Bonus Roundup: Spring 2012

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Want a ton of free hotel stays? You’re in luck: the Marriott Rewards Premier offers 50,000 bonus points and a free night. Don’t want to be tied down? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is giving out 40,000 Ultimate Rewards Points worth $500 of travel. Oh, and there are a ton of perks as well. Read on for details on these three lavish travel cards, and tips on how to get the bonus.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: 40,000 Ultimate Rewards Points

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a record of offering noteworthy bonuses. This one gives you 40,000 Ultimate Rewards Points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Those points are worth $400 if you redeem for gift cards, etc. But if you use them for travel booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Tool, they’ll be worth 25% more, bringing the bonus’ total value up to $500.

The Sapphire is a great travel card, earning a base rewards rate of 1 point per $1 spent and 2x points on travel and dining. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year, making the card a lot more attractive for bonus-hunters, and there’s no foreign transaction fee. And it’s a far sight better than many airline cards, who won’t give you bonus miles when you travel with non-affiliates.

Marriott Rewards Premier: 50,000 points + 1 free night

Hotel-goers and bonus-seekers, take note: the Marriott Premier card is offering a substantial bonus of 50,000 bonus points, plus 1 free night. Best of all, you get those 50k points after your first purchase, whereas the Chase Sapphire requires you to spend thousands of dollars. This makes the card ideal for those looking for a bonus and hotel rewards, without wanting to put a lot of money on the card. The Marriott card gives 5x points at the hotel and 2x points on qualifying airlines, dining and rental car purchases, and comes with a number of extra perks:

  • Waived foreign transaction fees;
  • Automatic Silver elite status, plus a 15-night credit; and
  • One free night’s stay every year on your account anniversary.

For travelers looking for a place to lay their heads, the Marriott card offers a great signup bonus with little commitment. Its $85 annual fee is waived the first year, giving you the opportunity to snag the bonus and cancel the card.

Which is the best signup bonus of this lovely spring season? It depends…

  • Airline and hotel nomads will get value from the Chase Sapphire’s flexibility to choose where you stay and fly.
  • Domestic travelers and regular spenders will benefit from the Marriott card’s waived first-year fee and from the fact that you don’t need to spend a certain amount to get the bonus.
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  • ia9561

    Thanks for the post. I’m confused by your statement for the Cap 1 card… “Better yet, if you signed up for the Southwest card during its 50k-mile promo, the Chase Sapphire or the BA Visa, you’d receive $1k worth of travel from Capital One. ”

    Wouldn’t you have needed to spend $50K on one of those cards to qualify for the 100K bonus from Cap 1 as opposed to just getting a signup bonus on these other cards?

    • NerdWallet

      Nope, you can actually apply a bonus to the Capital One promo!

      • ia9561

        Whoa! That’s huge! Did you see that in the T&C?

        • NerdWallet

          I chatted with a customer service rep, and they said as long as it’s an eligible card, you’re good to go.

          UPDATE: I chatted with a live CSR (vs online chat) and he told me that you CANNOT use a signup bonus. I’ll keep trying to confirm, but looks like they’re on to us…

          • Jesse Shanks

            How does that work when, for example, the Chase Southwest’s year end statement doesn’t show bonus miles accumulated during the year?

          • NerdWallet

            CS rep #2 says they double your spending for the past year, regardless of bonus vs non-bonus spending.

          • Jesse Shanks

            OK, that seems more like what their terms say. Thanks for the help!

  • Milecardinsider

    FYI the fuel taxes on British Airways miles awards are quite high — generally $500 plus for a roundtrip economy class ticket.

    • NerdWallet

      That’s very disappointing, Virgin Atlantic pulls the same thing of offering free flights but weighting the total price of a ticket heavily toward fees instead of fares, which award miles don’t cover.