Posted by William Charles on November 30, 2016
Credit Cards best-credit-card-bonuses

Published on November 30th, 2016 | by William Charles

59

Best Current Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

Given how popular our best bank account bonus page is, I thought I’d try my hand at something similar for credit card bonuses. This page will be updated regularly, so feel free to bookmark it and share it on social media/forums (I’ll also add it to the header under credit cards to make it easily accessible). Keep in mind we do not use credit card affiliate links, so this is an unbiased list.

A few final thoughts before we get to this list:

  • There will be a random amount of entries on this list at any one time dependent on how many cards I currently think are worth signing up for.
  • I’ll be taking into account whether a bonus is at it’s highest level ever or not (mostly because I don’t think an offer is truly the best if it regularly goes up to a higher level or I suspect it’ll go to a higher level in the near future).
  • I won’t be taking into account special application rules (e.g Chase 5/24 rule or American Express once per lifetime rule), but I will mention them clearly.
  • If there is a card that is popular and I haven’t included, I’ll put it under “Not On The List” and explain my reasons why.

Keep in mind that having a clear goal will help you decide what the best cards for you are! If you don’t want to travel and just want to earn cash back, then the best card for you will be different than somebody that wants to fly first class to Paris and stay in 5 star accommodation.

Personal Cards

These cards are listed in order from absolute best to best (e.g the better cards are at the top).

Merrill Lynch MERRILL+ Visa – 50,000 Points After $3,000 In Spend

Our review of this card

This is #1 because I just don’t see this card’s bonus lasting long term. The bonus itself is valuable, at absolute minimum you can redeem it for $500 in cash and the best case scenario is that you get $1,000 worth of flights. Obviously there are cards with higher sign up bonuses but the fact that it has that nice and easy cash redemption and no annual fee means that it’s almost certainly a card worth signing up for for most people.

The standard Bank of America rules apply to this card, but if you’re thinking about applying for multiple cards at the same time I’d recommend making sure you get approved for this card first before applying for others.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review

This offer is a little bit complicated, but worth the effort in my opinion. You need to sign up for this card in branch  with the standard sign up bonus of 15,000 then ask to be matched to the 30,000 point offer.

Keep in mind that the Chase 5/24 rule does apply to this card, but if you are pre-approved in branch then you can bypass this. Chase UR points can be redeemed for a base of 1¢ per point and transferred to travel partners as well (keep in mind you need a premium card to be able to transfer them from the Chase Freedom Unlimited).

This is double the standard sign up bonus and the largest we’ve ever seen on this card.

Barclaycard Arrival 50,000 Points

Our review of this offer

Standard offer on this card is 40,000 points so this is slightly increased. Annual fee of $89 is waived the first year as well. The card has had some benefits cut, this means it isn’t worth holding long term anymore (at least in my opinion) but this bonus is worth $250 in cash or $500 against travel charges. You also get 5% of points back when redeeming for travel, effectively making this bonus worth $525+ in travel.

The nice thing is that this card is issued by Barclaycard and they usually pull your TransUnion credit report and don’t have as many restrictions on getting sign up bonuses multiple times (although the cards are harder to get approved for).

Chase Sapphire Preferred 70,000 Points

Chase Sapphire Preferred Review

Similar to the above bonus, this one requires you to sign up in branch and then asked to be matched to the 70,000 point offer. Again the Chase 5/24 rule does apply to this card but in branch pre-approval can bypass this. Standard bonus on this card is 50,000 points so it is better than the standard offer – but not by double like the Freedom Unlimited.

Chase Sapphire Reserve – 100,000 Points

Read our full review here

I suspect a lot of people will be surprised that this card isn’t #1. Yes, the sign up bonus is massive but it does come with an annual fee of $450. I think the other cards above present better value personally. The 100,000 point bonus won’t be around for ever, so better to pick it up now if you can (again the Chase 5/24 rule applies but in branch pre-approval will by pass this).

