A Look at Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses for January 2018

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Once upon a time, the majority of loyalty-rewards points were earned for traveling. No more.

Today, more points are earned for credit-card purchases than for flying or staying in hotels or, well, for anything. Which explains why today's frequent-flyer programs are more accurately referred to as frequent-buyer programs.

When it comes to racking up credit-card points, the single largest trove of points is likely to be the sign-up bonus offered by the card issuer to new cardholders who meet certain requirements, typically meeting a spending target within a set period.

In recent years, such sign-up bonuses have occasionally topped 100,000 miles, and anything less than 50,000 miles is generally considered a yawner by consumers who zealously monitor bonus levels in pursuit of the most generous payouts. The offers are in constant flux, rising and falling as market conditions change and card issuers' goals evolve.

With that in mind, following is our monthly roundup of sign-up bonuses currently on offer from popular travel-rewards charge and credit cards. Bear in mind that these are limited-time bonuses confirmed to be in effect when this list is published, and could be reduced or eliminated at any time.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

  • Welcome offer: 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $89, waived the first 12 months.
  • Comment: Cardholders earn double miles for all purchases, and get a 5% mileage rebate on all award redemptions.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

  • Welcome offer: 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first 12 months.
  • Comment: This is the mid-priced AAdvantage card, which comes bundled with several travel perks, including a free first checked bag.
  • *Disclosure: Citi is an Airfarewatchdog advertiser.

 
Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

  • Welcome offer: 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening, plus a $50 statement credit after the first Delta purchase within 3 months (see rates and fees).
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first 12 months (see rates and fees)
  • Comment: Card benefits include free first checked bag and priority boarding.

IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card

  • Welcome offer: 60,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $49, waived the first 12 months.
  • Comment: In addition to the generous bonus, the card features a low annual fee, waived the first year, and a free night after cardholder's anniversary.

JetBlue Plus Card

  • Welcome offer: 30,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $99.
  • Comment: Card perks include free first bag, 10% rebate on points redeemed for awards, 50% discount on inflight purchases, Mosaic elite status after spending $50,000 annually.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

  • Welcome offer: 40,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $99.
  • Comment: There's also a 6,000-point bonus every year, on the cardholder's account anniversary.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase

  • Welcome offer: 80,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening, plus an additional 7,500 points for adding an authorized user who uses the card within 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $85.
  • Comment: Good program, solid card, big bonus.

The Platinum Card from American Express

  • Welcome offer: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)
  • Comment: While the card's annual fee is among the very highest, it also comes bundled with a robust set of travel perks, including lounge access, $200 statement credit for bag fees, and 5 points per $1 for flights booked direct with American Express. (see rates and fees)

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • Welcome offer: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening, plus an additional 5,000 points for adding an authorized user who uses the card within three months.
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first 12 months.
  • Comment: Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred into a number of airline and hotel programs, as well as redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In the latter case, 50,000 points are worth $625.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

  • Welcome offer: 25,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first 12 months (see rates and fees)
  • Comment: While the bonus itself is comparatively modest, Starwood points are among the most valuable loyalty currencies, as they're transferable to 30-plus airline frequent flyer programs, mostly on a 1:1 basis, and there's a 5,000-point bonus when transferring 20,000 points to a participating airline program (see rates and fees).

Final Thoughts

Many of the above-listed consumer cards are also available as business cards, sometimes featuring the same sign-up bonuses. That means it's possible to double up on the bonuses if you're eligible for a business as well as a consumer card.

Editor's Note: This content is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the aforementioned entities.

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