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.

Sign-up bonuses for travel credit cards are always changing, and as part of your strategy for maximizing points and miles earning, it pays to stay informed so you don’t miss the best deals out there.  To help you weigh your options, I like to provide an updated monthly list of the top travel credit card offers. Below you’ll find my top 10 picks for August.

A few of these card offers have atypically high sign-up bonuses, while others are among my favorites because of their benefits. This isn’t a list of every offer on the market (for that, I recommend going to the Hot Deals page) but is instead meant to be a resource for those of you who are in the market for a new travel credit card (or more than one).

Before you get started here, be sure to check out these posts:
How To Check Your Credit – Preparing For The Credit Card Application Process,
When To Cancel A Card – My Personal Card Inventory and Decision Process,
How Credit Card Applications Affect Your Credit Score.


Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.53.01 PM

The current 50,000 sign-up bonus on this card is the highest offer we’ve seen in a while.

Delta Gold 
Type: Personal or Business
Current Bonus: 50,000 SkyMiles when you spend $1,000 in 3 months, and earn a $50 statement credit after your first Delta purchase (also within 3 months).
Other Benefits: Earn 2 miles per $1 on Delta purchases, and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else. Check your first bag free on every Delta flight for you and up to 8 people on your reservation. Priority boarding and 20% in-flight savings. Discounted Delta SkyClub access ($29 per visit). On the Business version, save 3% to 10% automatically on business expenses from FedEx, Hertz, OfficeMax, and more with OPEN Savings. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. No annual fee for additional card.
Reasons to get it: This is the highest public signup bonus I’ve seen on this card in a while. If you’re just looking to top up your mileage account and want basic benefits like free checked bags, this version of the Delta card is your best long-term option. Offer available until September 8, 2014. 

Delta Platinum
Type: Personal (business version also available, but with lower signup bonus)
Current Bonus: 50,000 SkyMiles and 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months, and earn a $100 statement credit when you make your first Delta purchase within 3 months.
Other Benefits: Earn 2 miles per $1 on Delta purchases, and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else. Check your first bag free on every Delta flight for you and up to 8 people on your reservation. Earn a bonus of up to 20,000 SkyMiles and 20,000 MQMs annually (10,000 of each for $25,000 in calendar year spend, and another 10,000 of each for a total of $50,000 in calendar year spending). You’ll also receive priority boarding and 20% in-flight savings, as well as an Annual Companion Certificate for one round-trip economy ticket in the 48 contiguous United States. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee:
Reasons to get it: Again, this is the highest public offer we’ve seen since the 55,000 SkyMiles bonus from over a year ago, which had a much higher spending requirement. The Platinum Delta Amex holds value for those looking to boost their MQMs through spending, and the companion ticket that you receive every year after card renewal might also be worth it for Delta frequent flyers out there; if you maximize it, you can easily offset the annual fee of the card. Offer available until September 8, 2014. 


Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.55.19 PM

The Arrival Plus is one of my top all around 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, and no foreign transaction fees. For more information on this card, read my updated review, 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. I also 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, which can be redeemed for non-traditional travel rewards like campgrounds and bed-and-breakfasts.

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. 5,000-mile discounts on awards. Free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions. Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on US Airways purchases, 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: As part of the evolving US Airways merger with American Airlines, in 2015 this card will transition to an American Airlines Mastercard and its benefits will change; I’d suggest getting it while you can still maximize the value of its companion certificate. For more info on this card, read my most recent review here.


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

Chase 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. However, if you enter a Chase bank branch to apply for the Ink Plus, you could get a sign-up bonus as high as 70,000 points; just be aware that the annual fee (see below) won’t be waived for the first year on the higher offer.
Other Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, and on cell phone, land line, internet, and cable TV services, 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations and on hotel accommodations (up to $50,000 in spending annually), and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. 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 (unless you get the Ink Plus in person at a Chase bank branch)
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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Current Bonus: 40,000 points when you spend $4,000 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 through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises (that means the 40,000 sign-up bonus = $500 towards travel at minimum), or potentially much more when used with any of Chase’s 11 transfer partners; no foreign transaction fees; extra earning potential through the Ultimate Rewards earning mall. The card also offers no foreign transaction fees, chip & signature technology, primary auto insurance coverage on rental cars, Ultimate Rewards Exclusives experience redemptions, and Visa Signature perks and protectionsThe card used to earn a 7% annual points dividend, but that benefit was eliminated in July 2014.
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 top travel cards and 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

