The credit cards tied to a travel program, like an airline or a hotel, offer the best bonuses.
They all work the same – new cardholders can earn hundreds of dollars in cashback or reward points if they spend a specified amount, usually a few thousand dollars, within the first few months – most often 90 days. The cards set it up this way because they are trying to entice you to make their new card your “everyday credit card.”
There's no catch, credit cards are just very lucrative and very competitive. I've compiled some the richest bonuses available for your earning pleasure. 🙂
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card – $200Wells Fargo is getting into the bonus game with a low entry point – spend $1,000 in your first 3 months and get $200 cash. They will also give you 1.5% cash rewards on purchases with a slightly higher 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases (think Apple Pay) in the first 12 months.
If 0% APY on purchases tickles your fancy, you have that for the first 12 months too. Super simple, no annual fee, no games.
Chase Sapphire Reserve – 50,000 Bonus Points
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the perk-laden cards available. They will give you 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. That is worth $750 towards travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
They also give you $300 in annual travel credit reimbursed to the card each anniversary year. Plus 3X points on travel and dining, 1X everywhere else. No foreign transaction fees and a $450 annual fee. Full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Chase Sapphire Preferred – $500 Cash / $625 Travel Rewards
Until the Chase Sapphire Reserve, THIS card was the richest of the promotions! The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card will give you 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's valued at $500 cash or $625 in travel if you redeem those points through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
You can also transfer those points on a 1:1 ratio to 10 other travel reward programs including United Airlines MileagePlus, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Marriott Rewards, Hyatt Gold Passport, IHG Rewards Club, and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards.
Using the card will reward you with 2X points on travel, 2X points on dining worldwide, and 1 point per each $1 spent. It was named the “Best Credit Card” for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine. The card has a $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then it's $95.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card – 30,000 Rapid Reward Points + Companion Pass
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is a great travel rewards card if you fly Southwest. You can earn 30,000 points plus Companion Pass for this year after just $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months your account is opened.
Valued at 1.66 cents per point, 30,000 points is worth almost $500 in airfare plus you get Companion Pass, which lets someone fly with you for fee (after September 11th fees). Companion pass is worth far more than ~$500 depending on how much flying you do.
Chase Freedom Unlimited – $150
The Chase Freedom unlimited card is a no annual fee cash back card that'll give you $150 bonus after you spend just $500 on purchases in your first 3 months. Easily the best bonus to purchase requirement ratio out there (most require spends in the thousands).
You also get 1.5% cash back on every single purchase. It's not points, it's cash and it's 1.5% standard across all merchants. If you're in the market for a balance transfer, they have a 0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening (on purchases too) with a 5% balance transfer fee.
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express – 25,000 Starpoints
The Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express will give you 25,000 Starpoints after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. You will earn 4-5 points at SPG resorts per dollar spent and 1 point everywhere else.
There are some nice travel perks too. When you stay at Starwood resorts, you'll get free in-room premium internet service. You'll also get complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices. There is also a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.