The big annual fee is offset by the $300 annual travel credit (see what triggers it here and get ideas for cashing it out here), but now isn’t the best time to get this card (as your December statement won’t close in time for 2016).

Bank of America Alaska Airlines 30,000 Miles + $100 Statement Credit

Link to our review of the offer

The real value here is the fact that Bank of America allows you to combine inquiries. That means you can pair this bonus with another Bank of America card (or two) and only receive the single hard pull.

Chase IHG 80,000 Points (Personal)

Our post on this bonus

This one takes a bit of work to actually get, you have to apply for a lower offer and then asked to be matched to the 80,000 offer but I haven’t heard of any reports of people not being successful in that match, although it does require a slightly higher $2,000 spend now.  IHG points aren’t the most valuable, although if you can find hotels that work with their Points Break list this bonus would be worth 20 free nights (highly unlikely).

One of the big pluses of this card is that every year you receive a free night certificate that can be used on any IHG property (annual fee is only $49) so this is one of the few cards that I think is worth considering long term. Also the Chase 5/24 rule doesn’t apply to this card.

Avianca Vuela Visa Card – 40,000/60,000

Read our full review

This would actually be much higher, but I’m a bit concerned that using the promo code won’t actually give you the extra 20,000 points (bringing the bonus to a total of 60,000 points). Best part of this card is two fold:

  • It’s issued by Banco Popular, we don’t know a lot about them currently but at least it’s something different.
  • The card requires no spend to get the bonus, only a single purchase!

Unfortunately the annual fee of $149 is not waived in the first year, but still great deal. If we can get confirmation on the 60,000 bonus miles then this will be rising up the ranks.

 Chase Southwest Personal Plus/Premier – 50,000 Points

Our review of this bonus

Great cards, especially if you can get approved for the two personal (or one personal & one business) as that gives you almost enough points for the Southwest companion pass. It’s also a good time of year for these cards as if you get the points to post in 2017 you’ll have the companion pass for the majority of 2017 and all of 2018. Difficulty is getting approved as the chase 5/24 rule does apply to these cards. You can view what to do with your Southwest points here.

Citi Prestige 50,000 Points

Our review of this offer

Honestly cuts to the benefits of this card have hurt, but the sign up bonus is still good. Keep in mind another big annual fee of $450 on this card, again offset by the $250 travel credit (see what counts for this credit here). Citi also has strict application rules that mean you won’t be eligible if you’ve opened or closed any ThankYou cards within the past 24 months.

Citi American Airlines Platinum 50,000 Miles

This is basically the standard offer on this card and is almost always available (best to check this Flyertalk thread for up to date links). Keep in mind you’re not eligible for this bonus if you’ve opened or closed an American Airlines card within the past 24 months. You might as well get that clock starting if it isn’t already.

Discover it – $50 + Double Cash Back

Get bonus here

The sign up bonus on this card is low ($50 when you use a referral) but the real bonus is that after the first year you get your cash back doubled for that year (including the $50 referral bonus). This card has 5% rotating categories (up to $1,500 in spend per quarter), this means you’ll get 10% cash back on those categories. This card really only makes sense if you’ll be able to max out those categories at least some of the time.

There is also currently a public $75 bonus offer.  Read our review.

Citi Hilton Reserve Two Free Nights + $100 Statement Credit

Read our review

The $100 statement credit offsets the $95 annual fee. Card also gives you two free weekend nights at any Hilton property. The benefit to this bonus is you don’t need to worry about Hilton devaluations and it gives you access to top tier Hilton properties. Obviously I’d only recommend this card if you have a clear intention of what you want to use the free nights for, otherwise you run the risk of not redeeming them at all or redeeming them for a sub par property where signing up for a Hilton card that earns points is a better deal.

You’re not eligible for this bonus if you’ve opened/closed another Citi Hilton card in the past 24 months.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express – 30,000 Points

Read our review

Relatively new card, points are worth $300 in cash or up to $600 in airfare (or $450 in hotels) so some good value to be had here with a nice fallback cash redemption option as well. Annual fee of $85 is not waived in the first year, but it does also earn 3x points for restaurant purchases.

