Credit Cards Bonuses: Credit card bonus offers can come in the form of cashback, miles, or points, and offer a great way to kick start your earning with hundreds of dollars in rewards. Here are our top picks for cards with the best bonuses right now.
First, we try to focus on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles.
It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
After several evaluations on dozens of credit cards that are currently offering welcome bonuses, we came up with cards with the best bonuses:
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Sapphire (Chase) Preferred
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- The Platinum Card from American Express
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- American Express Gold Card
- Blue Cash Preferred
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Sign-up bonus: $150 bonus (or 15,000 points) after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months
Annual fee: $0
This card helps you earn points for normal purchases and get cashback with no annual fee
If you already have the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred and are saving your points for something, Freedom Unlimited can give your balance a nice boost.
While Chase markets the card as “cash back,” it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can redeem for cash (1 point = 1 cent).
When you have a premium card like one of the Sapphires or an Ink Business card, you can pool your points from the two cards. The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5 points per dollar spent, so paired with a Sapphire Reserve, it’s a great card to use for purchases that aren’t made on travel expenses or dining.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a fantastic all-around card. However, to get the most value when it’s time to spend your points, you need the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred card, too, so you can pool your points.
Otherwise, points are only worth 1¢ each no matter how you use them and they can’t be transferred to airline or hotel partners.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $95
This credit card has a higher sign-up bonus and lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve, easy to rack up points.
Now that the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee, it’s harder to recommend it as the best travel rewards card overall.
The Sapphire Preferred, on the other hand, has broader appeal with a number of similar features and a higher sign-up bonus, all for a lower annual fee.
The Sapphire Preferred card earns 2x Ultimate Rewards points instead of the Reserve’s 3x points on dining and travel, 5x points on Lyft, and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Points are worth a lower 1.25 cents apiece on travel booked through Chase, but can still be transferred to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs.
There’s no annual travel credit, but there’s still car rental primary coverage, as well as slightly less-generous trip delay coverage and purchase protection.
If you don’t think you’ll be able to use the Sapphire Reserve’s new benefits that accompanied the increased annual fee — like DoorDash statement credits and Lyft Pink membership — the Sapphire Preferred could be a better choice.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $550
This credit card easy to earn rewards for travel and more, with a great sign-up bonus and 3x points on travel and dining.
With 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining and any travel and 1 point per dollar on everything else, the Sapphire Reserve makes it easy to maximize your everyday spending, and it comes with a slew of perks.
It used to be our top travel rewards card pick, but now that it has a $550 annual fee (up from $450), it’s harder to recommend to everyone.
The Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee is offset by a $300 travel credit each year, good for things like taxis, subway fare, parking, tolls, and flights.
This effectively decreases the annual fee to $250, so you’ll have to decide whether the card’s other benefits are worth it for you.
You now get up to $60 in credits with DoorDash in 2020 and again in 2021, 10x points on Lyft rides, and a year of complimentary Lyft Pink membership (which gets you discounted rides and more).
If you frequently travel with Lyft and use DoorDash to order food delivery, these benefits could easily justify the higher annual fee — but that’s not the case for everyone.
Travel benefits include access to airport lounges through the Priority Pass network, trip delay coverage, purchase protection, a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, and primary car rental insurance.
However, while the airport lounge access can be great, most Priority Pass lounges are in international terminals, which isn’t helpful when you’re flying domestically.
If you find lounge access crucial, you should consider the Amex Platinum, which offers superior lounge access within the US.
The Platinum Card from American Express
Welcome offer: 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $550
The Amex Platinum has a higher annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve, but also a long list of benefits. The Platinum card is also one of the best options for paying for flights because you’ll earn 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare purchased directly with airlines.
Like Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points can be used to purchase travel, gift cards, or products directly from the issuer, or they can be transferred to certain airline and hotel loyalty programs.
The best value comes from that latter use. If you redeem points by using them to book travel through Amex, you’ll get around 1 cent per point.
The Platinum Card includes access to the same lounges as the Sapphire Reserve, plus Delta Sky Clubs and the proprietary American Express Centurion Lounges.
Amex Platinum cardholders also get exclusive access to major events and experiences, including once-in-a-lifetime “By Invitation Only” events.
Of course, $550 is a lot to pay out each year. Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits and up to $200 in annual Uber credits certainly help, but the airline credit can be difficult to use if you aren’t checking bags or buying drinks on flights.
The bonus spending categories on this card are less generous than on the Sapphire Reserve, meaning it can take longer to earn points unless you book a lot of flights.
Even so, the card remains extremely valuable if you can make good use of the benefits.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $0 the first year; then $95
This credit card has a low annual fee, easy to earn miles for travel.
