10 best credit card sign-up bonuses for May

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!

Update: Many of these offers are expired or outdated. Please check out the current list of the best current travel credit cards.

While there are several excellent long standing credit card offers, the specifics of the best offers are constantly changing (be it the annual fee, minimum spend requirement, or even amount of the sign-up bonus).

Continuing with what I started doing two months ago, I’m making a post on the first Monday of every month with what I consider to be the best credit card sign-up bonuses of the month. If you read my blog on a daily basis then by all means skip this post, but I know it’ll be a useful, “current” place for me to refer people that ask about which cards they should sign-up for, a question I get a daily basis. This month there are several changes to the list.

With that in mind, here are what I currently consider to be the 10 best credit card sign-up bonuses:

1. Ink Bold® Business Charge Card and Ink Plus® Business Credit Card

Current offer: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: This remains the single best credit card sign-up bonus out there, and the best part is that you can earn the bonus on both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards. So if you have just one of the above cards you can still get the other.

Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most valuable points currencies given that they can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to United, Hyatt, and many other programs. The cards are also great for everyday spend given that they offer 5x points at office supply stores, and on cell phones, internet, and cable TV, and double points on gas and hotels. So this is a card that’s good for both for the sign-up bonus and for everyday spend. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.8 cents each, so to me these points are worth a whopping $900.

2. The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN

Current offer: 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175

Why it’s a great offer: This is a promotional sign-up offer on a card that doesn’t ordinarily come with any sign-up bonus. While there’s a high annual fee it’s waived for the first year, and at the very least has some good short term potential for earning points given that it offers triple points on airfare, double points on gas, shipping, and advertising, and one point per dollar spent on everything. I value Membership Rewards points at 1.8 cents each, so to me the sign-up bonus is worth $900. Furthermore there are often transfer bonuses from Membership Rewards to their partner programs, potentially making these points even more valuable. For example, there’s a 35% bonus on transfers to British Airways Executive Club at the moment.

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Current offer: 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months, plus an additional 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you add an authorized user to the card that makes a purchase within three months.
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most valuable points currencies given that they can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to United, Hyatt, and many other programs. The cards are also great for everyday spend given that it offers double points on dining and travel. I value the sign-up bonus on this card at $720. Given that you can get the Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, and Chase Sapphire Preferred, that’s an easy 140,000 Ultimate Rewards points worth of sign-up bonuses alone, not factoring in the points you can earn for everyday spend.

4. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Current offer: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: American miles are extremely valuable for OneWorld travel, and offer some of the best premium cabin redemptions out there, like first class between the US and Asia on Cathay Pacific for 67,500 miles one-way. I value American miles at 1.8 cents each, so this sign-up bonus is worth $900 to me.

5. British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Current offer: 50,000 Avios after spending $2,000 within three months (offer is only available to applicants that haven’t had the card in the last 24 months)
Annual fee:  $0 Intro Annual Fee The First Year, Then $95

Why it’s a great offer: British Airways has a distance based award chart which is extremely lucrative for shorthaul travel, as awards start at just 4,500 Avios one-way. Given that short flights are often disproportionately expensive when paying cash, I’ve found Avios to be invaluable. I value British Airways Avios at 1.3 cents each, so to me the sign up bonus is worth ~$550 (factoring in the annual fee).

6. Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

Current offer: Two free weekend nights at most Hilton family properties after spending $2,500 within four months
Annual fee: $95

Why it’s a great offer: In late March Hilton substantially devalued their award chart, making some properties as expensive as 95,000 HHonors points per night. These free night certificates are redeemable all the way up to category 10 properties, potentially making this sign-up bonus worth the equivalent of 190,000 HHonors points. So in terms of buying power, the value of these certificates has hugely increased over the past week compared to the buying power of HHonors points. Furthermore you get HHonors Gold status for as long as you have the card, which gets you free breakfast and internet. As far as I’m concerned those are the two most useful hotel elite benefits, and you get that all for the low annual fee on the card.

