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 the distance you 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 of these 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 you 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.
10 Major Credit Card Bonuses for July 2018
Welcome offer: New applicants can earn 60,000 bonus miles, worth $600 in travel statement credits, after spending $5,000 on new purchases within 90 days of account opening, and paying the annual fee.
Annual fee: $89
Comment: This card was briefly withdrawn from the market when Barclays introduced its Arrival Premier, with a $150 annual fee and no sign-up bonus. But now it’s back with one of the most generous welcome offers seen on a card like this. This card offers double miles on all purchases, and you receive a 5% of your redeemed miles back.
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
Welcome offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000, and another 50,000 after spending an additional $15,000 within your three months of account opening. This offer ends on August 8, 2018.
Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)
Comment: This is a large bonus, but it also has a very high minimum spending requirement. Still this can be an attractive offer for small businesses owners looking to jump start their rewards balances. The annual fee is expensive, but it comes with enough perks, benefits and travel fee reimbursements to justify it (see rates and fees).
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
Welcome offer: 70,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 within the first four months of account opening.
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year.
Comment: This card now offers double miles on purchases at telecommunications, car rental merchants and at gas stations, as well as for American Airlines purchases. You also receive a free checked bag, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight food and beverages.
Welcome offer: 60,000 miles after spending just $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $99, waived the first year.
Comment: This mid-range card has been refreshed to make it more competitive with other travel reward cards. It now offers 2x points for all gas and dining purchases, and a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during each account year and you renew your card.
Welcome offer: 80,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first three months of account opening, and another 5,000 points after you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within the same three months.
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: 60,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $99
Comment: This is the best sign-up bonus ever seen for this card, and the points count towards the 110,000 necessary for their Companion Pass. It also features a 6,000-point bonus every year, on the cardholder's account anniversary.
Welcome offer: 75,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three 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 three 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. This card now offers a $50 credit towards Saks Fifth Avenue purchases twice a year. You also earn 5x points per $1 for flights booked through the airline and hotels booked with Amextravel.com (see rates and fees).
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: Up to 100,000 points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, and another 50,000 points after spending an additional $1,000 within six months of account opening.
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 (see rates and fees).