NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers of 2015
Looking to make a quick $300, $500 or even $600? We’ve assembled a list of the best credit card offers of 2015, 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!
General travel rewards bonuses
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Use points on: United MileagePlus, Southwest, British Airways, Korean Air, Singapore KrisFlyer, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, AmtrakChase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of our favorites, not least for its great bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 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 in the first year, then $95.
- Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Annual fee: Introductory Annual Fee of $0 in the first year, then $95
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
Use points on: Gift cards, but worth 25% more when used for travel booked through Citi’s Kayak-like tool
- Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening - redeemable for $500 in gift cards, $625 for airfare, or other great rewards.
- Annual fee: $95; fee waived for the first 12 months*
Hotel credit card bonuses
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card
- Bonus: Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening
- Annual fee: annual fee is $95
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Use points on: Starwood Preferred Guest hotels; plus, transfer to Alaska Airlines, AAdvantage, British Airways, Delta, Virgin Atlantic and more, usually at a 1:1 rateStarwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express doesn’t immediately appear to offer an extraordinary sign-up bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. But here, the general penny-per-point principle does not apply. We value Starpoints at 2.3 cents apiece on average when redeemed for hotel stays.
It’s a great miles credit card as well: You can trade in Starpoints for air miles on many popular airlines, making the card more lucrative than most of those airlines’ own credit card offers. Ongoing rewards accumulate at a rate of 4-5 points per dollar at SPG hotels and 1 dollar per point everywhere else. Starwood provides opportunities to upgrade to Gold and Platinum status, and, if achieved, will grant the cardholder accelerated return rates and additional fringe benefits (free upgrades and late check-in, for example). Its annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95. With its high return rate and sizable sign-up bonus, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is NerdWallet’s favorite hotel credit card.
- Bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit CardMarriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is one of our favorite hotel credit cards. The sign-up 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. It has a $0 Introductory annual fee, then $85, 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 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Annual fee: $0 Introductory annual fee, then $85
Ritz-Carlton® Rewards Credit Card
The Ritz-Carlton® Rewards Credit Card is for classy travelers, an exclusive travel card on par with The Platinum Card® from American Express. 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 Ritz-Carlton® Rewards Credit Card really shines is in its fringe benefits. Its annual fee is $395, but 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® Rewards Credit Card 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: annual fee is $395
Airline miles credit card bonuses
British Airways Visa Signature® 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
This card earns 3 Avios on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios on all other purchases. It has 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 flightsSouthwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a perennial for high signup bonuses: Earn 25,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. 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.
- Bonus: Earn 25,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- Annual fee: $99