The Chase Hyatt Visa Card and Fairmont Visa Signature Card also offer similar sign-up bonuses of two free nights after completing the minimum spend, though I’d say the thing that gives the Citi Reserve Card the “edge” is that it gets you their mid-tier status as well, which is extremely valuable.

7. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express

Current offer: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months, and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers 10,000 Starpoints after the first purchase, and 15,000 additional Starpoints after spending $5,000 within six months.
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65

Why it’s a great offer: Starpoints remain the most valuable points currency out there to me, and are a great value for both hotel redemptions and airline mileage transfers. I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each, so this sign-up bonus is worth $550 to me. Terms apply.

8. US Airways Barclaycard Mastercard

Current offer: 35,000 Dividend Miles after the first purchase
Annual fee: $85, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: Use it or lose it. Once the merger takes place it’s a near guarantee that Citi will be issuing American’s new co-branded credit card, so this card won’t be around much longer. It’s an easy 35,000 Dividend Miles given that you get the miles after the first purchase. I value US Airways miles at 1.6 cents each, so this sign-up bonus is worth ~$560.

It’s worth noting that while the above link seems to work as of now, I can’t guarantee for how long it’ll continue to work. Last time I posted a similar link the application continued to work though people started getting automatically rejected since the offer wasn’t intended to be publicly available. The only offer on which I can guarantee the bonus is my affiliate link, which only offers 30,000 Dividend Miles after the first purchase and doesn’t have the first year annual fee waived.

9. Lufthansa Miles & More World Mastercard

Current offer: 20,000 Miles & More miles after the first purchase, 30,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 within 90 days
Annual fee: $79

Why it’s a great offer: As discussed in this post, Miles & More miles are valuable both for domestic travel within the US and for travel in Lufthansa and Swiss first class. The sign-up bonus alone will get you enough miles for three one-way tickets within the US in United two cabin first class or three cabin business class.

It’s worth noting that while the above link seems to work as of now, I can’t guarantee how long it’ll continue to work. It’s not an “official” offer and doesn’t have a landing page, so if you prefer to apply through an official link you can use this one, which has the same details except requires a minimum spend of $5,000 in order to earn the full sign-up bonus.

10. Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®

Current offer: 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within first 90 days
Annual fee: $89, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: Each point can be redeemed for one cent towards the cost of travel, and you get a 10% refund of redeemed miles, making each point worth 1.1 cents. This sign-up bonus is therefore worth $440, and you can earn a pretty great 2.2% cash back towards travel for every dollar spent on the card.

Anyway, those are my top 10 cards based on sign-up bonuses this month. If you have any questions or other cards you think have great sign-up bonuses, let me know in the comments section!


Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Fairmont Visa Signature Credit Card have been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. @ Lantean — At the end of the day it’s basically a 25,000 mile sign-up bonus plus a “net” of $25 after factoring in the statement credit and annual fee. It’s a good offer, though don’t think it’s better than any of the above.

  2. @ SM — While the official bonus is for 30K, that link still seems to net the 50K bonus.

  3. I’ve got to disagree with you on the Alaska Card. I apply for this card every six months, regardless of how “good” the offer is. Eventually, that will yield an Emirates A380 F award, which you can’t get many other ways.

  4. @ Gene — I agree it’s a great card to apply for and you *should* apply for it since it’s churnable, but how much are those 25,000 miles really worth to you? I don’t think they’re worth more than $400, are they?

  5. Lucky, I consider you and Gary as absolute miles and points geniuses. That being so, I am astounded you both are getting this LH offer so wrong. The two apps are not equal with the exception of the minimum spend. The T/C of the affiliate offer says:

    Premier World and Platinum Miles & More Mastercard cardmembers will receive 20,000 bonus miles upon the first use of your new Account for a purchase or balance transfer within the first 60 days that the Account is opened. Cardmembers will receive an additional 30,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening.

    The rogue link says:

    Miles & More Platinum Mastercard cardmembers will receive 5,000 bonus miles upon the first use of your new Account for a purchase or balance transfer within the first 60 days that the Account is opened.