Marriott Rewards Premier Visa
Current Bonus: 70,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months. 
Other Benefits:  After account approval, receive 1 free night stay at Category 1-4 Marriott properties, as well as 1 additional free night stay at a Category 1-5 location every year after your account anniversary date. Earn 5 Marriott Rewards points for every dollar spent at Marriott properties; 2 points at car rental agencies and restaurants, as well as on airline ticket purchases made directly with airlines; and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Get 15 credits toward your next Elite membership level after account opening and every year after your account anniversary. No foreign transaction fees, and global Chip and Signature technology.
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, $85 thereafter
Reasons to get it: The current 70,000-point sign-up bonus is up 20,000 points from the usual 50,000-point offer on this card. In my monthly valuation of points and miles for August I have Marriott points listed at .7 cents a piece, which means that a 70,000 point sign up bonus is worth about $490. With the free night upon approval you could get an additional ~$300 in value.

United Explorer: This offer is no longer available. View the current offer here.
Current Bonus: 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months, plus an additional 5,000 when you add an authorized user and make a purchase within the first 3 months.
Other Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on United purchases. 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $25,000 in net purchases each calendar year, effectively boosting your miles earning to 1.67 miles per dollar spent. Priority boarding (for the cardholder and companions on the same reservation), 2 United Club passes per year, and free first checked bag on United operated flights (for the cardholder and one companion on the same reservation when you use your Explorer card to purchase tickets). Note: when redeeming miles for an award flight, you can still get a free checked bag by using your card to pay for the TSA security fee.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year
Reasons to get it: The standard bonus for this card is 30,000 miles, and while there have been targeted offers floating around for as high as 60,000 miles, the present offer is the best publicly available one we’ve seen in a while. In my most recent monthly valuations, I list United miles at 1.5 cents apiece, so I’d value the sign-up bonus for the MileagePlus Explorer card (plus the extra 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user) at about $825. If you take just four one-way United flights each year, the free checked bag benefit will save you $100, and I value the two club passes at about $25 each. Thus, you’re getting around $1,000 worth of travel and benefits out of the MileagePlus Explorer just by signing up and meeting the spending requirement.


If you maximize the two weekend night certificates from this card, you can get huge value.


Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve
Current Bonus:
After a $2,500 spend within 4 months, receive two weekend night certificates, each good for one weekend night (standard room, double occupancy) at most Hilton Worldwide hotels and resorts. 
Other Benefits:
Earn 10 HHonors points per dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, 5 points per dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases, and 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Automatic Hilton HHonors Gold status, and Diamond status with an annual spend of $40,000. No foreign transaction fees, SmartChip technology, and 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:
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 loyal Hilton customers. However, depending on where you redeem those weekend night certificates, the sign-up bonus alone can be worth thousands of dollars.


Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.48.10 PM

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’s one of the best hotel card benefits available.
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.

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

For more background on the Club Carlson program, check out my Maximizing Club Carlson series, including 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.

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:

  • fordpickup

    Is AmEx actively enforcing the single-sign-up bonus/card rule? I’d get the platinum in a hot second for the MQM.

  • Alan

    I don’t have one yet, but the reason I like the Club Carlson card is because it just sits there and collects points, whether you use it or not. Unlike other hotel cards that give you one free stay per year that just expires after 12 months, the Club Carlson card gives points that you can bank. After a few years of letting it ride, you could have enough for a pretty good vacation.

    Since you get the last night free, you’d be maxxing out your rewards by staying just two nights in any given place. This sounds like a recipe for a European train-hopping tour.

  • Garett Press

    What do you mean by “it sits there and collects points, whether you use it or not”?

    How does it earn points without spending?

  • Matt

    I just signed up for the Alaska Airlines card and only got 25,000 miles. Is there a special link for the 40,000 offer?

