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Top 10 Travel Credit Card Offers for February 2015

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi Prestige, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard, The Platinum Card from American Express, Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard, Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Deciding which credit cards to apply for is among the most important factors in your award travel strategy. The sign-up bonuses, earning structures and other benefits many of these cards carry can help you rack up points and miles quickly, and help make your travel experience more enjoyable.

However, just like airline and hotel programs are constantly changing (by revamping mileage earning, changing award charts, and more), the landscape of credit card offers also shifts…a lot. There are often different sign-up offers for the same exact card depending on which channel you use to apply. Offers change with little notice, and one that has been around for a few weeks or months can be gone tomorrow.

That’s why it’s crucial to educate yourself on which travel credit cards are currently available, evaluate them for your specific travel strategy and needs, and stay current on what each card is offering. To help you keep it all straight, I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the top travel credit card offers for February 2015.

Here's my list of the top travel rewards credit card offers for February 2015.
Here’s my list of the top travel rewards credit card offers for February 2015.

Many of the cards on this list remain consistent from month to month thanks to great benefits and fairly constant bonus opportunities, like those on the Ink Plus and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. However, the list does change from month to month, and the rankings shift along with the offers. For instance, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard and its business counterpart, the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard are both offering sign-up bonuses of 50,000 miles (when you spend $3,000 in 3 months) that are much higher than the usual public offers of 30,000 miles, so those are worth taking advantage (or is it AAdvantage?) of while the offers last.

As another example, Barclaycard recently raised the sign-up bonus on the US Airways Premier World MasterCard from 40,000 miles to 50,000 miles (after the first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee), and added new benefits like waiving foreign transaction fees for cardmembers it converts to its Aviator Silver card. Not only that, but the card is not likely to be around much longer thanks to the merger with American Airlines, so if you’ve been holding off on getting it, time is running short.

Do your homework before applying for new credit cards.
Do your homework before applying for new credit cards.

Keep in mind that 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 interest 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’s the short list of cards, but continue reading below for more details on each of them.

1. US Airways Premier World MasterCard
2. British Airways Visa Signature Card
3. Ink Plus
4. Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard
5. Platinum Card from American Express
6. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa
7. Chase Sapphire Preferred
8. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa
9. Citi Prestige
10. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

THE DETAILS

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

1. US Airways Premier World MasterCard
Current Bonus: 50,000 Dividend Miles after first purchase or balance transfer in the first 90 days and payment of annual fee.
Benefits:
Receive an annual companion certificate good for up to two $99 companion tickets upon approval (though this benefit will be discontinued this year). Free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions. Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on US Airways and American Airlines ticket purchases, get a 25% discount on in-flight purchases on both airlines, 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 Airlines co-branded credit card to select US Airways cardholders, with great new benefits like a Global Entry application fee waiver and 3x points on US Airways and American Airlines purchases and 2x miles on hotel and car rentals. But even if you have or get the current US Airways card, there is a great piece of news: starting in January, Barclaycard started waiving foreign transaction fees for cardholders making purchases abroad. 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. It’s probably worthwhile for the sign-up bonus alone. For more info on this card, read my recent review.

2. 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 elsewhere. 10% off British Airways ticket purchases with CARDOFFERU cardholder code, now extended through 2015. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $95
Reasons to get it: The main reason this card is high on the list at the moment is that the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year, which usually isn’t the case. It also has some great perks like the 10% discount on BA fares (now good through 2015), the ability to spend your way to a companion ticket, and an everyday earning rate of 1.25 Avios per dollar. Given the fact that British Airways recently announced a devaluation to its Avios redemptions that will go into effect April 28, you might be surprised to see this card still on the list. However, economy awards aren’t going up (and some are going down, in fact); primarily business and first class redemptions will be affected. The award zones aren’t changing either, so there are still plenty of ways to reap great rewards from Avios and this card in general, especially if you can earn the bonus and redeem before April 28. Read 9 Great Ways to Maximize 50,000 Avios for ideas, and check out my series on this card and how to maximize British Airways Avios:

The Chase Ink Plus makes the list again thanks to great ongoing benefits.
The Chase Ink Plus makes the list again thanks to great ongoing benefits.

3. Ink Plus
Current Bonus: 60,000 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). Waived foreign transaction fees. Ability to transfer points to 11 travel transfer partners including United, British Airways, Southwest and Hyatt.
Annual Fee: $95
Reasons to get it: This business card comes 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 at $1,050.

For more information, see these posts:

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.

4. Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard
Current Bonus:
50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (same requirements for both cards).
Benefits: Free first checked bag and Group 1 priority boarding for you and up to 4 travel companions on American Airlines. 10% mileage refund on awards up to 10,000 miles each year on the personal card, and a 5% mileage bonus on purchases on the business card each year you renew your membership. For more information on the personal card specifically, check out my post on Reduced Price Awards and 10% Mileage Refund for Citi AA Cardholders. For more information on the business card, check out this post.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year (same for both cards).
Reasons to get it: 50,000 miles is as high as the public bonus on these cards usually gets (more commonly they offer 30,000 miles), and AAdvantage miles are among the most valuable mileage currencies out there right now. I value them at 1.7 cents apiece, so the sign-up bonus alone is worth $850. If you can maximize the 10% mileage refund on the personal card, you’ll save 10,000 miles (or another $170) annually. The cards also come with benefits like 25% off in-flight purchases on American Airlines and US Airways, as well as 2x miles for airfare purchases from both airlines. American is also offering a potentially lucrative double miles promotion for 2015, so now might be a good time to take a closer look at AAdvantage if it hasn’t been your mileage program of choice to date.