    Barclays is notorious for giving out the Platinum card, even to folks with excellent credit. Especially if you have “too much credit already”. Which would be most of us. 😀 And no, if you get the lessor one, and call in, they will NOT work with you to change it.

    Not to mention that often the unofficial links fail to work with Barclays. I used the unofficial link for the US card last churn, and Barclays waited a month before telling me that my app was turned down, without even a credit check, because the link had “expired”. So I’ve had to wait another 3+ months to reapply.

    The unofficial link is better than the affiliate link, as long as you don’t card if your app actually goes thru, and you will be just as happy with 5K miles as you would be with 50K miles. Otherwise, the affiliate link is the way to go.

    And for those of us with VR availability at CVS, it’s a given, since that extra $2,500 in spend comes at a cost of only $20 in VR fees.

  6. @Ben — I value the 25,000 miles at $475, purely to justify my purchases of 10,000 miles for $190 every time I buy an Alaska ticket!

  7. Why isn’t the Club Carlson Card getting any love? I would argue that this is a far better card than the reserve. A lot of people have a bad taste in their mouths since the decapitation of the Hilton program.

  8. @ Tim2 — If this were a list of the top 10 cards to keep long term, the Club Carlson card would be near the top of the list, though purely in terms of the sign-up bonus I don’t think it belongs in the top 10. But that’s a good idea for another post.

  9. @ Gene — I suppose anything can be justified if you try hard enough, but if you’re valuing an Emirates redemption at 1.9 cents per Alaska mile, that means you’re valuing an award between the US and Middle East at around $3,500.

    Starwood was recently selling Starpoints for 2.65 cents each. You could transfer those points to Japan Airlines, meaning you were paying 2.12 cents per Japan Airlines miles. If you were to fly Emirates between New York and Dubai (which I assume you want to do if your plan is to shower aboard) you’d be paying 140,000 Japan Airlines miles vs. 180,000 Alaska miles.

    You would save a LOT of money going that route instead if that was your plan. And while the number of Starpoints you can purchase per account is capped, they do allow household transfers, so…

  10. Monthly review is still helpful because no one can remember every daily post and ideas can change later. I just signed up for the AA Citi card based on your reminder. Keep up the good work.

  11. To me the Citibank AA card is the single best airline card out there. Not just because of the sign up bonus, but if you don’t have status you get priority access just by flashing the card. To me that’s invaluable.

  12. Thanks Lucky! Yep I signed up for the citi AA card 2-3 weeks ago using that link and after approval, called them up to reconfirm the 50k bonus after $2500 spend and they confirmed it! Can’t wait to try Qantas and Cathay (am a star alliance/Emirates guy.)

  13. @Ben — Yeah, I know, I’m just way closer to earning the Emirates ticket via AS than via SPG and JAL.

  14. Lucky, I recall you had a post back a year ago on which credit cards are churnable. If you have time to update that post on which credit cards are still churnable, I’d think your readers would appreciate that!

  15. @Robert Hanson – Looks like you’re right about Barclays. The 35k non-affiliate link for US Airways returned this for me – “Error Processing Request…. Our website is experiencing technical issues.”

  16. Lucky – 3 months ago I was approved for the AA business card with 50,000 bonus miles, annual fee waived the first year, and $150 statement credit after an AA purchase. Do both the personal and business links still work?

  17. @ UAPhil — At this point only the personal Visa link seems to work for 50K. The others don’t anymore.

  18. Barclay’s is the toughest bank for serial credit card applicants. Was turned down for the Arrival because:

    1) “I took out 17 credit cards in the last 12 months” (I think it was only 17 hard pulls :>))
    2) You took out our USAir card last year but only used it once for $9.

    I can sweet talk Chase into reconsidering me (canceling two cards if need be), but not Barclay’s.

  19. I second apu’s question. I canceled the citi AA personal card last april or may can I get the bonus again? I wanted to try the business card but the bonus is lower.

