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 credit cards really do offer some amazing bonuses that allow my family and I 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. Many of the offers below do not apply to everyone who fills out an application, and 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 my favorite bonuses available at the moment.
2. Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
This new card offers 40,000 miles when you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days -- this is enough to redeem a $400 travel statement credit. This is also a great travel rewards credit card in general, as it gives you 2x miles on all purchases, plus get 10% miles back when you redeem travel statement credits.
Annual Fee: $89, waived for the first year
3. Chase Sapphire Preferred®
This card is currently being offered with a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months -- that's $500 in travel rewards through their Ultimate Rewards portal. You can also transfer those points on a 1:1 value to participating frequent travel programs, including British Airways, Korean Air, Southweat, United, Virgin, and more.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.
4. Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®
I mentioned the Arrival Plus card above, but this one also has an attractive bonus offer but with no annual fee. You get 20,000 miles when you spend $1000 the first 90 days (enough to redeem a $200 travel credit). An additional sign-up benefit is 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. You also get 10% miles back every time you redeem statement credits. It's a great card with a great sign-up offer for those who are wary about cards with annual fees.
Annual Fee: none.
5. CapitalOne® VentureOne® Rewards
Another card with no annual fee with an attractive sign-up offer, you get 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months as well as 0% APR on purchases until August 2015. You also get unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, and 0% foreign transaction fee, which makes this a great card to take with you on your international travels.
Annnual Fee: none
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 card issuer.