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7 credit card bonuses that only require one purchase

June 18, 2022
9 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


You don’t always have to spend thousands of dollars to get a good credit card sign-up bonus. In fact, some sign-up bonuses require just one purchase of any amount. These bonuses can provide a quick start in a new program or boost your balance in a well-loved currency.

In this article, I’ll discuss some credit cards that let you earn a sign-up bonus after making just one purchase. Some of these cards are mainly attractive due to their sign-up bonus, while others may legitimately earn a long-term place in your wallet.

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Cards with bonuses that only require one purchase

*The information for these cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 AAdvantage bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.

Value of bonus: Although TPG pegs the value of 60,000 AAdvantage miles at $1,062, it’s certainly possible to get much more value from this bonus. Check out our post on the best sweet spots in the American Airlines AAdvantage program before redeeming your AAdvantage miles.

Notable card benefits:

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases with American Airlines and 1 mile per dollar spent on other purchases.
  • Get a first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions on the same reservation.
  • Enjoy Group 5 boarding for you and up to four companions traveling on the same reservation on American Airlines-operated flights.
  • Snag a 25% in-flight discount on food and beverages on American Airlines flights when you pay with your Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard.
  • Get up to $25 back as statement credits every anniversary year for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases on American Airlines-operated flights.

Annual fee: $99.

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Quick take: This sign-up bonus is extremely impressive considering that only one purchase and payment of the annual fee are required. This card can also help you defeat American Airlines' basic economy, as you'll get preferred boarding and a checked bag on domestic flights as a cardholder.

Related: Earn 60k American Airlines miles with one purchase: Review of the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

Chase Freedom Student credit card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 5,000 bonus points after making your first purchase within the first three months from account opening.

Value of bonus: You can redeem points for 1 cent each toward cash-back rewards, so this bonus is worth $50.

Notable card benefits:

  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
  • Get 2,000 points after each account anniversary year for the first 5 years if your account is open and not in default.

Annual fee: None.

Quick take: If you are a student working to build your credit, this card lets you to build credit while earning 1% cash back on all purchases. And getting bonus points for keeping your account open and in good standing is a nice perk.

Related: Your guide to responsible credit card use for college students

Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 5,000 points after your first purchase with your card.

Value of bonus: You'll get the best value when you redeem for statement credits toward eligible Holland America purchases and onboard amenities. You can redeem 5,000 points for a $50 onboard credit.

Notable card benefits:

  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Holland America purchases, including onboard purchases, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Redeem points for discounts toward Holland America Cruises when you use your card to book your cruise.

Annual fee: None.

Quick take: As points are worth at most 1 cent each, and you'll only earn 2 points per dollar spent on cruises and 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases, most Holland America loyalists will be better off with one of the best cards for travel and one of the best cards for everyday spending.

Related: The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Holland America ship

Carnival World Mastercard

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 FunPoints after your first purchase.

Value of bonus: You'll get the most value when you redeem FunPoints for statement credits toward eligible Carnival purchases and onboard amenities. You can redeem 20,000 FunPoints for a $200 statement credit toward your next cruise.

Notable card benefits:

  • Earn 2 FunPoints per dollar spent on purchases with Carnival Cruise Line and brands within the World’s Leading Cruise Lines. Earn 1 FunPoint per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 10% back as a statement credit when you use your card to book a Carnival shore excursion on Carnival's website before your cruise.

Annual fee: None.

Quick take: As with the Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card, most travelers will earn more valuable rewards when using one of the best cards for general travel purchases to book their cruise. However, Carnival loyalists still might want to add this card to their wallet for its sign-up bonus and 10% statement credit on Carnival shore excursions.

Related: Use these credit cards to maximize your next cruise vacation

Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus points after using your card for the first time.

Value of bonus: You'll get the best value when you redeem your points for statement credits on eligible Princes Cruises purchases and onboard amenities. You can redeem 10,000 points for a statement credit of up to $100 toward your next cruise purchase.

Notable card benefits:

  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on all Princess purchases, including onboard purchases, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • See your FICO credit score for free online.

Annual fee: None.

Quick take: As with the two other cobranded cruise cards discussed above, consider using a different card to book your cruise if you want to maximize your earnings. However, with no annual fee, this card may still be attractive to loyalists of Princess Cruises.

Related: The 3 classes of Princess Cruises ships, explained

RCI Elite Rewards Mastercard

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 2,500 bonus rewards after your first purchase.

Value of bonus: You can redeem for RCI member rewards, cash back, statement credits and more. The best-value redemption options let you redeem at one cent each, so the 2,500-reward bonus is worth $25.

Notable card benefits:

  • Earn 5 rewards per dollar spent on eligible RCI products and services, 2 rewards per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases and 1 reward per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn a $250 credit toward an RCI vacation when you purchase $10,000 or more with your card during a calendar year.
  • Get 5% of your rewards back each time you redeem.

Annual fee: None.

Quick take: You can get an effective 5% return when purchasing eligible RCI products and services. So, this card may be appealing to RCI timeshare members — especially since it has no annual fee.

Related: Credit card sign-up bonuses you can earn with $1,000 or less in spending

Barnes & Noble Mastercard

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Current sign-up bonus: Earn a Barnes & Noble gift card after your first purchase.

Value of bonus: The Barnes & Noble gift card you'll earn after making your first purchase is worth $25.

Notable card benefits:

  • Get 5% back on all Barnes & Noble purchases when you use your card to pay.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants (excluding Barnes & Noble Cafe purchases) and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases (excluding Barnes & Noble purchases).
  • Redeem points for Barnes & Noble gift cards at a rate of one cent each.

Annual fee: None.

Quick take: If you frequently shop at Barnes & Noble, this no-annual-fee card may be worth adding to your wallet. You can also spend to earn 12 months of Barnes & Noble membership each year.

Related: 10 easiest credit card sign-up bonuses to earn

Bottom line

Some cards offer massive sign-up bonuses. For example, check out our posts on increased card offers to sign up for this month and cards currently offering sign-up bonuses of 100,000 points or more. But, it can be difficult to meet the minimum spending requirements to earn the bonus on these cards.

So, if you want to earn your sign-up bonus after just one purchase, one of the cards discussed in this article might be right for you.

Featured image by Getty Images/Westend61
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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