[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — Chase Sapphire Preferred card, Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard and Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
If you’ve been considering applying for a new rewards credit card, now might be the time to do it. Credit card sign-up bonuses are 25% more valuable this year than they were at this time last year, according to a report from rewards and travel blog The Points Guy.
Before we get to naming some of the best sign-up bonuses out there, a few things about rewards cards: They’re fantastic financial tools but they aren’t for everyone. You should only use a rewards credit card if you pay your statement balance in full every month, because the amount you pay in interest on any balance you carry can negate the value of the rewards. Rewards cards typically have higher APRs than standard credit cards (hence the advice to pay it off every month), and they sometimes carry annual fees. Do a little math before you sign up for one of these cards — if you need to pay to use it, make sure you’re earning more in rewards than that fee costs you, otherwise it’s not worth it.
You also should make sure you’re using what you earn. That doesn’t mean jumping at every offer the issuer pitches you, but you can score some serious savings using credit card rewards. According to The Points Guy’s survey (a nationally representative poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International), 79% of travel credit cardholders have never transferred their rewards points into an airline or hotel loyalty program. If you have the good credit to qualify for a rewards card, pay the balance each month but don’t take advantage of the perks, perhaps it’s time to look into a new card.
Issuers are looking to nab new cardholders with some sweet deals right now. Per The Points Guy’s research, these are some of the best sign-up bonuses available for travel cards at the moment:
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Sign-up bonus: 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
Other perks: Two points per dollar spent on dining and travel, no foreign transaction fees, annual fee ($95) waived the first year and points are transferrable to 11 major airlines and hotel loyalty programs.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
Sign-up bonus: 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.
Other perks: Two miles per every dollar spent, 10% bonus on miles redeemed for travel, annual fee ($89) waived the first year, no foreign transaction fees and points can be redeemed with any airline.
Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
Other perks: Admirals Club membership privileges, a free checked bag on every flight, no foreign transaction fees and annual fee ($95) waived the first year.
Generally, these and other rewards cards are available to consumers with the best credit scores, so if your score isn’t good enough yet, you can use your desire for these rewards as motivation to improve your credit. Before applying for a credit card (or any loan), you should have an idea of where your credit stands, because you don’t want to apply for credit you won’t get. You can get two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com and see how those scores may help you qualify for certain credit cards, too. Keep in mind that applying for new credit will cause a small, temporary drop in your credit scores, so it’s best to apply sparingly and only for products you think you qualify for.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
At publishing time, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard and Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
More on Credit Cards:
- 6 Smart Credit Card Strategies
- Tips for Paying Off Credit Card Debt
- How to Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit