Advertisement

Top 25 Travel Credit Cards With The Lowest Bonus Minimum Spending Requirements

by on September 3, 2013 · 13 comments

in Credit Cards, Top 10

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer hereThe offer mentioned below for the Capital One Venture Rewards Card has expired. View the current offer here.

Update: Some of the offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here:Gold Delta SkyMilesPlatinum Delta SkyMilesDelta Reserve Credit Card.

With so many great current credit card offers out there – including the 30,000-point sign-up bonus offers on the Starwood American Express personal and business cards which ends today (expired) – I know a lot of you are thinking about doing a round of credit card applications to maximize your points and miles haul for the quarter. However, those Starwood cards require $5,000 in spending (within 6 months) to get the full bonus, so be mindful of what other cards you also get so you don’t bite off more than you can chew when it comes time to meeting all of your spend requirements.

A stack of credit cardsThere are hundreds of thousands of points and miles to be had through credit card sign-up bonuses, tbut before before applying for new cards, take into account annual fees as well as meeting minimum spending requirements. After all, you don’t want to apply for several new credit cards only to realize you must spend thousands and thousands of dollars just to get the bonuses – well, at least not without a plan to maximize your spending and earning. That’s a topic for another post, however.

Because the fact of the matter is, there are a ton of great current credit card offers out there with lucrative bonuses that don’t require you to spend a huge amount of cash in order to reap the rewards. So for today’s Top list, I’m covering the top 25 best travel credit cards with the lowest minimum spending requirements.

I have arranged them by the minimum spending requirement – Approval/First Purchase, Up to $1,000 and Up to $2,000, and then by bonus and other factors. If I’ve made any glaring omissions, please feel free to comment and if any of these offers have better versions available, please let me know and I’ll also update the post. Many of these are not my affiliate links and some may require a little extra research to ensure they’re right for you, I thought I’d still create this list to help anyone who might be trying to scoop up some cards that won’t make them spend a whole lot of cash to get the bonus.

Upon Approval or First Purchase – $0 Spending Requirement

Get 250 bonus miles when using your MasterCard.

The US Airways Mastercard’s bonus of 35,000 is pretty decent- especially since it is after first purchase

US Airways Premier World MasterCard
Current Sign-up Bonus: 35,000 miles after first purchase or balance transfer in the first 90 days – unverified offer from this FlyerTalk thread, see the T&C on the application page.
Annual Fee: $89 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Receive an annual companion certificate good for up to 2 companion tickets upon approval and every year on cardmember anniversary and 10,000 Anniversary Miles. Also receive 1 complimentary US Airways Club day pass and get first class check in and Zone 2 boarding.

United MileagePlus Club Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: $100 statement credit after first purchase
Annual Fee: $395 waived the first year when you sign up in a Chase branch or get targeted by United/Chase (login to United.com to see if any offer exists).
Other Benefits: Full United Club membership. Get the first and second checked bags free as well as priority check in and boarding on United-operated flights. No foreign transaction fees.

Delta Reserve
Current Sign-up Bonus: 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles upon your first purchase.
Annual Fee: $450
Other Benefits: With this card you will also earn 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. This card as well as the Delta Platinum personal and business cards offer Companion passes which you can read about here.

$1,000 And Under

Barclaycard Arrival
Current Sign-up Bonus: 40,000 miles with $3,000 spend in the first 90 days
Annual Fee: $89 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and receive 10% of your miles back when you redeem on travel. 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months afteraccount opening – after that, a variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%,based on your creditworthiness. Receive a complimentary membership to TripIt Pro. No foreign transaction fees. For more information on this card, read my review here, and then check out this post for details on its Travel Bonus Category and Redemption Options, and this one for ideas on the Top 10 Ways To Maximize Barclaycard Arrival Miles.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Card from American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Also earn 2 miles for each dollar spent on qualifying Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else.  Aside from earning 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else, you’ll also receive your first checked bag free and priority boarding.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Card From American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 miles after you spend $500 within the first 3 months – 5,000 of which are Medallion Qualification Miles.
Annual Fee: $150
Other Benefits: Additionally you will earn 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else. You can get 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 in a calendar year. Then, get another 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles after you reach $50,000 in that same calendar year. Check out this post to see why I decided to get the Business Platinum Delta SkyMiles card.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature
Current Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 miles
upon approval for Bank of America customers
Annual Fee: $75
Other Benefits: Earn 3 miles for every qualifying dollar in purchases of Alaska Airlines tickets, Vacation packages and Cargo purchases. Coach Companion Fare every year from $118 (USD) ($99, plus taxes and fees from $19).
Note: There is also currently an offer on this card with a 40,000-mile sign-up bonus, but you must spend $10,000 in 6 months in order to earn the full bonus.

