Hilton card the free nights are limited to the weekend and with the Fairmont card you also get free breakfasts.

Hyatt Visa Signature: Two free nights after spending $1,000 in the first three months.  $0 intro annual fee the first year and $75 annual fee with free Category 1-4 certificate at each renewal.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card: Two free weekend nights after spending $2,500 in the first four months.  $95 annual fee.  You also receive Hilton Gold status with this deal, which can score you free breakfast in Hilton hotels.

Fairmont Visa Signature: Two free nights + breakfast after spending $3,000 in the first three months.  $0 intro annual fee for the first year and $95 thereafter.

There you have it – my current favorite rewards credit card offers as of right this second.  The landscape is always changing, so my favorites list could be different tomorrow, and what is best for you will depend on your travel goals and current point balances.

Are some of these on your favorite credit card sign-up offers list?  Did I miss your current favorite?

Posted by Mommy Points | 19 Comments

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.
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19 Responses to “Rewards Credit Cards with Big Sign-Up Bonuses”

  1. Stephen says:

    In addition to the sign on bonus, I would also consider the ongoing benefits.

    I have the following cards:
    Chase Sapphire Preferred – combined with the Chase Freedom I can build up Ultimate Rewards points faster and transfer to other programs.

    Hyatt Signature – beyond the sing on bonus, the Platinum status (free internet) and a free night each year at a category 1-4 hotel more than offsets the annual fee

    Citi AAdvantage Bronze – the no annual fee AAdvantage card. I’m thinking of upgrading to the AAdvantage Platinum Select card, if I stay with AA

  2. Jeff says:

    You missed the current Ritz Carlton offer (70k points + $300 in airline credits with no annual fee the first year or an additional 70k points for paying the annual fee) and the nicely churnable Alaska cards from BOA. The offer codes for the Ritz Carlton card can be found in the Flyertalk thread.

  3. Babs says:

    Aren’t there any cards out there that will also give me a break on luggage fee’s when we fly on Alaska Airlines? You have alerted me on how great it is to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Avios and then use to fly on Alaska (easy to redeem from San Diego to Hawaii, Monterey, SLC). Now that I have done that, I am paying lots for luggage (can’t figure out a way to carry on the man’s gold clubs).

    Thanks for all your great ideas.

  4. John says:

    I am disappointed because I signed up for 3 rewards credit cards with Chase and then less that 2 weeks later the higher – special rewards were made 10K or 20 K more Bonus sign up points. I guess someone should not sign up and wait for the increased special offers are made.

  5. Mommy Points says:

    Babs, eek yeah that’s a tough one. I don’t know of any cards that would do that since that isn’t a perk of the Alaska card.
    John, I would reach out to Chase and see if that is something that can help you out with as they are pretty good in situations like you describe.

    • Gerry says:

      Is it possible that Barclays Arrival would reimburse for luggage fees? I would think if you expressly charged the luggage fees at the airport, the expenses would show up as Travel, no?

  6. Hua says:

    Data point. Used your link to apply for the Club Carlson card 2-3 weeks ago. Got the pending message initially but was approved about 2 weeks later. Did not call. Applied for 2 cards in the past 3 months. Credit score is 750+.

  7. Renate says:

    How many of these can be churned? Do you just simply cancel right before the first year is up, right before you have to pay the annual fee? I’m trying to decide whether or not to do just that with my Alaska card, or should I just apply for another one and get the companion pass on both?

  8. RE the US Airways card—can you book travel on AA too?

  9. Wait–I see it, yes, you can. Not sure that applies to the companion fares though.

    • Mommy Points says:

      Leah, yes to book AA operated flights with US Airways miles. No to being able to book AA operated flights for the Companion Pass.

  10. liang says:

    I had barclay US airway card last year, canceled early this year, do you think it is churnable? so I can get another round?

    • Mommy Points says:

      liang, if you decided you wanted the card again history says it might work. It also might not, but you wouldn’t be the first to have gotten rid of that card only to decide you want it again.

  11. TXTraveler says:

    Mommy, what is the best US Bank card to apply for? I already have the Club Carlson card. Any others you would recommend? Thanks.

  12. Mommy Points says:

    To anyone asking if you can get a card a second time that you had in the past, you are best served by reading the terms and conditions as they will give you a clue. Chase cards are increasingly saying 24 months. Amex Business cards often say 12 months. Amex Personal cards have started to say once ever on the sign-up bonus. Bank of America seem the most generous on welcoming back old customers.

    The banks get that your needs change over time so just check the terms and/or Flyertalk threads for examples.

  13. TXTraveler says:

    Thanks for the reply, MommyP! I already have the flex perks card (got that Olympics sign up bonus you blogged about in 2012). Any others you can refer me to?

  14. Chirpchirp says:

    I MommyPoints,

    Just wondering how much longer you think the 85000 Club Carlson offer will be around? I know Chase will sometimes give a heads-up when their offers are ending. Do you know if Barclay’s does this? I know it’s been out there for a while, but I’d like to wait until the end of September to apply (when another inquiry drops off my credit report), since I know Barclay’s can be picky sometimes. Thanks for any info you might have. :)

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