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.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American ExpressStarwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express OPEN, Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

Loyalty programs change all the time, and so do the credit cards associated with them. Bonuses rise and fall, benefits shift and mileage charts are revalued, all with little or no notice. Staying up to date on the credit card marketplace is imperative for a successful award-travel strategy. That can be a lot to keep track of, which is why each month I compile a list of what I think are the top travel rewards credit card offers.

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 Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Citi Prestige Card. However, the list does change, and the rankings shift along with the offers. For instance, the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from Amex made the list this month thanks to its limited-time bonus offer, as did the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard thanks to its suite of benefits and the current 75,000-mile sign-up bonus.

This is not a list of every offer on the market. For that I recommend checking out the TPG Hot 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 read the posts below for advice and tips.

Before you get started, take a look at these posts for advice on checking your credit score, 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. Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express
2. Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express OPEN

3.
Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
4. Chase Sapphire Preferred
5. Citi Prestige
6. Ink Plus Business Card from Chase
7. Citi ThankYou Premier
8. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

9. United Explorer Business Card
10. Marriott Rewards Premier Card

THE DETAILS

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

Amex recently increased the sign-up bonus for the Starwood card for a limited time.

1. Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express
Current Bonus: 30,000 points when you make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.

Benefits: Earn up to 5 Starpoints per dollar on purchases at participating SPG hotels. Earn 2 stays/5 nights of credit toward elite status each year, automatic Gold status when you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year. As of August 11th, American Express added a slew of new benefits including no foreign transaction fees, complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi and complimentary premium in-room internet access.

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95.

Reasons to get it: Apart from the great benefits this card offers on its own, the Starwood Preferred Guest program is unique in that it both offers great hotel redemptions and has over 30 airline transfer partners. You earn a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 points at a time to airline partners, making this card a great option if you need to top up various frequent flyer accounts for the awards you want. But perhaps the best reason to apply now is that the higher sign-up bonus of 30,000 points (instead of the usual 25,000) only comes around periodically. If you’ve been waiting, now is the time to get it.

Already have the personal SPG card? Consider applying for the business version.

2. Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card
Current Bonus: 30,000 points
when you make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months.

Benefits: Earn up to 5 Starpoints per dollar on purchases at participating SPG hotels. Earn 2 stays/5 nights of credit toward elite status each year, automatic Gold status when you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year. As of August 11th, American Express added a slew of new benefits including no foreign transaction fees, complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi and complimentary premium in-room internet access and Sheraton Club access (on the business version only).

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95.

Reasons to get it: See above for the general idea, but in terms of the business card specifically, if you already have the personal card but are looking for a stash of SPG points, this could be a great way to get them. As an Amex business card, it’s part of the OPEN program, which means even more perks like discounts or bonus points on Hertz rentals, FedEx shipments, and Hyatt stays (yes, even with a Starwood card).

For more information, check out these posts:

The Citi / Executive AAdvantage card offers many benefits beyond Admirals Club membership.
The Citi / AAdvantage Executive card offers many benefits beyond Admirals Club membership.

3. Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
Current Bonus:
75,000 AAdvantage miles when you spend $7,500 in the first three months.

Benefits: This card’s greatest benefit is probably Admirals Club access, which is why the annual fee is at the premium level. It also recently added a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application to its suite of benefits, which equals another $100 in value. Apart from that, cardholders earn 2x miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, and can earn 10,000 elite qualifying miles for spending $40,000 on the card each calendar year, which can be a nice shortcut to earning elite status. Cardholders also get priority boarding, 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases, first checked bag free and concierge service, and it comes with embedded SmartChip technology.

Annual Fee: $450

Reasons to get it: The usual sign-up bonus on this card is 50,000 miles, and we haven’t seen an offer higher than that for about a year, when Citi was offering limited-time bonuses of 75,000-100,000 miles. Many people seem to wonder whether to get the Citi Prestige or the Citi / AAdvantage Executive because the two cards offer similar benefits. The Executive card is still best for American Airlines loyalists who value elite status (or perks that mimic it), while the Prestige offers a broader range of benefits, like the 4th Night Free hotel benefit and the $250 annual air travel credit. Check out this post for a more thorough answer to that question, and see these tips on how to use 82,500 miles from the Citi / AAdvantage Executive Card.

4. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Current Bonus: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points
when you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months. You’ll earn another 5,000 bonus points when you add a second cardholder and make a purchase within the first three months.

Benefits: This card regularly makes my list of the top travel credit cards thanks to earning 2x points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, primary auto rental insurance and the ability to transfer points to 11 travel partners, including British Airways, Southwest, United, Hyatt and Marriott.

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95.

Reasons to get it: This is still a top travel credit card, and the one I use for most of my purchases, though Chase made some changes to it in the last year. The sign-up bonus spending requirement increased from $3,000 to $4,000 even though Chase eliminated the 7% annual points dividend and will end the First Friday 3x dining bonus in 2016. On the positive side, the card’s trip cancellation coverage was bumped up to $10,000, and the Sapphire Preferred offers primary rental car insurance instead of the usual secondary coverage. If you’re not convinced, check out these 5 reasons to get the Sapphire Preferred now.