Hyatt Credit Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: Earn 2 free nights at Hyatt properties worldwide after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $75
Other Benefits: Earn 2 free nights at Hyatt properties worldwide as well as 3 points per dollar spent at Hyatt, 2 points per dollar spent on all dining, airfare and car rental purchases and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. Read this post for details on other Hyatt Visa Perks.

Fairmont Visa Signature
Current Sign-up Bonus: 2 complimentary nights including breakfast after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $95
Other Benefits: You will also earn 5 points per dollar spent on Fairmont stays, 2 points per dollar spent on airfare, car rentals and transit and commuting and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Every year you make $7,500 in net purchases, you will receive 1 stay credit towards the next Fairmont President’s Club status level up to 2 stay credits per calendar year. Read my full review of the card here.

Chase Priority Club Select Visa
Current Sign-up Bonus: Unverified Offer 80,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months. See this FlyerTalk thread for more information
Annual Fee: $49 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Get a 10% rebate on IHG Rewards Club point redemptions. Receive an annual free night certificate worldwide on cardmember anniversary. No foreign transaction fees.

Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard
Current Sign-up Bonus: Earn 30,000 AAdvantage miles when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $450
Other Benefits: With this card you’ll get your first checked bag free, Admirals Club membership privileges, 25% off in-flight purchases, and no foreign transaction fees. Each calendar year when you spend $40,000 on your card you will earn 10,000 AAdvantage elite qualifying miles. In addition when you make American Airlines purchases you will earn 2 miles per dollar and 1 mile per dollar earned on all other purchases.

Update: This offer is no longer available. View the current offer for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card here.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa – Personal and Business
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee: $99
Other Benefits: With this card you will earn 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways purchases as well as Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Read this post for more information on the Companion Pass.

American Express Hilton HHonors Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points when you spend $750 within 3 months.
Annual Fee: $0
Other Benefits: You will earn 7 points per dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton HHonors portfolio of brands, 5 points per dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3 points for all other eligible purchases. Although there was a recent devaluation in the Hilton HHonors program, American and Hilton confirmed that AXON awards will remain.

Citi Hilton HHonors Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 40,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 within 4 months.
Annual Fee: $0
Other Benefits: In addition you will earn 6 points per dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton HHonors portfolio of brands, 3 points per dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 2 points for all other eligible purchases. Read this post to learn how to maximize Hilton HHonors points for room and suite upgrades.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $85 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott locations, 2 points per dollar spent on airfare, car rentals and dining and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Receive 1 free night upon approval and every year on cardmember anniversary. Receive 1 credit toward elite status for every $3,000 spent. No foreign transaction fees.

Marriott Rewards Credit Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $45 waived the first year
Other Benefits:  Earn 2 free night stays at a category 1-4 hotel after account approval. Receive 10 credits after your account opening and every year after your account anniversary, giving you guaranteed Silver Elite status every year. Receive 1 credit toward Elite status for every $3,000 spent on purchases.

Chase Sapphire
Current Sign-up Bonus: 10,000 points after you spend $500 in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $0
Other Benefits: Earn 2 points per dollar on all dining. Redeem points for 1 cent each towards travel.

Chase Freedom
Current Sign-up Bonus: 10,000 points after you spend $500 in the first 3 months
Annual Free: $0
Other Benefits: Earn 1% cash back on everything you buy. Another benefit of this card is that each quarter you can activate your Freedom card to maximize category bonuses. In Q3 you’ll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 at gas stations, theme parks, and Kohl’s.

$2,000 Minimum Spending and Under

Citi ThankYou Preferred Rewards Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 20,000 bonus ThankYou Points after you spend $1,500 in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: No annual fee
Other Benefits: You’ll earn 1 ThankYou point will be earned per dollar spent on all purchases and there is no annual fee with this card. As of July 28, 2013, you will earn 2 points per dollar on dining and entertainment purchases including movies, museums, amusement parks and sporting events and 1 point per $1 on everything else.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 points after $2,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $175 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 15,000 points after you spend $30,000 in purchases annually. Earn 3 points per dollar on airfare, 2 points per dollar on US supermarkets and standalone gas stations, and one point per dollar on all other transactions. Receive a $75 hotel credit and room upgrade at check-in when you book a minimum 2-night consecutive stay with the Gold Hotel Collection.
For more information on these cards and Amex Membership Rewards, check out these posts:
Ranking the Top American Express Travel Credit Cards
The Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Airline Transfer Partners
Analyzing Amex Membership Rewards Star Alliance Transfer Partners
Top 10 Lesser Known Amex Membership Rewards Airline Transfer Partners

United MileagePlus Explorer Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 miles with $2,000 spend in the first 3 months (ONLY IN CHASE BRANCH) or 30,000 miles with $1,000 spend in the first the months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Get first checked bag free and priority boarding on United-operated flights. Receive two United Club passes per year. No foreign transaction fees.

