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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, The Platinum Card from American Express

In the constantly shifting landscape of loyalty programs, which credit cards you carry are key to the success of your award travel strategy. Not only do frequent flyer mileage and hotel points programs change at a moment’s notice, but so do the credit cards associated with them. Sign-up bonuses rise and fall, benefits are added and subtracted…all with little or no notice. An offer that’s here today could be gone tomorrow.

In order to maximize your points and miles, you have to stay as current as possible on the credit card marketplace and keep track of developments so that you can take advantage of great new deals as they become available. To help you do that, each month I compile a list of what I think are the top travel credit card offers, and today I present my selections for April 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 Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard. However, the list does change, and the rankings shift along with the offers, like the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve adding in a $100 statement credit if you spend $100 or more on a Hilton stay within 3 months of account opening.

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.

According to myfico.com, these next two mistakes will impact almost two-thirds of your credit score!
Before you apply for new cards, check your credit score and the tips in the following posts.

Before you get started, take a look at these posts for tips on checking your credit, applying for new cards, and getting approved:

Here’s the short list of cards, but continue reading below for more details on each of them.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred
2. Ink Plus Business Card from Chase
3. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve
4. Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard
5. Discover it Miles
6. Platinum Card from American Express
7. United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card
8. IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card
9. Citi Prestige
10. Citi ThankYou Premier

THE DETAILS

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

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Current Bonus: 50,000 points
when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. You will earn another 5,000 bonus points when you add an additional cardholder and make a purchase within the first 3 months.
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. On the positive side, you can score an extra 5,000 points by adding an additional cardholder. The card’s trip cancellation coverage was also bumped up to $10,000, and the Sapphire Preferred offers primary rental car insurance instead of the usual secondary coverage. This card is always on my list of top travel credit cards thanks to great category bonuses on travel and dining, waived foreign transaction fees, and the value of the Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners.

For more information, see these posts:

2. Ink Plus Business Card
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 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. The bad news is that Chase recently ended a limited-time sign-up bonus of 60,000 points with the same spending requirements, and is removing the Lounge Club benefit. If you’re not in a rush, you might wait around to see if a higher offer of 60,000-70,000 points comes back around, since Chase does periodically raise the sign-up bonuses for this card.

For more information, see these posts:

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve offers 2 free weekend nights plus a $100 statement credit as a sign-up bonus.
The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve offers 2 free weekend nights plus a $100 statement credit as a sign-up bonus.

3. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve
Current Bonus: Two weekend night certificates plus a $100 statement credit—each certificate is 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. In addition, you’ll earn a $100 statement credit when you spend $100 or more on a Hilton stay within the first 3 months of account opening
Benefits: Earn 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 (starting on your annual fee date) 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. Not only that, as a limited-time offer Citi is offering a $100 statement credit for your first Hilton stay within 3 months of account opening. So if you have an eligible Hilton stay that you can put on this card, you are more than making up for its $95 annual fee in one fell swoop.

For more information, check out these posts:

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles.

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 for 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 on either card alone is worth $850. If you maximize the 10% mileage refund on the personal card and get 10,000 miles, that’s equivalent to another $170 in value annually. The 5% mileage bonus on purchases with the business card could equate to a chunk of extra miles if you put a lot of spend on it. Both cards also include 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 is a good time to take a closer look at the AAdvantage program.

The merger with US Airways is also progressing fairly smoothly: the AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles programs have now been combined, and the US Airways Premier World MasterCard is no longer accepting new applications. That means if you want a new credit card to earn bonus AAdvantage miles, one of these is your best bet.

5. Discover it Miles
Current Bonus:
None
Benefits: Earn 1.5x miles per $1 on all purchases, plus an exclusive offer for the first year that will double all your miles, giving you an earn rate of 3x miles per $1. Among the card’s other benefits are up to $30 per year in reimbursements for in-flight WiFi fees with an automatic statement credit, and a free FICO credit score on your  monthly statements, mobile app and online.
Annual Fee: $0
Reasons to get it: Discover’s cards aren’t usually on my list, since I consider them more as cash back cards rather than travel rewards credit cards. However, this new offer from Discover made it because of the 3x miles per $1 offered in the first year of card membership. You earn 1.5x miles per $1 on purchases, and Discover will double all the miles you’ve earned at the end of the year if you remain a cardholder in good standing. 100 Miles is equal to $1, and you can redeem miles in any amount toward travel purchases on your statement, or get cash as a direct deposit to your bank account, so you’re effectively getting a 3% return on your spending — higher than competing cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard.

