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Update: Many of these offers are expired or outdated.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 on a daily basis. For reference, here is my list of the best credit card sign up bonuses for July.
With that in mind, here are what I consider to be the best credit card sign-up bonuses for this month (this month I have 12, since there are a couple of promotional offers):
1. 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: I would argue these are the all around best business credit cards out there. 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.
It’s worth noting that Chase is running a promotional sign-up bonus on the Ink Plus Card, but only if you apply directly at a Chase branch. They’re offering 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000, though the $95 annual fee isn’t waived the first year. So if you have access to a Chase branch, that’s going to be a better offer.
Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel in Korean Air first class
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. Using a valuation of 1.8 cents per mile, this sign-up bonus is worth $900.
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. 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.
4. Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Current offer: 70,000 Marriott Rewards points after spending $2,000 within three months, plus one free night certificate valid at Category 1-4 property upon account approval
Annual fee: $85, waived the first year
Why it’s a great offer: While I’m not usually a Marriott guy, this is a very lucrative offer. I value Marriott Rewards points at ~0.8 cents each, so between that and the free night certificate, that’s quite a sign-up bonus. Also keep in mind that you get a free night at a Category 1-5 property on your account anniversary every year, which more than justifies the $85 annual fee, in my opinion.
5. United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
Current offer: 50,000 MileagePlus miles after spending $2,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
Why it’s a great offer: This is one of the best publicly available offers I’ve seen on the United Explorer Card. Keep in mind United MileagePlus is also an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so you can transfer points from Ultimate Rewards to MileagePlus to top off an account. It’s worth noting that there was also a version of the offer with a $50 statement credit, though that link doesn’t seem to be working anymore.
6. 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 ~$550 after accounting for the annual fee.
Redeem British Airways Avios for travel in British Airways first class
7. Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard
Current offer: 60,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $7,500 within three months, plus $100 statement credit
Annual fee: $450
Why it’s a great offer: In absolute terms this offer is still very good, though not as good as before. For nearly six months this card offered a 100,000 mile sign-up bonus after spending $10,000 within three months. Then the best sign-up bonus on the card was 75,000 miles, and now it’s down to 60,000.
You do get a $100 statement credit, which basically brings down the annual fee to $350. Furthermore, the card comes with Admirals Club access, which is useful since as of March 22, 2014, American Express Platinum cardmembers no longer have access to Admirals Clubs. It’s also worth nothing that some have had luck earning the sign-up bonus on this card multiple times.
If you’re valuing American miles at ~1.8 cents each, this sign-up bonus is worth ~$730 to me ($1,080), minus the $350 annual fee after you factor in the $100 statement credit). That being said, unlike many of the other offers, you’re actually paying quite a bit in “cash” to pick up the miles.
Redeem AAdvantage miles for travel in Etihad first class
8. 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.
Redeem Starpoints for a stay at the St. Regis Abu Dhabi
9. 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.
10. 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. This is 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.
Redeem US Airways miles for travel in airberlin business class
11. 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 Hyatt Credit 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.
Redeem Citi HHonors free weekend night certificates at the Conrad Koh Samui
12. 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 credit 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 Fairmont Visa Signature® 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.