5. The Platinum Card from American Express (Targeted offer available through the CardMatch tool)
Current Bonus: 100,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Otherwise, the current public offer is 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 in 3 months.
Benefits: This card also comes with an array of valuable benefits, including a $200 annual airline rebate, access to Delta and Priority Pass lounges (as well as the Amex Centurion Lounges), and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application rebate (see posts below for more info).
Annual Fee: $450
Reasons to get it: Though the annual fee on this card is among the highest on the market, it has several valuable perks that you can learn more about in the posts I’ve 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. As of January 5, 2014, some folks have reported getting targeted 100,000 point sign-up bonus offers for this card through the CardMatch Tool, so be sure to check there.

For more information, check out these posts:

6. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
Current Bonus: 140,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Benefits: Earn 5x points per $1 at Ritz-Carlton and Marriott properties; 2x points per $1 on airfare, car rentals and dining; and 1 point per $1 on other purchases. No foreign transaction fees. 10% annual points dividend on all points earned. Three annual Club Level upgrades on stays of up to 7 days. $100 credit for incidentals on paid Ritz-Carlton stays of 2 days or more. Automatic Gold status for the first account year, and every year thereafter that you spend at least $10,000 on purchases. Upgrade to Platinum elite status when you spend $75,000 or more in a cardmember year. $300 annual fee rebates for airline incidentals and Global Entry application. Membership in Lounge Club.
Annual Fee: $395
Reasons to get it: This card doesn’t make the list that often, but with a sign-up bonus of 140,000 points along with the other benefits this card offers, it’s a no-brainer. Those 140,000 points are enough for two nights in a top-tier Category 5 property like Bachelor Gulch or Tokyo, or almost 5 nights in a Tier 2 property like Rancho Mirage, Seoul or Abu Dhabi, so you can really stretch them. If you stay at Ritz-Carlton properties a lot, that $100 stay credit is useful and Club Level upgrades can be extremely valuable, while automatic Gold status (or spending $10,000 a year for it) confers even more valuable perks like 25% bonus points, complimentary room upgrades, and free premium internet during stays.

The $300 annual airline/travel fee rebate can also wipe out much of that $395 annual fee and is valid for things like baggage fees and the Global Entry application fee, and Lounge Club access comes in handy for frequent travelers. All in all, if Ritz-Carlton is your hotel of choice, or if you’re looking for a new luxury chain to patronize, this offer is the best out there. Read a full card review here.

7. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Current Bonus: 50,000 points
when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Other Benefits: This card regularly makes my list of the top travel credit cards thanks to compelling benefits like earning 2x points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, primary auto rental insurance, and the ability to transfer points to 11 transfer partners including British Airways, Southwest, United, Hyatt, and Marriott.
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year.
Reasons to get it: This is still a top travel credit card, though Chase recently made some changes to it. The sign-up bonus spending requirement recently increased from $3,000 to $4,000, and Chase eliminated the 7% annual points dividend for new cardholders (and eventually for current cardholders). On the positive side, the card’s trip cancellation coverage was bumped up to $10,000, and the Sapphire Preferred now offers primary rental car insurance instead of just secondary coverage.

For more information, see these posts:

8. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Current Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in 3 months. Note: This offer is also available on the Southwest Plus card if you already have the Premier.
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 comes around periodically, and is as high as the sign-up bonus on this card gets (it usually hovers between 25,000-50,000 points). The bonus 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). The best time to apply is at the very end of one year or the beginning of the next. That way, you can meet the spending requirement and earn the sign-up bonus as early in the new year as possible. The Companion Pass is good throughout the rest of that year in which it’s earned, and the entire following one (in this case 2015-2016), so you could have it for nearly two years if you’re strategic about it.

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

9. Citi Prestige
Current Bonus: 30,000 ThankYou points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months.
Benefits: $250 air travel credit each year for things like airfare, baggage fees, lounge access and some in-flight purchases. Admirals Club access and Priority Pass Select lounge membership. No foreign transaction fees. $100 Global Entry application fee waiver. Earn 3x ThankYou points on air travel and hotel purchases, 2x on dining and entertainment, and 1x on everything else. Fourth night free at hotels with no black-out dates when you book four consecutive nights at any hotel via a personal travel advisor designated by MasterCard. Redeem your points for air travel at a rate of 1.33 cents apiece, or 1.6 cents apiece on American Airlines or US Airways. Citi ThankYou Rewards also now has 11 transfer partners including Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, Hilton HHonors, and most recently, Virgin Atlantic.
Annual Fee: $450
Reasons to get it: Though it’s more expensive than the Citi ThankYou Premier (which has an annual fee of $125, soon to be reduced to $95), the Prestige comes with a host of value-added benefits that can make its $450 annual fee more than worthwhile if you maximize them. Not only do you get a $250 air travel credit for purchases each year you have the card (which is worth more than half the annual fee), but also Citi made a ton of improvements to the ThankYou program in general this year, including the addition of new transfer partners (and there may be more to come). This card also offers other great benefits like lounge access, a Global Entry fee waiver, that fourth-night-free hotel benefit, and more. For more information on the card and its benefits, check out this post.

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

10. 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 5% 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. Another interesting benefit of Arrival Plus is that you can get your FICO score free each month, making it easier to track your credit.
Annual Fee: $89 waived the first year
Reasons to get it: The sign-up bonus alone is worth approximately $400 in travel statement credits, and if you’re stocked with cards from other major issuers like Amex or Chase, this is a good option. 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 its miles, since you can redeem them for non-traditional travel rewards like train tickets and tourist attractions.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 0% Excellent Credit