Published on November 30th, 2016 | by William Charles59
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.
- 1 Personal Cards
- 1.1 Merrill Lynch MERRILL+ Visa – 50,000 Points After $3,000 In Spend
- 1.2 Chase Freedom Unlimited
- 1.3 Barclaycard Arrival 50,000 Points
- 1.4 Chase Sapphire Preferred 70,000 Points
- 1.5 Chase Sapphire Reserve – 100,000 Points
- 1.6 Bank of America Alaska Airlines 30,000 Miles + $100 Statement Credit
- 1.7 Chase IHG 80,000 Points (Personal)
- 1.8 Avianca Vuela Visa Card – 40,000/60,000
- 1.9 Chase Southwest Personal Plus/Premier – 50,000 Points
- 1.10 Citi Prestige 50,000 Points
- 1.11 Citi American Airlines Platinum 50,000 Miles
- 1.12 Discover it – $50 + Double Cash Back
- 1.13 Citi Hilton Reserve Two Free Nights + $100 Statement Credit
- 1.14 U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express – 30,000 Points
- 2 Business Card Bonuses
- 3 Not On The List
- 4 Final Thoughts
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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.
U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express – 30,000 Points
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
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
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
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
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
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
- American Express Hilton 75,000/100,000 Offers. By no means a bad deal, but there were leaked links for 100,000/125,000 recently so I suspect we will see those offers publicly available sometime in the near future. If you have an immediate need for Hilton points then these cards could make sense.
- American Express Delta Gold 50,000 + $50/$100. Similar to above, offers of 75,000 miles have been floating around. I never feel comfortable holding Delta miles, especially now that they have no award chart. Again, if you have an immediate need/plan for the miles then go for it.
- American Express Delta Platinum 70,000 + 10k MQM + $100. Again, same as above. If you have an immediate need go for it.
- I also didn’t include any of the American Express incognito mode offers as people seem to have difficulty to get them to show up. There are some really good offers there though, so it’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible for any of them. Here are some (I’ve tried to somewhat rank them):
- Blue Cash Everyday: Up To $450 Back ($250 Sign Up Bonus + 10% On Amazon)
- AmEx Everyday 25,000 points
- American Express Green Charge Card 25,000 Membership Rewards Points Offer
- American Express Gold Charge Card 25,000 Membership Rewards Points Bonus
- Amex SPG 30,000 Bonus on Personal Card [YMMV]
- Blue Cash Preferred: Up To $450 Back ($250 Sign Up Bonus + 10% On Amazon)
- AmEx Everyday Preferred 30,000 points
- Amex Business Gold Rewards 75,000 Signup Bonus for $5,000 Spend [YMMV]
- Platinum Card from American Express for Ameriprise Financial. Annual fee on this card is waived first year (normally $450). Wait until it comes with a sign up bonus as well to jump onto this.
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?