    Thanks.

  20. @Tennen Thanks for the support, as neither Gary nor Lucky will even acknowledge that I posted anything. I’m not being combative here, I’m just posting what seems reasonable to me based on my experience, and that of others who have also posted. So why do my posts get zero response from Gary and Lucky?

    That seems especially strange, since my posts back their affiliate links, while they seem to be totally behind the links that get them nothing. Go figure….

  21. @ Apu @ Rich — It really seems to vary by person. My rule of thumb is that if you wait 18 months you shouldn’t have issues earning the bonus again. Anything less than that seems to vary by person.

  22. @ Robert Hanson — Sorry, wasn’t meaning to ignore your question, just didn’t have anything to add. I agree with you, and I think I disclosed that in my post earlier today about the Lufthansa credit card. Assuming you get approved the non-affiliate link is better, but if you only get approved for the Platinum card the affiliate link is much better.

  23. I’ve got the Ink bold, can I also get the Ink Plus and qualify for the bonus?
    Thanks

  24. I got the CSP Visa 2 years ago – 50,000 points. Ayear ago I opened a CSP BY CLOSING THE VISA CSP with the reconsideration line & got 40,000 points.

    If I apply now for the VISA version & I assume with reconsideration I will have to close the Mastercard version -Will I get the points again?

    Or is it a one time deal for each brand Visa & Mastercard?

  25. @ Patrick — Yes, you sure can! I have both cards and earned the bonuses on both cards.

  26. @ ih — It’s tough to say for sure. Typically with Chase if you wait two years between applications you have a good chance of earning the bonus again. It’s not guaranteed, but there’s a very good chance of earning it again.

  27. Okay, Lucky, thanks for that. I went back and read the previous post, and for anyone who reads that, yes, you explained it well in that post.

    But, and this is what I was commenting on, in this post for the “BEST” credit card signups, you highlighted the “risky” link, without restating that risk. And in this post you only put the safe link in at the end, for those who “prefer to apply through an official link”.

    Sorry, but it’s not an issue of preferring to apply thru an official link. I’ve gotten 4 Citi AA cards thru unofficial links that gave me far more miles than the official links would have given me. But I’ve also missed out on 35K US Air miles because I used an unofficial Barclays link that only offered 5K more miles than the official one.

    The issue here is that, uniquely with Barclays, there is a very real danger of
    {1 an unofficial link not getting processed; in my case Barclays took a full month to notify me that my US Air cc link
    was “expired”.
    {2 Even with excellent credit you may get a nearly useless card with a measly 5K miles when you would have gotten 50K miles with the official link.

    I felt that you should have put the safe affiliate link in the highlighted title. And put in the unofficial link at the end with the caveat of ‘for those willing to take the risk’. And even then only if they don’t have VR at their local CVS, since the VR fees for $2,500 extra spend come out to a total of $20. Why risk 45K miles to save $20 ?

  28. Gary just posted that the word from F/T etc. is that the rogue link is not working. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you. 😀

  29. @ skizzy Well, if you want to talk politics… 😀

    Remember when GWB invaded Iraq because of the danger of WMD ? There were credible reports at the time that those WMDs were shipped to Syria for “safekeeping”, since Saddam hoped that when none were found he could regain power. But of course, the MSM ignored those reports since they didn’t fit their anti-Bush agenda.

    Now guess what? Obama is reporting that Syria has used “chemical weapons” against the rebels, {just as Saddam did against the Kurds}. And where did those chemical weapons come from, since no one thought that Assad had a WMD program? I’ll give you 3 guesses.

    So, yeah, Iraq did have WMDs, and Saddam did pass them on to rogue states in the area, just as it was feared he would. The good news is he was deposed before he was able to develop atomic weapons. No wonder that multiple recent polls show GWB is now as popular as Obama.

    Just wait until the full story on Benghazi gets reported….

  30. Ben – Just applied and got approved! Woohoo! And this was all done on my iPhone browser (Safari).

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