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Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. Citi is an advertising partner.

Winner: Best welcome offer

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Offer value: 60,000 points

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Best credit card welcome offer for hotels

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

Bonus value: 150,000 points

Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months.

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Runner-up best for travel

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Bonus value: 60,000 points

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

On Chase's Secure Website

Best card welcome offer for travel

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Offer value: 100,000 points

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Best credit card welcome offer for hotels

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

Offer value: 150,000 points

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months.

Runner-up best for travel

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Offer value: $900

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Compare bonuses for popular cards

The best credit card sign-up bonuses we profiled above are just some of the top options, but there are plenty of others. Make sure to compare credit card offers based on the type of rewards you want to earn, whether you prefer to rack up cash back, travel rewards points, hotel points or airline miles.

We highlight below the best card bonus offers from top card issuers:

Card
Welcome offer value ?
Annual fee
Credit needed
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant<sup>®</sup> American Express<sup>®</sup> Card
$1350 ? $650660 - 850
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless<sup>®</sup> Credit Card
$1350 ? $95660 - 850
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Ink Business Preferred<sup>®</sup> Credit Card
$1250 ? $95720 - 850
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card<sup>®</sup> from American Express
$1200 ? $695660 - 850

Not available on ValuePenguin

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards<sup>®</sup> Plus Credit Card
$1050 ? $69660 - 850

Not available on ValuePenguin

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards<sup>®</sup> Premier Credit Card
$1050 ? $99720 - 850

Not available on ValuePenguin

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards<sup>®</sup> Priority Credit Card
$1050 ? $149720 - 850

Not available on ValuePenguin

World of Hyatt Credit Card
World of Hyatt Credit Card
$1020 ? $95660 - 850
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
$1000 ? $150720 - 850
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
United Quest℠ Card
United Quest℠ Card
$960 ? $250660 - 850
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve<sup>®</sup>
$900 ? $550720 - 850
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Ink Business Cash<sup>®</sup> Credit Card
$900 ? $0720 - 850
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
Ink Business Unlimited<sup>®</sup> Credit Card
$900 ? $0660 - 850
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card<sup>®</sup> from American Express
$800 ? $695660 - 850
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
Citi Premier® Card
Citi Premier<sup>®</sup> Card
$800 ? $95660 - 850
Apply Now
On Citibank's Secure Website
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
$750 ? $95660 - 850
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
$750 ? $395720 - 850
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
Show All Rows

Jump to

Credit cards often offer sign-up bonuses to new cardholders to entice them to sign up for the card and start spending right away. Credit card sign-up bonuses can be quite lucrative, and some can even be worth $500 or more. However, you should make sure you're eligible to earn a card's sign-up bonus and can meet its spending requirement.

If you’re worried about spending enough to earn a credit card bonus, we recommend putting a few expensive items on your card. Small business owners can use start-up costs to meet a large spending threshold. Personal cardholders can time a large purchase — like home improvements or college tuition — with their application for a new credit card. You can also take advantage of a card's 0% introductory APR to pay off a large purchase over time without interest.

As always, we recommend using your credit card responsibly and never biting off more than you can chew.

Best welcome offer overall/travel

The Platinum Card® from American Express

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

$695

See Pay Over Time APR

660 - 850

  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
,

Does NOT offer automatic elite status

  • Verdict: 80,000 Amex points can take you a long way, since you can transfer them to Amex loyalty program partners like Delta Air Lines and Singapore KrisFlyer. The Platinum Card® from American Express also includes a host of new benefits and travel credits to cover its annual fee. If you've been considering this card, now's a great time to apply.
  • Best way to redeem it: Airline partners like Aeroplan, Delta Air Lines and Singapore KrisFlyer can help you stretch your offer points further. We've found values up to 4 cents per point for some redemptions (making your offer worth $3,200 in travel).
  • What it's worth: $800 in travel through Amex Travel, or around $1,760 in travel through a loyalty program partner
  • Who’s eligible to earn the offer: According to the offer terms, the welcome offer is not available to applicants who own or have owned this card or previous versions of the Platinum Card. Amex may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors.
  • Other rewards you'll earn: 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Terms apply.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here

Tip: If you're unsure about paying this card's annual fee, take a close look at the travel credits on The Platinum Card® from American Express. With a potential value of more than $1,000 each year, these credits can more than make up for the annual fee, for cardholders who can take advantage of them.

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Pros

  • Membership Rewards points are transferable
  • Card comes with numerous additional perks and benefits
  • Valuable credits that can help balance out the annual fee

Cons

  • Very high annual fee


Runner-up best credit card sign-up bonus for travel

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

$550

20.74% - 27.74% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority PassTM Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
,

Does NOT earn automatic elite status

  • Verdict: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the top luxury travel credit cards on the market, and for good reason. Beyond the hefty sign-up bonus new cardholders can receive, you’ll also get a $300 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass™ Select membership for access to airport lounges throughout the world, $0 foreign transaction fees and more.
  • Best way to redeem it: The most valuable way to redeem this bonus is through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • What it's worth: $900 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or about $1,200 if transferred to a Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel partner.
  • Who’s eligible to earn the bonus: Current or previous holders of any Chase Sapphire credit card who received a sign-up bonus within the last 48 months are not eligible for this bonus. Product changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® are also not eligible for this bonus.
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Earn 5x points on flights and 10x points on hotels and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Tip: Be sure to redeem the rewards earned with this card through Chase Ultimate Rewards® in order to maximize their value.

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Pros

  • Comes with a travel credit
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • High earning rate
  • Points are worth more when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Doesn’t come with as many perks as other luxury travel cards


Best credit card welcome offer for hotels

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months.

$650

19.49%-28.49% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months.
  • Each Card renewal year, get up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
  • A Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member will earn 50% more points on eligible purchases at participating hotels for each U.S. dollar or the currency equivalent that is incurred and paid for by the member.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. 3 points at Worldwide Restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Marriott Brilliant Free Night Award: Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Each calendar year after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases, Card Members are eligible to select an Earned Choice Award benefit. Benefit options include: Five (5) Suite Night Awards, 85K Free Night Award, and mattress and box spring $750 discount from Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques.
  • $100 Luxury Property Credit: Enjoy your stay. Receive up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®: Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership through any Authorized Enrollment Provider for TSA PreCheck® (up to $85) when you pay the application fee with an eligible Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Each calendar year you can receive 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy Elite status. Limitations apply per Marriott Bonvoy member account. Benefit is not exclusive to Cards offered by American Express. Terms apply.
  • Enroll in Priority Pass Select, which offers unlimited access to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries, regardless of which carrier or class you are flying. This allows you to relax before or between flights. You can enjoy snacks, drinks, and internet access in a quiet, comfortable location.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • Cell phone protection: You can be reimbursed for your costs to repair or replace your damaged or Stolen cell phone up to $800, subject to a $50 deductible, for 2 approved claims per 12-month period when your prior month's wireless bill was paid utilizing an Eligible Card Account. Terms and conditions apply. Coverage is provided by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
  • $650 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Does NOT earn transferable points