For more information on the card and the Ultimate Rewards program, see these posts:

5. Citi Prestige Card
Current Bonus: 40,000 ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 in the first three 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 3 ThankYou points per dollar on air travel and hotel purchases, 2 points on dining and entertainment and 1 point on everything else. Get your fourth night free at hotels with no blackout dates when you book four consecutive nights at any hotel via a personal travel adviser 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. Citi ThankYou Rewards also now has 12 transfer partners, including Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Virgin Atlantic and Hilton HHonors.

Annual Fee: $450

Reasons to get it: This card has a much higher annual fee than the Citi ThankYou Premier, but Citi Prestige comes with a ton of valuable benefits that make it more than worthwhile. The annual $250 air travel credit equates to more than half of the annual fee, and the other great benefits (such as lounge access, a Global Entry fee waiver, the fourth-night-free hotel benefit and free rounds of golf) make this card an easy win. Citi has made some 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). For more information on the card and its benefits, check out these posts:

6. Ink Plus Business Card
Current Bonus: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, and on 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). No 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: The 5x and 2x category spending bonuses make this card a great option not only for small business owners, but also for savvy shoppers. 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:

Citi Premier 50k
7. Citi ThankYou Premier
Current Bonus: 50,000 ThankYou points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

Benefits: Earn 3 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on travel (including gas), and 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on dining 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 features EMV chip technology, no foreign transaction fees and Citi Price Rewind.

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95.

Reasons to get it: There are plenty of reasons to consider the Citi ThankYou Premier, including the current sign-up bonus, which was simplified from the old convoluted formula that took a full year to earn. The greatest motivation might be those bonus spending categories, which Citi recently changed so that you earn 3x points on travel and 2x points on dining and entertainment. Citi also adjusted the travel category to include a broader range of expenses. In addition to airlines, hotels and travel agencies, you’ll now earn 3x ThankYou Points for spending on car rentals, gas, taxi/limousines, passenger railways, cruise lines and more.

In general, Citi has dramatically improved its ThankYou Rewards program with all those new airline partners (and occasional transfer bonuses), and the annual fee on this card (which is waived for the first year) dropped from $125 to $95, making it an even more attractive option. In fact, I recently applied for this card myself.

For more information, check out these posts:

The Citi Hilton Reserve card gives two free nights.
The Citi Hilton Reserve card’s sign-up bonus includes two free nights.

8. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve
Current Bonus: Two weekend night certificates after spending $2,500 in four months. Each certificate is good for one weekend night (standard room, double occupancy) at most hotels and resorts within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio.

Benefits: Earn 10 HHonors points for every dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, 5 points for every dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases and 3 points for every dollar spent on all other purchases. Receive automatic Hilton HHonors Gold status, and earn Diamond status with $40,000 in annual spending. No foreign transaction fees. SmartChip technology. Visa Signature benefits. Cardholders who spend $10,000 annually (starting on your annual fee date) get a free weekend night certificate on the account anniversary.

Annual Fee: $95

Reasons to get it: The free nights, automatic Gold status and the ability to earn Diamond status through spending all make this card a top choice for Hilton fans. The sign-up bonus alone can be worth thousands of dollars depending on where you redeem those weekend night certificates. If you spend $10,000 annually, you also get another free weekend night certificate, which can far outweigh the card’s $95 annual fee. To sweeten the deal, Citi sometimes offers a limited-time $100 statement credit for your first Hilton stay within three months of account opening, but that extra incentive isn’t available at the moment. If you’re not in a hurry to apply, you might hold out to see if that offer shows up again, but this is a great card even without it.

For more information, check out these posts:

The Business Explorer card currently comes with a limited-time sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months.

9. United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card
C
urrent Bonus: 50,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months after opening your account.

Benefits: Earn 2x miles per dollar on United purchases and on select business expenses, including restaurant, gas station and office supply store purchases; earn 1 mile per dollar 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 transaction fees.

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95.

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 to earn the bonus, 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. 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.

10. Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card – This offer is no longer available, view the current offer here.
Current Bonus: 80,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Benefits: Get a free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year after your account anniversary date. Earn 5x points per $1 on Marriott purchases; 2x points per $1 on airline ticket purchases directly with airlines, at car rental agencies and restaurants; and 1 point everywhere else. No foreign transaction fees. Automatically earn credit for 15 nights toward elite status every calendar year (automatic Silver status) and one more night for every $3,000 you spend on the card.

Annual Fee: $85

Reasons to get it: Marriott launched a limited-time sign-up bonus of 80,000 points on this card early in July, and it lasts until August 31. That’s significantly higher than the standard sign-up bonus of 50,000 points, so if you’ve been waiting to apply, now is a good time. The card not only offers elite perks like automatic silver status and the ability to earn more elite nights with spending, but the anniversary free night at a Category 1-5 property can easily outweigh the $85 annual fee. For more information, check out these posts:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • 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 on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
5.00%
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.