Business Card Bonuses

Chase Ink Plus 60,000 Points

Only available via referral links (links here)

Realistically you won’t be able to get the bonus on this card soon. This does have a lower bonus than the Ink Preferred (below) but I love being able to earn 5x points at office supply stores. If you don’t manufacture spend and just want the sign up bonus then the Ink Preferred is probably the better option. Chase 5/24 rule does apply to this card.

American Express Business Platinum – 100,000 Points

Our review of this bonus

Obviously a massive sign up bonus, but requires a lot of spend ($15,000 in total to receive bonus). There is also the big annual fee of $450 to deal with. American Express have made a number of positive improvements to this card and I do value the lounge access this card comes with, but how much you value that will really depend on your travel plans and base airport.

I think it’s best to hold only one American Express Platinum card at a time, that way you’re getting the max benefits from the card to help justify the big annual fee. This is important considering your limited to getting the sign up bonus on American Express cards once per lifetime.

Chase Ink Preferred 80,000 Points

Read our full review

Make sure you apply in branch to get the annual fee waived for the first year. Not sure if the 80,000 point offer is going to be a higher than normal bonus due to the recent launch of the card, or the standard bonus (I suspect the former). 3x categories won’t be as appealing to most people as the 5x categories on the Chase Ink Plus. Chase 5/24 rule does apply to this card.

American Express SimplyCash Plus $500

Bonus does have quite a high minimum spend requirement, but on the plus side (see what I did there?) the card does earn 5% cash back on valuable categories such as office supply stores. The spending requirement is also lower than it normally is, so that’s another plus (ha ha ha). Keep in mind you’re only eligible for one bonus per lifetime with American Express and we have seen massive targeted offers for $1,000 – so it might be worth waiting.

Blue For Business Up To 30,000 Points

Read our review on this bonus

Typically we don’t see any bonus on this card, only really makes sense if you can max out the restaurant category 10x offer. I wonder if this bonus will rotate categories like the Blue Cash personal cards have been doing recently.

 Chase Southwest Business Premier – 50,000 Points

Our review of this bonus

Really good card, especially if you can get approved for one of the personal Southwest cards as well – that way you nearly have enough Southwest points for the companion pass. This is the perfect time of year for this card as well, just make sure you time it correctly so your bonus posts in 2017 if you’re going for the companion pass so that you get the pass for the rest of 2017 and 2018. Chase 5/24 rule does apply to this card and the personal cards, so it’ll be extremely difficult for most people to get the two bonuses required for this bonus.

Not On The List

Final Thoughts

I’m looking forward to the comments on this one, what do you think I’ve gotten wrong? What should be higher and what should be lower? What missed out and what should be removed from the list all together?



59 Responses to Best Current Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

  1. NM says:

    Thanks, great article with a helpful round-up. Just a small clarification: the Citi Prestige has a $250 airline credit, not a $300 travel credit.

  2. cas187 says:

    nice job! I’ve been hopeful that you would compile an aggregate list of CCs like this because I think this site does a better job of giving an honest and succinct viewpoint then your blog competitors

  3. MJG says:

    No mention of Starwood and Marriott cards that are now eligible to be combined?Some really sweet possibilities there.

  4. ChurningForDays says:

    I’m not sure I agree with your take on Sky Miles. Granted, they’re clearly the least valuable of the legacies, but Pay With Miles provides a floor that gives a minimum value of $500/$700+ on some of those Delta cards. The increased offers going on make them must-looks if you ask me.

    A lot of people, myself included, soured on Delta with their unannounced devaluations and generally shady practices when it comes to their frequent flier program. That being said, Delta generally gets good reviews for their service and they have a ton of non-stops from ATL, CVG, DTW, LAX, MSP, JFK, LGA, and SLC.

