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 – The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express Open, Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card, Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

Loyalty programs are constantly changing, and so are the credit cards associated with them. Just as airlines alter their mileage programs and hotel chains revamp their hotel categories, credit card bonuses rise and fall, and benefits evolve — all with little or no notice. In light of that shifting landscape, staying up to date on the credit card marketplace is more crucial than ever for a successful, cohesive award-travel strategy. That’s why each month I compile what I think are the top travel rewards credit card offers to help you make the best choices for your own travel strategy and goals.

Many of the cards on this list remain consistent from month to month thanks to great benefits and fairly constant sign-up and spending bonus opportunities, like those on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Citi Prestige Card. However, the list does change, and the rankings shift along with the offers. For instance, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card fell of the list because its increased sign-up bonus came to an end.

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 of the moment. 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, be sure to look at these posts for advice on checking your credit score, applying for new cards and getting approved:

Here’s the short list of card rankings. You can continue reading below for more details on each, and how to maximize them.

1. Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express
2. Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
3. Chase Sapphire Preferred
4. Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
5. Citi Prestige
6. The Platinum Card from American Express
7. The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN
8. Citi ThankYou Premier
9. Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card
10. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

THE DETAILS

Here’s an in-depth look at each of the cards listed above, including their benefits and reasons to apply now:

1. Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express
Current Bonus: Through September 14th, earn 25,000 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, plus 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. Not only can you transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to many of those partners, but you can also 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.

SPG sometimes offers bonuses above and beyond those 5,000 miles, like the recent transfer 20% bonus specifically to American Airlines. However, I consistently rank Starwood points among the most valuable loyalty currencies out there because of the return you can get by redeeming them for hotel stays at SPG properties around the world. Now that the card no longer levies foreign transaction fees, it’s a much better choice for use abroad as well.

2. Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
Current Bonus:
Earn 25,000 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, and automatic Gold status when you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year. Like the personal version, American Express recently added several new benefits to this business version of the card, including no foreign transaction fees, complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi and complimentary premium in-room internet access. The business version also gets you complimentary Sheraton Club access.

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 another avenue to earn SPG points, this could be it. Note that the bonus spending requirement on this card is $5,000 instead of $3,000. 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 purchases and Hyatt stays (yes, with a Starwood card!).

For more information, check out these posts:

3. 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: Since it was introduced a few years ago, this has been one of my all-time top travel credit cards, and the one I use for most of my purchases. Chase made some changes to it in the last year — the sign-up bonus spending requirement increased from $3,000 to $4,000, you can no longer purchase Chase points outright and the 7% annual points dividend was eliminated. Chase will also end the First Friday 3x dining bonus in 2016. On the positive side, the card’s trip cancellation coverage was raised to $10,000, and the Sapphire Preferred now offers primary rental car insurance instead of the usual secondary coverage offered by most travel credit cards. For more details on the card and why it’s consistently one of my top picks, 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:

4. 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, 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 the card comes with embedded Smart Chip technology.

Annual Fee: $450

Reasons to get it: The usual sign-up bonus on this card is 50,000 miles. Before Citi reintroduced this higher 75,000-point bonus last month, we hadn’t seen any increased sign-up offers for about a year. That’s why I wrote a post about whether or not to get the card with its 75,000-mile bonus. 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 a great option for American Airlines loyalists who value elite status (or perks that mimic it), while the Prestige offers a broader range of benefits. 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.

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 per dollar on dining and entertainment and 1 point per dollar 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 and free rounds of golf) make this card an easy win. Citi has made some major improvements to the ThankYou program 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:

The Amex Platinum Card has lost some benefits, but new amenities like a growing list of Centurion Lounges keep it on my list of top cards.
The Amex Platinum Card has lost some benefits, but new amenities like a growing list of Centurion Lounges keep it on my list of top cards.

6. The Platinum Card from American Express
Current Bonus: 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. You may be able to find better targeted offers through the CardMatch tool; check out this FlyerTalk thread for more information.

Benefits: This card comes with a host 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.

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 (after the description of the Business Platinum card). If you can maximize benefits like the $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credits, you’ll enjoy perks far more valuable than the cost of the annual fee. The Platinum card did lose some of its lounge benefits last year, but Amex is working to expand the network of Centurion Lounges throughout the US and beyond, including the recently added lounges in Miami and Seattle, and one slated for Houston in 2016.

The Amex Business Platinum may be aimed at businesses, but you can still take advantage of the perks and sign-up bonus as an individual!
The Amex Business Platinum may be aimed at businesses, but you can still take advantage of the perks and sign-up bonus as an individual!

7. Business Platinum Card from American Express Open
Current Bonus: 40,000 points
after you spend $5,000 in three months. However, some Amex cardholders have recently been targeted with offers as high as 150,000 bonus points — 100,000 when you spend $10,000 in the first three months, and an additional 50,000 points if you can spend an additional $10,000 (so $20,000 total) in the same three months.

Benefits: The business version of the Platinum Card offers all the same perks as the personal version, as well as several additional benefits, including Amex OPEN discounts, Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes and a 30% Pay with Points rebate. Check out my post on 9 Reasons I Love My Business Platinum Card for more details on the card and its benefits.

Annual fee: $450

Reasons to get it: This is a good option for boosting your Amex Membership Rewards balance. Amex limits cardholders to four credit cards, but there are no set limits to the number of charge cards (like this one) that customers can have, so if you already have four Amex credit cards, applying for a charge card might be the way to go. Learn more about the differences between credit cards and charge cards in Eric Rosen’s post.

For more information on both the personal and business Platinum Cards, check out these posts:

8. Citi ThankYou Premier
Current Bonus: 40,000 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 charges no foreign transaction fees, and it features EMV chip technology 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 over 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.

Citi dramatically improved its ThankYou Rewards program this past year with all-new airline partners (and occasional transfer bonuses). The annual fee on this card (which is waived for the first year) actually dropped from $125 to $95, making it an even more attractive option, and more of a competitor with products like the Sapphire Preferred and Amex EveryDay Preferred. In fact, I recently applied for this card myself.

For more information, check out these posts:

9. Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card
Current Bonus:  75,000 Hilton HHonors bonus points after making $2,000 in purchases within the first three months.

Benefits: Earn 6 points for each dollar spent at any participating hotel within the Hilton Portfolio; 3 points per dollar on eligible purchases at supermarkets, drug stores and gas stations; and 2 points for all other eligible purchases. Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Silver status as long as you are a cardmember, and earn HHonors Gold status by spending $20,000 in one year. You”ll also receive 10,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points each calendar year after spending $1,000 on the card within the Hilton portfolio.

Annual Fee: $0

Reasons to get it: While 40,000 points is not as valuable as the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve’s sign-up bonus of two free weekend nights, if you already have the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve or are looking for a no-fee card associated with Hilton, this is a great choice. Not only do you get automatic Silver status, but you can also earn Gold status just by spending on your card.

For more information, check out these posts:

 

10. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Current Bonus: 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

Benefits: Earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines, and on eligible Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car purchases. No foreign transaction fees. Earn 6,000 bonus points each year after your account anniversary.

Annual Fee: $99

Reasons to get it: Chase recently relaunched this increased sign-up bonus, which is normally just 25,000 points. While this card doesn’t come with many additional perks, it does offer a solid overall return with a relatively low spending requirement, even with the annual fee due in the first year. I list Rapid Rewards points at 1.3 cents apiece in my most recent valuations, so the bonus is worth at least $650. These points can be doubly lucrative if you can leverage this offer to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, which allows you to bring a companion along on any flight, including those you book with points.

For more information, see 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.