The Best Travel Credit Card Welcome Bonuses Right Now

Check out the latest and greatest offers for adding a new travel credit card to your wallet.

Meghan CoyleJun 24, 2021
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There are a number of travel rewards credit cards with boosted welcome bonuses to have on your radar.

Here’s a look at some of the best travel credit card offers out there right now, based on the value of the welcome bonuses, which were calculated using NerdWallet's valuations of credit card and loyalty program points.

This is the shortlist of the best travel credit card deals of 2021:

New travel credit card offers

If you're in the market for a credit card designed with travelers in mind, start here.

Card name

Welcome bonus

Value of welcome bonus

Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

2 cents

$2,000

Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

1.3 cents

$1,300

Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

1.8 cents

$1,800

Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card.

0.7 cent

$1,050

40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.

1 cent

$650

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

0.5 cent

$900

Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

0.5 cent

$650

Earn 65,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

1.4 cents

$910

Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening

0.8 cent

$1,200

A closer look

Learn more about these new cardholder incentives, each vying to offer the best credit card welcome bonus for travel today.

Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

  • Annual fee: $595.

  • Value of welcome bonus: $2,000. According to our analysis, American Express Membership Rewards are worth about 2 cents each for this card.

  • Why you should get it: The current welcome offer is 15,000 points more than the previous offer, which would have been about $1,700 in award travel.

  • Who should get it: Entrepreneurs or people who qualify for small-business credit cards through their side hustles or freelancing. Find out if you can apply for a small-business credit card.

  • Who should skip it: People who don't own a business or don't have good credit.

  • Learn more: Read our full review of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Terms apply.

Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

  • Annual fee: $95.

  • Value of welcome bonus: $1,300. Capital One miles are worth about 1.3 cents each for this card, according to NerdWallet's valuations.

  • Why you should get it: The current welcome offer is two-fold, meaning you have a chance to earn two separate chunks of bonus points if you meet the spending requirement. With Capital One adding transfer partners and opening new lounges, miles are easier to use than ever.

  • Who should get it: People who want travel flexibility, meaning they don't want to be tied to one airline or hotel brand. Also, people who want a simple rewards structure.

  • Who should skip it: If you've got a suite of cards in your travel rewards strategy, this card probably isn't for you. The welcome bonus requires a high minimum spending requirement; you would need to use it as your main card for most purchases to get the maximum value out of it.

  • Learn more: Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Annual fee: $95.

  • Value of welcome bonus: $1,800. According to our analysis, Chase Ultimate Rewards® are worth about 1.8 cents each for this card. This is the highest bonus ever for this card. Previous welcome bonuses have ranged from 60,000-80,000 points.

  • Why you should get it: This card is essentially the poster child for travel rewards credit cards — and for a good reason. These rewards can be redeemed for a respectable rate of 1.25 cents each when booking travel through the Chase portal, but can be worth even more if you transfer points to some of the issuer's high-value partners.

  • Who should get it: Anyone who doesn't already have it. Those who already have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards® should definitely consider adding this one. Take it one step further to achieve the Chase Trifecta and earn points on other cards at higher earning rates, then transfer them to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for travel redemptions.

  • Who should skip it: Cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or those who've already reached the max in the 5/24 of Chase cards.

Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card.

  • Annual fee: $95.

  • Value of welcome bonus: $1,050. Marriott Bonvoy points are worth about 0.7 cent each according to NerdWallet's valuations. The last welcome bonus was 25,000 fewer points.

  • Why you should get it: Several Marriott cards have elevated welcome offers right now, and this one has a good mix of a high-value welcome bonus with a reasonable annual fee and perks. The most notable benefit is the one Free Night Award (up to 35,000 points) every year after the account anniversary.

  • Who should get it: People who are ready to dip their toes into co-branded hotel credit cards and can spend at least two nights every year at a Marriott.

  • Who should skip it: If you want a more luxurious hotel travel experience, like a higher level of automatic elite status and a Free Night Award you can use at higher category hotels, consider the next option instead.

  • Learn more: Read our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card.

Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.

  • Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

  • Value of welcome bonus: $650. United MileagePlus miles are worth about 1 cent each according to NerdWallet's valuations.

