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Which Credit Card Offers To Get Now – And Which To Wait On

by on March 1, 2014 · 51 comments

in Credit Cards

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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.

Citi has upped their bonus with this card.

Citi has upped the bonus to 100,000 miles – but there’s no telling how long it will be around.

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.

Leverage the current Southwest credit card bonuses as well.

Leverage the current Southwest credit card bonuses as well.

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!

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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.

New Virgin America Visa

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 credit cards offer calendar year spending bonuses.

The new Hawaiian Airlines credit cards offer calendar year spending bonuses among other benefits.

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.

WAIT ON…

US Airways World Mastercard

US Airways World Mastercard

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.

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.

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  • Peter

    Hi TPG! I’m considering switching to AMERICAN as my #1 choice on flights between JFK-LAX over DELTA. Currently I hold the regular AA platinum MC and I think I probably should upgrade for lounge access, especially if I do more than 5-6 RT flights with them this year. Do I call up CITI and upgrade? Or do I need to apply for a new card.

  • r0m8470

    TPG – is the Citi AA spend requirements for 3 months or 6 months?

  • Mercruiser

    There are three important typos in this paragraph, ” 100,000 miles when you spend $10,000 in 6 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 6 months.” You need to replace all occurrences of “6 months” with “3 months”.

  • Noannualfee

    I do not see any offers where the $89 annual fee is waived for the US Airways mastercard.

  • Rob M

    Post should be retitled: “How and why my readers should fund my next 3 trips”

    Seriously, care to disclose the numbers of apps you pull in from this post, and what the payout is?

  • Alex

    3 Months I believe. I got the 60k one.

  • 280kmh

    Would be nice to know, but aren’t those who apply and follow the rules getting the bonus they signed up for ? So how is TPG income important ?

  • Hema

    Hi. What’s your opinion about Amex platinum? On Amex Mercedes Benz platinum running bonus is 50000 points. Shall I wait for a better offer on either of these platinum or get the benz one? Thanks much for your help.

  • Cynthia

    I find the Alaska Airlines Visa confusing. When I click to the application page it says “UP TO 40,000 Bonus Miles for Elite Mileage Plan members.” Do you already need to have elite status with Alaska to be able to earn the 40,000 bonus miles?

  • Sean

    If you post your income I’m sure TPG may reciprocate. Everyone gains so why the gripe? No-likey-no-ready!

  • Tracy Antonioli

    I recently applied for an received the Citi Executive AAdvantage card. Two things: 1. Nowhere in any of the (vast amount of) literature that came with the card did it mention ANY mileage bonuses for any reason. I am concerned. and 2. While I did use the physical card itself to gain access to a US Air lounge the other day, I did not ever receive any official Admiral’s Club membership (which is annoying, as the process of using the card itself to gain access to the club was awkward and semi-confusing for the man at the desk.) Thoughts on this, anyone?

  • sherman

    alaska 30k link is not working

  • Sherman

    these nice articles don’t come from nowhere. I am willing to “pay” for them. Plus, I would assume TPG and banks probably would have a non-disclosure policy for exact number of commission.

  • iahphx

    This is, of course, the Mileage Blogger’s Dilemma. There is no question that the constant shilling of credit cards — as contained in this post — is obnoxious, absurd and kind of desperate. On the other hand, the blogger is going to make a nice chunk of change from the post. That’s why they do it of course: it’s for the moola. Of course, that’s the primary motivation of most forms of “work”: to get paid.
    From a readers’ perspective, I guess the best way to look at it is as a commercial on a TV show. Nobody likes it, but the content probably wouldn’t exist without it.

  • Joel

    Mention of the bonus appears in the letter informing you that you have been approved. This letter comes before the Card which is mailed separately.

  • Kathy

    The question I hope someone can answer for me is when I can cancel the credit card after I receive the signup bonus without losing the points.

