5 Best Sign-up Bonuses for Airline Miles Credit Cards
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They say that if an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Therefore, one could be forgiven for dismissing some generous credit card sign-up bonuses on that basis, as many do. Nevertheless, travel rewards credit cards really do offer some amazing bonuses that allow my family to travel extensively. When handled responsibly, these offers are legitimate ways to earn points and miles while giving banks the chance to compete for your business. (See also: 6 Ways My Family Scores Free Travel with Credit Cards)
How to Find Outstanding Credit Card Offers
At first, finding a great credit card sign-up bonus may seem like luck, but there is actually a good deal of skill involved. The first order of the day is research. You have to spend some time looking for the best deal and applying online from the link that is promoting it. Once you have learned what the most competitive offers are, the next strategy is patience. Banks love to promote their best deals over and over again as limited time offers, so if the right deal isn’t currently on the market, just wait a month or two and check again. The final key is to strike while the deal is hot; any of the offers below can disappear tomorrow. While many of them will come back, there is no guarantee. If you think that you are seeing a great deal now, don’t tell yourself that it will probably be available next month when you get around to filling out an application.
The Current Top Five Sign-Up Bonuses
In my research, these are the top bonuses available at the moment.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is currently being offered with a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months — that's $500 in travel rewards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. You can also earn an extra 5,000 points after adding an authorized user and make a purchase within the first 3 months from account opening. Earn 2x points on travel and restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. This card allows you to transfer points on a 1:1 value to participating frequent travel programs, which means 1,000 Chase points equal 1,000 partner miles/points.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
With the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, new cardmembers earn 50,000 bonus Avios after they spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. In addition, if you make $30,000 in purchases in a calendar year on your British Airways Visa card, you will receive a Travel Together Ticket that’ll allow you to bring a companion with you in the same cabin on your next rewards flight that you redeem with your Avios. The Travel Together Ticket is good for two years. Cardholders can earn 2.5 Avios for every dollar spent on British Airways purchases and 1.25 Avios for every dollar spent on all other purchases. This card offers Smart Chip Technology and no foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $95, waived for first year.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® offers a sign-up bonus of 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. You get double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines and US Airways purchases. Plus, your first checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines and US Airways flights for you and up to four companions, as long as you're all traveling on the same reservation. Other perks include boarding privileges, 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines and US Airways flights, and 10% back on your redeemed AAdvantage® miles (up to 10,000 miles each calendar year).
Annual Free: $95, waived the first year.
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
For a limited time, the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is offering its new cardmembers 50,000 bonus miles after they spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of their account opening. Earn double miles on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other purchases. This card also offers some great travel perks, including your first checked bag free, priority boarding privileges, and two one-time-use passes to the United Club℠ airport lounge every year. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card From American Express
The Gold Delta SkyMiles® card is offering 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months, plus you can also get a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases. Get travel benefits like first checked bag free and Priority Boarding. Terms and Restrictions apply.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year of Card Membership with an introductory offer
Responsible consumers are right to question whether or not they can truly fly for free by taking advantage of sign-up bonuses offered by travel credit cards. The truth is that the travel is never free. Customers will still be responsible for taxes and possibly annual fees and fuel surcharges. These costs are relatively minor costs compared to the expense of purchasing international tickets in Business and First Class. My experiences and those of others prove without a doubt that you really can enjoy a world of highly discounted award travel merely by earning credit card sign-up bonuses while giving the banks and the airlines an opportunity to earn your business.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.