  • Why you should get it: Airline credit cards don't generally have huge welcome bonuses like other travel rewards cards, so take advantage of the deal if you're in the market for one.

  • Who should get it: Frequent United flyers and people who travel with checked bags. Don't forget, you'll be able to use these miles for flights on several partner airlines as well.

  • Who should skip it: People who don't want to be stuck with one major airline when they fly or who don't live near a United hub.

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

  • Annual fee: $95.

  • Value of welcome bonus: $900. Hilton Honors points are worth about 0.5 cent each according to NerdWallet's valuations.

  • Why you should get it: AmEx added a chance to earn another 50,000 bonus points on top of their usual welcome offer, so it's like getting two welcome offers. Terms apply.

  • Who should get it: Hilton enthusiasts who plan to spend big on this card. If you earn both parts of the welcome bonus, you'll only be $5,000 away from earning a Free Weekend Night certificate by spending at least $15,000 in calendar year. People who spend $40,000 or more on the card in a calendar year also earn the highest level of elite status in the Hilton Honors program, Diamond level, which comes with perks like complimentary upgrades to one-bedroom suites. Terms apply.

  • Who should skip it: People who don't stay at Hilton's often or can't meet the $15,000 spending requirement to get both the two-part bonus and free weekend night requirement. Some hotel cards offer free nights annually without a spending requirement.

Terms apply.

Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

  • Annual fee: $0.

  • Value of welcome bonus: $650. Hilton Honors points are worth about 0.5 cent each according to NerdWallet's valuations.

  • Why you should get it: With the extra 50,000 bonus points, this welcome offer is more than 1.5 times the normal offer. A welcome offer with a $650 value isn't too shabby for a card with a $0 annual fee.

  • Who should get it: Anyone looking for a quick-ish way to earn a chunk of Hilton points without paying an annual fee and charging a large minimum spend.

  • Who should skip it: If you can't complete the spending requirement in order to earn both parts of the welcome offer, it's probably worth looking for another travel card with more value from the get-go. Without the additional 50,000 points, the welcome offer is valued at just $320, which is just a fraction of what other cards can offer.

Terms apply.

Earn 65,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

  • Annual fee: $69.

  • Value of sign-up bonus: $910. Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth about 1.4 cents each according to NerdWallet's valuations.

  • Why you should get it: Southwest Rapid Rewards are some of the most valuable airline points out there, and this bonus is 25,000 points more than the previous offer, pushing the value of the sign-up bonus close to the $1,000 threshold. If you're looking for a few additional benefits from your Southwest credit card and are willing to pay a higher annual fee, you might want to also consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card because they have the same sign-up offer as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

  • Who should get it: Newbies to airline credit cards and Southwest aficionados (you know who you are). The annual fee is low, so it won't cost a lot to dip your toes into this category. Southwest also has a fare-based award-pricing system, which means the number of points needed to book an award flight corresponds to the cash price. That makes it easy to book flights because you'll get pretty much the same value for your points. No cash-to-points comparisons needed.

  • Who should skip it: International travelers, business class passengers or more advanced points collectors might feel limited by Southwest's lack of partnerships and amenities. You also probably won't find as many sweet spots (award flights that do not cost a lot of miles, but would have cost a lot of cash) as you would with airline loyalty programs that have zone-based or distance-based award charts.

Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

  • Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $89.

  • Value of welcome bonus: $1,200. IHG Rewards Club points are worth about 0.8 cent each according to NerdWallet's valuations.

  • Why you should get it: The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is already one of our favorites because the free nights come easy, the elite status helps you get room upgrades and the annual fee just got a lot more attractive for people who want to test out the card before they commit to an annual fee. This offer is one of the largest we've seen for this card (even bigger than the 140,000-point bonus earlier this year).

  • Who should get it: People who plan to do some four-night or longer stays. Because you can get a fourth night free on award stays, you will save a bunch of points and you'll be able to spend a little more time in that upgraded room that comes as part of the elite status perks.

  • Who should skip it: People who don't plan to stay at IHG hotels. Get familiar with the IHG brands before you apply for this card.

To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, see this page.

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page.

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, see this page.


How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for: