10 Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses For March

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Update: Many of these offers are expired or outdated.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

Every month I make a post with what I consider to be the best credit card sign-up bonuses of the month.

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).

If you read my blog on a daily basis then by all means skip this post, but for me it’s a useful, “current” place to refer people that ask about which cards they should sign-up for, a question I get a daily basis. For reference, here is my list of the best credit card sign up bonuses for February.

With that in mind, here are what I consider to be the 10 best credit card sign-up bonuses for this month (and there are some exciting offers this month):

1. Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard

Current offer: 100,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $10,000 within three months, plus $200 statement credit
Annual fee: $450

Why it’s a great offer: This is the first 100,000 mile sign-up bonus I’ve ever seen on a card accruing AAdvantage miles, and I’m amazed how long it has lasted.

While the minimum spend is high and annual fee is hefty, you do get a $200 statement credit, which basically brings down the annual fee to $250. Furthermore, the card comes with Admirals Club access, which is useful since as of March 22, 2014, American Express Platinum cardmembers will no longer have access to Admirals Clubs.

I value American miles at 1.8 cents each, so this sign-up bonus is worth $1,550 to me ($1,800, minus the $250 annual fee after you factor in the $200 statement credit).

Citi-Executive-Bonus

2. 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. American miles haven’t been devalued yet either, unlike Delta and United miles.

The “catch” is that as of a few months ago you typically won’t get approved for a second card if you already have another version of the card. In other words, in the past it was possible to earn the sign-up bonuses on both the Visa and the Mastercard, though at the moment that doesn’t seem to be possible.

3. Ink Plus® Business Credit Card and Ink Bold® Business Charge 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: Both cards accrue Ultimate Rewards points, which I find incredibly valuable due to their extensive transfer partners. The Ink cards have a competitive sign-up bonus, and generous category bonuses which help sole proprietorships and small businesses maximize points on everyday credit card spend, including 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 1.5 cents each, so to me these points are worth $750.

4. 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 can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to Korean Air, United, Hyatt, and many other programs. The card is 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 $675. This is probably the most-used card in my wallet

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 incredibly useful. You can also earn a British Airways Travel Together ticket for spending $30,000 on the card in a calendar year.

I value British Airways Avios at 1.3 cents each, so to me the sign up bonus is worth ~$650.

6. The US Airways® Premier World Mastercard®

Current offer: 40,000 Dividend Miles after the first purchase
Annual fee: $89

Why it’s a great offer: Now that the merger with American is underway, chances are that this card will be discontinued at some point. US Airways is keeping their award chart for the immediate future though, and there are some great award redemptions in the meantime. It’s an easy 40,000 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 ~$550.

For what it’s worth they offered a 35,000 mile sign-up bonus with no annual fee the first year for a long time, though unfortunately that offer is now dead. I’d say this one is pretty comparable, though.

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. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

Current offer: 50,000 points after the first purchase, and an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 on the card within 90 days.
Annual fee: $75

Why it’s a great offer: As I’ve written about previously, the Club Carlson card has a ton of value, including 85,000 points after completing the minimum spend, a 40,000 point anniversary bonus, Gold status for as long as you have the card, and most importantly, the second night of award redemptions are free, potentially doubling the value of your points.

You earn 5x points per dollar spent on the card, so once you’ve spent $3,000 on the card you’ll have 100,000 points. Many of Club Carlson’s best hotels cost just 50,000 points per night, so that’s enough points for two sets of two nights at some of Club Carlson’s top properties. You can also redeem points for premium rooms and suites, which really increases the value of these points.

9. Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

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

Why it’s a great offer: 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 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.

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 is also a great card to use in conjunction with award tickets on airlines that levy fuel surcharges, so can be a huge cost-saver. 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!


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Comments

  1. I keep reading bloggers saying they value miles at less than two cents per mile. Based on how I use them, I think they are more valuable than that. Anyway, in your column today you mention that you value BA Avios at 1.3 cents per mile. If this was to be true, why would you not get a 2% cash back card instead? It truly makes no sense, if you really value miles that low (e.g. 1.3 cents per mile)…

  2. Lucky, do you know if the SPG card ever had only a 10,000 point bonus? I applied for the card last october and so far only the first 10k points posted. I thought it was some glitch and waited for it, and finally contacted AMEX through secure message and they are telling me that the offer i signed up for is only 10,000 points and not 25,000 points. I need to call them and discuss this further.

    But as far as i can remember it was a 25K offer, and i do have a saved PDF of the bonus terms. Just thinking out loud if there was ever a 10K only offer on SPG?

  3. Lucky, I have some MR points and Starwood points I’m planning to transfer to BA Avios. Question: do you anticipate MR running one of their 20% (or more) bonuses on points transferred to BA like we saw repeatedly last year? Should I hold out? And is there any such bonus I might look for when transferring my Starpoints to BA, other than the 5K bonus when transferring 20K points? Thanks!