  • LMP

    You can usually get a the Skymiles AMEX signup bonus if you haven’t had an AMEX co-branded card for 12 months.

  • Alan

    It’s got an annual fee of $75, but you get 40k points for every year that you keep it and pay the annual fee. They call them “renewal bonus points”. The points are valued at .6 cents per dollar, but that’s still $240 of value for a $75 annual fee. And between the bonus free nights and the free room upgrades, it might actually be worth double that amount.

    That all being said, I would still try to put some activity on the card as a show of good faith. Maybe just toss a couple of recurring bills on there and pay them off every month. After all, you don’t need to give the credit card company a good reason to let you go if they’re not making enough money off of you.

  • Martin

    After they credited you 25,000, when did they start billing you the annual fee?

  • Miss

    If I use the C Carlson card at their properties mostly outside of the US I pay foreign transaction fees, right? Does that make it not worth getting?

  • Redpanda

    Don’t use the Club Carlson card on international properties, you still get about 27 points per dollar spent as a gold member. The main reason to get the card is the 40,000 point renewal bonus and the 2 for 1 award night redemption which make it invaluable.

  • Redpanda

    The Club Carlson card is the best hotel credit card right now, the only downside is that their properties aren’t as widespread as other hotel chains like hilton or IHG, and they don’t have too many high end properties. That said, it’s still an amazing value. I recently stayed at the Radisson Blu in Chicago for two nights for only 50,000 points which would have run me upwards of $700.

  • LMP

    Actually, looks like that has changed…

  • Alan

    I ran scenarios where I pumped my monthly budget into various combinations of cards. The Carlson Club Preferred actually beat the Amex EveryDay Preferred with my spending habits (despite the poor redemption ratio), but I would still choose the Amex because of the versatility.

    However, that’s just for putting spend on a card. The Carlson Club Preferred is still worth holding, even if you’re not putting much on it.

  • Alan

    An update to my previous post. I just plugged my home and auto insurance into a scenario with the Club Carlson Preferred card and I would rake an additional 27k points per year. Not too shabby for redirecting a single bill. Thanks for the idea!

    Now if they would only open a property in Hawaii…

  • Mack

    The Alaska Visa 40,000 mile offer is no longer available, may want to update post.

  • 01jeremy

    I just got a citi aadvantage offer for 45,000 miles. Why isn’t that included. And unlike with the united explorer card, they don’t take the bonus points back if you cancel the card. (That’s reason enough to not get the explorer.)

  • Brian C. Lee

    I got the same offer from Citi, and it’s targeted. That’s presumably why it’s not listed.

  • Ch

    The United Explorer takes away the points if you cancel the account?

  • 01jeremy

    Yes, the language is very clear about that.

  • MilesRunner

    You still get the “2 for 1″ redemption (last night 0 points for 2 or more nights) without using the card to guarantee the room or pay fees. Get the card and the bonuses, save on redemptions, but only use it for spending in the US until they remove the exchange fee.

  • Danny

    No mention of the Ritz Carlton offer TPG? 70K points (can be banked into a marriott account) with no fee, or 140K points with a 395 fee. 2K required spend.

  • mpeterson78

    I really don’t think that is the case. Once Chase has put the miles in your United account and it’s been a few months or years, I haven’t ever heard of Chase clawing back for them.

  • iHorns

    I really hope that you don’t lose your United miles if you cancel the card. I am hoping to cash in on the current bonus but cancel before I have to pay the fee starting next year. Does any one know for sure if they take back the points?

  • thepointsguy

    You absolutely do not. It’s confusing but what they’re trying to say is that using the card automatically keeps your miles active. If you cancel, then you need to start worrying about normal mileage expiration policies

  • thepointsguy

    No- they do not. The language is confusing- it just means miles won’t be automatically kept active if you cancel the card. They do NOT steal them away from you if you cancel the card

  • Travel me

    Best canadian travel cards for 2014?

  • 01jeremy

    Confusing? I would say misleading. My invitation said miles don’t expire as long as you are a cardmember. That’s it. Now I go to the website and find that miles are as you say, expiring according to United after you cancel the card. Thanks for clearing that up. I did get rid of my offer having that impression, but I guess the CSP is the better offer for United anyway.

