10 credit cards that can get you $1,000 or more in first-year value

4d ago

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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.

So, today I’ll describe some of the top travel credit cards that can get you $1,000 or more in value in your first year. Of course, your valuations may vary based on how much the perks are worth to you.

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In This Post

Top travel credit cards with $1,000+ in first-year value

Credit card Welcome offer First-year bonus value* Perks Annual fee First-year total value
The Platinum Card® from American Express 75,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months of account opening. Terms apply. $1,500 Up to $200 annual airline fee 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)

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit ($100 value)

Terms apply.

$550 (see rates & fees) $1,900
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. $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 annual airline-fee credit

Up to $300 statement credits for Dell technology U.S. purchases ($200 for July-December 2020 and $100 for January-June 2021)

Centurion Lounge access ($250 value)

Priority Pass lounge access ($100 value)

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit ($100 value)

Terms apply.

$595 (see rates & fees) $1,855
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening $1,200 N/A $95 $1,105
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
100,000 miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months Up to $1,400 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit ($100 value) $95 $1,405
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Earn up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of card membership.

Enjoy complimentary Platinum Elite status with your card for the 2021 status year, which TPG values at $2,655. Offer expires 1/13/2021. Terms apply.

$800 + $2,655 Up to $300 in statement credits each year toward Marriott charges

Priority Pass lounge access ($100 value)

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit ($100 value)

Terms apply.

$450 (see rates & fees) $3,505
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, earn a one-time $100 statement credit after using your new card to purchase an Expert Flyer Premium annual subscription ($99.99 plus applicable taxes, followed by automatic renewal) within your first year. Terms apply. $900 + $100 Up to $250 Hilton Resort credit each cardmember year

Up to $250 in airline incidental fee credits per calendar year

One weekend night reward with your new card (worth $360)

Hilton Diamond status, which TPG values at $3,025

Terms apply.

$450 (see rates & fees) $4,435
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card 140,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. $700 IHG Platinum status, which TPG values at $880

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit ($100 value)

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, after that $89 $1,680
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card Up to 100,000 bonus points — 70,000 after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, and an additional 30,000 after you spend $25,000 in the first 6 months of account opening. Up to $1,500 Global Entry /TSA PreCheck fee credit (worth up to $100) $199 $1,401
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Up to 100,000 bonus Avios — 50,000 after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening, and an additional 50,000 after you spend $20,000 total within your first year of account opening. Up to $1,500 N/A $95 $1,405

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.

The Platinum Card® From American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first six months; earn 10x points per dollar spent on eligible U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening. Note that some people have been targeted for a 100,000-point welcome offer with the same minimum spend when using the CardMatch tool (targeted offer subject to change at any time).

Valuable perks

Related: How to maximize benefits with the Amex Platinum Card

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 75,000 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. The Amex Platinum earns 5x points on airfare booked directly through the airline or through Amex Travel (capped at $500,000 per calendar year starting on Jan.1, 2021), 5x on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel and 1x on everything else. Plus new cardmembers earn 10x on U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined spending) in the first six months.

Assuming you’ll use the annual airline fee credits, Uber credits and Saks Fifth Avenue credit, that scary $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) is only effectively $50 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 even after your first year.

Even if you aren’t traveling currently, the Amex Platinum has some great non-travel perks as well. For more information, see the full Amex Platinum card review. And here’s the official application link for The Platinum Card from American Express.

Related: Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the American Express Platinum?

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

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

Related: Why I chose the Ink Business Preferred over the Chase Sapphire Reserve

How it all adds up

The 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. New applicants to the Ink Preferred can earn a whopping 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first three months. This sign-up bonus is 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 offers the simplest and most immediate value of any card on the market right now, as well as an incredibly reasonable annual fee of $95.

There are many ways to use 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I recommend reading our guides to maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards points and using Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots for ideas and inspiration.

For more information, check out the full Ink Business Preferred Credit Card review. And here’s the official application link for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

Related: 5 reasons to get the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Amex Business Platinum card
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $595 (see rates and fees)

Welcome offer: 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months of account opening

Valuable perks

Related: Lesser-known benefits of the American Express Business Platinum Card

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. Although $15,000 is a lot to spend in three months, the $1,500 worth of points you earn can unlock some genuinely great redemptions.

You’ll likely get the best value transferring your points to one of Amex’s airline partners. But, you can also get a 35% rebate (up to 500,000 points per calendar year) if you pay with points through Amex Travel for first- or business-class flights on any airline or economy flights on your selected airline.

Finally, the Business Platinum earns 5x points on airfare and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel and 1x everywhere else. But, purchases of $5,000 or more earn a 50% bonus, up to a million bonus points per calendar year.

For more information, see the full Amex Business Platinum card review. And here’s the official application link for The Business Platinum Card from American Express.

Related: Is the Amex Business Platinum worth the annual fee?

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

Valuable perks

Related: 5 Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits you might not know about

How it all adds up

If you’ve decided that the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s $550 annual fee is too much for you, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great alternative. You’ll still have access to Chase’s incredible hotel and airline transfer partners. And, you’ll even get a higher sign-up bonus with the Sapphire Preferred than you’d get with the Sapphire Reserve.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has long been one of TPG’s top travel credit cards. Whether you’re looking for a first credit card or a card to consolidate Ultimate Rewards points, the Sapphire Preferred may be the right fit for you.

For more information, see the full Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review. And here’s the official application link for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Related: 5 reasons to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Card
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening (Offer ends Dec. 14, 2020). Or, still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Valuable perks

Related: 5 reasons to get the Capital One Venture Rewards card

How it all adds up

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is the one card TPG himself, Brian Kelly, said he’d keep if he could only have one card. Whether you’re looking to redeem miles at a fixed value or transfer to partners, it’s easy to get a lot of value from Capital One Venture Rewards miles. Plus, with at least 2x earning on all purchases, you’ll quickly rack up miles on everyday spending.

