5 Best Sign-up Bonuses for Airline Miles Credit Cards

By Jason Steele. Last updated 27 April 2015. 4 comments

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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.

Editor's Pick

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Venture® is currently offering 40,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months (equal to $400 in travel). You also earn unlimited 2x miles per dollar on every purchase, every day — and miles don't expire. There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions. There are no foreign transaction fees.

Annual Fee: $59, waived for the first year

Click here to apply for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

 

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 ther 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.

Click here to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card today!

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.

Click here to apply for the British Airways Visa Signature® card today!

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®

Citi has revamped their Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® which has a sign up bonus of 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. You can earn 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 10% of your redeemed miles back (up to 10,000 miles each year). Other benefits include first checked bag free, Group 1 boarding, and 25% savings on in-flight purchases.

Annual Fee: $95, waived for the first year. 

Click here to apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® today!

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

Click here to apply for the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express today!

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.

To the Credit Card Guide

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.

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Guest's picture
ToniTexas

Did the SW card, paid my house taxes, just booked 2 round trip tickets to Seattle (from Houston)...paid a total of $20.00 for taxes!! Sweet!!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

The Southwest Credit Card worked well for me. Charged $2k as soon as it arrived. I got 40K points, booked two free one way tickets to Denver and two free one way tickets from Salt Lake City back to Ohio for a total of $20.00 in fees. All with zero hassle and little effort. All on line. What's great about this is both my brothers did the same thing and we are headed on a family vacation to the Black Hills and Yellowstone. No blackout dates or seat restrictions. Great deal!

Guest's picture
Guest

I always check who is servicing the cards. I still use them, but with reluctance; I thoroughly examine anything processed by FIA Card Services. They make many mistakes and are too quick to post charges improperly. In fairness they made corrections, in spite of the great stress of contacting/ reaching the staff responsible- for resolving complaints....

Guest's picture
Credit Card Rewards Geek

I hadn't previously noticed that with the Fidelity cards. I'll be sure to check my statements more closely in the future. I usually just glance at them briefly. I know what you mean about the stress/annoyance of getting things corrected on bills; I've been putting that off on one of mine for about a week now.

Guest's picture
Dana

If I'm planning to use my accumulated points for future SW travel but i don't know that I will pay off the total every month. Are the hopes of using or acquiring points futile? Please advise. Thanks!