  4. @ AB — I wouldn’t put non-bonused spend on the British Airways Avios Visa unless I was going for the companion certificate. But that’s not how I accrue British Airways Avios. For example, I use the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card which offers triple miles on airfare, and then further offers a 15,000 point bonus for any year in which you spend $30,000 on the card. So $30,000 of airfare spend would earn me 105,000 Membership Rewards points. Then Membership Rewards frequently has transfer bonuses to British Airways, so with a 30% bonus, for example, that’s 136,500 British Airways Avios. That’s well over four Avios per dollar.

    So I agree with you, you need a good reason to use something other than a cashback 2% card, but with the right category bonuses you can come out ahead.

  5. @ Jay — 10K is the standard bonus after first purchase, though the sign-up bonus has been 25K for as long as I can remember. Did you have the card in the past, or what reason are they giving you?

  6. @ Greg — It’s anyone’s guess, but I think we’ll see another Membership Rewards to Avios transfer bonus this year. Could be wrong, though.

    Sometimes BA offers a bonus for transfers from Starwood, though not at the moment. So I’d hold off if you can wait.

  7. Ben,

    I used your link and got approved for the Citibank 100K AA card. I used your referral link since you’ve been so gracious answering all my questions. Thanks.

  8. Lucky, this is the exact msg from AMEX

    Your card is eligible for the following welcome bonus offer based on the link/promotional offer used at the time of card application:

    – 10,000 bonus Starpoints once they make the first purchase on the Card within the first year (365 days) of opening the account (built-in Welcome bonus)
    – $0 introductory annual membership fee for the first year, then after that an annual membership fee of $65.

    It is strange where they came up with this without the other 15K bonus, anyway will call them and see what’s what..

  9. oh and never had the card before.. long overdue but finally got it and this!! I’ll update after speaking to AMEX..

  10. @Jay @Lucky AMEX SPG even though I have a transcript from my chat session back in August, SPG AMEX will not owner the full 30K bonus I applied for. They are now saying it wasn’t the link I followed though my chat transcript confirmed 10K points after first spend, and 20K after spending $5K in 6 months. This seism to be a common issue per a Flyertalk thread. Very disappointing, but I am still waging the battle to get the final 20K points I am entitled to.

  11. Hi Lucky. I’ve been reading about folks managing to get approved for two CitiExec World Elite Master Cards, so I thought I’d try submitting an application (having had this card and having cancelled it in December (2013) before the big “bonus”. But when I complete the form and click the green “review” button, it keeps saying I need to add missing information (my SSN and Security Word Hint) – which it keeps deleting every time I enter them. Is this their way of saying “we know who you are and you’re not welcome here”?

    I wonder if you’ve come across this?

    Thanks!

  12. @ DougB — Hmm, haven’t seen or heard of that before. Did you try a different browser or clearing your cookies? Not sure sure why that would happen. Can’t imagine it’s smart enough to “disqualify” you like that because you already have the card, but I could be wrong.

  13. For the BA card, I value the miles much higher when I do an upgrade to Club World from WT+. The biggest value though for me is when US/AA merge and the PHL-YYZ a flight that is $600 most days and direct 45 min. It will be 9000 Avios for a RT (if available in the new AA always open on US), you can get almost $3k out of 45k miles with the signup. For those of us out of Philly, using Avios for the US flights on new AA is where we see great value IMO plus not have to deal with the absurd high/low mile awards that US has had.

  14. @DougB: This happened to me, too. If you’re not very careful about scrolling all the way down and clicking on every imaginable “I agree” sort of button before submitting your application page, the system makes you complete the missing items while simultaneously clearing the two items you mentioned. The page seems to go back and forth as you describe in an impossible-to-complete paradoxical sort of way but, again, it’s because you’re not 100% completing the page all the way through the bottom of the page before hitting “submit.” I got the page to go through after ten minutes of wasted time, finally.

  15. Thank you so much Lucky and Tom!

    I cleared the cookies and obsessively checked & re-checked every field on the application (even scrolling through the T&C section), and it did indeed take my application. After successfully submitting, it asked me to call them to provide further information – which I just did, and received an approval over the phone – yahoo!

    Thanks again, truly!

  16. Hi Ben,

    I applied and was approved for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Mastercard in November 2013. That card is still open. I want to apply for the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard for the 100k mile bonus. Can you perceive if I will have any issues? I’m very selective about credit card applications and don’t want to waste one if I can’t get the bonus miles.

    Thanks, as always, for your help and insight!

  17. If my credit limit is only $1000 per month, is it possible to pay off my balance several times in the middle of the month to achieve the spending requirement?

  18. Membership Miles versus Ultimate Rewards. What’s your opinion Lucky? Which are best, given that I’m only interested in business or first class awards from LAX to Europe?

  19. @ Dan — If you want direct flights to Europe, and are willing to pay ~$1200 per person in fuel surcharges, I’d go with Membership Rewards. Otherwise Ultimate Rewards are hands-down the better value.

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