Especially in your first year, you can get a lot of value from the Capital One Venture card. After all, the sign-up bonus alone is worth $1,400 based on TPG’s valuations if you earn the full 100,000-mile bonus. Plus, you can use the application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck in your first year to maximize your first-year value.

For more information, see the full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review. And here’s the official application link for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Related: Capital One Venture Card vs. Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Which one is right for you?

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
(Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Welcome offer: Earn up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of card membership. Enjoy complimentary Platinum Elite status with your card for the 2021 status year. Offer expires 1/13/2021.

Valuable perks

Related: 7 things to do when you get the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex

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. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant’s $300 credit can use used for various Marriott purchases, including room rates. So, this benefit alone effectively cuts the annual fee to $150 even before you even factor in the up to 50,000-point annual free night award.

The St. Regis Langkawi. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

The annual free night award 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. But, I didn’t include the annual free night award’s value in my first-year value since you don’t earn the free night award until after your card account anniversary.

Providing Platinum Elite status for the 2021 status year is an interesting part of the current welcome offer. Platinum Elite status can be extremely valuable due to perks such as lounge access and complimentary breakfast at most brands. However, if you already hold Platinum Elite status with Marriott, this part of the welcome offer won’t provide any incremental value.

For more information, see the full Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card review. And, here’s the official application link for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card.

Related: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Hilton Aspire Amex (Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

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. Plus, earn a one-time $100 statement credit after using your new card to purchase an Expert Flyer Premium annual subscription ($99.99 plus applicable taxes, followed by automatic renewal) within your first year.

Valuable perks

Related: 7 reasons to get the Amex Hilton Aspire card

How it all adds up

Unlike the entry-level Hilton Honors American Express Card and mid-tier Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® 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 $900, the Hilton Aspire comes with several 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. I conservatively valued this night at $360 in my first-year value. But, these weekend nights can easily save you $500+ each when redeemed at aspirational Hilton properties such as the Conrad Bora Bora.

The Conrad Bora Bora. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

The Hilton Aspire also comes with automatic Hilton Diamond status. TPG’s Nick Ewen valued Diamond status at $3,025 in 2020, which in theory could put the Hilton 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.

For more information, see the full Hilton Amex Aspire card review. And here’s the official application link for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Related: Choosing the best Hilton credit card for you

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, after that $89

Sign-up bonus: Earn 140,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Valuable perks

  • Anniversary reward night valid at hotels costing up to 40,000 points per night after each account anniversary
  • Fourth reward night perk when you redeem points for any stay of four or more nights
  • Automatic IHG Platinum Elite status
  • 20% discount on IHG points purchases when you pay with your card
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (worth up to $100) every four years
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points each account anniversary year when you spend $20,000 on purchases and make one additional purchase at least one day after spending $20,000
  • Travel and purchase coverage including baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, purchase protection and trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance

Related: 6 ways IHG Rewards Club should improve its loyalty program

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 1x points everywhere else.

For more information, see the full IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card review. And here’s the official application link for the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

Related: Why I’m happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Premier

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

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

  • Four upgraded boardings per year
  • Up to 365 inflight Wi-Fi credits each year
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every four years
  • Earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases, up to $100,000 in purchases annually
  • 9,000 points deposited into your account each cardmember anniversary

Related: The best Southwest Airlines credit cards for family travelers

How it all adds up

The long list of perks offered by the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card is hard to 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 or TSA PreCheck application fees, 365 in-flight Wi-Fi credits each year and 9,000 points (a $135 in value) every account anniversary.

But you can also earn up to 15,000 Tier-Qualifying Points toward status each year. And, the sign-up bonus can help you earn the airline’s famous Companion Pass outright. Both of those benefits are potentially lucrative and worth hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars if you maximize the benefits.

Of course, none of that includes any earnings you could get from spending with the card. You’ll earn 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. For just $199 in annual fees, this card can give frequent Southwest flyers way beyond $1,000 in value.

To learn more, see the full Southwest Performance Business Card review. And here’s the official application link for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card.

Related: The ultimate guide to Southwest credit card eligibility

British Airways Visa Signature Card

British Airways Visa Signature card
(Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95

Sign-up bonus: Earn up to 100,000 bonus Avios. Specifically, earn 50,000 Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 50,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.

Valuable perks

Related: 7 ways to get great value from the British Airways Visa

How it all adds up

The British Airways Visa Signature Card is a good option if you frequently use British Airways Avios. It’s a particularly great option if you often fly between the U.S. and London on British Airways. Even if you only use one reward flight statement credit each year, doing so will cover the $95 annual fee. And, the current sign-up bonus is worth up to $1,500 just by itself.

Plus, you’ll earn 3x Avios on flight purchases made directly with British Airways, 2x Avios on accommodation booked directly with hotels and 1x Avios on all other purchases.

For more information, see the full British Airways Visa Signature Card review. And here’s the official application link for the British Airways Visa Signature Card.

Related: How to save up to $200 plus 10% off British Airways round-trip flights

Bottom line

With travel still on the back burner for many, now is an incredible time to add a new card to your wallet. After all, by earning rewards now, you have plenty of points and miles at your disposal when it’s time to hit the road again.

Besides the cards I highlighted above that can provide $1,000 or more of value in your first year, I’m currently seeing multiple cards offering 100,000-point bonuses. 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 premium credit 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 Katie Genter.

Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.