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Earning credit card rewards points for your everyday spending is easy, especially with cards offering bonus earning on things like dining or at supermarkets.
However, the fastest and easiest way to earn a lot of points quickly — whether you’re planning a big trip but don’t have enough points yet, or you’re just looking to build up your stores — is to open a new credit card that offers a lucrative welcome bonus.
Credit card issuers like Chase and Amex offer huge bonuses to attract customers, and while each card may have different eligibility requirements, in most cases if you haven’t had that card before, you’re good to go.
You can read more about earning new cardmember bonuses and how that will affect your credit score here , or scroll down to find some of the best offers available this month.
Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.
When you’re working to earn credit-card rewards, it’s important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card .
1. Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Welcome offer : 70,000 Delta SkyMiles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) (after spending $4,000 in the first three months). Ends September 19.
The Delta Platinum SkyMiles card is one of my personal favorites, because even though it has a $195 annual fee, it pays for itself. The first year, you can earn a welcome bonus — right now it’s 70,000 SkyMiles when you meet the spending requirement, as opposed to the normal 35,000 miles — which more than makes up for the year.
Every year after that, on your cardmember anniversary, you’ll get a companion pass good for a domestic round-trip flight in economy (or “Main Cabin” as Delta calls it). The companion pass is essentially a “buy-one-get-one-free” certificate . When you book an economy-class flight for yourself anywhere within the continental US, you can get a second flight for free, other than minimal taxes and fees.
For me, the value of the pass at least cancels out the annual fee, and in some cases offers enough value to mean I’m making a profit. Although I’ve heard from a few readers before that they felt the companion pass’ terms were too restrictive, I respectfully disagree, at least in my experience (for what it’s worth, I live near a Delta hub). For instance, I just used the companion pass to book a flight for my wife and I — the tickets were about $225 each, but when I redeemed the pass, we only had to pay $24 of taxes and fees for her ticket.
The card also offers plenty of perks for Delta flyers, including one free checked bag for each person on the cardholder’s reservation; priority boarding so that you can settle in sooner and snag space in the overhead compartments; discounted access to Delta Sky Club lounges; a 20% discount in the form of a statement credit on Delta in-flight purchases; and no foreign-transaction fees.
If you aren’t interested in the companion pass, you can also consider the Gold version of the card (the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Card from American Express). The card offers similar benefits, except for the companion pass, and only has a $95 annual fee which is waved the first year. Its limited-time welcome offer is 60,000 SkyMiles when you spend $3,000 in four months — also ending September 19.
You can read more about the limited-time offers and the differences between the two cards here . Even if you’ve had one of them before
The welcome offers on these two cards are tied for the highest-ever made publicly available, in terms of SkyMiles. Sometimes in the past, the cards have offered statement credits as well, although there’s no way to know if that will ever be available again during a future offer.
2. The United Explorer Card from Chase
Sign-up bonus : 40,000 United MileagePlus miles (after spending $2,000 in the first three months), plus a $100 statement credit after your first purchase. Ends August 15.
In June, United and Chase relaunched their co-branded credit card, slightly changing the name and tweaking the benefits a bit. For the most part, the relaunch of the United Explorer card is a positive change for customers.
Previously, the card earned 2x miles on every dollar spent with United Airlines and 1x dollar on everything else. Now, the card also earns 2x points at restaurants and hotels. Most airline co-branded cards only offer bonus miles on spending with the airline, so this is a particularly compelling update for anyone looking to earn United miles — although keep in mind that Chase cards like the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve earn bonus points on all travel and dining, and you can transfer those points to United (scroll down to read about those cards).
While the sign-up bonus is the same number of points as the old card, there’s a nice new add-on: You’ll get a $100 statement credit after you make your first purchase on the card. That means that if you spend $1.00, you’ll make $99. Not a bad deal! Act fast, though — that offer is only around until August 15. It was originally set to end sooner, but it was extended at the last minute.
The card still offers a free checked bag when you use your card to purchase your tickets, and priority boarding as long as you have the open card attached to your MileagePlus account. You’ll also get two complimentary United Club lounge passes each year that you have the card, as well as 25% off your in-flight purchases.
The United Explorer’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
3. The Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
Sign-up bonus: 75,000 AAdvantage miles (after spending $7,500 on the card in the first three months) for a limited time.
Citi and American Airlines issue two main co-branded credit cards. The Executive card is the more premium of the two, and it’s offering a nicely increased sign-up bonus for a limited time.
The card’s biggest appeal is that it offers a complimentary Admiral’s Club membership to cardholders and authorized users. That means that you can access the more than 50 American Airlines Admirals Club airport lounges around the world. If you find yourself in airports often, and tend to stick with American, this can be incredibly useful.
