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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – United MileagePlus Explorer Card
This year we’ve seen some unprecedented credit card sign-up and “bump” bonuses. So much so, that we’ve been accustomed to 50,000+ for every offer and when I blogged about the new 50,000 point Business Rewards Gold card, a bunch of readers commented that it was a really bad deal. I understand that this year has been crazy with miles and points raining down from all directions, but 50,000 points is worth over $1,000 to me and considering the card has a waived first year annual fee – I think it’s a phenomenal deal. I understand a major bone of contention is the $10,000 spend requirement over 5 months (which I 100% understand that not everyone can meet now that the Mint has stopped allowing free credit card spend), but it still doesn’t make this a horrible deal. I do think we’ve become a little jaded, but that’s okay since it’s all in the name of maximizing miles and points, which is the point of this site.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about sign-up bonuses are initial offers that are clearly laid out – like the current Chase Sapphire Preferred offer of 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within 3 months.
Bump bonuses are generally offers that can be applied to your credit card after you apply and are approved. American Express has been the leader with these offers, though Chase also had one this year when they were giving everyone an extra 50,000 points for Sapphire Preferred (which has now been stopped). Bump bonuses are a risk, because they aren’t guaranteed, but they can be highly rewarding for those who successfully get them added.
Why do bump bonuses occur? Generally the credit card companies give targeted offers to specific customers, yet they haven’t historically tracked who actually got the offer. So as long as you were a cardholder and knew the bonus ID (which are generally reported on Flyertalk and in the blogosphere) you could get the enhanced bonus. We saw Chase clamp down on this and actually renege on some of the bonuses they promised to give and American Express is also starting to track these codes via unique RSVP codes. However, there are still many active bump bonuses, which I’ll highlight in the top credit card deal round-up.
Since 50,000 is now the standard for deals, here are the top cards that can net you 50,000 or more points for signing up. This also goes without saying, that you should understand how credit scores are calculated and how opening and closing credit cards can affect your score (generally 2-5 points off your score per new card).
Transferable point cards:
100,000 points for the American Express Platinum card. The sign-up bonus is 25,000 points, but many people are reporting a 100,000 payday per the comments on this post. The card has an annual fee of $450, but comes with a ton of benefits like lounge access, $200 in airline rebates, free global entry, no foreign transaction fees, Starwood Gold, Hertz and National elite status and more. Full card review.
75,000 points for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card. 15,000 is the current sign-up bonus, but there’s a bump bonus that brings it to 75,000 and potentially more if you can add the additional user bonuses. $175 annual fee waived for the first year. Full card review.
50,000 points for the Chase Sapphire Preferred when you spend $4,000 within 3 months. $95 annual fee waived for the first year. No foreign transaction fees. This is a limited time offer which can be pulled at any time, but I haven’t heard of a planned expiration date, so I hope it runs throughout 2011. Full card review.
50,000 points for the American Express Business Rewards Gold card when you spend $10,000 within the first 5 months. $175 annual fee, waived for the first year. This could potentially be bumped to 100,000 with Bonus ID 6608, but there haven’t been any reports since the card just came out this week and I haven’t heard of anyone meeting the spend requirements and seeing the points post.
50,000 points for the American Express Mercedez-Benz Platinum card when you $1,000 within the first three months. Many Mercedes benefits and lounge access. $475 annual fee.
75,000 points for the Citi AA Visa/Amex and business cards. You can get all three for 225,000 miles (you need to wait at least 65 days in between the first app of 2 cards and the third card app). Many of us have gotten 225,000 AA miles from these cards and those miles count towards lifetime million miler status (at least until December 1, 2011 when the rules change). Read this post and the comments section for more information. Read this post for the business card link.
60,000 points for the United Explorer cards for United elites. Sign-in here to see if you are targeted for the bonus. Otherwise it’s 40,000 for the standard sign-up bonus. $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.
50,000 points for the British Airways Visa card. While it’s not the 100,000 bonanza they ran in April/May, it’s still significant since 50,000 miles will get you to Asia roundtrip on Cathay Pacific or 40,000 for a South American trip on AA/Lan. No foreign transaction fees. UPDATE: 100,000 Avios BA Visa card promotion has returned.
Hotel Cards: (Hotel points have a higher spectrum of value, so for example the Hyatt card 2 free nights is worth more than 50,000 Marriott points, even though its technically a max of 44,000 Hyatt points).
60,000-80,000 points for the Priority Club Visa. Most Priority Club members have been solicited with the 80,000 point offer via email, so do a search. Otherwise, 60,000 is standard. 80,000 is enough for 2 free nights at an Intercontinental hotel, plus the card comes with a bunch of other benefits like elite status. $49 annual fee, waived for the first year.
2 Free nights (in a suite for Diamonds) at any Hyatt in the world for the Chase Hyatt Visa after spending $2,000 in purchases within first three months. $75 annual fee. No foreign transaction fees. Free night upon renewal.
62,500 points for Hilton HHonors American Express 20,000 points first purchase, 30,000 points with $500 spend within three months and 2,500 additional HHonors Bonus Points on your first four Hilton WorldWide portfolio of hotels stays charged to the Card during your first 18 months and 2,500 for adding an additional cardholder. No annual fee.
3 complimentary nights for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, after spending $5,000 on purchases within first three months from account opening. $450 annual fee. Lots of benefits like Gold elite status and $300 in airline credits a year.
80,000 points for Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. $85 annual fee. Free night every year upon renewal. 15 nights credit towards elite status.
Other targeted offers to look out for:
50,000-60,000 for Chase Continental Onepass Plus (regularly its 40,000).
50,000 for Chase Southwest Visa. (update: current sign-up bonus is 25,000 points)
Am I missing any? Have you gotten any monster sign-up/ bump bonuses this year?
With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards