Why the end of the year is the perfect time to open a premium credit card
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There are many reasons why the end of the year can be a great time to open a new premium rewards credit card. Many of them offer statement credits that reset with the calendar year, while others might be offering limited-time bonuses or promotions on holiday purchases or travel.
On top of that, all the typical holiday expenses such as gifts or vacations could make it easier to hit any spending qualifications required for a big sign-up bonus.
Here are some of the reasons you might want to open a new premium card before the end of the year — and how to maximize its benefits if you do.
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Generous welcome offers
Let’s start with perhaps the biggest reason why December can be a great time to open a credit card — welcome offers. The ability to qualify for a large number of points or miles in a short period of time is always appealing, and your holiday shopping can help you meet the spending requirements to do so.
At this particular moment, several credit card issuers are offering increased welcome offers to entice new applicants. Here are six you might want to take advantage of:
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The newly released Venture X card has a number of perks that rewards enthusiasts can get excited about. From earning 10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel to up to $300 in annual travel statement credits, the card offers a ton of value to help offset its $395 annual fee.
But the reason you might want to apply now is that the initial sign-up bonus is 100,000 miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases with the card in the first six months of account opening. New cardholders can also enjoy up to $200 in statement credits on eligible vacation rental purchases charged to their account in their first year (e.g., Airbnb, Vrbo, etc.) for a limited time. Based on our valuations, that's up to a potential $2,050 in value (not provided by the issuer).
Opening the card will also get you access to the issuer's new Capital One Lounge at Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) if you happen to be flying through there.
Official application link: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card with 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first six months from account opening. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for vacation rental purchases (e.g., Airbnb and Vrbo) in the first cardholder year.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express has long held a spot as a top contender among premium cards. Despite the $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), the card packs in a ton of benefits and credit opportunities that can make the cost worth it for many people.
At present, new cardholders can earn a welcome bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after they spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership. Those points are worth an impressive $2,000 according to TPG valuations.
What's more, the card features several statement credits based on the calendar year. Among them, cardmembers get up to $200 back in statement credits per calendar year toward incidental charges with a U.S. airline that they designate. If you opened the card now, you could put some of these charges on it -- such as seat assignments, checked bag fees or a lounge membership for holiday travel (or any travel you can book before the end of the year, really, even if it takes place in 2022) — then get up to another $200 in credits in 2022. That's a potential $400 in value right from the start.
You could do the same with the card's up to $200 annual hotel credit for prepaid Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts and The Hotel Collection bookings (two night minimum stay required). Use your new card to make a reservation now, even for later in 2022 (just make the charge now), receive up to $200 in credits, then make another booking in 2022 and take advantage of the benefit all over again. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Official application link: The Platinum Card from American Express with 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card from American Express currently has an annual fee of $595 which it is going up to $695 (see rates and fees), if application is received on or after Jan. 13, 2022. So if you applied for the card now, you could lock in the lower rate for the first year.
New cardholders can earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership, which is 20,000 points more than this card was previously offering. TPG values Membership Reward points at 2 cents each, making the total value of the welcome offer worth $2,400.
Like with the personal version, several of this card's annual statement credits reset on the calendar year, which means you have a short window of opportunity right now to leverage the ones for 2021 and then have them refreshed in 2022. Those include up to $200 in airline incidental fee statement credits that operate like the ones offered by the Amex Platinum.
If you have some Dell purchases (in the U.S.), you can make at the end of the year, you could charge them before Dec. 31 to get up to $200 back and then start fresh with up to $200 more in statement credits toward Dell purchases to use from January-June 2022. Enrollment required for select benefits.
With a few strategic purchases, you could earn a lot of money back using this card in the final few days of 2021.
Official application link: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express with 120,000 points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is another notable name in the world of premium rewards credit cards. The card offers numerous travel rewards and benefits, including a $300 annual travel credit that can help offset the card’s $550 annual fee.
When you open a new Sapphire Reserve card, you have the chance to earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Those points are worth $750 toward travel when you cash them in through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and worth $1,200 based on TPG valuations thanks to all of Chase's airline and hotel transfer partners.
Official application link: Chase Sapphire Reserve with 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
American Express® Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card is a great card to consider if you’re looking for a generous welcome offer. The card gives you a chance to earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership. That bonus is worth $1,200 based on TPG’s latest valuations.
Other perks you can enjoy with this card include earning 4 points per dollar at restaurants and on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1 point per dollar), 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. There's not much time to max out this year's supermarket category bonus, but you could stock up on supplies and gift cards at your favorite store to get closer to the $25,000 mark.
What's more, the card offers some statement credits by calendar month, not billing cycle, including up to $10 in Uber Cash to use toward U.S. Uber rides and Uber Eats orders (card must be added in Uber account to receive benefit), and up to $10 per month back when you dine at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Related: American Express Gold card review
Official application link: American Express Gold card with 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership.
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
The Ink Business Preferred card is currently offering 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months after card opening, which is worth $2,000 by TPG valuations.
The card earns 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 combined you spend in combined purchases on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services or advertising purchases (social media sites and search engines) each account anniversary year, then 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Although there aren't time-sensitive benefits to take advantage of, this bonus alone is worth applying for as this is an incredible number of Ultimate Rewards points if you can hit the spending requirements.
Official application link: Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card with 100,000 points after you spend $15,000 with the card within the first three months of account opening.
End of the year credits
As mentioned above, many premium credit cards come with perks that reset each calendar year. So, if you open a new credit card in December, you might be able to double-dip on the potential savings within a short period of time by taking advantage of them in 2021 and in 2022.
Other credit cards are currently offering more flexibility than usual for using these perks. Take the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual travel credit of $300, for example. You could take advantage of this credit in December by booking and paying for eligible travel purchases, even if you don’t plan to take the trip right away. However, through the end of 2021, the credit also kicks in for gas and grocery purchases, making it easier to maximize than ever.
When January 2022 rolls around, your $300 annual travel credit will reset. If you wanted to use it all that same month — only a month after account opening — you could do so. This strategy gives you two times the credits for a single annual fee.
Some other examples of annual travel credits you might be able to double-dip with using this strategy include:
- Up to $250 in statement credits toward airline incidental fees via the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (enrollment required).
- Up to $100 statement credit for airline incidentals via the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card.
The information for the Hilton Aspire has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
2022 award space is wide open to go abroad and travel is on the rebound
Another reason the timing may be great to open a new premium rewards card is that you have more opportunities to use the points and miles you earn. Why is that the case? While the travel sector is bouncing back from its pandemic-related decline, many folks are still tentative about booking due to factors like the omicron coronavirus variant.
This makes it possible to redeem all those new points you earn on trips to some amazing destinations if you feel comfortable doing so. Of course, if you travel outside of the country, you should plan ahead and be prepared for possible COVID-19 testing requirements upon arriving at your destination or trying to reenter the United States.
The end of the year is a great time to consider adding a premium credit to your wallet. If you're weighing whether it's the right time to open up a new card, keep in mind that as travel starts to return to normal, credit issuers might pull back on offering such generous sign-up bonuses.
The year 2021 has seen a passel of credit cards offering sign-up bonuses of 100,000 points, and even more in some cases. However, there’s no guarantee that this six-figure bonus trend will continue when and if travel fully returns to its pre-pandemic numbers. If you miss out on some of these amazing points-earning opportunities now, you might not get the chance to take advantage of such great deals again in the near future.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.
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