The Best Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

We’ve compiled a list of some of the top credit card sign up bonuses, allowing you to take your points game to the next level.
person holding a credit card with laptop on them in the airport, article on credit card sign up bonuses


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What are travel credit cards, and how do they work?

Travel credit cards are financial products that offer various rewards and benefits geared towards frequent travelers. They typically earn you points or miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. These rewards can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel-related expenses. Travel credit cards may also include perks like travel insurance, airport lounge access, and no foreign transaction fees.

How do I choose the best travel credit card for my needs?

Choosing the best travel credit card depends on your travel habits, spending patterns, and preferences. Consider factors like the type of rewards offered (points, miles, or cash back), the card’s annual fee, sign-up bonuses, earning rates, redemption options, and additional travel perks. Analyzing these features will help you find a card that aligns with your lifestyle and offers the most value.

What are the benefits of using a travel credit card over other types of credit cards?

Travel credit cards provide unique advantages for travelers, such as earning rewards specifically tailored to travel expenses. Additionally, many travel credit cards offer travel-related perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and travel insurance. Some cards also waive foreign transaction fees, making them ideal for international travelers.

What is a sign-up bonus, and how can I qualify for it?

A sign-up bonus is a promotional offer provided by the credit card issuer to entice new cardholders. To qualify for a sign-up bonus, you usually need to meet specific spending requirements within a certain timeframe after opening the account. The bonus can be in the form of points, miles, or cash back, and it’s a great way to jump-start your rewards earning.

Do travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees?

Not all travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees. Many of the top-tier travel cards waive these fees, making them ideal for international travel. However, it’s essential to read the card’s terms and conditions to confirm this before using it abroad.

How can I maximize the rewards earned with my travel credit card?

To maximize rewards, use your travel credit card for everyday expenses and large purchases. Take advantage of bonus categories and special promotions to earn more points or miles. Consider combining your travel credit card with loyalty programs to stack rewards and get even more value out of your purchases.

We talk a lot about top credit card sign up bonuses: which card to use when you’re out for dinner, which one to use when buying a flight, which card to use when you’re at the grocery store…you know the drill. And while you can make some good headway with a disciplined plan, your potential will always be limited unless you’re a big spender.

But there is a way to beat the system and earn tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of points in a fraction of the time it would take to accrue them with day-to-day spending—intro bonuses.

Designed as an incentive to lure customers to a specific credit card, bonuses are a big deal for those in the travel world because they provide immensely outweighed value. Think of it like this: if a card you already have would allow you to earn 2x points per dollar on everything you buy, you’d have to spend 50,000 a year to earn 100,000 points. Opening one card with a 100,000-point bonus might only require $6,000 of spending. Do the math.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the top credit card sign up bonuses that will allow you to take your points game to the next level.

Best for big bonuses: The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Best for: Luxury travelers with an eye on perks  
  • Earning style: Points 
  • Earning rate: 5x points per dollar on up to $500,000 spent on airfare per year and 5 points per dollar on hotel stays and flight and hotel packages booked through the Amex travel portal; 1x points per dollar on everything else 
  • Notables: Priority Pass membership, hotel statement credits, hotel elite status, shopping credits, and more 
  • Intro bonus: 80,000 points after spending $8,000 in the first six months of account opening
  • Cons: Earning rate is poor, the annual fee is brutal, lounge access is limited 

The rundown: The Platinum Card® from American Express is legendary in the points and miles world. Once synonymous with luxury travelers, its (literally) shiny card isn’t as unique as it once was, but it still packs a tremendous punch, albeit at a price.

It’s almost always running a big intro bonus, currently at 80,000, but has been known to fluctuate to as high as 100,000 and beyond. The 80,000 Amex Rewards points could be worth as much as $1,800 in travel if you use them effectively. It’s still a good deal, even with a colossal fee of $695 a year. See rates and fees. Terms apply.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

80,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $8,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $695  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best sign up bonus for simple earning: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

  • Best for Customers who don’t want multiple cards
  • Earning style: Miles
  • Earning rate: 10x miles per dollar on hotels and rentals in Capital One’s travel portal, 5x miles per dollar on flights in Capital One’s travel portal, 2x miles per dollar on everything else 
  • Notables: Priority Pass Membership, $300 annual credit
  • Intro bonus: 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening 
  • Cons: Limited specialized earning, premium fee

The rundown: When it comes to the best travel credit card sign up bonuses, hands down the most accessible option on the market is the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Its stellar 75,000-mile bonus is worth over $1,000 in travel when transferred to one of Capital One’s excellent selection of airline and hotel partners.

The Venture X is Capital One’s premium travel card, with a heavy fee of $395. Considering its cheaper sibling, the Venture, has the same 75,000-mile intro bonus, it seems like a no-brainer to save a few hundred bucks. But the Venture X comes loaded with a number of high-end perks, including a $300 annual credit. Using this (assuming you would spend $300 on travel anyway), will significantly help offset the annual fee.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

75,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee: $395  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Navigator Tip

One key strategy to make the most of these top credit card sign up bonuses is to time your applications strategically. Consider applying for cards with big bonuses during periods when you have planned expenses or larger purchases coming up. This way, you can meet the minimum spending requirements to unlock the bonuses more easily. Additionally, remember to track the deadlines for meeting spending requirements and redeeming your bonuses to ensure you don’t miss out on the rewards. By aligning your applications with your spending patterns, you can enjoy a significant boost to your points and miles balance in a shorter timeframe.