,

Does offer automatic elite status

  • Verdict: One of the hottest offers on our list this month comes from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. The card's stellar welcome offer is worth over $1,350 in hotel nights with Marriott, according to our valuations. This luxury card from Marriott comes with many other valuable benefits, including Priority Pass lounge access (enrollment required).
  • Best way to redeem it: Your points are worth up to 27 nights at a Category 1 Marriott hotel, like the AC Hotel Guadalajara in Spain. You could also redeem your points for four off-peak nights at a Category 5 hotel, like The Westin Josun, Seoul and get a fifth night free.
  • What it's worth: Around $1,350 in Marriott hotel stays
  • Who’s eligible to earn the bonus: The card's terms and conditions state that the offer is not available to current or previous cardholders or those who have had the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express® Luxury Card. The terms and conditions also exclude applicants who have had various Marriott co-branded cards within the past 30 days to 24 months, depending on the card (visit Amex's site for more details.)
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. 3 points at Worldwide Restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.

For rates and fees of Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, please click here.

Tip: The card offers up to $300 each year ($25 monthly) in credits toward eligible dining purchases. You could recoup much of the fee just by dining out each month.

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Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • Valuable statement credits
  • Free award night
  • Automatic Gold elite status (enrollment required)
  • Airport lounge access

Cons

  • High annual fee


Runner-up best credit card welcome offer for hotels

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card!

$95

19.74% - 26.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases.
  • Earn 3X points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining.
  • Earn 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 you spend.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn up to 17X total points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • 2X points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year, and path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Does NOT earn transferable points

,

  • Verdict: The sign-up bonus offers free night certificates worth up to 150,000 points, or around $1,350 in hotels stays by our estimates. While not as flexible as a points-based offer, it still can get you a long weekend at higher end Marriott properties, for a reasonable annual fee. The card doesn't come with a lot of luxury perks, but it does offer decent travel benefits, like Silver Elite status with Marriott (enrollment required) and $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Best way to redeem it: Try to maximize the value by booking hotels as close to your 50,000 point limit as possible. Marriott allows you to top off your free night awards with up to 15,000 points, in case the award night costs more than 50,000.
  • What it's worth: Around $1,350 in hotel stays with Marriott
  • Who’s eligible to earn the offer: The card's terms and conditions state that the offer is not available to current or previous cardholders or those who have had the Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card from American Express. The terms and conditions also exclude applicants who have had various Marriott co-branded cards within the past 30 days to 24 months, depending on the card (visit Chase’s site for more details).
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Earn up to 17X total points for every $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® and 2X points on all other purchases.

Tip: Hotel credit cards are great ways to earn elite status and free nights with your favorite hotel chains.

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Pros

  • High earning rate
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Silver Elite status with Marriott

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks luxury perks


Best credit card welcome offer for airlines

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Does NOT earn transferable points

,

Does NOT offer automatic elite status

  • Verdict: For fans of the Southwest Companion pass, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has a deal that you may not want to pass up: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Best way to redeem it: Wanna Get Away awards are you best option for redeeming Southwest points.
  • What it's worth: The points are worth around $1,050 in Southwest airfare.
  • Who's eligible to earn the bonus: The bonus is not available to current holders of any Southwest personal credit card as well as previous cardholders who earned a bonus for one of the Southwest personal credit cards in the past 24 months.
  • Other rewards you’ll earn: Cardholders Receive 6,000 anniversary points each year. Enjoy benefits including 3X points on Southwest® purchases, 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming, 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year, and more.

Tip: Southwest has one of the most flexible rewards programs, since you can cancel and redeposit your points with no fees.

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Pros

  • Points are easy to redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Card has a modest earning rate on your regular purchases
  • $99 annual fee
  • Companion Pass only lasts a year (regularly earned Companion Passes normally last up to two years)


Runner-up best credit card welcome offer for airlines

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.

$250

19.49%-28.49% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Does NOT earn transferable points

,

Does NOT offer automatic elite status

  • Verdict: Fans of Delta Air Lines should hop on this highly valuable offer. The card also comes with other great benefits, including a domestic main cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon card renewal, a free checked bag on Delta flights and a fee credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck.
  • Best way to redeem it: You'll get a better value for your SkyMiles when redeeming them for premium cabin products. Also, you can find some good deals on flights with one of Delta's SkyTeam alliance partners.
  • What it's worth: Around $650 in Delta airfare
  • Who's eligible to earn the bonus: The offer is not available to current or previous cardholders.
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels. Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, please click here.

Tip:You can find discounted award flights through Delta SkyMiles Flash Deals.

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Pros

  • Annual companion certificate upon renewal
  • Earn up to 20,000 MQMs each year
  • Receive MQD waiver based on spending
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck reimbursement

Cons

  • Annual fee of $250
  • You only get a small discount on Delta SkyClub


Best credit card sign-up bonus for cash back

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

$95

18.99%, 23.99% or 26.99% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services, 3% at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®) and 1% on all other purchases 
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more

Does NOT earn transferable points

,

Does NOT earn automatic elite status

  • Verdict: The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card makes it easy to earn a large bonus with a reasonable minimum spending requirement within three months. This card is ideal for foodies, with generous rewards on dining and grocery spending.
  • Best way to redeem it: Redeem your rewards for cash back or purchases made through Amazon.com or Paypal.
  • What it’s worth: $300 in cash back
  • Who's eligible to earn the bonus: You can only have two personal Capital One credit cards, and you can only get approved for one new credit card from this issuer every six months.
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services, 3% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases.

Tip: While the points aren’t transferable, this card offers multiple valuable ways to redeem your rewards.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeIcon--root ShortcodeIcon--margin-bottom\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\"ShortcodeIcon--icon ShortcodeIcon--small ShortcodeIcon--black ValuePenguinIcon--star-empty\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeIcon--content\"\u003E \u003Cstrong\u003ETip:\u003C\/strong\u003E While the points aren\u2019t transferable, this card offers multiple valuable ways to \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Redeeming Credit Card Travel Points: What You Need to Know\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/travel\/redeeming-credit-card-travel-points-what-you-need-know\"\u003Eredeem your rewards\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Pros

  • Useful spending categories
  • High earning rate
  • Cash back is unlimited

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Grocery bonus category excludes Walmart and Target


Runner-up best credit card welcome offer for cash back

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95

17.74%-28.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 intro plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 intro plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a monthly plan fee up to 1.33% of each eligible purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 17.74% to 28.74%
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Thinking about getting The Disney Bundle which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+? Your decision made easy with $7/month back in the form of a statement credit after you spend $13.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription with your Blue Cash Preferred Card. Enrollment required.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • Terms Apply.

