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My Ranking of the Top Five Limited Time Travel Rewards Card Offers

by on February 27, 2013 · 32 comments

in American Express, British Airways, Chase, Citi, Credit Cards, Delta

Update: The current offer for the British Airways Visa is 50,000 Avios when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.

Update: The 50,000 point sign up offer for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card is no longer available through the Card Match Tool.

They say timing is everything, and that certainly holds true for those of us who use credit card sign-up bonuses to fuel our mileage and point balances. There isn’t an exact science of when to apply for what cards and when because the sign-up bonuses change often. The key to “winning” is that you want to make sure you jump on the best offers, because generally once you get an offer, you can’t get it again – at least not anytime soon. With time, you’ll build a gut sense of whether an offer is worth it for you or not (who cares what some blogger says?), but in this post I’ll highlight the top five limited time travel rewards offers that may be changing very soon and assess my personal value, as well as any historical information that could make your decision easier on whether to jump on it now or wait for something even more lucrative.

Note: When applying for new credit cards, you should understand how credit works and take a long-term approach and go with what you’re comfortable with. Some people apply for six or seven cards every three months, while some get two or three new cards a year. It doesn’t matter as long as you are comfortable with the strategy you take. I recommend starting slow and getting used to managing your new available credit and monitoring your score so you understand that getting new cards won’t ruin your credit as long as they are paid off every month. In fact, I’ve seen my credit score become stronger over the years as I get more credit and use less of it and pay it all off in advance every month.

Ranking of the Top Five Limited Time Offer Travel Rewards Cards:
1. Chase British Airways Visa: $655-$2,612.50
The current British Airways Visa offer is one of the top on the market.

The current British Airways Visa offer is one of the top on the market.

British Airways Visa
Sign-up Bonus:
50,000 Avios after $1,000 in spend in 3 months, an additional 25,000 Avios after $10,000 spent in 12 months, and 25,000 more Avios after $20,000 total spend within 12 months.
Spending Bonuses:
 1.25 Avios per $1 on all purchases, 2.5 Avios per $1 on all British Airways purchases
Card Perks:
 “Travel Together” companion ticket with $30,000 spend per calendar year; 10% discount on British Airways flights; Chip & Signature technology; no foreign transaction fees.
Transfer Partners:
 Can’t transfer your points to other programs, but can redeem them on BA’s Oneworld partners like American, Cathay Pacific and Qantas, as well as non-alliance partners such as Aer Lingus (no fees, even for trans-Atlantic flights) and Alaska Airlines
Annual Fee:
 $95
Value Ranges:
 There are no fixed-value redemptions, so there really is a huge range here. Relatively speaking, for short-haul redemptions using Avios, it’s not uncommon to get up to 3 cents per Avios in value even for economy awards (A 9,000 Avios roundtrip flight is easily worth $270), but on certain redemptions like transatlantic awards on British Airways and American, there are steep surcharges and fees which bring down the value of awards, so I conservatively value those redemptions at about 1.5 cents per Avios. An 80,000 Avios JFK-London business class ticket with $800 in fees could be purchased for $3,000 (often more). So 80,000 Avios saves you $2,200, or 2.75 cents each. Of course, in order to get that full value you should have been willing to shell out the cash amount for the business class ticket, which many of us aren’t able to do.
If you can hit the $30,000 in spend to get the Travel Together ticket, I value that minimally at $1,000 and potentially much more depending on whether you redeem for business or first class awards.
Variables:
 This card is clearly weighted toward heavy spenders, if you struggle with meeting minimum spend and hitting these thresholds, you may want to steer away from it. But even if you get the 50,000 Avios with $1,000 in 3 months, that is more than enough for 3 roundtrip awards from New York to Miami on American. I value that conservatively at about $750. Subtracting the $95 annual fee, that would give this card at least $655 in value. If you can hit the $30,000 in spend for the companion ticket you earn 137,500 Avios including the full bonus. Subtracting the standard 1 Avios/dollar spending, your “bonus” Avios would be a total of 107,500. At 1.5 cents apiece (conservatively), you’re getting $1,612.50 in value plus an extra $1,000 for the companion ticket for a total of $2,612.50. That’s my low-end valuation. On $30,000 in spend that’s just under a 9% return in value, which is pretty incredible.
Expiration:
This offer was launched November 29 so it has been just about 3 months, which is around how long the last offer lasted. I wouldn’t expect it to last much longer.  As you’ll also see in the below history of the 100,000 increased offer, the threshold to get the full 100,000 has gotten much harder since the bonus was first launched in 2009. I’d be surprised to see Chase make it easier to get the full amount in future offers.
(In between the limited time offers, the sign-up bonus usually dropped to a maximum of 50,000):
April 6, 2012-July 17, 2012: 50,000 Avios after first purchase, 25,000 after $10,000 in spend and another 25,000 after $20,000 in total spend.
April 6, 2011- May 6, 2012: 50,000 miles (pre-Avios) after first purchase and then another 50,000 after $2,500 in spend.
November 4, 2009- January 21, 2010: 50,000 miles after first purchase and 50,000 more after $2,000 in spend
Even if your income is low, if your credit score is good, you can get in on great offers like this one.

