10 credit cards that can get you $1,000 or more in value
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When I tell my friends that I’ve opened more than 24 credit cards — one for every year I’ve been alive — I get a few weird looks and also several questions like, “How do you pick which card to start with?” and, “Isn’t that hurting your credit score?”
They listen intently when I tell them how much value I’m getting from each new card — generally no less than $500 and often much more than $1,000. While not everyone needs anywhere near two dozen credit cards, even getting one or two can make a big difference in the out-of-pocket cost of your next vacation. With that in mind, today we’ll look at the top travel credit cards that can get you $1,000 or more in value in September. Your valuations may vary based on how much various perks are worth to you.
Related reading: Yes, I have 19 credit cards; here’s why
Top travel credit cards with $1,000+ in first-year value
|Credit Card||Welcome Offer||Bonus Value*||Perks||Annual Fee||Total Value|
|Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.||$2,000||N/A||$95||$1,905|
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
||75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Terms apply.||$1,500||Up to $200 airline-fee credit; up to $400 in annual statement credits for Dell technology U.S. purchases ($200 semiannually through the end of 2020); Centurion Lounge access ($250 value); Priority Pass lounge access ($100 value). Terms apply.||$595 (see rates & fees)||$1,855|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||60,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Terms apply.||$1,200||Up to $200 airline fee credit; temporary $200 travel credit; up to $200 in annual Uber credits; up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit ($50 semiannually); Centurion Lounge access ($250 value); Priority Pass lounge access ($100 value). Terms apply.||$550 (see rates & fees)||$1,700|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.||$1,600||N/A||$95||$1,505|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card||75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.||$600||Up to $300 in statement credits each year toward Marriott charges; Priority Pass lounge access ($100 value); Marriott Gold status, (TPG values at $855). Terms apply.||$450 (see rates & fees)||$1,405|
|Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card||150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Terms apply.||$900||Up to $250 in statement credits for Hilton purchases each cardmember year; up to $250 in airline incidental fee credits per calendar year; Hilton Diamond status, which TPG values at $3,025. Terms apply.||$450 (see rates & fees)||$3,975|
|IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card||125,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months.||$625||Anniversary Reward night (worth $200); IHG Platinum status (worth $880 according to TPG); Global Entry /TSA PreCheck fee credit (worth up to $100)||$89||$1,716|
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card||100,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.||$800||Anniversary free night (worth $280); silver elite status (worth $45 according to TPG)||$95||$1,116|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card||Up to 100,000 bonus points — 70,000 after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, and an additional 30,000 after you spend $25,000 in the first six months of account opening.||Up to $1,500||Global Entry /TSA PreCheck fee credit (worth up to $100)||$199||$1,401|
|United Club Infinite Card||100,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months of account opening.||$1,300||United Club Membership (worth $650); Global Entry /TSA PreCheck fee credit (worth up to $100)||$525||$1,525|
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.
Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Valuable perks: 25% bonus when redeeming your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Cellphone protection for you and employees listed on your phone bill; trip delay and cancellation insurance.
How it all adds up: The largest and most valuable sign-up bonus on any Ultimate Rewards-earning card belongs to the Chase Ink Business Preferred, not the ultra-premium Chase Sapphire Reserve® as some might expect. New applicants to the Ink Preferred can earn a whopping 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first three months, worth $2,000 based on TPG’s latest valuations, but you can potentially get even more value than that.
Chase’s Ink Business Preferred isn’t loaded down with perks and it faces increasing competition from other members of the Ink family. But it might offer the simplest and most immediate value of any card on the market right now, as well as an incredibly reasonable annual fee of $95.
You could transfer 66,000 points to United Airlines to book a round-trip ticket from the U.S. to Europe on any of the airline’s Star Alliance partners and still have points left over. For other creative strategies on redeeming Ultimate Rewards points, check out our guide, “Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards for maximum value.”
Annual fee: $595 (see rates and fees)
Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Valuable perks: This card is loaded with annual credits, including an up to $200 annual airline-fee credit from a carrier of your choice and an increased statement credit of up to $400 from Dell for U.S. purchases (normally up to $200 annually). Amex also added up to $20 in statement credits a month on U.S. purchases for shipping and the same monthly credits on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers through Dec. 31, 2020.
Cardholders get access to the continuously growing collection of Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta) and Priority Pass, along with Airspace and Escape lounges. Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy is also a nice bonus, as it can help you earn bonus points, room upgrades and welcome gifts even if you don’t travel enough to otherwise quality.
How it all adds up: With a $595 annual fee (see rates and fees), the Business Platinum card is one of the most expensive cards on the market. However, the current bonus of 75,000 points should be enough to get you past the sticker shock that comes with its fee. It’s true that $15,000 is a lot to spend in three months, but the $1,500 worth of points you earn can unlock some truly great redemptions.