Does NOT earn transferable points

,

Does NOT earn automatic elite status

  • Verdict: While an annual fee applies to the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, the welcome offer and potential for ongoing rewards could make it well worth it. After all, maxing out this card in the supermarket category alone would net you $360 in rewards (redeemable for statement credits), and that's not even including the welcome offer.
  • Best way to redeem it: Cash back can be redeemed for a statement credit to your account.
  • What it's worth: $250 worth of statement credits
  • Who's eligible to earn the offer: American Express has a once-per-lifetime rule for their credit card welcome offers. This means you cannot earn this offer if you have earned one with the same card before.
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Cardholders earn 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more), 1% Cash Back on other purchases. Terms apply. Cash back is redeemable for statement credits.
  • Terms apply.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here

Tip: Cashback credit cards can be extremely lucrative when you maximize the bonus spending categories.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeIcon--root ShortcodeIcon--margin-bottom\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\"ShortcodeIcon--icon ShortcodeIcon--small ShortcodeIcon--black ValuePenguinIcon--star-empty\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeIcon--content\"\u003E \u003Cstrong\u003ETip:\u003C\/strong\u003E \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2022\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/best-cash-back-credit-cards\"\u003ECashback credit cards\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E can be extremely lucrative when you maximize the bonus spending categories.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Pros

  • Strong earning rate
  • Low introductory APR offer
  • Purchase protections

Cons

  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee


Best credit card sign-up bonus with no annual fee

Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card!

$0

19.74% - 26.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Pay no annual fee with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card from Chase®!
  • Earn up to 14X total points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Card.
  • 2X points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).
  • 1X point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, qualifying you for Silver Elite Status. Restrictions apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy® points and get Free Night Stays faster.

Does NOT earn transferable points

,

  • Verdict: The Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card is a decent alternative for dipping your toes into Marriott Bonvoy rewards, while also scoring a lot of points. In addition to a solid welcome offer, the card awards you 15 elite night credits each year, automatically qualifying you for Silver elite status, which includes a few frills like late checkout.
  • Best way to redeem it: Use it for four nights at a lower-tier hotel, and get a fifth night free as a Marriott Bonvoy member.
  • What it’s worth: Around $270 by our estimates
  • Who's eligible to earn the bonus: As with other Chase consumer cards, the 5/24 rule applies to this card. Also, current holders of certain Marriott cards and previous cardholders who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months may not be eligible (see the card's terms for the full list of excluded cards).
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Earn up to 14X total points for every $1 spent at 7,000+ hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® and 2X points on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).

Tip: "No foreign transaction fees" is an essential feature of hotel credit cards with international portfolios, as it can save you untold amounts of money during your travels.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeIcon--root ShortcodeIcon--margin-bottom\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\"ShortcodeIcon--icon ShortcodeIcon--small ShortcodeIcon--black ValuePenguinIcon--star-empty\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeIcon--content\"\u003E \u003Cstrong\u003ETip:\u003C\/strong\u003E \"No \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Foreign Transaction Fee: What is it? How does it work?\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/credit-card-foreign-transaction-fees\"\u003Eforeign transaction fees\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\" is an essential feature of hotel credit cards with international portfolios, as it can save you untold amounts of money during your travels.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Pros

  • $0 annual fee
  • High earning rate
  • Automatic Silver Elite status
  • $0 foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Other cards offer higher bonuses


Runner-up credit card welcome offer with no annual fee

Hilton Honors American Express Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

$0

19.49%-28.49% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. 
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Does NOT earn transferable points

,

Does NOT earn automatic elite status

  • Verdict: This is one of the most valuable offers you can earn without having to pay an annual fee. The Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with amazingly generous benefits for a $0 annual fee card, including plentiful points on your regular purchases and automatic Hilton Silver elite status with a chance to earn Gold status after $20,000 in purchases in a year (enrollment required).
  • Best way to redeem it: As mentioned, you can take your points a long way with hotels in the 20,000-30,000 point range, and tack on an extra night with Hilton's fifth night free benefit.
  • What it’s worth: Around $400 in award nights
  • Who's eligible to earn the offer: The offer is not available to applicants who own or have previously owned the Hilton Honors American Express Card.
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Terms apply.

For rates and fees of Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here

Tip: No annual fee credit cards offer a great way to work toward earning free nights and hotel perks without needing to commit to a high annual fee.

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Pros

  • High earning rate
  • $0 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • No free anniversary night
  • Few hotel perks


Best welcome offer for business

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

$695

17.99% - 25.99% Variable

660 - 850

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

,

Does NOT earn automatic elite status

  • Verdict: The The Business Platinum Card® from American Express could be a great option for businesses just starting out who have high start-up costs they want to put on their card. This is one of the most valuable offers currently available, though you’ll need to make sure you can reach the high $15,000 spending requirement.
  • Best way to redeem it: You’ll get the most value from your Membership Rewards points when you transfer them to Amex hotel and airline partners.
  • What it's worth: $2,640
  • Who’s eligible to earn the offer: Consumers who currently have or have had this card are not eligible for the offer. According to the terms and conditions, American Express may also consider how many Amex cards you’ve opened and closed, as well as other factors, to determine if you’re eligible.
  • Other rewards you'll earn: You'll earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more.
  • Terms apply

Note, unlike typical credit cards, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express allows you to carry a balance for some charges, but not all.

Tip: This card is best for small business owners with large start-up costs who can put enough on their card in the first few months to earn the welcome offer.

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Pros

  • Access to airport lounges
  • Solid earning rate
  • Numerous statement credits

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Membership Rewards points aren’t as valuable when not redeemed for travel


Runner-up best credit card welcome offer for business

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

$95

19.74% - 24.74% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account
,

Does NOT earn automatic elite status

  • Verdict: There are many good reasons to own the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, but one of the most compelling is that it has one of the most valuable sign-up bonuses around. You'll also earn bonus points on common business purchases and enjoy great travel benefits like $0 foreign transaction fees and primary car rental insurance.
  • Best way to redeem it: While you get a 50% boost on the value of your points with Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel, you can squeeze more value out of your points by transferring them to one of Chase's loyalty program partners.
  • What it’s worth: $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and around $2,000 in travel if transferred to a Chase travel partner
  • Who's eligible to earn the bonus: The Chase 5/24 rule applies to this card (though it doesn't count toward your 5/24 total since it's a business card), which means you can't apply if you've opened more than five new cards in the past 24 months. Also, you need to own a qualifying business (though you don't need an EIN to apply).
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn.