The current Premier Rewards Gold offer is one of the highest on this card in a while.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card
Current Bonus: The public offer is 25,000 points after $2,000 spent within three months. However, Amex has teamed up with Creditcards.com and has targeted many people through their innovative Card Match tool and many TPG readers have reported getting in on 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending just $1,000 in 3 months. You need to put your info in the Card Match Tool (there won’t be a hard credit inquiry) to see if you’re eligible.
Category Spending Bonuses: 3x on airfare, 2x on gasoline and groceries, 1x on all other purchases
Perks: Earn an additional 15,000 points when you spend $30,000 within one calendar year, use Pay With Points to book flights at 1 cent per points (not the best value, but you earn miles and elite miles on Pay With Points redemptions), cruises, hotels and vacations packages with no seat restrictions or blackout dates on americanexpress.com/travel
Transfer Partners: Aeromexico, Aeroplan (Air Canada), Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific), British Airways, Delta, El Al, Air France KLM, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic; Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton HHonors, Starwood
Annual Fee: $175, waived for the first year
Value Ranges: I value Membership Rewards points at about 1.8 cents a piece, because I maximize their periodic transfer bonuses, like several past bonuses of 50% to British Airways. At 1.8 cents a piece, 50,000 Membership Rewards points = $900, plus $500 a month in the bonus categories of airfare/gas/groceries would net 6,000-12,000 bonus points ($108-$216) a year and if you can hit the $30,000 spend threshold, that is another 15,000 points ($270) = ~$1,386.
Offer Expiration: I know a lot of people have been getting in on this offer, so as soon as American Express feels that their targets have been hit, I’m sure it will be pulled (as all good deals are). I have no information to share either way.
Past Offers: Historically there has only been a 15,000 point bonus on this card.
February 21, 2012- Present Amex increased the 15,000 point offer to 25,000 after $2,000 spent within 3 months.
January 16- March 31, 2012 they ran a referral promotion of 25,000 points after $2,000 in spend, plus 10,000 points if you referred someone.
Summer of 2011
some people were able to “bump” the bonus to 75,000 points, however American Express has firmly shut down all “bumping” opportunities and you now only get the sign-up bonus that you apply for. In my opinion, for this card 25,000 points is good and 50,000 is awesome.
Citi AA Visa
Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature Card
Type: Personal
Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 miles when you spend $2,500 in 4 months – unverified offer
Category Spending Bonuses: Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1 mile per $1 on everything else
Card Perks: Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles each calendar year; earn a $100 American Airlines flight discount every cardmembership year when you spend $30,000 or more on eligible purchases; reduced mileage awards; priority Boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases; first checked bag free for cardholder and up to 4 companions; Visa Signature benefits
Annual Fee: $85 waived the first year
Value Range: I value American AAdvantage miles at approximately 1.9 cents each, so the 50,000 sign-up bonus off the bat is about $950 in value (its enough for a one-way business class award from US to Europe, for example). Let’s say you maxed out both the spending to earn the $100 flight discount plus 10,000 AAdvantage miles back if you redeem 100,000 miles on itineraries for another $190. Finally, if you check bags two times a year for two people, that’s $25 per bag, so $100 total. The value you’re looking at is around $1,340
Expiration of Offer: This offer is available – and much discussed – via this FlyerTalk thread, so I cannot vouch for it or verify it, but a lot of people have reported success in getting 50,000 miles. You used to be able to get two cards in one day (for double the bonus), though it has now been reported that Citi will only let you get one card.  Most public Citi AA card offers are in the 30,000-40,000 range and I suspect once the merger with US Airways goes through, the offers will remain in that ballpark. There have been higher offers in the past (which I’d love to see come back), though I don’t see it happening.
Past Offers:
November 28- December 13, 2012 Citi had an official 50,000 mile offer on the Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature, Citi Select AAdvantage American Express, and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage MasterCards though the downside was that you had to spend $10,000 within 12 months, but the annual fees were waived the first year.
August 2010- August 2011- 100,000 miles after $4,000 spent within the first 6 months (These offered varied and would go away and come back randomly as reported by people in the FlyerTalk threads)
July 2010- October 2011 75,000 miles after $1,500 spent within the first 6 months, fee waived the first year. (These offered varied and would go away and come back randomly as reported by people in the FlyerTalk threads)
The offer on this card is usually 0 points, but now is up to 25,000.