    In my opinion the Delta Gold Personal card should not be applied for unless you are targeted for the 75k offer. However, the Delta Platinum Personal probably deserves a spot above the IHG card on your list and I think both versions of the Business card deserve spots at the bottom of your list (below SWRR).

    • My thinking with the current skymiles offers is that they will increase in the short term (as evidenced by the near constant 50k/70k offers) and the fact that there is no real need to hold these miles. If you have short term plans for Delta miles it can make sense, but I expect increase offers for both cards in the short term and also devaluation of Delta miles in the short-medium term. Annual fee on the Platinum card doesn’t help it’s cause either, maybe offset by the MQM for some people?

      Again, happy to argue these points and update list if I am in the minority/wrong.

      • ChurningForDays says:

        I guess the fear of increased offers is somewhat fair, but do you really see these cards hitting a six figure sign up bonus? That seems like the next step for Amex (100k DL Plat) to take with these if they really want to make a splash and drive sign ups, but I just don’t see them parting with such a huge crop of miles. My understanding is that the Delta card portfolio is relatively successful and the addition of card spend to waive the MQD requirement has probably helped them stave off deserters.

        In summation, I personally don’t see how the Delta Personal Platinum (70k miles/effective $95 fee first year with statement credit) can be left off your list of best personal sign up bonuses when the US Bank Amex is on there.

  5. Kelly says:

    I thought on the Amex Business Plat the total spend was $15k in total, not 10k? Although it would be great if it were! Thanks for compiling this list!

  6. Zorba says:

    Looks good! Pretty sure the Amex Platinum Business is $15,000 total. $5,000 first 50k points, $10,000 for second 50k set.

  7. Jake P says:

    CFU higher than CSR. Wowza

  8. Eric says:

    Under “Personal Cards” I think you meant to write “best to worst” instead of “best to best”.

  9. Dan says:

    I never saw the 100k/125k AmEx Hilton links. Do you have those?

  10. Laura says:

    GASP! This improves my life greatly. TY!!!!

  11. Jason says:

    Merrill Lynch MERRILL+ Visa

    Dad’s application submitted about an hour ago and received a call from their consideration line 866-224-7803, was approved instantly over the phone. 5K credit line. Like mine, he has Experian frozen and asked them to pull from Trans Union instead, 745 on trans Union via Credit Karma. It appears that 5K is the lowest credit line but it is totally fine because only the sign up bonus matters.

    It looks to me that Merril Lynch is very aggressive on getting ppl using their credit card, therefore approving without even mentioning on short credit history or number of hard inquiries in report. Funny thing is that my Dad previously did not even get approved for BofA’s cash reward credit card.

  12. Mark Ostermann says:

    No love for Spark Cash? $500 cash after $4500 in spend….better spend then the amex $500 bonus plus 2% on everything.

  13. Jeff H says:

    I am leaning more toward the CSP if I can get a Chase in branch preapproval vs CSR. Adjusting the reward vs AF and not having to game the $300.00 travel credits when I will not be traveling just makes more sense to me. 7/12 Currently. One new business card on top of that which has not had time to hit the credit bureaus if it does.

    The problem is I do not see enough sizzle in anything out there to drool about except the CSP or CSR. At the rate I am going, I may be a one year wonder as very little pumps my juices for 2017 in terms of new credit cards or bank accounts.

  14. mmgfarb says:

    You should still be able to get matched to the 70k in branch offer for the Ink Plus.

  15. Jan B says:

    WC: I think you did a great job breaking this down. Thanks! 🙂

  16. Abey says:

    There are two cards that have very valuable signup bonuses but are very underrated.
    Chase Hyatt. Sign up bonus is 2 free nights any Hyatt worlwide.
    And Chase Fairmont. Two free nights worldwide.
    Me and my GF used the Hyatt sign up bonuses for 4 free Hyatt nights in Paris and its around $1,000 per night
    And we used the Faimont for 4 free Fairmont night in Maui Hawaii around $700 per night
    And we also got suite upgrades and dining certificates.
    Now these free nights are more worth then
    50K AA points 50K thank you points and so on.

    • henry says:

      what if you don’t travel or don’t care for fancy smancy hotels?

      • NewYork12126 says:

        I agree with the original commenter that both of these cards are worth a mention. With a bit of effort and foresight, can each offer some real outsized value. Especially the Fairmont card (and it’s not 5/24). However, I do think that the Hyatt card gets a bit of undeserved attention from other bloggers, given the annual fee and the limitation of the free night to only a cat. 1 – 4. As a previous holder, I struggled to get good value out of the card beyond the two free nights.

  17. C says:

    Thanks for putting this together! I was hoping this type of list would come out soon- I am a big fan of your bank account bonus page!

  18. Abey says:

    Also the Barclay Wyndham 30k points
    Its basicaly two free wyndham nights
    Since its 15K points per night for any hotel
    We combined two Wyndham cards
    For 4 free nights in Amsterdam
    It was one of the best weekends of our life…

  19. Abey says:

    Here are a few more cards you havent mentioned:
    The Ritz Carlton, 3 free nights.
    British Airways 50K points.
    Jet Blue 30K points.
    Lufthansa Miles&More 50K points.
    TD Aeroplan 25K points.
    Hawaiian Airlines 50K points (Targeted).
    Us Bank FlexPerx around 40K points
    With the USA Olympic promotion.
    Club Carlson 85K points
    (We combined two Club Carlsons for 3 nights in Rome).
    Also Citi AA Business 50K after 3K spend.

  20. Abey says:

    The Capital One Spark
    spend $4,500 for $500 back ahould definately be added
    Eapecially if you add Amex simply cash
    Which requires 15K spend for $500
    If you spend 15K with the Spark you’d get $800
    Yes Capital One pulls all 3 credit bureaus but its still a top sign up bonus.
    Here is an example.
    If someone tells you that he can’t sign up for the Simply Cash because swiping 15K is a lot even though it gives you 12 months.
    But he can sign up for the Spark because he can afford 1 new inquiry on Trans Union Experian and Equifax.
    Now to that person (who is me) which card has a better sign up bonus??
    And there are a lot of Johns and Jacks in the same boat 🙂
    And dont forget Amex you cant really pay with cash.
    While Capital one you can just walk into a branch.
    It can make a big difference to some people.

  21. Matt Katakis says:

    And this is why Doc has the best blog of all. Thanks for all you do and for keeping things real and unbiased. It does not go noticed.

  22. Josh Fletcher says:

    For the Citi AA Platinum, if you are a current cardholder are you not eligible for the bonus? You mention 24 months for open and close. It’s been 4 years for me (or whenever that 100k bonus was) and i’ve only kept it open because they waive fee every year so I wanted to keep a longer credit history open. Thoughts?

  23. Justin says:

    Applied for Merril Lynch card Thursday. Approved Friday. How long do I have to apply for another Bank of America card on the same credit pull?

  24. NewYork12126 says:

    Awesome post and this is where I’ll be both referring back to and recommending others. I find the consideration of historical bonuses and a realistic valuation of non-cash value perks to be particularly refreshing.

    This blog is quickly becoming the only place I visit on a daily basis and is the only miles/points site to which I subscribe. Awesome work DoC!

  25. Mo says:

    Hey DoC,
    You would obviously know a lot more about this than I would. But, it doesn’t feel like Chase is gonna get rid of the 100k Reserve sign-on bonus any time soon. Why, the whole card intro was based on that bonus. It has also given them a tremendous amount of self-promoting exposure, and puts them on a similar pedestal to Amex. So while Amex is busy fighting churners over leaked links, Chase is laughing all the way to the bank (pun) for being the only one to have a running public 100K personal.

  26. Imapepper says:

    But do any of these beat this one:

    http://www.doctorofcredit.com/2-liter-bottle-as-a-signup-bonus-anyone/

    I mean really?

  27. JB says:

    AMEX Everyday Preferred 30k offer is gone. Been trying for 1.5 weeks with various browsers etc. and no luck

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