Banks continue to compete against each other in an effort to attract customers with the best credit scores. In fact, credit card companies use sign-up bonuses to entice you to apply for their credit cards. A sign-up bonus consists of points or miles awarded after the first purchase, or awarded after a modest amount of spending in the first three months after signing up for the card.
The most notable sign-up bonuses in the past that are now expired include Capital One’s “Match My Miles” giveaway, which awarded up to $1,000 in statement credits to cardholders, and Chase’s British Airway’s Visa, which offered a generous 100,000 points sign-up bonus.
However, many rewards credit cards still offer excellent sign-up bonuses today.
Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses
Chase is once again running a promotion offering 100,000 points as a sign-up bonus. Although there are spending requirements, this is still one of the best bonuses available in the industry.
See our British Airways Credit Card Review for more information.
- Sign-Up Bonus. The British Airways Visa Signature Card from Chase awards a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after your first purchase, 25,000 points after you make $10,000 in purchases within the first year of account opening, and 25,000 points after you make an additional $10,000 in purchases within the first year of account opening.
- Redemption Opportunities. Use points when flying on partner airlines in the OneWorld Alliance, including American Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Award redemptions for flights operated by British Airways are subject to fuel surcharges that can be hundreds of dollars per flight.
- Rewards. Most airline-affiliated travel rewards credit cards allow cardholders to earn 1 mile per dollar spent. This card, however, earns an outstanding 1.25 points per dollar charged to the card.
- Two For One Award Certificate. Cardholders who spend $30,000 in a calendar year receive a complimentary companion award certificate, but they still have to pay the fuel surcharges for the other passenger.
- Annual Fee. This card has a $95 annual fee.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. This card has no foreign transaction fee.
Chase uses their own program, Ultimate Rewards, to compete with other cards for the top sign-up bonus.
See our Chase Sapphire Credit Card Review for more information.
- Sign-Up Bonus. Chase offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in three months, plus a 7% annual dividend of points earned.
- Redemption Opportunities. Redeem Ultimate Rewards program points for $413 cash back or $534 in travel purchases from Chase’s Ultimate Rewards booking service. Cardholders can also redeem program points for several gift card and merchandise reward options.
- Blueprint Features. Cardholders may enroll in Chase’s innovative Blueprint payment program. This system allows cardholders to pay some balances in full while incurring interest on others. There are also several advanced budgeting features.
- Rewards. Cardholders receive one point per dollar charged, two points on travel purchases, and three points for travel booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards booking service.
- Annual Fee. There is a $95 fee that is waived the first year.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. This car has no foreign transaction fees.
The American Express Platinum Card is an amazingly feature packed card by itself, and the new version, co-branded with Mercedes-Benz only adds more benefits. The terms of the offer are below:
- Sign-Up Bonus. This card offers 50,000 Membership Rewards as a sign-up bonus for spending $1,000 in the first three months and has a number of other perks, including airline lounge memberships and discounts on Mercedes cars and accessories.
- Redemption Opportunities. Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for cash back, merchandise, or gift cards at a rate of one cent per point. Alternatively, you can transfer points to miles with about 20 different carriers. 50,000 miles is enough for two round trip domestic tickets or a coach ticket to Europe at the lowest level of most mileage programs.
- Rewards. Cardholders earn one point per per dollar charged, and five points per dollar charged for eligible purchases from Mercedes-Benz.
- Annual Fee. There is an $475 annual fee, but that is largely offset by airline fee waivers and other perks.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. Like the standard Amex Platinum card, there are no foreign transaction fees assessed on purchases made outside of the U.S.
The American Express Starwood Preferred Card is a favorite among travelers who want to earn the most valuable rewards. In addition to the rewards program, this card offers a competitive sign-up bonus.
See our Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Review for more information.
- Sign-Up Bonus. The Starwood Preferred Card from American Express offers a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Starpoints.
- Minimum Spending Requirement. 10,000 points are received after your first purchase and 15,000 more Starpoints are available when you spend $5,000 or more within six months of opening the account.
- Redemption Opportunities. Cardholders can exchange Starpoints for airline miles with 30 different carriers or redeem the points for free nights at any available hotel room at any time. Cardholders receive a 5,000 point bonus for each 20,000 points exchanged for airline miles. When redeeming Starpoints for hotel stays, the fifth night is free.
- Rewards. Cardholders earn one Starpoint per dollar charged, with more points available for spending at Starwood properties, depending on the card holder’s status level with the program. Spending $30,000 in a calendar year automatically elevates cardholders to Starwood Gold status.
- Annual Fee. This card has a $65 annual fee that is waived the first year.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. This card charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee for each transaction after conversion to U.S. dollars.
The Citi ThankYou Premier Card is the latest addition to this list. The card is now offering a much larger bonus in order to remain competitive with these other products.
See our Citi ThankYou Premier Card Review for more information.
- Sign-Up Bonus. They are currently offering 30,000 ThankYou points, but you must spend $2,000 within three months of opening an account.
- Redemption Opportunities. These points can be redeemed for cash back, merchandise, gift cards, or travel at various rates. The points are worth $300 worth of gift cards or $399 in airfare.
- Rewards. Cardholders will receive one point per dollar spent, plus a 20% bonus from purchases at supermarkets, gas stations, and drug stores.
- Annual Fee. This card has a $125 annual fee, but it is waived the first year under this promotion.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. There are no fees for transactions processed outside of the United States.
Cardholders would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to equal the rewards given as sign-up bonuses with these cards. With the exception of the Starwood American Express card, they all have a relatively modest minimum spending requirement.
The market for incredible credit card sign-up bonuses changes often in this dynamic environment, so bookmark this page for regular updates to this list.
Did you receive an impressive sign-up bonus with your rewards credit card? What are some of your favorite credit card promotions that are currently running?
Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, or airline. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.