British Airways Visa Signature Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 Avios with $2,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $95
Other Benefits: Spend $30,000 in a calendar year and receive a Travel Together Ticket good for two years. Earn 2.5 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1.25 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases. No foreign transaction fees.

Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 60,000 Bonus Gold Points, 50,000 will be earned after your first purchase and the remaining 10,000 points earned once you spend $1,500 on your card within the first 90 days.
Annual Fee: $50
Other Benefits: You will also earn 10 points per dollar spent at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels and 5 points per dollar spent everywhere else. Club Carlson cards come with Gold status and a bonus award night. Read this post to find out more about these two great perks. For more background on the Club Carlson program, check out my Maximizing Club Carlson series, whose posts include Base Level Earning and Redemptions,  Business Program, Elite Status and  Cash + Points RedemptionsHalf-Price Award Redemptions on two-night award stays if you have one of the Club Carlson credit cards.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 20,000 miles with $2,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $59 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase. No foreign transaction fees.
For more information, check out this post on Maximizing Fixed-Value Travel Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 
25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months and 1 point per dollar on all eligible purchases.
Annual Fee: $450
Other Benefits: While the Platinum card has a hefty annual fee of $450, there are several benefits that will bring you much more value than $450 like the $200 airline rebate, airport lounge access, and reimbursement for Global Entry.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Mike

    Why arent you listing the better card signups for Alaska (30k miles) and Citi Aadvantage?

    Thats shady.

  • thepointsguy

    What is shady? Assume you are talking about the 50k Citi AA that have a $3,000 spend requirement. This post only outlines offers 2k and below- do you have a 50,000 mile offer that has a lower spend than 3k? If so, I’d be happy to include.

    As for Alaska, there is a 40k bonus after 10k in spend.. if you have one that is 2k spend or less, let me know!

    Nothing shady here.. I promise!

  • Sri

    There isn’t anything shady here…..it was so clear to start wit this post is about lower MIN SPEND REQUIREMENTS. Sometimes it’s really wise to go for a couple low-spend-reqs cards when looking at the bigger picture of “Is it really worth to go for those few extra miles but having to spend a TON of extra $$$”

  • A.J.

    AmEx P.R.G. Card also offers 2 x points at gas stations correct? Or has it changed?

  • thepointsguy

    2x gas and grocery indeed! I’ll fix that

  • Danny

    I enjoyed the post. I typically ignore the offers that make you spend any more than 2K to get your bonus, as it’s not worth it to me to spend something like 5K on a card just to get the bonus. Three of these cards are actually coming my way – the Marriott Premier, the BA Visa and the Delta Platinum.

  • AKCredit

    Hi TPG:
    This offer has been on One Mile at Time blog for a while. And don’t get me wrong I am not a hater and I love your blog and read it every day. Sometimes life happens and people forget to look at the best current offer. Even if it requires NO MIN SPEND and lower bonus instead of a higher MIN SPEND and a higher bonus. For example I’ll take the 30k bonus with no min spend instead of the 40k bouns with 10k spend any day of the week.
    http://boardingarea.com/onemileatatime/2013/06/14/30000-mile-sign-up-bonus-on-alaska-signature-visa/

    offer:
    https://www.applyonlinenow.com/USCCapp/Ctl/entry?sc=VABSKB#b

  • thepointsguy

    Thx for the links! Will definitely add- great deal for no spend

  • Sean

    How likely do you think it is that a higher bonus for the Freedom comes back?

  • Pingback: Maximizing Fee-Free Chase Gift Cards With Bluebird | The Points Guy

  • Pingback: How Can You Request a Better Bonus Offer After Applying for a Credit Card? | The Points Guy

  • RapidPromo

    Find out, What makes the southwest airlines credit card distinctive?
    http://rapidrewardsenrollmentpromotioncode.org/southwest-airlines-credit-card-features/

  • Jen Pickett

    Thanks for the list, these are great ways to score airline tickets. But how’s about a credit card that doesn’t charge 3% foreign transaction fees so I don’t go broke once I’ve gone abroad. Have you found any?

    Thanks!
    Jen

Print This Page