Tip: Business credit cards can offer small business owners valuable business-related perks, like free employee cards, travel benefits, insurance and more.

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  • Earns transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Decent earning rate
  • Comes with business perks
  • Free employee cards
  • $95 annual fee


Honorable mention best welcome offer for American Express

American Express® Gold Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

$250

19.74%-26.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
,

Does NOT earn automatic elite status

  • Verdict: There’s a lot to love about the American Express® Gold Card. Beyond the stellar welcome offer, you’ll also earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery. With no foreign transaction fees and purchase and travel protections, this can be a great everyday card.
  • Best way to redeem it: Membership Rewards points are worth the most when transferred to an Amex hotel or airline partner.
  • What it's worth: $600, possibly more when transferred to a Amex loyalty program partner
  • Who’s eligible to earn the offer: If you have or have ever had this card or the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, you won’t be eligible for the offer. American Express can also revoke this offer if they find evidence of abuse or misuse, which includes canceling or downgrading the card within the first 12 months.
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Terms apply.
  • Terms apply

Note, unlike typical credit cards, American Express® Gold Card allows you to carry a balance for some charges, but not all.

For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, please click here

Tip: Be sure to maximize the Membership Rewards points earned with this card by redeeming them for travel through the Amex Travel portal or by transferring them to Amex airline and hotel partners.

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Pros

  • High earning rate
  • Earns transferable Membership Rewards points
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Comes with lots of perks

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Some of the bonus categories are capped


Honorable mention best credit card sign-up bonus for Capital One

Capital One Spark Cash Select - $500 Cash Bonus

On Capital One's Secure Website

$500 Cash Back once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

$0

16.24% - 22.24% (Variable)

720 - 850

  • Earn a $500 bonus when you spend $4,500 in the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere — with no limits or category restrictions
  • No annual fee
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account
  • Redeem your cash back rewards for any amount
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is lost or stolen

Does NOT earn transferable points

,

Does NOT earn automatic elite status

  • Verdict: The Capital One Spark Cash Select - $500 Cash Bonus is a great option for small business owners looking to earn a quick $500 in cash back after putting some of their larger start-up costs on their card. With a $0 annual fee and the ability to earn unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase; 5% Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, this can be a rewarding card for everyday spending.
  • Best way to redeem it: The best way to redeem your bonus is in cash back.
  • What it's worth: $500
  • Who’s eligible to earn the bonus: Existing or previous cardholders might not be eligible to receive this bonus.
  • Other rewards you'll earn: Earn unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase; 5% Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

Tip: When choosing a credit card based on its sign-up bonus, make sure you’ll be able to hit the spending requirement needed to earn the bonus while still using your card responsibly.

{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeIcon--root ShortcodeIcon--margin-bottom\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\"ShortcodeIcon--icon ShortcodeIcon--small ShortcodeIcon--black ValuePenguinIcon--star-empty\"\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeIcon--content\"\u003E \u003Cstrong\u003ETip:\u003C\/strong\u003E When choosing a credit card based on its sign-up bonus, make sure you\u2019ll be able to hit the spending requirement needed to earn the bonus while still \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"How to Use a Credit Card: Best Practices Explained\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/how-use-credit-cards\"\u003Eusing your card responsibly\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Pros

  • $0 annual fee
  • Free employee cards
  • Solid business benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • No bonus spending categories

Is a credit card sign-up bonus worth it?

Getting a sign-up bonus credit card can certainly be worth it, especially when the card has more to offer users beyond the first year. You’ll want to choose a credit card that’s well rounded and includes things like a decent rewards rate, maybe a low intro APR offer, and other perks that can benefit you after you’ve received the initial sign-up bonus. A sign-up bonus should primarily be used to add value to a card, rather than acting as its entire value.

How to choose the right credit card sign-up bonus

As you compare credit card sign-up bonuses, it's crucial to make sure you know the type of rewards you're earning. While some kinds of rewards can be redeemed for statement credits only, others let you cash in your points for gift cards, merchandise, travel and more. Some rewards programs even let you turn your points into airline miles or points with a hotel loyalty program.

Can you meet the spending requirement?

In addition to researching rewards programs to find the right fit, you should also make sure you can meet the card's minimum spending requirement with normal, organic spending.

If a card requires you to spend $3,000 within three months to earn a sign-up bonus, you should make sure you can charge at least $1,000 per month to your card in groceries, gas and regular bills.

Consider issuer limitations

If your primary consideration when signing up for a credit card is the sign-up bonus, you’ll want to make sure you’re eligible for it. Most credit card issuers won’t allow you to receive the sign-up bonus if you currently have or have previously had the same card. Some issuers, like Chase for example, apply the 5/24 rule to card approval. This means that if you have more than five credit card inquiries in the past 24 months, you won’t be eligible to be approved for a card.

Decide what type of rewards you want to earn

Choosing the right sign-up bonus credit card for you will depend on whether you want to earn your rewards in cash back or points and miles. If you’re loyal to a particular airline or hotel chain, you may want a bonus whose points you can put towards free flights or free hotel stays. If you’d rather earn your sign-up bonus in cash back, stick with a cash back card instead.

Decide whether you want a personal or business credit card

Before choosing a sign-up bonus credit card, you’ll want to decide whether you need a personal or business credit card. If you’re looking to keep your business expenses separate and more organized, a separate business credit card is the way to go. Beyond stellar sign-up bonuses, these cards often come with valuable business perks, like free employee cards, travel protections and more.

Should you pay an annual fee?

You should also consider whether paying a credit card's annual fee is worth it, keeping in mind that the best credit card sign-up bonuses are typically offered by cards with annual fees. In addition, be aware that some cards offer a no-annual-fee version you can apply for if you're against paying an annual fee for a credit card.

Take the Capital One Savor credit cards, for example:

With the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, if you're willing to pay a $95 annual fee, you can Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening .

If you’re fee-averse, however, you may consider the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card instead. There's a $0 annual fee, and you'll still Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Can you use the rewards?

We already mentioned how you should know the type of rewards you're earning, but this is one area where you'll definitely want to do some research. This is particularly true if you plan to earn airline miles or hotel points that may be difficult to use. We suggest spending some time comparing frequent flyer programs and hotel loyalty points before you begin collecting points with a specific travel brand.

And, if you’re in doubt, you can also consider earning flexible points with a program like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. All of these programs let you earn points you can redeem for travel, gift cards, merchandise or even transfers to airline and hotel partners. With these options, you could avoid getting stuck with points you can't use.

What is the bonus worth to you?