As a huge added bonus, you can add up to 10 authorized users without any additional fee — and they’ll all get Admirals Club access as well whenever they’re traveling. While the card has a hefty $450 annual fee, that can be worth it if you value lounge access.
The card earns 2x miles for every dollar spent with American Airlines, and 1x mile on everything else. The card also offers priority check-in, screening, and boarding at participating airports, free checked bags, a statement credit to cover enrollment in TSA PreCheck or Global Entry every five years, and you’ll earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after you spend $40,000 in purchases within any single year.
If you’re interested in an American Airlines card but don’t want to pay the $450 annual fee, you can look at the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select card instead. That one has a $99 annual fee, which is waived the first year, and offers 50,000 AAdvantage miles when you spend $2,500 in the first three months. You can learn more about the difference between the two cards here .
4. Platinum Card® from American Express
Welcome Offer: 60,000 points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months).
The American Express Platinum card has one of the highest annual fees of any consumer credit or charge card — $550 — but as Amex’s flagship product, this premium credit card offers a tremendous amount of value to offset that fee. For example, I got more than $2,000 worth of value in my first year with the card.
The card earns Membership Rewards points, the currency in Amex’s loyalty program, which can be exchanged for statement credits or cash back, used to book travel through Amex’s travel website, or, to get the most value, transferred to any of 17 airline and three hotel transfer partners ( transferable points are among the best). Travel website The Points Guy lists a valuation of 1.9¢ per Membership Rewards point; based on that, the welcome offer is worth around $1,140.
The Platinum Card earns an incredible 5x points on airfare purchased directly from the airline, and offers a $200 airline fee credit each calendar year, and up to $200 in Uber credits each cardmember year. It also grants the cardholder access to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world, including Delta Sky Clubs and Amex’s own Centurion Lounges. Other benefits include automatic gold elite status at Starwood, Marriott, and Hilton hotels, a statement credit to cover enrollment in Global Entry/TSA PreCheck, concierge service, and much more.
5. Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
Welcome Offer: Up to 100,000 points (50,000 after spending $10,000 in the first three months, and another 50,000 if you spend an additional $15,000 in that same time frame). Ends August 8.
The business version of the Platinum Card has a few key differences from the personal version, but also a lot of overlapping benefits. It also has a lower annual fee: $450, compared to $550.
The Business Platinum Card has a significantly higher welcome offer — up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points, compared to 60,000 — but also a much steeper spending requirement. However, if you have a small business that spends a lot, now is the best time to open this card, before the offer drops.
Like the personal version, the Business Platinum earns 5x points per dollar spent on flights booked through Amex Travel — the personal version also earns quintuple points on flights booked directly through the airline — and 1x point per dollar on everything else. Unlike the personal version, it offers a 50% bonus on purchases of $5,000 or more, meaning you’ll earn 1.5x points per dollar, up to 1 million extra points per year.
The card features the same airport lounge access and airline fee credit as the personal version, although it doesn’t include the $200 Uber credits or the $100 in annual Saks shopping credits.
For more differences between the cards, check out our full head-to-head comparison .
6. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
Sign-up bonus : 30,000 Go Far points (after spending $3,000 in the first three months).
This new card from Wells Fargo has one of the more attractive rewards programs you’ll find from a no-annual-fee card. The new Propel card is actually a re-launch of an old product — Wells Fargo stopped accepting applications for the old card back in February, before announcing the new product and reopening applications this month.
The card earns 3x points on all travel, dining, and select streaming services (and 1x point on everything else). If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s almost the same as the popular Chase Sapphire Reserve (scroll down for more on that card).
There are some key differences between the cards. The Propel lets you redeem points for 1¢ each toward cash back, merchandise, travel, or more, while the Sapphire Reserve offers a range of more valuable redemption options — it’s easy to get at least 50% more value for Chase points. Plus, the Sapphire Reserve offers a number of premium perks that the Propel doesn’t, like airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit travel delay insurance, and more.
Of course, the Sapphire Reserve also comes with a $450 annual fee, while the Wells Fargo Propel doesn’t have a fee. Between the new member offer, and the solid earning rate on popular spend categories, the Propel makes a decent option for those who don’t travel often, or who aren’t comfortable floating a large annual fee.
7. British Airways Visa Signature Card
Welcome Offer: Up to 100,000 British Airways Avios miles (50,000 Avios after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months, another 25,000 Avios after spending a total of $10,000 on the card in the first year, and a final 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 total in that first year).
While most Americans — except those constantly traveling back and forth from the UK — might wonder why they would want a credit card from the flagship British carrier , British Airways Avios can actually be extremely useful in the US and for American travelers.