  • iHorns

    Thanks for clearing that up!

  • Fiona

    The miles expire after 18 months without activity–the card just makes it so one could go, say, 24 months with zero activity and not lose any miles.

  • travelwiz1

    I currently have both the Sapphire & the Venture card. I am considering dumping the Venture & getting the Barclay because of the 10% bonus & chip capability. I have read that some people have problems with the chip in Europe. I go on vaca there about twice a year. Should I switch?

  • Matt

    i currently made the switch from venture to barclay a few months ago. you accrue at about the same rate, i just liked getting the 40,000 mile bonus and having the chip technology

  • Brian

    Hi Everyone, I am super new to this travel hacking but I am loving it so far. I have a question for your guys. Yesterday I opened a Chase sapphire preferred card and a business Chase ink plus. The Saphire was approved immediately and will be here on Sat. However, the ink plus won’t be here for 7-10 days. I need to spend 5000 in 3 months on the ink to get the 70,000 points that I want. Unfortunately, my only opportunity to do this is by purchasing 10,000 worth of tickets-but they have to be purchased by monday–before the ink arrives. The question is: Can I purchase the tickets on the sapphire then transfer a portion of the balance to the Ink once I have it? Any advice would be much appreciated.

  • Peter

    Thanks TPG! Just got approved for 3k with the barclay arrival+, will be using it to pay tuition, (university thankfully doesn’t charge a fee)

  • Lakshmi Sundar

    We could not agree more on the Club Carlson Visa. Here’s one of our experiences snagging free nights using the points.

  • Alex

    Hey TPG, Hopefully you can help. Am I reading correctly that if I sign up by Sept. 8 for the Delta Platinum Amex that means the 15K MQM will DEFININTELY post in 2014 (since Amex billing cycles usually close about a week before the month’s end)? I currently do not have any MQMs (gave up Delta years ago), but don’t want to waste these free 15K MQM. I thought if applying the last day poss, Sept. 8, the card would arrive Sept. 15-ish. But as per the T&C you must complete the spending threshold within 3 months of card approval (so that’s Dec. 8), meaning I’d still get the MQMs in 2014 after the close of the Dec.2Xish statement. Any thoughts on how to push the MQM posting until Jan. 2015? Thanks

  • travelwiz1

    If my husband & I each get a Barclay card, can we combine the points as we did for Chase Ultimate Rewards into 1 account.

  • Roger Hyde

    Capital one delta credit card 2 points per dollar or bmo world elite it gives you full insurance even if you pay with points and just pay the taxes on the card.
    Just my opinion.

  • Jim

    Watch out for the Chase Marriott Visa card, if you have ever had one before. I received a postcard from chase after complying with the spending requirement of $1000/ 3 months; stating that hey would not issue the bonus premium since I previously had a card.
    This information is not on the offer page it is buried in the terms and conditions. You have to click the link for “offer Details” and read the terms. It is only for new card members:
    “This one-time bonus offer is valid only for first-time Marriott Rewards
    Credit Card Cardmembers with new accounts. Previous and existing
    Marriott Rewards Credit Card Cardmembers/accounts are not eligible for
    this bonus offer. If your account is not open for at least 6 months,
    Marriott and Chase reserve the right to deduct the bonus points from
    your Marriott Rewards account.”

  • Abhi

    If I apply for the US Airways credit card and receive 40k miles. Can i merge these miles with my AA miles and together buy a round trip on AA?

  • LukeFrancis

    So I’m new to this world of points and credit card programs. But the outstanding question that remains as I’ve been reading through various blogs and forums on these topics is how at what point do you cancel the card? So let’s say you sign up for x amount of cards in a given year to earn 500k+ points at various programs. IF you do that every year you’d rack up quite a few cards, so you got get rid of them eventually, and certainly you can’t spend on them all. So what’s a good time frame for getting the benefits and then ditching the card?
    And I guess similarly what are some good cards to hold onto for the long haul?

  • A.J.

    The Chase Sapphire states that the bonus is not eligible for users who have received the bonus in the past 24 months. Can anyone tell me from experience if that’s true?

Print This Page