  • Guest

    1) As of today, Tthe US Airways card is now *up to* 50,000 miles. I got it last month, advertised for 40k, but it is not exactly 40K miles – it’s 30k miles when you purchase something over $89 (which covers the cost of the membership) but the extra 10K only happens when you transfer a balance and is a 1:1 transfer: shift $2000 to this card to get 2000 miles, UP TO 10,000. That would make your 40,000 miles. There is also a 3%, one time transfer fee to do this, but there’s 0.0% APR in the first year. I’m not sure if it’s worth it to transfer…. how do I calculate the CPM? Can’t find that!

  • http://www.anjanimillet.com Anjani

    As of today, Tthe US Airways card is now *up to* 50,000 miles. I got it last month, advertised for 40k, but it is not exactly 40K miles – it’s 30k miles when you purchase something over $89 (which covers the cost of the membership) but the extra 10K only happens when you transfer a balance and is a 1:1 transfer: shift $2000 to this card to get 2000 miles, UP TO 10,000. That would make your 40,000 miles. There is also a 3%, one time transfer fee to do this, but there’s 0.0% APR in the first year. I’m not sure if it’s worth it to transfer…. how do I calculate the CPM? Can’t find that!

  • Sam Shah

    Most cards you mentioned are Barclay credit cards( virgin/hawaian/us ) barclay only allows 1 approval and no way to get around unless you have any tricks if you can share

  • Fanfoot

    I don’t believe the card provides US Air Lounge access actually.

  • thepointsguy
  • RJP

    I have a wife, and two kids who can sign up for cards. On a pt-per-$ basis, getting married and have a few kids is an expensive approach overall, but it can get you multiple cards.

  • Steve

    Any clue if the 50% off companion ticket for the Hawaiin Airlines card is redeemable when purchasing with points? I assume most fly there infrequently so two seperate trips would be alot.

  • thepointsguy

    Apply for the new card so you get the 100k miles. If you upgrade they may just switch your card and you forego the huge mileage bonus

  • thepointsguy

    Corrected the typo to show 3 months

  • thepointsguy

    All of these, except for Southwest, are not my links because my links offer less. My link for the Southwest is the best, which is why it is included.

  • thepointsguy

    Unfortunately not- only for paid flights in certain fare classes. We will be doing a post on the value of this perk soon

  • thepointsguy

    Virgin is now Comenity Bank, but Hawaiian and US are both Barclaycard. You can have several cards, but tread carefully- they’ve got among the tightest rules for having multiple cards

  • thepointsguy

    My link is better, with 35k after first purchase. I never recommend doing balance transfers to get bonuses because the fees outweigh the value of the miles

  • thepointsguy

    Yes you keep the points, but don’t cancel right away- wait at least 6 months

  • thepointsguy

    Technically, but others without elite status have gotten the bonus. Your miles may vary

  • thepointsguy

    Amex MB Platinum with 50k points is a better deal… Amex sometimes targets people for 100k signups, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that

  • Kathy

    Thanks, I’m getting the card free for a year – will I need to renew and pay for the next year before I cancel?

  • Matt

    You could literally say that about absolutely any piece of advertising. We are given information about making purchasing decisions and someone on the other side benefits. What you’re saying is akin to walking into a car dealer saying “oh you’d like me to buy that’d car, it’d pay you a nice commission wouldn’t it?” Well duh. We’re all intelligent folks here, we understand he benefits from us reading his blog; we continue to read it because it benefits us as well by the shared wealth of information.

  • Fanfoot

    No, just wait at least 6 months like he said. You can always wait until almost time to pay the fee and then call and see if there’s an offer to waive it of course.

  • Fanfoot

    Thanks. Sorry for the confusion. Thought that’s what I saw on FT early on.

  • MPW

    “discounted award travel (5,000 miles off roundtrip award fares from North America to Hawaii)”

    I can’t seem to find any mention of this on either the Hawaiian site or the credit card app page. Can you elaborate further?

  • iahohx

    Well, if your payout is going to be modest, you really should NOT have started this thread. Honestly, if there’s any topic that is WAY over-covered in the mileage blog world, it’s credit card sign-ups. The number of stories — both on your blog and the others — is preposterous, pathetic and obnoxious. As you can probably tell, you most loyal readers HATE seeing another meaningless credit card thread unless, of course, it contains genuinely new and valuable information.
    My marketing advice would therefore be quite straightforward: unless you’re gonna make a good chunk of change on a credit card summary thread, don’t run it. It ain’t worth the damage you do to your reputation.