You’ll likely get your best value transferring your points to one of Amex’s airline partners and you will get a 35% rebate if you pay with points for first- or business-class flights on all partner airlines or economy flights on a selected airline (up to 500,000 points per calendar year). The Business Platinum earns 5x points per dollar on airfare and prepaid hotels booked through Amex travel and 1x everywhere else. Purchases of $5,000 or more will earn a 50% bonus, up to a million bonus points per year.
Read TPG’s Amex Business Platinum card review.
Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)
Welcome offer: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. Note that some people have been targeted for a 100,000-point welcome offer with the same minimum spend. Check the CardMatch tool for other offers (targeted offer subject to change at any time).
Valuable perks: This card comes with an annual airline fee credit of up to $200; up to $200 in annual Uber credits; up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits (up to $50 semiannually). Like the business version, this card also offers access to Amex Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta) and Priority Pass, along with Airspace and Escape lounges and Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy.
How it all adds up: One of the most common questions we get at The Points Guy is whether The Platinum Card from American Express is worth the $550 annual fee (see rates and fees). Our answer has always been a resounding “yes” and the list of reasons why has grown over the years as Amex keeps adding new benefits to attract customers to its most premium card that’s publicly available.
The standard welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points is worth more than $1,000 on its own, based on TPG’s latest valuations, but if you’re targeted for the 100,000-point offer through CardMatch, this card is a no-brainer.
Assuming you can use the annual airline and Uber credits of up to $200 each, that scary $550 annual fee is really only effectively $150 out of pocket each year and valuable benefits such as 5x points on flights purchased directly with the airline or through American Express Travel, hotel elite status, premium concierge services and the most comprehensive lounge benefits of any credit card can help you get well over $1,000 in value.
Read TPG’s Amex Platinum review.
Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
How it all adds up: If you’ve decided that the Chase Sapphire Reserve (with its $550 annual fee) is too much for you, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great alternative. You’ll still have access to Chase’s 13 incredible hotel and airline transfer partners and you’ll get a sign-up bonus worth $1,600 — which is even higher than the Sapphire Reserve’s sign-up bonus. This card has long been one of TPG’s top travel credit cards — and won in the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card category at the 2019 TPG Awards.
Read TPG’s Chase Sapphire Preferred review.
Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)
Welcome offer: 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Valuable perks: Up to $300 in statement credits each cardmember year toward Marriott purchases; anniversary award night (valid at hotels costing up to 50,000 points per night) every card anniversary; complimentary Marriott Gold Elite status.
How it all adds up: Even if you only stay at Marriott properties a few times a year, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex can be worth it, thanks to perks including statement credits of up to $300 each cardmember year for Marriott purchases, including room rates. This benefit alone effectively cuts the annual fee to $150 and that’s not factoring in the complimentary Marriott Gold status you get as a cardholder or the up to 50k annual award night certificate. This unlocks perks such as a 25% points bonus on paid stays and space-available room upgrades.
The annual free night certificate alone can net you more value than the card’s annual fee! While TPG values 50,000 Marriott points at $400, I was able to redeem my certificate this year for a night at the St. Regis Langkawi that otherwise would’ve cost $650. You can use your points at more than 7,000 Marriott properties around the world.
Read TPG’s Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card review.
Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)
Welcome offer: 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Valuable perks: The card offers an annual airline credit of up to $250, an annual Hilton resort credit of up to $250 at participating hotels, plus up to $100 credit on eligible stays of two nights or more at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels.
How it all adds up: Unlike the entry-level Hilton Honors American Express Card, the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express comes packed with credits and benefits. In addition to a 150,000-point welcome offer that TPG values at $1,200, the card comes with a number of Hilton property credits that can negate the annual fee and make this card cash-flow-positive. You’ll also get one free weekend night after account approval and one on each account anniversary. Those nights can easily net you $500+ each when redeemed somewhere such as the Conrad Bora Bora.
The Aspire also comes with automatic top-tier Hilton Diamond status. TPG’s Nick Ewen valued Diamond status at $3,025 in 2020, which in theory could put the Aspire at the top of this list in terms of value. But although Diamond status offers some incredible perks such as suite upgrades and free breakfast, if you’re not staying enough to earn it organically, it won’t be worth the full $3,025 to you. So adjust the valuation accordingly to fit your situation.
Read TPG’s Hilton Amex Aspire review.
Annual fee: $89
Sign-up bonus: Earn 125,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Valuable perks: Every year you renew the card you’ll get an anniversary reward night valid at hotels costing up to 40,000 points per night. You’ll also enjoy automatic IHG Platinum elite status, fourth-reward-night benefit on award stays of four or more nights. If you manage to spend $20,000 in an account year, you’ll get 10,000 bonus points (worth $50). Plus, you get a 20% discount on IHG points purchases when you pay with your card, along with a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (worth up to $100) every four years.