If you’re earning a bonus on a cashback credit card, then the bonus offer will be fairly cut and dry.

For example:

A rewards credit card that offers a $300 bonus that can only be redeemed for statement credits is obviously worth $300.

Here are the basic formulas you can use to find out how much your rewards are worth:

Hotel points formula

Cash price* ÷ Number of points needed for hotel stay = Points value for that specific reservation

*including taxes and fees

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EHotel points formula\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodePullquote--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodePullquote--text ShortcodePullquote--black\"\u003E\n Cash price* \u00f7 Number of points needed for hotel stay\n= Points value for that specific reservation\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E*including taxes and fees\n","padding":"double"}

Airline miles formula

Cash price* ÷ Number of miles needed for fare = Miles value for that specific fare

*minus taxes and fees

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EAirline miles formula\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodePullquote--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodePullquote--text ShortcodePullquote--black\"\u003E\n Cash price* \u00f7 Number of miles needed for fare\n= Miles value for that specific fare\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E*minus taxes and fees\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

For example:

Let's say you find an international flight on United Airlines with a cash price of $1,234 or an award price of 60,000 miles plus $78.55 in airline taxes and fees. In that case, you would subtract the taxes and fees and wind up with $1,155 (the cash price of the fare with rounding). When you divide that figure by 60,000 miles, you get a value of 1.9 cents per mile.

Smart tips when considering a credit card sign-up bonus

As you decide which new credit card offer to sign up for, you should conduct due diligence and learn all you can. Before you apply, you’ll want to make sure you can earn the sign-up bonus without any problems. Here are some tips for earning a sign-up bonus:

Check your credit score

Before you even consider applying for a card with a sign-up bonus (or any credit card for that reason), you’ll need to check your most recent credit score to make sure it’s high enough for approval. Regardless of whether you’re accepted or declined, applying for a credit card generates a hard check on your credit score, which temporarily damages your score. If you get declined for the card, you won’t get a new credit card and your credit score will have been damaged.

Figure out how much you spend on plastic each month

Before you set out to earn a bonus based on your spending, make sure you know how much you normally charge to a credit card each month. You can do this by getting out your past credit card statements from other issuers and tallying up your charges. You won’t want to overspend on your card just to reach the sign-up bonus, and then not be able to pay off your balance.

Look for new expenses you can pay with a credit card

If you need to spend more to earn a particular sign-up bonus, see if you can add some of your regular monthly bills to your credit card. For example, you may be able to use the card to pay for your health insurance, homeowners insurance, car insurance, utility bills or daycare expenses — but you should also make sure you don't incur processing fees that exceed the value of the bonus on these charges.

Read the fine print

Make sure you read the offer you're considering to the end, including all of the fine print. If you fail to reach the spending threshold or meet other requirements for a sign-up bonus in time, you could easily miss out. Most credit cards won’t grant you a sign-up bonus if you currently or have previously held the credit card in question, so you’ll want to make sure you’re eligible for the sign-up bonus before you apply.

Have a plan to pay your balance in full each month

Finally, remember that pursuing credit card rewards is only worth it if you never pay interest on your purchases. Have a plan to pay off all your purchases each month, or else the interest you pay could wipe out your rewards.

Avoid credit card churning

We don’t recommend signing up for a credit card just for the sign-up bonus and then closing your card after you get it. Credit card issuers hope to establish long-standing relationships with their consumers and could blacklist you from receiving further deals if you get caught.

Issuer's restrictions on credit card welcome offers

Most of the major credit card issuers set limits on how often consumers can earn a welcome offer on their cards. The purpose of these limits is to cut down on customers who might "churn" bonus offers — that is, sign up for new cards over and over again without any intention to use a card for the long haul.

Fortunately, issuer restrictions on credit card welcome offers tend to be reasonable. The following chart highlights the rules from each of the major card issuers.

Chase

American Express

Capital One

Citibank

Bank of America

Wells Fargo

The Chase 5/24 rule says cardholders cannot get a new Chase credit card if they have five or more credit card inquiries on their credit report within the last 24 months. With consumer credit cards, you can only earn the bonus once every 24 to 48 months.

Chase

The Chase 5/24 rule says cardholders cannot get a new Chase credit card if they have five or more credit card inquiries on their credit report within the last 24 months. With consumer credit cards, you can only earn the bonus once every 24 to 48 months.

American Express

American Express only lets you earn a bonus on each of their cards once per lifetime.

Capital One

Capital One only lets you have two personal credit cards with them, and you can only get approved for a new credit card offer every six months.

Citibank

You can earn a sign-up bonus on Citi credit cards every 24 to 48 months, depending on the family of cards you select from.

Bank of America

Bank of America only lets you get approved for two new cards in a 30-day period, three new cards in a 12-month period or four new cards in a 24-month period.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo limits sign-up bonuses to cardholders who have opened the same card and earned the bonus already within the last 15 months.


Are sign-up bonuses taxable?

Credit card sign-up bonuses are considered rebates on your spending, so they're usually not counted as taxable income. The same is true with ongoing rewards you earn with a rewards credit card.

However, you may owe taxes on a sign-up bonus in certain cases (if you earned a bonus without making a purchase or reaching a spending requirement), in which case you'll receive a Form 1099-INT or Form 1099-MISC in the mail.

Expert insights to help you make smarter financial decisions

ValuePenguin has curated an exclusive panel of professionals, spanning various areas of expertise, to help dissect difficult subjects and empower you to make smarter financial decisions. Read on for more credit card insights.

  1. How do words like "bonus" or "rewards" impact consumers’ buying decisions?
  2. Do rewards and loyalty programs overcome customer service issues? Why or why not?
  3. Do you feel that the brand naming of rewards (e.g., "gold elite status") creates an emotional impact on shoppers? Why or why not?

headshot of expert
  • Carey K. Morewedge
  • Professor of Marketing
  • Read Answer

headshot of expert
  • Christine A. Vogt, Ph.D.
  • Emeritus Professor, Former Director
  • Read Answer

headshot of expert
  • Victor Ricciardi
  • Visiting Assistant Professor
  • Read Answer

headshot of expert

headshot of expert
  • Genevieve O'Connor, Ph.D.
  • Associate Professor of Marketing
  • Read Answer

The commentary provided by these industry experts represent their viewpoints and opinions alone.

