[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners if available here — Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express, Barclaycard Arrival Plus and Capital One Venture Rewards. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
After a long winter, are you ready to start thinking about a summer vacation? If so, now is the time to start earning points, miles and cash back that you can use for your trip. Some rewards credit cards even offer sign-up bonuses big enough to pay for your airfare or hotel.
Of course, be sure to read the fine print carefully to find a card (and offer) that’s right for you. These bonuses usually have spending thresholds associated with them, meaning you’ll have to charge a certain amount to the card within a specified timeframe to earn the rewards. You generally have to pay those charges off before you get your points or miles, so any offer you opt for should have a spending threshold within your current budget.
It’s also not a good idea to sign up for every special offer you see. Each credit card application generate a hard inquiry on your credit report, which, like high credit card balances, can hurt your credit score. (You can see where you currently stand by viewing your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.)
With that in mind, here are four credit cards that can pay for your summer vacation.
1. JetBlue Plus Card from Barclaycard
JetBlue’s Plus card offers new applicants 30,000 points after spending $1,000 within 90 days of account opening. Points in JetBlue’s TrueBlue program are typically worth around 1.4 cents each towards JetBlue flights, making this sign-up bonus potentially worth around $420. And, since JetBlue is a discount carrier, these points may be enough for a flight to many popular vacation destinations, including Alaska, the Caribbean, and even parts of South America. The card features 6x the points for JetBlue purchases, 2x the points at restaurant and grocery stores and 1x the points elsewhere. There is a $99 annual fee for this card and it has a purchase annual percentage rate (APR) of 12.24%, 20.24% or 25.24%, based on creditworthiness. Cardholders do not pay foreign transaction fees.
2. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (full review here) offers new applicants 35,000 points after spending $3,000 within three months of account opening. Starwood hotels, the parent company of Westin, Sheraton, and other brands, offers award nights in any unsold room starting at just 3,000 points per night, and you get a fifth night free when you redeem four consecutive award nights. Furthermore, you can transfer your points to airline miles with 30 different carriers, and receive a 5,000 mile bonus when you redeem 20,000 points at once. You get up to five Starpoints per dollar back on purchases at participating hotels and one Starpoint per dollar back everywhere else. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year; cardholders do not pay foreign transaction fees. Its purchase APR is between 15.49% and 19.49%, depending on creditworthiness.
3. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers new applicants 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within 90 days of account opening. Since miles are worth one cent each as statement credits towards travel expenses, this sign-up bonus is worth $400 towards your summer vacation. You earn double miles on all purchases and you can redeem your miles towards airfare, hotels, rental cars, and cruises, and receive 5% of your miles back to use towards your next redemption each time you do. There is an $89 annual fee for this card, waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees. Its purchase APR is 16.24% or 20.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.
4. Chase Sapphire Preferred
With the Sapphire Preferred (see full review here), new cardholders earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. Another 5,000 points is offered to those who add an authorized user who makes a purchase within that timeframe. Those 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points can be pooled with airline miles or hotel points, or redeemed directly for travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel center. Since points are worth 1.25 cents each towards travel, this sign-up bonus can be worth $625. Cardholders earn double points for all travel and dining purchases and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. There is a $95 annual fee for this card, waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees. Its purchase APR is 16.24% to 23.24%, depending on creditworthiness.
5. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Venture Rewards credit card (see a review here) offers new applicants 40,000 bonus miles once they spend $3,000 within three months of account opening. The bonus miles are potentially worth $400 in travel credits. Cardholders earn 2x the miles for every dollar they spend. The card has a $59 annual fee, waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees, Its purchase APR is between 13.24% and 23.24% based on creditworthiness.
At publishing time, the Starwood Preferred Guest, Barclaycard Arrival Plus and Capital One Venture Rewards credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
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.
Image: Kraig Scarbinsky