How it all adds up: The IHG Premier Card makes TPG’s list of best hotel credit cards, not only for the bonus offer but also because the ongoing perks easily outweigh its reasonable annual fee. With just the anniversary reward night you could easily book a night at a hotel that costs $200 or more. Plus, the card helps your IHG points go further with the fourth-reward-night perk, which means you can stay four nights by paying just the points cost of three nights.
This card earns 10x IHG points at IHG hotels and resorts, 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and one point per dollar spent everywhere else.
Read TPG’s IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card review.
Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Valuable perks: Every account anniversary, you get a free night award worth up to 35,000 points. That means you can use that award night on pretty much any Category 1-5 (although Category 5 hotels during peak pricing periods wouldn’t be eligible). The card also comes with Silver elite status and 15 elite night credits, which can help you earn elite status much faster than starting from scratch.
How it all adds up: The current 100,000-point sign-up bonus is a great value for this card, giving new cardholders $800 in value off the bat once you hit the spending requirements. TPG values the anniversary free night award at $280, but you can potentially get even more value from it by using the perk strategically. And while Silver elite status won’t provide a penthouse suite worth of value, it’s certainly not worthless. Those 15 elite night credits will also help you get much closer to higher status tiers, which can give you hundreds of dollars in value throughout the year.
And don’t forget that you’ll earn more points as you spend on the card since the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless does earn 6x on Marriott and 2x on all other purchases. The fact that this card only charges a $95 annual fee means that you can really maximize these benefits to completely offset the cost of the fee while still getting an easy $1,000+ in value with the card.
Read TPG’s Marriot Bonvoy Boundless review.
Annual fee: $199
Sign-up bonus: Up to 100,000 bonus points — 70,000 after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, and an additional 30,000 after you spend $25,000 in the first six months of account opening.
Valuable perks: With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card, you’ll get four upgraded boardings per year, up to 365 $8 inflight Wi-Fi purchases in the form of a statement credit and up to $100 in statement credits for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fees every four years. Plus, you can earn up to 15,000 TQPs each year toward elite status by hitting spending thresholds, and you’ll get an automatic 9,000 points deposited into your account each cardmember anniversary.
How it all adds up: The long list of perks offered by the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card is hard to truly quantify. Yes, you’re getting up to $1,500 in value (based on TPG valuations) from the sign-up bonus, up to $100 every four years for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fees, and 9,000 points (a $135 in value) every account anniversary — that alone gets you more than $1,000 in value. But you can also earn up to 15,000 TQPs toward status and the current bonus can also help you earn the Companion Pass outright. Both of those benefits are potentially lucrative and worth hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars over the course of the year if you maximize the benefits.
Of course, none of that includes any earnings you could get from spending with the card. You’ll get 3x on Southwest purchases (including Southwest car rental and hotel partners) and 2x points on social media and paid search advertising, internet, cable and phone services (but you could get even more value through Oct. 31, 2020, with Chase’s current temporary benefits offerings). For just $199 in annual fees, this card can give frequent Southwest flyers way beyond just $1,000 in value.
Read TPG’s Southwest Performance Business Card review.
Annual fee: $525
Sign-up bonus: 100,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Valuable perks: United Club Membership can cost up to $650, which means this benefit alone can entirely offset the cost of the $525 annual fee each year if you take full advantage of the perk. The two free checked bags on United flights could save you $70 (or up to $320 per round trip if you are also using the benefit for others on your itinerary) per flight. Additionally, you can get the $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit every four years.
How it all adds up: The biggest draw to this card versus other United credit cards is access to United Club lounges. While most of United’s lounges are currently closed, this certainly won’t be the case forever (and there are some select lounges in the U.S. that are open). The bonus alone will offset the full cost of the card during your first year regardless of if you use the lounges frequently or not while still giving you a ton of value. Then you have to add in some of the less quantifiable perks, such as 25% back on inflight purchases, Premier Access and Premier upgrades on award tickets.
Keep in mind you’ll also earn 4x on United purchases and 2x on all other travel and dining spending.
Read TPG’s United Club Infinite Card review.
With travel still on the back burner for many, now is an incredible time to add a new card to your wallet so you’ll have plenty of points and miles at your disposal when it’s time to hit the road again. We’re seeing multiple cards offering 100,000-point bonuses and many that can easily net you at least $1,000 in value. Just keep in mind that the cards with the most perks often have the highest annual fees, so make sure that you’re getting enough value to justify spending big money on a single card.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, please click here.
Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.
Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy.
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With this card you'll get IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status which more than negates the value of the $89 annual fee.
- Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
- Earn 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
- Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
- IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®