{"backgroundColor":"white","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EValuePenguin has curated an exclusive panel of professionals, spanning various areas of expertise, to help dissect difficult subjects and empower you to make smarter financial decisions. Read on for more credit card insights.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root\"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content ShortcodeList--content-margin\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Col class=\"ListOrdered--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EHow do words like \"bonus\" or \"rewards\" impact consumers\u2019 buying decisions?\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EDo rewards and loyalty programs overcome customer service issues? Why or why not?\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EDo you feel that the brand naming of rewards (e.g., \"gold elite status\") creates an emotional impact on shoppers? Why or why not?\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ol\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"full pad-none align-left clearfix\"\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 80px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003ECarey K. Morewedge\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Professor of Marketing\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-carey-morewedge\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeVisibility--show-small\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 80px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/christine-vogt_hdifce\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/christine-vogt_hdifce\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/christine-vogt_hdifce 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/christine-vogt_hdifce 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003EChristine A. Vogt, Ph.D.\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Emeritus Professor, Former Director\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-christine-vogt\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeVisibility--show-small\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 80px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003EVictor Ricciardi\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Visiting Assistant Professor\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-victor-ricciardi\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 80px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/megan-hunter_ighvjs\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/megan-hunter_ighvjs\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/megan-hunter_ighvjs 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/megan-hunter_ighvjs 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003EMegan Hunter\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Assistant Professor\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-meghan-hunter\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeVisibility--show-small\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 80px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/genevieve-oconnor_yo7typ\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/genevieve-oconnor_yo7typ\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/genevieve-oconnor_yo7typ 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/genevieve-oconnor_yo7typ 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003EGenevieve O'Connor, Ph.D.\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Associate Professor of Marketing\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-genevieve-oconnor\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeDisclaimer--root ShortcodeDisclaimer--root \"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ContextualDisclaimer--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ContextualDisclaimer--copy\"\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003EThe commentary provided by these industry experts represent their viewpoints and opinions alone.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n \n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
headshot of expert

Carey K. Morewedge

Professor of Marketing and Everett W. Lord Distinguished Faculty Scholar, Questrom School of Business, Boston University

How do words like "bonus" or "rewards" impact consumers’ buying decisions?

Consumers respond differently to promotions if those words lead consumers to see them as a gain (e.g., "bonus" and "rewards") or as the reduction of a loss (e.g., "savings" and "rebates"). Money coded as a gain feels like a windfall and is more likely to be used to make hedonic purchases, like a watch or a massage. These are goods and services whose purpose is to make the buyer feel good. Money coded as the reduction of a loss, by contrast, doesn't feel like extra money and is typically used for utilitarian purchases, like paying off debt or bills.

Do rewards and loyalty programs overcome customer service issues? Why or why not?

Rewards can help close the deal for price-sensitive consumers. They can attract new consumers to your products and services, and help make competing products and services less attractive to your current customers. They're also useful for countering service failures that weren't personal in nature. Retailers could offer consumers a discount for late delivery of a product, for example, but a discount is unlikely to appease a customer who felt insulted or discriminated against by a salesperson. In that case, a personal apology would be better.

Loyalty programs are useful for locking in customers in contexts where they make repeated purchases from a firm, particularly for firms susceptible to commodification, like airlines. Consumers are sensitive to the future benefits of points (e.g., a free flight) but also seem to enjoy earning points immediately, even if they can't cash them in right away. That said, the real benefits of loyalty programs are hard to evaluate. The results are mixed. Loyalty programs seem to be ineffective in domains where it is cheap for consumers to belong to and benefit from many loyalty programs (e.g., grocers), but they seem to be effective where loyalty programs make more demanding requirements of consumers (e.g., airlines).

Do you feel that the brand naming of rewards (e.g., "gold elite status") creates an emotional impact on shoppers? Why or why not?

These kinds of status levels are likely to work well for high-identity products where consumers feel like they are in a relationship with the brand or use it to express to themselves and others important facets of their identity, but they are unlikely to work in cases where the consumer views the good as a commodity. These kinds of names can strengthen the bond with the brand or make the consumer feel like they are in a more exclusive group than typical consumers ("insiders" versus "brand tourists"). One can predict these at a general level by product category (e.g., most people identify more with clothes than their paper products), but there can be substantial variation between segments and individual consumers.

{"backgroundColor":"white","content":"\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 60px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"expert-carey-morewedge\"\u003ECarey K. Morewedge\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EProfessor of Marketing and Everett W. Lord Distinguished Faculty Scholar, Questrom School of Business, Boston University\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--root ShortcodeToggle--article \" id=\u003E\n \u003Cbutton class=\"ShortcodeToggle--toggle\" onclick=\"this.parentNode.classList.toggle('ShortcodeToggle--open');\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeToggle--label\"\u003ESee their advice\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/button\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents-wrapper\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents\"\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EHow do words like \"bonus\" or \"rewards\" impact consumers\u2019 buying decisions?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EConsumers respond differently to promotions if those words lead consumers to see them as a gain (e.g., \"bonus\" and \"rewards\") or as the reduction of a loss (e.g., \"savings\" and \"rebates\"). Money coded as a gain feels like a windfall and is more likely to be used to make hedonic purchases, like a watch or a massage. These are goods and services whose purpose is to make the buyer feel good. Money coded as the reduction of a loss, by contrast, doesn't feel like extra money and is typically used for utilitarian purchases, like paying off debt or bills.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EDo rewards and loyalty programs overcome customer service issues? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ERewards can help close the deal for price-sensitive consumers. They can attract new consumers to your products and services, and help make competing products and services less attractive to your current customers. They're also useful for countering service failures that weren't personal in nature. Retailers could offer consumers a discount for late delivery of a product, for example, but a discount is unlikely to appease a customer who felt insulted or discriminated against by a salesperson. In that case, a personal apology would be better.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ELoyalty programs are useful for locking in customers in contexts where they make repeated purchases from a firm, particularly for firms susceptible to commodification, like airlines. Consumers are sensitive to the future benefits of points (e.g., a free flight) but also seem to enjoy earning points immediately, even if they can't cash them in right away. \nThat said, the real benefits of loyalty programs are hard to evaluate. The results are mixed. Loyalty programs seem to be ineffective in domains where it is cheap for consumers to belong to and benefit from many loyalty programs (e.g., grocers), but they seem to be effective where loyalty programs make more demanding requirements of consumers (e.g., airlines).\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EDo you feel that the brand naming of rewards (e.g., \"gold elite status\") creates an emotional impact on shoppers? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThese kinds of status levels are likely to work well for high-identity products where consumers feel like they are in a relationship with the brand or use it to express to themselves and others important facets of their identity, but they are unlikely to work in cases where the consumer views the good as a commodity. \nThese kinds of names can strengthen the bond with the brand or make the consumer feel like they are in a more exclusive group than typical consumers (\"insiders\" versus \"brand tourists\"). One can predict these at a general level by product category (e.g., most people identify more with clothes than their paper products), but there can be substantial variation between segments and individual consumers. \n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--horizontal-center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root Button--root Button--primary Button--auto-width\" title=\"Back to all experts\" href=\"#expertadvice\"\u003EBack to all experts\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
headshot of expert

Christine A. Vogt, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor, Former Director, Center of Sustainable Tourism, School of Community Resources and Development, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Arizona State University

Are loyalty programs and rewards enough to keep customers loyal to a brand? Why or why not?

