Editor's note: Some of the offers on this page may no longer be available through our site.
I often tell people that the hardest way to earn airline miles is to step on an airplane. Even on the carriers that still offer you miles based on your travel, you’ll only earn about 500 miles per hour you spend on an airplane. And you’ll have to spend an entire night in a hotel just to earn a few thousand points in their loyalty program.
In contrast, it takes just a few minutes to sign-up for a credit card that can offer you 50,000 to 100,000 points or miles as a sign-up bonus. 50,000 miles is a competitive offer from an airline card, or one that offers points that can be transferred to airline miles. However, the best offers will be in the 60,000 to 100,000 mile range. With hotel points, a strong offer is one with enough points for at least two free nights in a mid-range hotel. But because hotel points are generally less valuable than airline miles, expect to receive 80,000 to 100,000 points from the best offers.
To receive these rewards, you’ll typically have to meet a minimum spending requirement, often $3,000 to $5,000 within three months of account opening. However, some of the most generous offers will have even larger spending requirements. Also, most cards will have an annual fee, although some are waived the first year.
Once you’ve paid an annual fee and received your sign-up bonus, the last thing you’ll want to do is cancel your card. Instead, try it out for a year and see how like its rewards, benefits and customer service. At the end of your first year, you’ll have all the information you need to decide if it’s worth keeping or not.
Major Credit Card Bonuses for May 2018
Welcome offer: 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year.
Comment: Bonus points can be transferred to miles with 16 airlines or can be redeemed for $625 in travel through the ThankYou portal.
Welcome offer: 75,000 points after spending $7,500 within the first 3 months of account opening.
Annual fee: $450.
Comment: This high-end card has been refreshed to make it more competitive with other travel reward cards.
Welcome offer: 80,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
Annual fee: $89.
Comment: In addition to the generous bonus, the card features 10x points at IHG hotels, 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. You also get Platinum Elite Status, your fourth reward night free and a free anniversary night.
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.
Welcome offer: 100,000 points after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
Annual fee: $95.
Comment: This card was recently refreshed to include 6x points at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels and 2x points on all other purchases. You also get Silver status, 15 Elite Night Credits and Gold Status when you spend $35,000 in an account year. Finally, you get a free night award each year at a property with a redemption level up to 35,000 points.
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 $200 annual air travel fee statement credit, and $200 annual Uber credit and a $100 credit towards the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application. 5 points per $1 for flights booked through the airline and hotels booked with Amextravel.com.* Terms apply.
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 the first three months.
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year.
Comment: Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred into miles with nine airline and four hotel programs, or redeemed for $625 of travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Welcome offer: Up to 100,000 bonus Avios: 50,000 points after spending $3,000 on within three months of account opening, an additional 25,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 total on within your account’s first year for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios. And another 25,000 bonus points after spending a total of $20,000 within your account’s first year.
Annual fee: $95.
Comment: There’s a high minimum spending requirement to earn the total 100,000 points, but you can use these points for award flights on Alaska, American and other OneWorld partners.
Welcome offer: Earn 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $1,000 within three months of account opening. Also, you can earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase within three months of account opening. Terms apply.
Annual fee: $195, see rates and fees
Comment: This card allows you to earn valuable MQMs and features a companion certificate good for a domestic, round-trip, economy class companion fare in the continental United States.
Welcome offer: Earn up to 100,000 points, plus 75,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, and another 25,000 points after spending an additional $1,000 within six months of account opening. Terms apply.
Annual fee: $95, see rates and fees
Comment: This card offers 12x points at Hilton portfolio hotels, 6x points at US restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations and 3x points on all other purchases. You also receive Gold elite. Status.