For more information on this new version of the Discover it card and this specific offer, check out this post.

6. Platinum Card from American Express
Current Bonus: targeted offer for 100,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months available (through the CardMatch tool). 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 can reap benefits far more valuable than the price of the annual fee.

For more information, check out these posts:

7. United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card
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urrent Bonus: 50,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months after opening your account.
Benefits: Earn 2x miles per $1 on United purchases and on select business expenses, including restaurant, gas station and office supply store purchases; and 1 mile per $1 on everything else. Get employee cards at no extra cost. Earn 10,000 bonus miles when you make $25,000 in net purchases on your card each year. Other perks include your first checked bag free (for cardholder and companion on the same reservation), priority boarding, 2 United Club passes per year, and no foreign exchange fees.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.
Reasons to get it: This card normally comes with a sign-up bonus of just 30,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 3 months. So although you have to spend an additional $1,000 on it, you get 20,000 extra miles — more than worth it, in my opinion. This card also offers some great benefits that the personal version of the Explorer card does not, including those bonus spending categories on restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores. If you already have the personal card, this can be a good way to earn some more United miles. Now that United has changed its mileage-earning structure to a revenue-based program, devalued partner earning, and raised the requirements for elite status, having a United co-branded credit card and actually spending on it will become even more central to your mileage strategy if United is your carrier of choice.

8. IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card
Current Bonus: 60,000 points after you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
Benefits: Earn 5 points per $1 spent when you stay at IHG hotels, 2 points per $1 on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Get an annual free night and Platinum Elite status as long as you’re a Select cardholder. Receive an automatic 10% points rebate on award redemptions, and no foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $49, waived the first year.
Reasons to get it: Though there are reports of targeted offers for up to 60,000 points. It was supposed to expire in March, but has since been extended for a while longer. Apart from the sign-up bonus, this card offers potentially valuable benefits such as a 10% refund on redeemed points, automatic Platinum status (which includes perks like 50% bonus earnings on base points, complimentary room upgrades, and guaranteed room availability), and especially that annual free night, which can be worth hundreds of dollars depending on where you redeem it. All that and no annual fee the first year make this card a no-brainer. For more information, check out this post on the offer and how to maximize it.

9. Citi Prestige Card
Current Bonus: 40,000 ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 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. Get your 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 12 transfer partners, including Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, Virgin Atlantic, Hilton HHonors (with occasional transfer bonuses), and most recently, Qantas.
Annual Fee: $450
Reasons to get it: This card’s annual fee is much higher than the Citi ThankYou Premier’s (which has an annual fee that will be reduced to $95 in April), but the Citi Prestige comes with a slew of valuable benefits that can make it more than worthwhile. The annual $250 air travel credit equates to more than half of the annual fee, and Citi made several major improvements to the ThankYou program in general over the last 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, the fourth-night-free hotel benefit, and more. For more information on the card and its benefits, check out this post.

 

10. Citi ThankYou Premier
Current Bonus: 50,000 ThankYou points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Benefits: Through April 18, earn 3 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment, and 2 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on airfare, hotels and travel agencies. Starting April 19, earn 3 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on travel including gas, and 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on dining out and entertainment. Citi ThankYou Rewards also now has 12 transfer partners, including Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, and Hilton HHonors. This card also features EMV chip technology, no foreign transaction fees, and Citi Price Rewind.
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year.
Reasons to get it: There are plenty of reasons to consider the Citi ThankYou Premier, including the current sign-up bonus, but the best motivation might be those changing bonus categories. Basically, Citi is flipping the the 3x and 2x categories. If you spend a lot of money on travel and gas, that 3x points per $1 will come in handy, and the card will still offer 2x points on dining out and entertainment if those categories are also important to you.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

This card’s sign-up bonus of two free nights can be worth as much as 190,000 points if you redeem them at top-tier properties like the Conrad Maldives, and it also confers automatic Gold status and the ability to earn Diamond status through spending.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton Portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 10 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton Portfolio*
  • Earn 5 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other purchases*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.74% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
3.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.