Best mid-range card with a big bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Best for: Customers trying to keep annual fees down
  • Earning style: Points
  • Earning rate: 5x points per dollar on Chase travel portal, 3x points per dollar on dining, 2x points per dollar on travel
  • Notables: 10% annual points bonus, $50 hotel credit
  • Intro bonus: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening
  • Cons: Perks are significantly less impressive than its premium sibling

The rundown: If you’re new to the world of points and miles, few cards are as impressive as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Generous spending categories, a sizable 60,000-point bonus, and an approachable $95 annual fee make it a strong contender for any novice (or a pro trying to fill in some gaps).

The 60,000-point bonus is worth $750 on the Chase Travel Portal, or even more when transferred to one of Chase’s brilliant partners. Its only big competitor is the Capital One Venture, which has a similar annual fee and big bonus. Where it differs is the different earning capabilities. The Venture has a flat rate, while the Preferred rewards dining and travel. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Earn 60,000 bonus points

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Annual Fee: $95  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best credit card sign up bonus for day-to-day spending: Citi Premier® Card

  • Best for: Day-to-day earning
  • Earning style: Points
  • Earning rate: 3x points per dollar on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, and hotels
  • Notables: Outstanding spending categories, low annual fee
  • Intro bonus: 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening
  • Cons: Fewer transfer partners than competitors

The rundown: The Citi Premier® Card​ flies under the radar when compared to its big-name competitors. But this high-earner is one of the best travel cards out there.

A low fee of just $95 combined with an excellent 60,000-point intro bonus is enough to make it a feature of anyone’s wallet. But its spending categories should cement its position, honing in on big spending but often overlooked areas like gas stations and supermarkets. And while its transfer partner list is smaller than others, those points can still go a long way. They’re worth over $1,000 if transferred.

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

70,000 bonus points

after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening—redeemable for $700 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com.

Best hotel card with a big bonus: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

  • Best for Hilton loyalists 
  • Earning style: Points
  • Earning rate: 12x points per dollar on purchases at a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 6x points on U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets
  • Notables: Gold status and 10 lounge visits a year
  • Intro bonus: 130,000 Hilton Honors points plus a Free Night Reward after spending $3,000 within the first six months of account opening
  • Cons: Hilton can have poor value for redemptions

The rundown: Each hotel brand has its own set of co-branded cards, and the Surpass is Hilton’s mid-tier offering. While Hilton’s redemptions have gotten harder to maximize in value of late, 130,000 points can still do a lot with careful planning. 

On top of the bonus, you’ll also get Hilton Honors Gold status and 10 lounge visits a year with Priority Pass—more than enough for most people. If you’re a Hilton loyalist and spend more than two nights a year in its properties, you’re saving money with this card, but it’s worth opening just for the bonus.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership

Annual Fee: $150  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Best airline credit card with a big bonus: British Airways Visa Signature Card 

  • Best for: Regular domestic and transatlantic fliers 
  • Earning style: Points
  • Earning rate: 3x points per dollar on flights with BA, 2x points per dollar on hotels, 1x point per dollar on everything else
  • Notables: 10% off British Airways flights from the US, up to $600 in statement credits
  • Intro bonus: 75,000 Avios after spending $5,000 in the first three months of account opening Cons: Unable to transfer points

The rundown: The British Airways Visa Signature Card is relatively unknown in the grand scheme of things. Most Americans naturally lean towards the big domestic carriers, but they’re missing out on a massive haul of valuable Avios that can take them around their own country for pennies.

One of the biggest sweet spots in the points world is British Airways’ short-haul domestic flights on American Airlines. Those 75,000 Avios could cover 10 short US and Caribbean flights. It also comes with up to $600 in statement credits for flying into London from the US. If you book an economy class seat, you’ll get $100 on each flight up to $300, or $200 on each business or first class flight up to $600 a year.

Frequently asked questions

Credit card sign up bonuses, often referred to as “intro bonuses” or “welcome bonuses,” are incentives offered by credit card issuers to encourage new cardholders to apply for and use their credit cards. These bonuses typically involve earning a substantial amount of reward points, miles, or cash back after meeting a specified spending requirement within a certain timeframe after opening the account.

To qualify for a top credit card sign up bonus, you usually need to apply for the card, be approved, and then fulfill the minimum spending requirement stated in the offer. This requirement could involve spending a certain amount of money using the card within a specific timeframe, such as the first three months after opening the account.

To make sure you receive your credit card sign up bonus, carefully review the terms and conditions of the offer. Take note of the minimum spending requirement and the timeframe within which you must meet it. Keep track of your spending and consider setting up reminders to make sure you meet the requirement on time. Once you’ve met the spending requirement, the bonus rewards should be automatically credited to your account.

This can vary depending on the card issuer and their policies. Some issuers may allow you to receive the same bonus more than once, but there may be certain waiting periods or restrictions in place. It’s best to check the terms of the specific card offer or contact the issuer’s customer service to get accurate information.

Credit card sign up bonus offers can change regularly. Issuers often adjust their promotions based on market trends, competition, and economic factors. To stay informed about the latest bonuses, it’s a good idea to regularly research and compare credit card offers to find the ones that best suit your needs.

Ask the Navigators: What's the best travel credit card?

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This post contains references to products from one or more of our partners and we may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

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