Article updated January 4, 2019
[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace.DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
If you’re looking to sign up for a new credit card, you may be wondering what kind of bonuses issuers are going to offer to you. After all, credit card issuers have long offered signup bonuses to entice new cardholders. Heavy marketplace competition has led to a few truly sweet — even outrageous — deals that can help you do the things you’ve wanted to do, like taking that dream vacation to some exotic locale.
Over the last year or so, in particular, it’s become commonplace to see issuers offer hundreds of dollars worth of bonus rewards or a full airfare in miles for spending a certain amount of money in your first few months as an account holder. Narrowing down the best signup bonus for you depends on how much you spend or how often you travel, among other things. Still, there are a few strong contenders for the best signup card bonuses on the market right now. Let’s break them down.
Expert Intel: Credit card signup bonuses change frequently and can even vary by customer, so it’s a good idea to visit the issuer’s site directly to double-check their latest offers.
Cards with Big Signup Bonuses
The best signup bonuses offer huge value when combined with the card’s standard features. Here’s an overview of the better offers on the market right now.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Card Details +
The Signup Bonus: Cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points if they spend $4,000 in their first three months of account opening — that’s worth $625 in travel booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards.
Annual Fee: $0 Intro for the first year, then $95
Purchase APR: 18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Base Rewards: Dining and travel purchases earn two points per dollar, while all other purchases earn one point per dollar.
The Big Extras: You won’t get any travel credits, but card does carry some nice ancillary perks, like trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement and an auto rental damage collision waiver.
When Deciding to Apply: There is a $95 annual fee, after the first year, so again you’ll need to crunch the numbers to see if you’re likely to recoup it. Plus, $4,000 in three months is a pretty high spending threshold so if that’s out of your normal charge range, consider a card with a bonus that’s easier to qualify for.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
- No annual fee
Card Details +
The Signup Bonus: Cardholders earn $150 when they spend $500 in the first three months of account opening. Plus, they’ll earn $25 if they add an authorized user who goes on to make a purchase in the same time period.
Annual Fee: $0
Purchase APR: 17.24% - 25.99% Variable, after a 0% for 15 months on purchases expires.
Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Base Rewards: Cardholders earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
The Big Extras: The card comes with purchase protection, price protection and an extended warranty. Plus, there’s also a 15-month 0% introductory APR on balance transfers, too; after that, your APR will be a 17.24% - 25.99% Variable.
When Deciding to Apply: You will pay a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount transferred ($5 minimum), if you take Chase up on that offer. Plus, if you don’t mind considering what card to use at the register or enrollment dates, you might earn more rewards with a revolving category 5% cash back card.
How to Choose a Card with a Great Signup Bonus
Most cards with strong signup bonuses charge annual fees. Any time you evaluate a card, you’ll need to weigh the value of the bonus against the fees. If the perceived benefits don’t meet or exceed the annual fee, you might want to keep looking.
You’ll also want to pick a card that offers benefits you’ll actually use. Travel rewards are most valuable to frequent travelers, so if you tend to stay put you may be better off with a cash-back card. Cards tied to specific companies such as Southwest or Marriott will only deliver the best value to loyal customers, so if you like to shop around you’re better off with a general rewards card.
Finally, most sign-up bonuses require you to spend a specific amount in the first few months of the card. If the spending requirements are far outside your normal spending behavior, it likely isn’t worth it to sign up for the card.
What Is Required to Get a Card with a Signup Bonus?
Cards with big signup bonuses generally require a good to excellent credit score. If you aren’t sure where your credit stands, you’ll want to view your credit score, available free on Credit.com, before you apply. A hard inquiry into your credit can ding your score a little bit, so you probably shouldn’t apply unless you’re reasonably confident you can get approved.
At publishing time, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Discover it® Cash Back, and Chase Freedom Unlimited, are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.