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Last year credit card bonuses were at an all-time-high, and they are likely to get even better in 2017/2018. Welcome bonuses provide us with one of the easiest ways to differentiate among various card offers. Most spending rewards only differ by 1 or 2 percentage points, while bonuses can vary hundreds of dollars. For those consumers who are interested in getting the best credit card bonus offers, we have compiled two lists which cater to those looking for:
The following credit cards offer the best the highest valued bonuses for airline miles, perks, and credits.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
We rank the Chase Sapphire Reserve® as the credit card with the one of the best sign-up bonus, which we value at $750. To qualify, you must spend $4,000 on the card within the first 3 months of card membership. The bonus offer comes in the form of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards, redeemable for travel, statement credit, cash back, or transferred to a participating program. However, to get the full $750 value, you must redeem your points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Any other redemption will result in a lower value. On top of this sweet bonus deal, you get an additional $300 in travel credit each year. It is automatically applied to your account as soon as you make a qualifying purchase.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
One of the best bonus offers comes from the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card, due to its ability to help you earn a very special companion pass. This card does not come with a companion pass. Instead, the miles earned through it can help you earn the Southwest Companion Pass. This companion ticket, unlike most, is good for a whole year worth of travel. That means you may book 1 additional ticket per flight, for no extra cost on all flights within the year you qualify for your pass! The Southwest Pass can be worth between hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on how frequently you travel. To qualify, you must earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards miles. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card can get you part way there, thanks to its various bonus offers. First, when you sign up for the card you are given the chance to earn 40,000 Rapid Rewards points (when $1,000 in net purchases in the first 3 months). Then, each cardmember anniversary year you are awarded 6,000 more points, for a grand total of 46,000 points.
Credit Cards Offering Companion Certificates
The following is a list of credit cards from major issuers within the United States, which offer companion passes/certificates to cardmembers. The cards designated with the '*' symbol require you to pay anywhere between $99 and $121 per passenger. While not as good as other companion tickets, these bonuses are still highly valuable.
|Credit Card Name|
|Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card*|
|AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver World Elite MasterCard®*|
|Miles & More World MasterCard|
|British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card|
|AeroMexico Visa Card*|
The bonuses offered by the cards below translate into free night stays at their affiliate hotel properties.
Marriott Rewards® Credit Card
Marriot Rewards Visa Signature cardholders receive 2 free nights at a category 1-4 hotel, upon signing up for the card, upon their account approval. That is a $340 value right off the bat! Additionally, upon spending $1,000 in the first 3 months of card membership, users can get 30,000 bonus points. If you’re a frequent traveler who finds themselves staying at Marriot properties, this bonus offer is a must-have. The Marriot Rewards credit card also gives a decent reward of 3 points per every $1 spent at a Marriot location.
Fairmont Visa Signature® Credit Card
The Fairmont Visa Signature credit card rewards users with 1 complimentary nights stay at one of their hotels, for any cardmember year they spend at least $12,000 - that's just an average of $1,000 per month. We value a night's stay at one of the Fairmont properties to be worth approximately $250. There is no cap on reward redemptions. You are eligible for this bonus every year, as long as you remain in good standing with the issuer - that is if you are not failing to make at least the minimum payments on the card. For those who also want short term rewards, this card is no slouch. As long as you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening, you may get 2 complimentary nights, adding to the total value of this card.
For consumers interested in straight cash bonuses, with no need to be tied to travel rewards, the following cards are the way to go.
If you don't want to pay an annual fee, but still want the highest possible cash back bonus, the Chase Freedom card is your best choice. There is $150 in cash back credit up for grabs to cardholders who manage to spend at least $500 within the first 3 months of card membership. If you factor in the fact that there is no annual fee associated with the Chase Freedom, this bonus actually beats out that of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express as far as net rewards are concerned. The downside is that the Chase Freedom's general spending rewards are a bit more unpredictable. The card gives 5% cash back on rotating categories (up to $1,500 in spending each month), and 1% on everything else. If you are not spending within the bonus categories, other credit cards will outperform the $150 bonus of the Chase Freedom in the long-run.
All the credit cards in the above lists have been either airline or hotel affiliated. Previous studies we've conducted show that these cards tend to have the best rewards, due precisely to these affiliations, which provide more funding for rewards programs intended to incentivize consumers to spend. If you're on the lookout for the highest credit card bonuses, you should avoid cash back credit cards - these offer the lowest bonuses, seldom topping $100. In fact, some cash back credit cards offer no bonuses at all.
In our analysis, we've also looked at which of the major credit issuers tend to offer the biggest bonuses. Unsurprisingly, we found that Chase was at the top of the list when it comes to the best credit card bonus offers. The bank has one of the greatest number of affiliations with airlines, and hotel chains from any other credit card issuer we've seen, which drove up its median bonus value. You can see a full list of card issuers, and how they performed, in the table below.
|Issuer||Median Welcome Bonus|
|Bank of America||$100|