Here are what I consider to be the best credit card sign up bonuses at the present time. Which ones that you should apply for depend on your spending habits and your travel aspirations.
I have to include the new Bluebird Card from American Express in here as this new product while not a credit card is the new killer app among its peers. To read more about this amazing new card and why I consider this to be a game changer, click here.
- American Airlines Amex orAmerican Airlines Visa: Both these cards have a 40,000 point bonus and a $100 statement credit after meeting the $3000 spend within 3 months. This card has no fee for the first year. You can also apply for the business version at the same time as the personal version and get a double bonus! Most card companies will let you get a business and personal version of the same types of cards. Don't think you have a business? Do you sell items on Ebay? If so, you have a legitimate business, and can get a business card.
- Chase Sapphire: Also offers no fee for the first year as well. It comes with a 40,000 point bonus with a $3000 spend within 3 months. There are no foreign transaction fees on this card which can run as much as 3% of purchases. There are 2X points on travel and dining. These points transfer to United, Hyatt, Southwest, Amtrak, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Marriott, Priority Club, and Ritz Carlton. This is one of the primary cards my wife and I carry in our wallets. I consider this to be one of the best all around credit cards that happens to come with a great sign up bonus as well. This card occasionally sees a 50K sign up bonus.
- Chase Ink Bold charge card and Ink Plus credit card: Both of these cards offer a 50K point bonus: 25K after the first purchase and 25K after $5,000 spend within 3 months. The points transfer to the same programs as the Chase Sapphire above. Both cards earn 5X points on office supplies, wireless/telecommunication services, cable and satellite TV, and 2X points on hotel and gas stations up to 200,000 points per year. Because the Chase Ink Bold is a charge card (needs to be paid in full at the end of the month) and the Ink Plus is a credit card (you could carry a balance from month to month) they are considered different products by Chase. Because of this, you can argue that you would like both cards for the "occasional" time that you might want to carry a balance (NOT!). The Ink Bold is also front and center in my wallet. I currently do not have the Ink Plus as it is a new product, but one I plan to apply for one soon.
- American Express Starwood Preferred and Starwood Preferred Business Card: Both of these cards typically offer a 25k bonus - 10K after the first purchase and 15K more after a $5000 spend within 6 months. Both cards come with a credit of 2 stays and 5 night credit toward elite status with Starwood properties. $20,000 in spending during the year gets you Gold status with Starwood. (Gold status entitles you to free internet, free breakfast and free upgrades when available) While 25K points sounds low compared to other cards, Starwwod points are widely considered the most valuable of all award points. Whenever you transfer 20,000 miles at once to one of its partner programs, you get a 5000 mile bonus thus giving you essentially 1.25 points per dollar of spending. The annual fee is also waived for the first year. This is the card I use for everyday spending on anything that is not in one of the above bonus categories.
- United Explorer Card: This card has a 40K mile bonus after a $1000 spend within 3 months. It has no fee for the first year. I do not carry this card as I have heard first class awards on United Airlines are difficult to come by. If United is an airline that you typically fly, then this offer might be for you.
- US Airways Mastercard: 40K miles after the first purchase and the fee is waived for the first year. This card is issued by Barclay's Bank, which is a plus since it is not from one of the major players. I have been told this card is churnable. (In other words, you can cancel it, then sign up again and receive the bonus again after waiting a certain period of time). My wife and I both have this card. The $95 fee that is charged after the first year is more than made up by a $99 annual companion ticket for domestic travel as well as giving card holders priority boarding. This card is a long term hold for us as we frequently travel to Aruba on US Air. THIS OFFER MAY NO LONGER BE VALID with the upcoming merger between US Air and american.
- Two Hotel cards take up this spot. Chase Hyatt Visa offers two nights at ANY Hyatt in the world. (Diamond members get their two night in a confirmed suite). Platinum members get 2 confirmed upgrade certificates for use on PAID stays (a maximum of 7 nights). The Citi Hilton Reserve Visa comes with Hilton Gold status (upgraded rooms, free breakfast and internet) as long as you keep the card. This card also comes with two free weekend nights at any Hilton in the world. Well worth the annual fee for the gold status alone. Both my wife and I have this card as well.
- American Express Platinum card: 25K American Express Membership Rewards points after $2000 spend within 3 months. There is a $450 annual fee. This card would be retained for the benefits that come with the card such as lounge access, a $200 statement credit for things like bag fees, and reimbursement for Global Access fees which speed up your re-entry into the country.
- American Express Gold Business Rewards Card: $0 fee the first year, then $175 annually. I like this card for the point earning capabilities. I spend a lot on advertising and this card has 2X points on advertising, gas and shipping, 3X points on airlines and 1X on everything else.
- Chase Southwest Airlines Card: My wife has both the Business and Personal cards. this enabled her to earn the companion ticket. The companion ticket can be used over and over during the year. I'm not big on Southwest since most of my travel is overseas. For people who travel on Southwest it's a great offer. Best of all, you can earn the 110,00 miles necessary to earn the companion pass without ever have to fly on Southwest!
The best news of all is that if you have a spouse, you can both apply for these cards and both receive the sign up bonus!That is my summation of the ten best offers right now. How do they fit into your spending and travel needs?
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About The Points Doctor
The Points Doctor is Bruce J. Wilderman DDS of Artistic Expressions Dentistry. Dr. Wilderman has a practice limited to Cosmetic Dentistry, serving patients of the Philadelphia Area since 1986. He and wife of 30 years enjoy traveling the world for little or no money with the points and miles they have earned from the credit card companies. Dr. Wilderman would love to teach you how to do the same. You may reach him at ThePointsDoctor@comcast.net