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Update: This offer is no longer available. View the current offer for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card here. Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.
With the launch of limited-time 50,000-point sign-up bonuses on the Southwest credit cards, which ends March 5, and a 100,000-mile sign-up bonus for the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard as well as other limited-time bonus offers plus new card launches, now is a great time to consider a round of applications since. Because when great offers come around, you’ve got to hop on them fast or risk their disappearance. Here’s a roundup of the best right now that might not be around much longer, and then one that I think might be worth waiting to apply for at the moment.
If you’re interested in a general rundown of the travel credit cards currently on the market, you should also check out my Top Deals page, but for new and interesting cards, here’s a quick roundup of a few that have recently hit the market.
Before you get started, be sure to check out my posts on How To Check Your Credit – Preparing For The Credit Card Application Process, and When To Cancel A Card – My Personal Card Inventory and Decision Process.
Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard
Current Sign-up Bonus: 100,000 miles when you spend $10,000 in 3 months. Note: there are also offers for 75,000 miles after spending $7,500 in 6 months, and 60,000 miles for spending $5,000 in 3 months.
Card Benefits: Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1 mile per $1 on everything else. Admirals Club membership privileges; 10,000 elite miles when you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases within a calendar year; your first eligible checked bag is free, priority boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases; SmartChip technology; no foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $450
Why Get It? This is the highest we’ve ever seen the bonus on this card, and though the $10,000 spending requirement is steep, it is worth it for the points haul. Not only that, but the card is the only one where you can earn American elite miles based on spending, and it gets you access to Admirals and US Airways clubs, which the Amex Platinum card will no longer be able to after March 22, 2014. For more, see my post on the offer. Though I haven’t seen anything to say that this offer will go away at a specific date, it’s as high as we’ve seen the bonus on this card, and as I said, there’s no telling when offers like this might get pulled.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa
Limited-Time Current Bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months – ends March 5.
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. This offer comes and goes, but the best time to apply is between October and December so that you hit the $2,000 spend requirement as early in the new year as possible if you’re gunning for the holy grail of travel rewards – the Companion Pass.
Annual Fee: $99
Why Get It? Chase periodically runs this bonus, but you never know if it will come back again. The sign-up bonus is worth almost $900 in Wanna Get Away fares until the devaluation March 31, 2014 after which it will be worth closer to $750 – so you might just be able to squeak in under the buzzer. Not only that, but these bonus points count towards Southwest’s Companion Pass qualification, which is one of the best frequent flyer program benefits out there, and if you get it now, it will be good through 2015 – nearly two years!
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature
Current Sign-up Bonus: 40,000 miles when you spend $10,000 in 6 months. Note: there is also an offer with 30,000 miles with no minimum spend.
Other Benefits: Earn 3 miles per $1 on Alaska fares. Coach Companion Fare every year from $118 (USD) ($99, plus taxes and fees from $19).
Annual Fee: $75
Why Get It? Given all of Delta’s recent negative changes including two mileage chart devaluations, hacking away at elite same-day confirmed benefits, and new elite revenue requirements, I’ve been taking a much closer look at Alaska and its MileagePlan program, including at this credit card. I have a lot of Amex and Chase cards, so I’m looking to expand my credit card portfolio to other issuers including Bank of America, who issues this card.
Virgin America Premium Visa Signature
Current Sign-up Bonus: Earn 15,000 Elevate bonus reward points when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.
Other Benefits: Earn 3 points per $1 spent with Virgin America. Earn up to 15,000 status points every calendar year and carry forward any additional status points – 5,000 points per $10,000 you spend. No change or cancel fees on non-refundable fares. First checked bag free for you and a companion. $150 off a companion ticket every cardmember year. 20% discount on in-flight entertainment.
Annual Fee: $149
Why Get It? Virgin America ended its partnership with Barclaycard and introduced two new co-branded credit cards with a new partner called Comenity Bank in January. These cards are very much like the old versions including the Companion ticket (which if you max out compensates for the $149 annual fee), but you can earn 15,000 status points with $15,000 in spend rather than just 10,000 points with $10,000 in spend like on the old cards. That’s three quarters of the way to Elevate Silver status (earned at 20,000 status points per year). Virgin will charge you $100 to change or cancel a non-refundable Main Cabin ticket, so if your plans tend to change and you max out this benefit, you could also save hundreds of dollars. The points you earn also rollover, which can be a valuable benefit for Virgin flyers that’s sort of like Delta’s Medallion Qualifying Miles rollover benefit where any status points you earn above and beyond an elite status tier qualification are rolled over toward your qualification for the following year. So if you earned 30,000 status points in 2014, you’d qualify for Silver status and start 2015 with 10,000 status points already in your account toward 2015 status qualification – it’s a nice little head start. Finally, if you’re maxed out on Chase and Amex cards, or you already have the Barclaycard Arrival (the old issuer of the Virgin America cards), this might be a good opportunity to get a card from a new issuer.
The New Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard
Current Sign-up Bonus: Earn 35,000 bonus miles when you make $1,000 in eligible purchases in the first 90 days.
Other Benefits: Enjoy a Complimentary Checked Bag for the primary cardholder when you use your card to purchase tickets directly from Hawaiian Airlines; receive a one-time 50% Off Companion Discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii & North America on Hawaiian Airlines; discounted award travel (5,000 miles off roundtrip award fares from North America to Hawaii); 2X miles per $1 on direct purchases from Hawaiian Airlines, 1X miles on everything else; earn up to 10X miles per $1 with participating partners; every membership year you spend $10,000 or more on the card, you get 5,000 bonus miles; primary Cardholders are eligible to earn a $100 discount off one coach companion ticket for roundtrip travel between Hawaii and North America on each credit card account anniversary; Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard cardholders can receive HawaiianMiles from friends and family online at HawaiianAirlines.com up to 10 times per calendar year; no foreign transaction fees, SmartChip technology.
Annual Fee: $89
Why Get It? Barclaycard just launched these products following the termination of BofA’s partnership with Hawaiian, so these cards are all-new and designed to entice cardholders with a slew of value-added perks like companion tickets, calendar year spending bonus miles, discounted awards and more. Plus, if you’re maxed out on Amex, Chase and/or Citi travel cards, or you’re looking for alternatives to get to Hawaii and beyond, you might consider taking a look at HawaiianMiles (and the program is also a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, so it’s easy to top up your account using those points. Not being a member of any of the three major alliances, Hawaiian Airlines also has some interesting partner redemption options. They are currently not part of any of the three major alliances but they partner with several different airlines including non-alliance partners such as: American, ANA, Korean Air, JetBlue, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, and in some cases, Hawaiian offers better redemption options.
US Airways Premier World MasterCard
Current Bonus: 40,000 miles after first purchase in the first 90 days – but I have a hunch that this bonus might be going up soon, or the card could roll out new benefits to entice new cardholders while Barclaycard is still permitted to sign up new customers for it.
Other Benefits: Receive an annual companion certificate good for up to 2 companion tickets upon approval and every year, 5,000-mile discounts on awards, 2X miles per $1 on US Airways purchases. Also receive 1 complimentary US Airways Club day pass and get first class check in and Zone 2 boarding.
Annual Fee: $89
Why Get It? This card will stick around for a while, but they won’t be accepting new cardholders after mid-2015. So it’s a good idea to get this one at some point (but wait a little bit) and save some of the Citi AAdvantage cards for after the airlines have completed their merger. This has some great features including that calendar year spending bonus of Preferred-qualifying miles, a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus, priority check-in and boarding, and an annual companion ticket. All in all, it’s a great credit card product and a lot of potential bonus miles considering the $89 annual fee is waived the first year.