  • Dave L

    Sounds like you should start your own blog if you don’t like his. Personally I find most of the frequent flier program posts boring, and the credit card posts are important to me.

  • GoatLove

    I think you missed the $7,500 one.

  • Brian C. Lee

    “preposterous, pathetic and obnoxious”

    Did TPG kick your dog or something?

  • http://www.LiveSmartNotHard.com/ Steve Bierfeldt

    I’ve really tried, but for the life of me I can’t understand how there can be so many whiney children on these boards roasting writers and site owners for, “making money” off of people. Forget 3. I hope I’m helping to fund the next 30 trips for Brian. If he’s doing the work to compile information and providing it, who cares if he’s getting a referral bonus from the card companies? It’s not like its taking miles from you or that because your using his link that you’re losing money. Even if the entire site is promoting bad deals and cards, (It’s certainly not,) aren’t you still a human being with some semblance of reason? Can’t you figure our for yourself what to buy? All the complainers seem like they’re just jealous they didn’t think of the idea to create a website devoted to points and miles. Kudos to Brian. Here’s to funding trip #31!

  • LAKnight

    Hi TPG, which credit card would you pick between Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines in terms of perks? I don’t want to apply too many credit cards…

  • Edward

    US Air MC: The landing page I get doesn’t waive AF. And I’m using private browsing.

  • Justin

    Totally agree. Instead of whining about referral bonuses anyone can start their own blog and make money off referral fees themselves. TPG isn’t the only one doing it.

  • http://www.anjanimillet.com Anjani

    Thanks, TPG. Unfortunately I applied back in the fall. There is also this: I also applied for the Alaska Airlines card for 25,000 miles. I forgot I had applied and applied again on a flight. So, I get TWO cards, but both are for $2500 limit (?), and therefore only 2500 miles. They won’t let me have the 25,000 point card because that requires approval for a $5000 limit but they’ve given me two cards that amount to $5000, so it’s the same amount. They said I could apply again for the 25k card and then call them right after and ask them to fold my two crappy cards into the one. What the? Did I miss the small print that said “up to” 25k? Have you heard of this before?

  • iahphx

    And you should see what’s said on travelbloggerbuzz about this nonsense. :)
    Seriously, you have your head in the sand if you don’t think the mileage bloggers hit the credit card stories too hard. Sadly, it’s the way they make their money. It can be well over $100 per app. This type of outsized compensation compared to everything else a blogger can do to make money obviously leads to worse blogs. It would be a very interesting world if the credit card companies were to say “no mas” to the bloggers (which might be a smart thing for them to do, since the majority of the people who apply from these sites are gaming the system).

  • Tracy Antonioli

    Ok. So I never received a physical letter. But I did get an email informing me I’d been approved. I checked, and there’s nothing in the email about the mileage bonus, either. So I don’t GET the miles? Why would this be? Am I allowed to be annoyed?

  • iahphx

    I’m tired too, but for the life of me I can’t understand how there could be a whiney child on this board roasting posters for being concerned that outsized payments (well over $100) per credit card application might be compromising the quality of the advice offered by mileage bloggers.

  • jtgray

    We are all trying to find a way to make a living in this world. TPG quit his regular job to do this full time. He took a big risk and deserves to be rewarded for that if his content is valuable to his readers. In addition, you need to go and prove that he’s posting links to deals that are not the best for us. If he does that, then we have a right to be concerned. But from what I can tell, he always posts links to the best current offer for any card, whether or not they are his referral links. So give the guy a break and if you want one of the cards he’s suggesting use his link! It’s a mutually beneficial transaction for god’s sake!

  • Diotallevi

    I got approved for the card two months ago and it never mentioned anything in the approval email about the 100K bonus. I did a screen print when I applied, which included info about the bonus, although I’m not sure how much good that will do if there’s a problem. I think everything will be fine.

    You can always call them and ask them. Customer service at Citi should be able to dig up and confirm what bonus/promotion you signed up for.

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