The offer on this card is usually 0 points, but now is up to 25,000.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN
Type: Business Charge Card
Current Bonus: 25,000 when you spend $5,000 in 3 months. Note: If you don’t need a Business Platinum card, you can get the personal Mercedes-Benz Platinum which comes with a much better 50,000 point sign-up bonus after $1,000 spent within 3 months and a $475 annual fee. The perks are nearly identical, though the personal card does not come with some of the discounts as the Business Platinum and points are only worth 1 cent a piece with Pay With Points vs. 1.25 with the Business Platinum.
Category Spending Bonuses: None
Perks: Airport club access including; Delta Skyclub and US Airways Club, no foreign transaction fees, $200 annual airline credit, Global Entry $100 statement credit, Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits, Priority Pass Select Membership for lounge access, automatic Starwood Gold Status, Premium Companion Ticket, 20% Travel Bonus when redeeming with Membership Rewards Pay with Points.
Transfer Partners: Aeromexico, Aeroplan (Air Canada), Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific), British Airways, Delta, El Al, Air France KLM, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic; Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton HHonors, Starwood
Annual Fee: $450
Value Ranges: I value Amex MR at 1.8 cents a piece, so 25,000 points = $450. Lounge access really depends on how much you use it, but conservatively I’d put it at $350, plus $200 in airline rebates, $100 Global Entry, $75 for Starwood Gold status and $100 a year in FHR benefits for a rough total of $1,275 – $450 annual fee = value of about $825
Offer Expiration: This offer was launched February 20 and has no published end date.
Past Offers: Historically there hasn’t been a point sign-up bonus on the Business Platinum card, but from February-October of 2012 it was the same 25,000 after $5,000 in spend. I do know several people who have been targeted in the past with 100,000 point offers after $10,000 in spend usually within 6 months. To make sure you let American Express know you are interested in targeted offers (which usually come in the mail) make sure your address is correct in your profile Americanexpress.com -> Login -> Profiles & Preferences -> Update contact information -> Communications preferences ->General Marketing Email Preferences (and opt in for new card offers)
The offer of 45,000 miles is 50% higher than the current public offer.

The offer of 45,000 miles is 50% higher than the current public offer.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express 
Type: Personal
Current Bonus: The public bonus is 30,000 miles after $500 in spend. However, Amex is offering certain customers through Creditcard.com’s Card Match Tool 45,000 miles – 25,000 miles upon first purchase and an additional 20,000 when you spend $5,000 in 6 months. You need to put your info in the Card Match Tool (there won’t be a hard credit inquiry) to see if you’re eligible.
Category Spending Bonuses: 2x points on Delta purchases,
Perks: Check your first bag free – for up to 8 people on your reservation – on every Delta flight, Priority Boarding and 20% In-Flight Savings, $99 companion pass upon account renewal.
Transfer Partners: None
Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95, no annual fee for additional cards
Value Ranges: I value SkyMiles at about 1.4 cents each, so 45,000 = $630 + Delta perks (bags/boarding) conservatively at $120 a year= $750
Expiration: None, though this is a limited-time offer and once Amex has the number of new cardholders it is targeting, it’s likely to go away.
Past Offers: As a Delta Medallion I’ve gotten email offers for 45,000 bonus miles after you make $3,000 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Justin

    If I got the British Airways Visa with the other signup offer (50,000 with first spend and 50,000 at renewal), am I still eligible for the current signup offer (assuming I cancel the card and reapply)?

  • Jason

    Isn’t OPEN Savings only available on business AMEX cards? The Delta AMEX available through the Card Match Tool was a personal version.