Because American Airlines and British Airways are partners in the Oneworld Alliance, you can use one airline’s miles to book flights on the other. Short flights on American within North America cost as few as 7,500 Avios each way. Slightly longer flights are just 10,000 Avios each way, while longer flights within the continent — for example, the West Coast to Hawaii — are just 12,500 Avios each way, or 25,000 round-trip. That means that you could potentially fly a family of four to Hawaii using just the sign-up bonus from this card.
There are a number of other valuable uses for Avios, including flights from the US to Ireland (where you can connect on a separate cheap flight elsewhere in Europe), or short distance flights within Europe, Asia, or Australia as part of a big trip. Ironically, British Airways Avios aren’t great for getting to the UK — you’re better off using AAdvantage miles for that .
Check out our full review of the British Airways Visa for more details on why Americans might want to consider signing up for the card.
8. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
Sign-up bonus : 60,000 miles (after spending $5,000 in the first three months).
Earlier this year, Barclays closed applications for one of its most popular credit cards, before relaunching the card this month with a new all-time highest sign-up bonus.
In addition to the high sign-up bonus, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus earns double miles on every dollar spent.
Miles earned from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus can be redeemed for one cent each on travel purchases (applied as a statement credit to negate the cost of that purchase), or a half-cent each for cash back or gift cards. Best of all, you’ll earn 5% of your miles back every time you make a redemption.
Effectively, that means that the sign-up bonus is worth $600 toward travel, plus an extra $100 from the miles you’ll earn meeting the spending requirement.
The card comes equipped with Chip-and-PIN service , which, combined with the fact that the card has no foreign transaction fees, makes it a great option when traveling internationally.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has an annual fee of $89. Depending on your spending habits, it is easy to get more value from the card than what you pay for the annual fee, thanks to the 2x earning rate on all purchases. Of course, the sign-up bonus alone will cover the annual fee for more than seven years.
9. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months).
The Sapphire Preferred is one of the most popular all-around rewards credit cards, and it’s easy to see why . This card earns 2x points per dollar spent on just about all travel and dining purchases, and 1x point on everything else. It also comes with a ton of travel and purchase protections, such as rental car insurance, trip delay coverage, and extended warranty.
The sign-up bonus — 50,000 UR points — is worth, at the very least, $500 as cash back or gift cards. However, if you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and use points to pay, you’ll get a 25% bonus, making points worth 1.25 cents each. That means that the sign-up bonus would be worth $625.
Even more lucrative — the Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you transfer your UR points to a few different frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. This comes in handy because, in many cases, it costs fewer points to book a trip if you go through one of those programs, as opposed to using the points as cash. You can read more about why transferring points to frequent flyer programs gets you more value here .
This all comes for a fairly standard annual fee of $95, which is waived the first year.
10. Chase Sapphire Reserve
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months).
The Sapphire Reserve is basically a beefier version of the Preferred. While the card comes with the same sign-up bonus, it earns points on everyday spending faster, nabbing a higher 3x points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases, and 1x on everything else. It also offers similar, though in many cases, enhanced travel and purchase protections.
Unlike the Preferred, the Sapphire Reserve comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you and any travel companions free access to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world.
You can use points from the Reserve the same ways as with the Preferred, except that you’ll get a 50% bonus when booking travel through Chase, making your points worth 1.5¢ each.
The card carries a higher annual fee than the Preferred: $450. However, it also comes with a $300 travel credit each cardmember year. Each year, you’ll get statement credits for the first $300 in travel-related purchases you make, including things like subway fare, taxis, parking, and tolls, as well as airfare and hotels. When you subtract this credit from the annual fee, the card is effectively only $150 each year.
If you’re not sure whether the Preferred or Reserve is the better card for you, take a look at this breakdown . Also keep in mind that you can typically only earn the sign-up bonus for one Sapphire-branded card every two years.
11. Chase Ink Business Preferred
Sign-up Bonus: 80,000 points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months)
The Ink Preferred is an excellent rewards credit card — the bad news is that it’s only available for small business owners. The good news is that a lot of things you might not expect actually count as small businesses, including freelancing, side gigs, and even selling things on eBay.
The card , which has a $95 annual fee, earns 3x points per dollar on the first $150,000 you spend each cardmember year in a few categories, including travel, shipping, internet/cable/phone, and advertising on social media sites or with search engines, such as Google Ads. Purchases after you reach $150,000, or in any other category, earn 1x point per dollar. Unless you operate a small business that’s on the larger side, chances are you won’t hit that cap.
Like with the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll get a 25% bonus when using points earned with the Ink Preferred to book travel directly with Chase. Of course, if you pool them on your Sapphire Reserve card, that bonus will be 50% instead.
The card comes with a handful of other perks, many of which overlap with the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve, such as trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary car rental loss/damage coverage, and various purchase protections. It also comes with cell phone insurance when you use the card to pay your phone bill, offering up to $600 for each covered claim.