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Top 10 Travel Credit Card Offers for November 2014

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Credit card sign-up bonuses are constantly changing; an offer that’s here today might be gone tomorrow, and bonuses on a single card can rise or fall 50,000 points overnight. It pays to stay on top of the current credit card market so you can take advantage of the best bonus offers when they become available. To help you do that, I periodically compile a list of what I think are the top travel credit card offers. Read on to see my selections for the 10 best in November, 2014.

If your goal is to get a free night stay using your credit card, here is what you need to know. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Credit card offers change constantly; it pays to stay on top of the best ones!  Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Some of the offers I’ve included because of unusually high sign-up bonuses or waived annual fees, while others are perennial favorites because of their everyday earning potential and amazing perks.

This is not a list of every offer on the market. For that I recommend checking out the TPG Top Deals page, where you’ll find a comprehensive roundup of the best deals currently available, as well as specific hotel and airline credit cards that might interested you.

However, if you’re looking to apply for a credit card now, this list features the top options. Check back each month for updates and the latest, best offers out there.

Before you get started, see these posts for tips on applying and getting approved:

Here is the short list of cards, but continue reading below for the specifics on each of them.

1. British Airways Visa Signature Card
2. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve
3. Ink Plus and Ink Bold from Chase
4. Citi ThankYou Premier
5. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
6. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa
7. Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard
8. US Airways Premier World MasterCard
9. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa
10. The Platinum Card from American Express

THE DETAILS

Here’s a detailed look at each of the cards listed above, their benefits, and reasons to apply now.

The British Airways Visa tops the list this month because of its first year's waived annual fee.
The British Airways Visa tops the list this month because of the waived first year annual fee.

1.  British Airways Visa Signature Card
Current Bonus: 50,000 Avios after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
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. 10% off British Airways ticket purchases with CARDOFFERU cardholder code. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $95
Reasons to get it: The main reason this card is number one on the list at the moment is that the $95 annual fee is waived the first year, which is not usually the case. It also has some great perks like the 10% discount on BA fares, the ability to spend your way to a companion ticket, and an everyday earning rate of 1.25 Avios per dollar. For more info, check out my series on this card and how to maximize British Airways Avios:

Next up is the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve thanks to that $100 statement credit.
Next up is the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve thanks to that $100 statement credit.

2.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 spending $2,500 in 4 months. $100 statement credit when you spend $100 or more on a Hilton stay within 3 months of account opening.
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 after spending $10,000, plus automatic Gold status and the ability to earn Diamond status all make this card a top choice for fans of Hilton. However, the sign-up bonus alone can be worth thousands of dollars depending on where you redeem those weekend night certificates. Also, the $100 statement credit on a Hilton purchase isn’t usually offered as part of the sign-up bonus, so if you’ve been waiting to apply for this card, get it while this extra nugget of value is available.

For more information, check out these posts:

Chase's Ink cards make the list yet again thanks to great everyday benefits.
Chase’s Ink cards make the list yet again thanks to great everyday benefits.

3. Ink Plus and Ink Bold
Current Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $5,000 in 3 months.
Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, cell phone, land line, internet, and cable TV services (on up to $50,000 in spending annually), and 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations and on hotel accommodations (again, on up to $50,000 in spending 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 points that you can transfer to any of Chase’s 11 travel partners. I list Ultimate Rewards points at 2.1 cents apiece in my most recent monthly valuations, so I value the sign-up bonus from each of these cards at $1,050.

For more information, see these posts:

The ThankYou Premier has gotten a lot more compelling lately.
The ThankYou Premier has gotten a lot more compelling lately.

4. Citi ThankYou Premier
Current Bonus: 20,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months, and 30,000 additional points when you spend another $3,000 in the first 3 months of the second year of cardmembership.
Benefits: Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every dollar spent on dining at restaurants and entertainment, and 2 points per dollar on airfare and hotels. Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Citi ThankYou also now has 10 transfer partners including Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, EVA Air, Etihad Guest, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, Thai Airways, and Hilton HHonors. This card also features EMV chip technology, no foreign transaction fees, and Citi Price Rewind.
Annual Fee: $125, waived the first year.
Reasons to get it: There are a lot of reasons to consider the Citi ThankYou Premier, including the current sign-up bonus (which is higher than usual), the recent improvements to the ThankYou Rewards program to include interesting transfer partners like Krisflyer and Flying Blue, and the category spending bonuses on dining, entertainment, airfare and hotels.

The Arrival Plus is one of the top all-round travel credit cards out there.
The Arrival Plus is one of the top all around travel credit cards out there.

5. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard 
Current Bonus: 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in 90 days.
Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases, and receive 10% of your miles back when you redeem for travel. Chip and Pin technology. No foreign transaction fees. For more information on this card, read my updated review, check out this post on 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 approximately $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 and no foreign transaction fees, making 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 like train tickets and tourist attractions.

Now is the perfect time to apply for the Southwest card if you want to maximize a Companion Pass.
Now is the perfect time to apply for the Southwest card if you want to maximize a Companion Pass.

6. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Current Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in 3 months.
Benefits: With this card you’ll 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. No foreign transaction fees. Cardmember anniversary bonus of 6,000 Rapid Rewards points. Earn 1,500 Tier-Qualifying points for every $10,000 in purchases, up to 15,000 Tier-Qualifying points each calendar year.
Annual Fee:
$99
Reasons to get it: This offer just reappeared the other day, and is as high as the sign-up bonus on this card gets (it usually hovers between 25,000-50,000 points), and that alone is worth about $715 in Wanna Get Away fares. What makes that bonus even better is the fact that those points count toward the Southwest Companion Pass (and get you almost halfway toward qualification, which is 110,000 points in a calendar year).

This offer comes and goes, but the best time to apply is between October and December so that you can meet the spending requirement and earn the sign-up bonus as early in the new year as possible. That helps you maximize the Companion Pass, which is good throughout the year you qualify as well as the entire following year. So if you earned it in January 2015, it would be good through December 2016 – nearly a full 24 months!

Check out these posts for more information on maximizing the offer:

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select comes with 50,000 miles and 2 Admirals Club passes.
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select comes with 50,000 miles and 2 Admirals Club passes.

7. Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard
Current Bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles and 2 Admirals Club one-day passes after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Benefits: Receive a $100 American Airlines flight discount every year with $30,000 or more in purchases. Free first checked bag and Group 1 priority boarding for you and up to 4 travel companions on American Airlines. For more information on this card, check out my post on Reduced Price Awards and 10% Mileage Refund for Citi AA Cardholders.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.
Reasons to get it: 50,000 miles is as high as the bonus on this card usually ever goes publicly (long gone are the 75,000-mile days), and AAdvantage miles are among the most valuable mileage currencies out there right now. I value them at about 1.7 cents apiece, so the sign-up bonus alone is worth about $850. If you can maximize the 10% mileage refund, you’re saving 10,000 miles a year, or another $170 in value. The card also comes with benefits like 25% off in-flight purchases on American Airlines and US Airways, as well as 2x miles on US Airways purchases in addition to AA purchases.

Apply for the US Airways Mastercard while you still can.
Apply for the US Airways MasterCard while you still can.

8. US Airways Premier World MasterCard
Current Bonus: 40,000 miles after first purchase or balance transfer in the first 90 days and payment of annual fee. Note: there have also been reports of targeted bonus offers of 50,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 90 days.
Benefits:
Receive an annual companion certificate good for up to two $99 companion tickets upon approval (though this benefit will disappear in 2015, so use it fast!). 5,000-mile discounts on awards (this also ends in 2015). 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 US Airways merger with American Airlines, this card will transition to an American Airlines MasterCard in 2015 and its benefits will change. In fact, Barclaycard has already introduced a targeted, higher-end version of its new American co-branded credit card to select US Airways cardholders. So if you’ve been waiting, I would suggest getting the US Airways card to maximize the value of its various benefits while you still can, including the companion ticket and 5,000-mile rebate. Getting it for the sign-up bonus alone might even be worthwhile. For more info on this card, read my most recent review here.

The Club Carlson card has some potentially valuable benefits including free award nights.
The Club Carlson card has one of the most valuable hotel card benefits: free award nights!

9. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card
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 the personal card, $60 for the business version.
Reasons to get it: This card’s most valuable benefit is that cardholders get the last night free for award stays of two or more nights. That can be worth hundreds of thousands of points alone if you really leverage it. However, this card’s other benefits – including a solid base earning rate, automatic elite status, and a high sign-up bonus – all make it a great value for folks who stay at Carlson properties like Radisson Blu around the world.

For more background on the Club Carlson program, check out my Maximizing Club Carlson series, with posts on Base Level Earning and Redemptions,  Business Program, Elite StatusCash + Points Redemptions, and Half-Price Award Redemptions.

Though expensive, the Amex Platinum card offers a slate of valuable benefits.
Though the annual fee is pricey, the Amex Platinum card offers a slate of valuable benefits.

10. Platinum Card from American Express
Current Bonus: 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Benefits: This card also comes with an array of valuable benefits, including a $200 yearly airline rebate, Delta and Priority Pass lounge access, and a Global Entry application rebate (see posts below for more info).
Annual Fee: $450
Reasons to get it: Though the annual fee on this card is hefty, it has a tremendous number of valuable perks that you can learn more about in the posts linked to below. If you can maximize benefits like the $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, Fine Hotels & Resorts perks and credits, and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee refunds, you’ll come out way ahead. Some folks report getting targeted sign-up bonus offers for this card in the range of 75,000-100,000 points, so be sure to check any credit card mailers before you toss them in case you’ve been pre-selected.

For more information, check out these posts:

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Apply Now
  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • In addition to the bonus Avios, you will also get 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Chip Technology allows you to use your card for chip based purchases in Europe & beyond, while still giving you the ability to use your card as you do today at home.
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable $95 0% Excellent Credit