Branding is intended to create and sustain loyalty. The best branding is the existence of lifetime commitment by a consumer to a brand (or company). Examples of enduring brand loyalty are achieved with companies such as Nike, McDonald's, Disney or Trek bikes. The corporations attempt to attract consumers as a child and then retain their purchasing behaviors through to senior years (either for themselves or their families as multigenerational). Loyalty programs and rewards are one tool that brand marketers use to retain and incentivize purchasing. Many loyalty programs started with a loyalty card (I still have my Hilton and Marriott cards and account numbers), and today these programs are managed on websites or smartphone apps. Smartphones can cluster loyalty programs in wallet settings. If these programs are easy to use and convenient (which can vary by age and experience with technology), then they can prevent consumers from "wandering" off-brand.

Brand managers need to consider the number of communications they are sending to consumers. With email capture, marketers have a direct link to loyal and potentially new customers. But inappropriate e-communications can lead to consumer fatigue and backfire with "unsubscribing" behaviors. I personally see some e-brand loyalty programs returning to print direct mail and print advertising, which suggests that marketers need more than one channel to reach and be effective with consumers.

What role can social media engagement and advertising play in helping hotels expand their loyal customer base?

Brand marketers need to understand, via marketing research and data analytics on digital platforms, the channels that consumers use to learn about and purchase products. Social media engagement and advertising in a wide variety of placement options can help hotels expand their loyal customer base.

I just finished a doctoral student who conducted her dissertation on digital content that is effective with increasing purchase intent. With a proxy Instagram account for a fictitious hotel brand, the student found that leisure travelers engage more with an informational message than with an emotional message when they have limited information about a hotel. My own dissertation completed in 1993 found that functional information is more useful to travel decision-making than aesthetic (pictures) information.

Often social media or advertising is an initial channel of being exposed as a form of awareness of a brand and also linking a consumer with like social groups. A marketer needs to think about the next channels (after social media) to motivate a consumer to acquire more information that then leads to increased desire and interest, and eventually action or purchase. For social media and advertising to be effective as a sales channel, the inclusion of websites, booking platforms or e-commerce functions is critical.

A ValuePenguin study revealed that during the pandemic, 48% of millennials have booked multiple stays at Airbnbs, while only 24% have booked multiple stays at hotels. In your opinion, what can hotels do to appeal more to younger generations?

There are many choices in the accommodations industry. Airbnb is offering something different — something authentic. A person’s house in a neighborhood is considered more unique and genuine than a standard hotel room to many millennials.

Many hotel chains have prioritized travel convenience over authenticity by locating their properties along interstates and suburban commercial districts. Also, hospitality services were prioritized over tourism experiences by many hotel corporations. Millennials are recognizing this difference and are choosing Airbnb because of the product experience difference, sometimes pricing and more.

{"backgroundColor":"white","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 60px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/christine-vogt_hdifce\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_60\/v1\/christine-vogt_hdifce\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/christine-vogt_hdifce 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/christine-vogt_hdifce 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"expert-christine-vogt\"\u003EChristine A. Vogt, Ph.D.\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EEmeritus Professor, Former Director, Center of Sustainable Tourism, School of Community Resources and Development, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Arizona State University\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--root ShortcodeToggle--article \" id=\u003E\n \u003Cbutton class=\"ShortcodeToggle--toggle\" onclick=\"this.parentNode.classList.toggle('ShortcodeToggle--open');\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeToggle--label\"\u003ESee their advice\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/button\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents-wrapper\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents\"\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EAre loyalty programs and rewards enough to keep customers loyal to a brand? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EBranding is intended to create and sustain loyalty. The best branding is the existence of lifetime commitment by a consumer to a brand (or company). Examples of enduring brand loyalty are achieved with companies such as Nike, McDonald's, Disney or Trek bikes. The corporations attempt to attract consumers as a child and then retain their purchasing behaviors through to senior years (either for themselves or their families as multigenerational).\nLoyalty programs and rewards are one tool that brand marketers use to retain and incentivize purchasing. Many loyalty programs started with a loyalty card (I still have my Hilton and Marriott cards and account numbers), and today these programs are managed on websites or smartphone apps. Smartphones can cluster loyalty programs in wallet settings. If these programs are easy to use and convenient (which can vary by age and experience with technology), then they can prevent consumers from \"wandering\" off-brand.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EBrand managers need to consider the number of communications they are sending to consumers. With email capture, marketers have a direct link to loyal and potentially new customers. But inappropriate e-communications can lead to consumer fatigue and backfire with \"unsubscribing\" behaviors. I personally see some e-brand loyalty programs returning to print direct mail and print advertising, which suggests that marketers need more than one channel to reach and be effective with consumers.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EWhat role can social media engagement and advertising play in helping hotels expand their loyal customer base?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EBrand marketers need to understand, via marketing research and data analytics on digital platforms, the channels that consumers use to learn about and purchase products. Social media engagement and advertising in a wide variety of placement options can help hotels expand their loyal customer base.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EI just finished a doctoral student who conducted her dissertation on digital content that is effective with increasing purchase intent. With a proxy Instagram account for a fictitious hotel brand, the student found that leisure travelers engage more with an informational message than with an emotional message when they have limited information about a hotel. My own dissertation completed in 1993 found that functional information is more useful to travel decision-making than aesthetic (pictures) information.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EOften social media or advertising is an initial channel of being exposed as a form of awareness of a brand and also linking a consumer with like social groups. A marketer needs to think about the next channels (after social media) to motivate a consumer to acquire more information that then leads to increased desire and interest, and eventually action or purchase. For social media and advertising to be effective as a sales channel, the inclusion of websites, booking platforms or e-commerce functions is critical.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EA ValuePenguin study revealed that during the pandemic, 48% of millennials have booked multiple stays at Airbnbs, while only 24% have booked multiple stays at hotels. In your opinion, what can hotels do to appeal more to younger generations?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThere are many choices in the accommodations industry. Airbnb is offering something different \u2014 something authentic. A person\u2019s house in a neighborhood is considered more unique and genuine than a standard hotel room to many millennials.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EMany hotel chains have prioritized travel convenience over authenticity by locating their properties along interstates and suburban commercial districts. Also, hospitality services were prioritized over tourism experiences by many hotel corporations. Millennials are recognizing this difference and are choosing Airbnb because of the product experience difference, sometimes pricing and more. \n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--horizontal-center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root Button--root Button--primary Button--auto-width\" title=\"Back to all experts\" href=\"#expertadvice\"\u003EBack to all experts\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
headshot of expert

Victor Ricciardi

Visiting Assistant Professor of Finance, Washington and Lee University

How do words like "bonus" or "rewards" impact consumers’ buying decisions?

