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 75,000 to 125,000 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.
The Best Travel Credit Card Bonuses for August 2019
Welcome offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards. You earn the first 50,000 after you spend $10,000, and another 50,000 after spending an additional $15,000 within your three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $595 (see rates and fees)
Comment: This is a very attractive sign-up bonus, but it also has very high minimum spending requirements for its tiered bonuses. 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.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
Welcome offer: Earn up to 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $99, 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 eligible American Airlines purchases. You also receive a complimentary checked bag, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight food and beverages.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Welcome offer: Earn a $250 statement credit after spending $1,000 within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $95
Comment: This card now offers you 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent each year at US supermarkets and on select US streaming services. You also earn 3% back on gas and transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
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 up to a $200 annual Uber credit and up to $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 (enrollment required). You also earn 5x points per $1 for flights booked through the airline and hotels booked with Amextravel.com.
Welcome offer: Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. You also get a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees)
Comment: This is a great offer for a card that offers 12x points at Hilton portfolio hotels, 6x points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations and 3x points on all other purchases. You also receive Gold elite status.
Welcome offer: Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first three months of Card Membership.
Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees)
Comment: This card offers you 12x at Hilton hotels, 6x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations and 3x everywhere else. Plus you get Gold status, and a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening, worth over $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Annual fee: $95
Comment: This card is a perennial favorite for travel rewards enthusiasts, as you can transfer your points to airline and hotel partners.
Welcome offer: Earn 35,000 bonus points after spending just $2,000 within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)
Comment: This card now offers 4x points on dining and U.S. supermarkets, and 3x on flights booked through airlines or amextravel.com. You also receive a $100 travel fee statement credit and $120 in restaurant credits each year.
Welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending just $5,000 within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $450
Comment: This card offers you Admirals Club airport lounge membership for you and all of your authorized cardholders, which can add for no additional fee. You can also earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within a calendar year. And of course, there’s no charge for your first checked bag on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation.
Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees)
Comment: This is a very rare hotel rewards card with no annual fee, and it has a very modest minimum spending requirement to earn the welcome bonus. Yet you can still earn 7X Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands, 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3X points for all other eligible purchases on your card.
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