  • dennisdoubleday

    Does the BA companion ticket only work for the rest of the calendar year in which you spent the $30K? That would be a pretty small window for most people.

  • thepointsguy

    I earned mine April 2012 and it expires April 2014, so you get two years to use it, which is pretty generous in my opinion

  • thepointsguy

    Correct

  • thepointsguy

    No- Chase classifies it as the same product. I have not heard of many people getting the bonus twice, though if anyone has a personal experience either way, please feel free to share

  • dennisdoubleday

    Oh, I agree, then.

  • jmw2323

    I got the bonus twice. First was 50k over 2 years ago. Got in on the 50k+50k (second 50k after card anniversary).

  • jlole

    I have the BA & AMex Gold that you write about here. I’m new at this and am wondering if I can buy flight tickets for my husband and myself with the points I earn. I’ve been reading about “transferring” points but haven’t quite figured it out yet. Thanks!

  • PointsGreedyCAM

    I went through creditcards.com and I qualify for American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card but there is a big disclaimer that anybody who currently has OR HAS HAD any of their Zync, Platinum, Gold or Green Cards within the last year cannot get the 50,000 points.

    I am currently Platinum Amex cardholder. Bummer.

  • Carrie

    Do MR points transfer 1:1 to Hawaiian, Starwood, etc? Also, if I would transfer to Hawaiian, could I then transfer those to HH? Thanks!

  • thepointsguy

    Hawaiian and Virgin Atlantic is 1:1. Starwood is 3:1 (not good) but they often run 50% bonuses making it okay

  • Violet

    Wow, must be needing to get those app #s up!

  • BML

    I have Chase Sapphire, which is great since I can transfer points to my spouse’s frequent flyer accounts. Does Amex Membership Rewards allow you to transfer to a family member’s mileage account? Thanks.

  • thepointsguy

    You can transfer amex points to a family member/friends transfer partner loyalty account but not directly into their Amex account, unfortunately

  • JTP

    business cards are OK.

  • Shmoosh1285

    TPG – I have been a fan since the beginning, but the number of postings specifically related to credit cards is getting to be a bit too much. We’ve seen the same offers marketed by every blogger.

  • thepointsguy

    Appreciate the feedback, but the site has doubled in size within the last 7 months, so many people are new to credit cards and may want to get in on these offers. If you’re already aware of them, I apologize, but not everyone has been with me since the beginning!

  • AA

    I REALLY LIKE the historical comparison to previous sign up offers. This is definitely missing in other related content out there. Keep up the good work!

  • hxu

    Hi TPG, do you know whether buying miles from airlines counts as airfar for the 3x points on AmericanExpress Primier Gold Rewards card? Thanks.

  • JTP

    for the Amex PRG- does travel sites (orbitz, expedia etc) count as “airfare” for the 3x?

  • thepointsguy

    Yes as long as you just buy airfare. If you buy a package it will not count.

  • thepointsguy

    Generally no since most mileage purchases are actually processed through 3rd parties like Points.com. If anyone has had a different experience, please comment.

  • sb

    does anyone force you to read this blog?

  • Go-TPG

    Shmoosh1285 — practical suggestion: rather than spending your time policing the blog’s content for others, how about you deny yourself of self-importance and don’t read the blog posts which you already know about?

    I’m a newbie on the blog in the last couple of months, and appreciate the information.

    Thank you, TPG!

  • JTP

    Thanks!

  • Go-TPG

    Violet, it’s so courageous of you to troll here anonymously, and share your envy of a great blogger who provides quality free information — and gets paid for it only if readers freely choose to act upon it.

    What is also exceptional and admirable about this blog, is that the blogger freely permits nonsense comments like yours to appear.

  • Nick Goede

    I have more than once only booked a hotel via hotwire and travelocity and had both count for the 3x points. The last time I did this though was over a year ago so this may have changed since then.

  • luv2fly

    Wow… indeed.

    Violet — you must be an envious, competitive travel blogger to TPG, or have serious issues with the 1st Amenmendment and the USA’s free enterprise system.

    Either way, you are a loser, and TPG and its readers are winners.

    God Bless the USA!

  • Benthelefty

    24 month wait period for Chase and you’re considered a new customer I believe!

  • Kirchgoens

    I just used the search tool a few minutes ago as suggested, and got the 50k deal from AMEX.

  • Bhg2i

    No more $99.00 companion pass for Delta Gold…

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