NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers of 2014
Looking to make a quick $300, $500 or even $600? We’ve assembled a list of the best credit card offers of 2014, from hundreds of dollars to airline flights to hotel stays — all free money. The best deals tend to come from travel credit cards, whether airline mile cards or hotel ones, but there are still quite a few excellent deals to be had from general travel cards. Read on for deals galore!
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General travel rewards bonuses
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Use points on: United MileagePlus, Southwest, British Airways, Korean Air, Singapore KrisFlyer, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Hyatt, Priority Club, Amtrak
As far as travel cards go, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of our favorites, not least for its great bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. If you use the bonus for travel booked through Chase’s Kayak-style tool, your points are worth 25% more. International travelers won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees, and it has an Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
- Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.
- Annual fee: Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Citi ThankYou Premier
Use points on: Gift cards, but worth 25% more when used for travel booked through Citi’s Kayak-like tool
- Bonus: Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points, after required spend.
- Annual fee: $125, waived the first year
Hotel credit card bonuses
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve
- Bonus: Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening*
- Annual fee: $95
Starwood American Express
Use points on: Starwood Preferred Guest hotels; plus, transfer to Alaska Airlines, AAdvantage, British Airways, Delta, United MileagePlus, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic and more at a 1:1.25 rate
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- Bonus: Earn up to 25,000 bonus points: 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Cardmembership. (NW value: $575)
- Annual fee: $65, waived the first year
Marriott Rewards Premier
After the Starwood, the Marriott Rewards Premier is one of our favorite hotel credit credit cards. The signing bonus is good for a few nights right off the bat, and the ongoing rewards have variable rates for fast earning. You earn 5% at Marriott locations, 2% on airfare, dining and car rentals, and 1% on all other purchases. The annual fee is $85 (waived the first year), but you get one free night every year on the anniversary of your signing. Being a cardholder automatically upgrades you to Silver elite status, which, among other benefits, yields a 20% bonus on Marriott Rewards Points.
- Bonus: Earn 50,000 Points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
- Annual fee: $85, waived the first year; you also get one free night every year
Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card is for classy travelers, an exclusive travel card on par with the American Express Platinum. The rewards rate makes for quick earning at 5% at the Ritz-Carlton, 2% on airfare, dining and car rentals, and 1% everywhere else. But where the RC really shines is in its fringe benefits — the only true means of justifying the $395 annual fee. Every time you stay at the Ritz-Carlton for two or more nights, you receive a $100 credit for dining, spa or hotel recreation activities. You get free access to airport lounges, and you can upgrade for a personal concierge and complimentary food and beverage presentations. During your first year, you’ll enjoy complimentary gold status, which grants room upgrades, priority late checkout and a 25% bonus on your rewards. The Ritz-Carlton is for people who travel often and travel well.
- Bonus: 70,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards Points Bonus after spending $2,000 - when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months
- Annual fee: $395
Airline miles credit card bonuses
British Airlines Credit Card (miles can be used on American Airlines!)
Use miles for flights on: American Airlines and other OneWorld partners, as well as Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, Kingfisher and Open Skies
The British Airways credit card gives an excellent value – just so long as you don’t redeem for, you know, British Airways flights. The miles are subject to hefty taxes if you actually redeem for a flight on BA, but if you redeem on American Airlines, you get a much better value. The BA card’s signup bonus is actually better than any AAdvantage card out there – it’s the best way to get flights on American. You earn 2.5% miles on British Airways purchases and 1.25% on all other charges, and the card comes with a $95 annual fee.
- Bonus: 50,000 bonus Avios after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Annual fee: $95
Southwest Airlines Credit Card
Use miles for flights on: Southwest Airlines, AirTran and international flights
The Southwest credit card is a perennial for high signup bonuses: Get 25,000 points for 1 Roundtrip Flight after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.Government fees as low as $12 not included.as low as $12 not included. At 1.43 cents per point, that’s worth $715 of Wanna Get Away fare. And Southwest is generally a low-cost airline, so that amount goes quite a bit further. Moreover, the card has no foreign transaction fee, so you can use it overseas. It does have a $99 annual fee, but that’s partially mitigated by an anniversary bonus of 6,000 points, worth $86 of Wanna Get Away fare.
- Bonus: Get 25,000 points for 1 Roundtrip Flight after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.Government fees as low as $12 not included.as low as $12 not included.
- Annual fee: $99