Capital One’s travel rewards program isn’t necessarily as lucrative as what other banks offer. However, Capital One recently expanded the card’s benefits, adding airline transfer partners, and launching transfer bonuses — such as a 20% bonus to Air France/KLM.
While the transfer value isn’t quite as good as with Chase or Amex, the flip side is that Capital One miles are easy to earn and easy to use — and thanks to a new partnership, you can earn them quickly.
The Venture Rewards card earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit to “erase” travel purchases.
For example, if you buy a $500 plane ticket, you can apply 50,000 miles to cancel out that charge. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.
Capital One added airline transfer partners in late 2018 — most are at a 2:1.5 ratio and a few are 2:1 — meaning it’s now possible to get outsized value from the card.
American Express Gold Card
Welcome offer: 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $250
It has generous rewards on dining and groceries.
The Gold Card earns a massive 4x points at restaurants worldwide and on up to $25,000 per year at US supermarkets (and 1x point after that), 3x points on flights booked directly through the airline, 2x points on hotels booked and prepaid through Amex Travel, and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Based on the fact that you can easily redeem Membership Rewards points for more than 1 cent of value each when you transfer them to frequent flyer partners, this is one of the highest-earning available cards for everything food-related.
The Gold Card offers up to $120 of dining credits per year, broken into chunks of $10 each month. Credits are good for purchases through food delivery services Seamless and GrubHub, and at The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, or participating Shake Shack locations.
Additionally, the card offers up to a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year, which is good for things like checked bags, onboard food and drinks, seat reservations, seat upgrades, lounge day passes, and more.
The two credits — together worth $220 — are almost enough to offset the card’s $250 annual fee even before factoring in the value of the rewards you’ll earn.
Blue Cash Preferred
Welcome offer: $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $95
You can earn your cashback quickly at a great rate.
If you’re less excited about earning rewards points — which can be valuable, but also tricky to redeem — and want to stick with cashback, the Blue Cash Preferred is the best option, despite its $95 annual fee.
Amex recently added 6% cashback on select US streaming services and 3% back on all transit. That’s in addition to the existing categories of 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year (and 1% after that), 3% back at US gas stations, and 1% cashback on everything else.
The Blue Cash Preferred comes with a handful of travel and purchase protection as well. Cashback comes in the form of a statement credit, so effectively you can use it to “erase” purchases.
If you want to earn cashback instead of points and miles, make sure to check out our guide to the best cash-back credit cards for more options.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days
Annual fee: $95
It’s a good credit card even if you don’t have a lot of money with Bank of America, but if you qualify for the bank’s Preferred Rewards program, it’s even better.
If you want a rewards card that offers bonus points without lots of hoops to jump through, the Premium Rewards card can be a great option. It does offer extra rewards to Bank of America customers who qualify for the Preferred Rewards program.
The Bank of America Preferred Rewards program is for customers with an average three-month balance of at least $20,000 in qualifying Bank of America or Merrill investment accounts.
There are three tiers — Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Honors — and depending on what tier you qualify for, you can get a 25% to 75% bonus on all points earning with the Premium Rewards card. So you’ll get 1.875x to 2.62x points on non-bonus purchases, and 2.5x to 3.5x points on travel and dining purchases.
Beyond offering the potential to be very rewarding for Bank of America customers, the Premium Rewards card offers up to a $100 credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
You also get up to $100 in airline incidental fee credits each year, so if you take full advantage of these two benefits, you’ll actually come out ahead compared to the $95 annual fee.
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1. How did we choose the best rewards credit cards?
We define “very best options” as those that offer concrete value through benefits like annual statement credits and airport lounge access and through rewards such as bonus points on your everyday spending.
2. What credit card offers the best rewards?
If you don’t want to overthink it, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a safe bet. However, there is no easy answer if you want to optimize all of your spending, because all the types of points and miles have different values.
3. What are the different types of rewards credit cards?
There are a few main types of rewards cards: They include “Flexible” travel rewards credit cards, Cash-back credit cards and Hotel or airline travel rewards credit cards
4. Should I earn cashback or points?
It depends on what you want to do with your rewards. If you want to put money back in your bank account, a cash-back credit card will help you accomplish just that — and you usually won’t have to pay a very high annual fee, if you have to pay one at all.
5. How Many Different Types of Credit Cards Can You Have?
The short answer is: Nope. There is no hard-and-fast limit to how many credit cards you can have in your name, nor are there any official restrictions on the types of cards you can carry.
Well-known credit card issuers offer competitive rates, features, and fees that don’t differ much, at times, but you can break a tie with how welcoming their sign-up bonuses are.
Welcome offers in the form of points or miles help you get a head start in using the rewards program. Without them, it might take a year or more to accumulate enough rewards points/miles to use.
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