Best Travel Credit Card Offers for July 2014

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Ink PlusChase Sapphire Preferred Card 

The travel credit card marketplace is an ever-shifting landscape. Offers come, offers go. Bonuses rise, bonuses fall. It pays (literally) to stay on top of the latest news to make sure you get in on the very best credit card offers out there. With that in mind, I periodically update the list of top travel credit card offers, and today I want to present what I think are the top 10 credit card offers for July.

As you can see, some offers are great because of all-time high sign-up bonuses, while others are perennial favorites because of the amazing perks they offer. I want to clarify, this is not a list of every offer on the market. For that I recommend going to the Top Deals page. However, if you’re looking to apply for a credit card (or more than one) right now, these are my top picks of the moment. Be sure to check back every month for updates and the latest, best offers out there, because I’ll be updating them periodically.

Before you get started, be sure to read 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 and How Credit Card Applications Affect Your Credit Score.

AMERICAN EXPRESS

Amex introduced the new EveryDay cards in March.
Amex introduced the new EveryDay cards in March.

American Express EveryDay Preferred
Current Bonus: 15,000 points when you spend $1,000 in 90 days
Other Benefits: Earn 3x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (not including warehouse stores like Costco) on purchases of up to $6,000 per year (then 1x after that); 2x points on U.S. standalone gas stations; and 1x points on all other purchases. Use the Card to make 30 or more purchases in a billing period and earn 50% extra points on all purchases (less returns and credits). Card also comes with Smart Chip technology and 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months.
Annual Fee: $95
Reasons to get it: Though the sign-up bonus is fairly low, the everyday earning potential of this card (hence its name) can be very lucrative thanks to those bonus spending categories and the 50% bonus you get by making 30+ transactions per month. That means your base earning could be 1.5 points per dollar and as high as 4.5 points per dollar on groceries – and these are full Membership Rewards points, meaning you can transfer them to the program’s travel partners. Check out this post for more information on the card: American Express Introduces New EveryDay Cards with 20-50% Bonuses and Full Membership Rewards Earning.

BANK of AMERICA

The Alaska 40k offer is for airline elites, but applications are open to others as well.
The Alaska 40k offer is for airline elites, but applications are open to others as well.

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature
Current Bonus: 40,000 miles – 25,000 after account approval and 15,000 more after spending $10,000 within 6 months.
Other Benefits: Earn 3 miles for every dollar spent on Alaska Airlines tickets, vacation packages and cargo purchases, and earn 1 mile per $1 on everything else. Coach Companion Fare every year from $118 (USD) ($99, plus taxes and fees from $19). Note: You can get this card more than once, so even if you’ve gotten it in the past, many people have been able to get the same bonus numerous times.
Annual Fee: $75
Reasons to get it: I picked up this card myself in my most recent round of applications because Alaska Airlines miles are some of the most valuable miles out there (2 cents apiece in my most recent valuation), and one of my priorities this year has been to build up my stash of miles to redeem for more incredible redemptions like my recent Emirates first class trip home from Mumbai via Dubai for just 90,000 Alaska miles. The offer is technically targeted towards elite members, but I ended up getting all 40,000 miles after $10,000 in spend (there’s also an offer for 30,000 miles after first purchase).

BARCLAYCARD

The Arrival Plus now comes with a Smart Chip.
The Arrival Plus is one of my top all-round credit cards.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard 
Current Bonus: 40,000 miles 
with $3,000 spend in 90 days.
Other Benefits: 
Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and receive 10% of your miles back when you redeem miles for travel. Chip and Pin technology. No foreign transaction fees. For more information on this card, read my updated review, 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.
Annual Fee:
$89 waived the first year
Reasons to get it: The sign-up bonus alone is worth ~$440 in travel statement credits, and if you’re already maxed out on Amex and Chase cards, you might want to consider applying for cards from other issuers like Barclaycard. I personally like this card because it comes with Chip + Pin technology that makes it easy to use abroad, and for the versatility of the miles you earn with it, since you can redeem them for non-traditional travel rewards, including things like campgrounds and B&B’s.

Get the US Airways card while you still can.
Get the US Airways card while you still can.

US Airways Premier World MasterCard
Current Bonus: 40,000 miles 
after first purchase or balance transfer in the first 90 days.
Other Benefits:
Receive an annual companion certificate good for up to 2 $99 companion tickets upon approval and every anniversary. 5,000-mile discounts on awards. Free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions. 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
Reasons to get it: Thanks to the merger with American Airlines, this card will transition to an American Airlines Mastercard sometime in 2015 and its benefits will change, so get it while you can still maximize its value with the companion certificates. For more info on this card, read my most recent review here.

CHASE

Those 5% earning categories make the Chase Freedom a top pick.
Those 5% earning categories make the Chase Freedom a top pick.

Chase Freedom Card
Current Bonus: 15,000
points with $500 spend in 3 months plus 2,500 more for adding an authorized user within 90 days (unverified, but check this FlyerTalk thread for more info).
Other Benefits: Rotating quarterly bonuses that allow you to earn 5 points per dollar in certain categories, up to $1,500 per quarter. 1 point per dollar on other spending. Points can be transferred into the Ultimate Rewards account for your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink cards. For more on the card, check out this recently updated review.
Annual Fee: None
Reasons to get it: This is one of the best no-annual-fee cards out there thanks to the ability to earn valuable Ultimate Rewards points and those lucrative 5x category spending bonuses.

Chase's Ink cards are among the top business credit cards on the market.
Chase’s Ink cards are among the top business credit cards on the market.

Ink Plus Business Card and Ink Bold Business Card
Current Bonus: 50,000 points
 with $5,000 spend in 3 months.
Other Benefits:
Earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, cell phone, land line, internet, and cable TV services, and 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations and on hotel accommodations, up to $50,000 annually. Receive complimentary LOUNGE CLUB membership and 2 free visits each year with access to over 350 VIP airport lounges.
Annual Fee:
$95 waived the first year
Reasons to get it: These business cards come loaded with benefits including 5x and 2x category spending bonuses, and the ability to earn valuable Ultimate Rewards points, which you can then transfer to any of Chase’s 11 travel partners.

The Sapphire Preferred's current bonus is 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months.
The Sapphire Preferred currently offers 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months.

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Current Bonus: 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months, plus another 5,000 bonus points when you add an additional cardholder and make a purchase within the first 3 months.
Other Benefits: 2 points per $1 on travel (which includes flights, hotels, car rentals, subway, parking, taxis, etc.) and restaurants (basically any food establishment and catering) with no maximum cap. Points are worth 1.25 cents when redeemed for airfare, hotel, car rentals and cruises (that means the 40,000 sign-up bonus = $500 towards travel at minimum); no foreign transaction fees; extra earning potential through the Ultimate Rewards earning mall; Ultimate Rewards Exclusives experience redemptions, Visa Signature perks and protections, no foreign transaction fees and chip & signature technology.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year
Reasons to get it: The Sapphire Preferred comes loaded with benefits including no forex fees, Chip + Signature technology, and those lucrative 2x category spending bonuses on travel and dining. All those features make it one of the travel cards and top points-earning cards on the market.

For more information, see these posts:
10 Chase Ink Benefits You Might Not Know About
Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Top 10 Ways To Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner
Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards
Ranking the Top Chase Travel Credit Card Offers

Spend $30,000 in a year, to get the British Airways Travel Together ticket.

British Airways Visa Signature Card
Current Bonus: 50,000 Avios with $2,000 spend in the first 3 months
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.
Annual Fee: $95
Reasons to get it: For more info on this card and how to maximize British Airways Avios check out my series. Posts include: Distance-Based Awards; Household Accounts; Using Avios to Upgrade Paid Tickets; The Avios and Cash Option; Save Money on Fuel Surcharges by Transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia; Using Avios For Non-Flight Redemptions; Using Avios to Book Domestic First Class Flights, Direct Flights, London Stopovers and UK Destinations; How to Redeem British Airways Avios Without Huge Fees; and Using British Airways Avios on Aer Lingus to Avoid Huge Fees.

CITI

Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard
Current Bonus: 75,000 miles with $7,500 spend in 3 months
Other 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
Reasons to get it: Well, it had to come to an end. The 100k offer on this card was around for several months, but it finally seems to have expired, per this FlyerTalk thread, so this 75k offer is currently the best one out there. Though lower, this offer is still worth applying for because the minimum spending threshold has gone down proportionally, and the fact that this card is one of the best out there for earning elite-qualifying miles through spend. Plus, if you value lounge access, this one is a no-brainer, especially since the Amex Platinum cards no longer offer Admirals Club access.

Though lower than recent offers, the Citi Executive AAdvantage card's 75k bonus is still worth applying for.
The lower 75k bonus for the Citi Executive AAdvantage is still worth applying for.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve
Current Bonus: Two weekend night certificates
, each good for one weekend night (standard room, double occupancy) at most hotels and resorts within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, after $2,500 spend in 4 months. $100 statement credit when you spend $100 or more on a Hilton stay within 3 months of account opening – though my sources say that this $100 offer is expiring as soon as Friday.
Other Benefits: 
10 HHonors points for every $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio. 5 points for every $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases. 3 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Automatic Hilton HHonors Gold status; Diamond status with $40,000 annual spend. No foreign transaction fees. SmartChip technology. Visa Signature benefits. Cardholders who spend $10,000 annually get an anniversary free weekend-night certificate that can be used at any property.
Annual Fee:
$95
Reasons to get it: The two free weekend nights and anniversary weekend night for $10,000 spending plus automatic Gold status and the ability to earn Diamond status based on spend all make this card a top choice for folks who are Hilton loyalists. However, the sign-up bonus alone can be worth thousands of dollars depending on where you redeem those weekend night certificates.

US BANK

The Club Carlson Visa's half-price award night benefit is one of the best out there.
The Club Carlson Visa’s half-price award night benefit is one of the best out there.

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card and Club Carlson Rewards Business Visa
Current Bonus: 85,000 Gold Points, 50,000 of which will be earned after your first purchase, plus 35,000 more points once you spend $2,500 within the first 90 days.
Other Benefits: You’ll 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 night on award stays that can make this an ultra-valuable card to carry.
Annual Fee: $75 for personal card, $60 for business version
Reasons to get it: That free last night on award reservations can be worth tens of thousands of points alone, but this card’s other benefits – including increased earning, elite status and a high sign-up bonus – make it a good value proposition for folks who stay at Carlson.

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.

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