A company communicates and structures words very carefully to influence the purchasing and buying decisions of consumers. Within the behavioral finance literature, this is known as the concept of framing. Framing is based on communicating words or phrases as a "positive frame" that results in positive outcomes. For example, an advertisement for a new product or service will frame the positive attributes and avoid the potential disadvantages, resulting in a more positive impression and a lower perception of risk for a new item. This framing process will then result in more purchases by the consumer, in turn, producing higher sales and profits for the company.

Do rewards and loyalty programs overcome customer service issues? Why or why not?

The answer is maybe. If the rewards and loyalty programs provide substantial benefits to the consumer experience, minor customer service issues might be overlooked in the short term, especially if the customer is saving substantial money — for example, if they are saving hundreds of dollars for a hotel room.

However, over the long term, even the best rewards and loyalty programs will lose customers with closed accounts or lower usage if customer service issues are always a problem. For many individuals, if they feel high levels of stress or frustration several times because of poor customer service, even the most loyal customers will start using other rewards and loyalty programs.

Do you feel that the brand naming of rewards (e.g., "gold elite status") creates an emotional impact on shoppers? Why or why not?

Yes, the branding of rewards, especially with a "positive frame," creates a positive influence on consumers. However, there are several factors that must prevail over the long term for this customer experience to be everlasting. The consumer must believe that the rewards level (e.g., "gold elite status") provides great benefits and value after the purchase of an item or service. Also, the customer must have a positive experience and impression of the actual service or product.

Lastly, it is essential there are no customer service issues with the rewards program or the specific product or service. For companies, it is a long process to build client trust, and that loyalty or credibility can be lost very quickly if the consumer experience turns negative.

{"backgroundColor":"white","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 60px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/expert-advice-headshots_sfuxjr 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"expert-victor-ricciardi\"\u003EVictor Ricciardi\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EVisiting Assistant Professor of Finance, Washington and Lee University\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--root ShortcodeToggle--article \" id=\u003E\n \u003Cbutton class=\"ShortcodeToggle--toggle\" onclick=\"this.parentNode.classList.toggle('ShortcodeToggle--open');\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeToggle--label\"\u003ESee their advice\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/button\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents-wrapper\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents\"\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EHow do words like \"bonus\" or \"rewards\" impact consumers\u2019 buying decisions?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EA company communicates and structures words very carefully to influence the purchasing and buying decisions of consumers. Within the behavioral finance literature, this is known as the concept of framing. Framing is based on communicating words or phrases as a \"positive frame\" that results in positive outcomes. \nFor example, an advertisement for a new product or service will frame the positive attributes and avoid the potential disadvantages, resulting in a more positive impression and a lower perception of risk for a new item. This framing process will then result in more purchases by the consumer, in turn, producing higher sales and profits for the company.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EDo rewards and loyalty programs overcome customer service issues? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe answer is maybe. If the rewards and loyalty programs provide substantial benefits to the consumer experience, minor customer service issues might be overlooked in the short term, especially if the customer is saving substantial money \u2014 for example, if they are saving hundreds of dollars for a hotel room.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EHowever, over the long term, even the best rewards and loyalty programs will lose customers with closed accounts or lower usage if customer service issues are always a problem. For many individuals, if they feel high levels of stress or frustration several times because of poor customer service, even the most loyal customers will start using other rewards and loyalty programs.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EDo you feel that the brand naming of rewards (e.g., \"gold elite status\") creates an emotional impact on shoppers? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EYes, the branding of rewards, especially with a \"positive frame,\" creates a positive influence on consumers. However, there are several factors that must prevail over the long term for this customer experience to be everlasting. \nThe consumer must believe that the rewards level (e.g., \"gold elite status\") provides great benefits and value after the purchase of an item or service. Also, the customer must have a positive experience and impression of the actual service or product.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ELastly, it is essential there are no customer service issues with the rewards program or the specific product or service. For companies, it is a long process to build client trust, and that loyalty or credibility can be lost very quickly if the consumer experience turns negative.\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--horizontal-center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root Button--root Button--primary Button--auto-width\" title=\"Back to all experts\" href=\"#expertadvice\"\u003EBack to all experts\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
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Megan Hunter

Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing, Carroll School of Management, Boston College

How do words like "bonus" or "rewards" impact consumers’ buying decisions?

These types of words excite customers and make them feel more motivated to make additional purchases. Additionally, when redeeming "bonuses" or "rewards," consumers feel that they can "treat themselves" more. For example, it may be an excuse to get a sugary frappuccino rather than someone's traditional black coffee order.

These words have the biggest influence on the marginal customer. It is unlikely to attract new consumers or influence very loyal consumers, but rather, it helps push those medium-usage consumers to make that one additional purchase.

Do rewards and loyalty programs overcome customer service issues? Why or why not?

Not much research has been done on this topic. If anything, if the reward or loyalty programs face customer service issues themselves, it might backfire. Those consumers who are involved in the reward and loyalty programs might be slightly more patient when facing service issues, as they have a greater sense of loyalty, but it is not enough to overcome them.

Do you feel that the brand naming of rewards (e.g., "gold elite status") creates an emotional impact on shoppers? Why or why not?

Yes, it does create an emotional impact. Consumers feel appreciated and special. However, if the reward is too easy to obtain, it might not have the same emotional impact.

{"backgroundColor":"white","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 60px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/megan-hunter_ighvjs\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_60\/v1\/megan-hunter_ighvjs\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/megan-hunter_ighvjs 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/megan-hunter_ighvjs 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"expert-meghan-hunter\"\u003EMegan Hunter\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EAssistant Professor, Department of Marketing, Carroll School of Management, Boston College\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--root ShortcodeToggle--article \" id=\u003E\n \u003Cbutton class=\"ShortcodeToggle--toggle\" onclick=\"this.parentNode.classList.toggle('ShortcodeToggle--open');\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeToggle--label\"\u003ESee their advice\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/button\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents-wrapper\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents\"\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EHow do words like \"bonus\" or \"rewards\" impact consumers\u2019 buying decisions?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThese types of words excite customers and make them feel more motivated to make additional purchases. Additionally, when redeeming \"bonuses\" or \"rewards,\" consumers feel that they can \"treat themselves\" more. For example, it may be an excuse to get a sugary frappuccino rather than someone's traditional black coffee order.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThese words have the biggest influence on the marginal customer. It is unlikely to attract new consumers or influence very loyal consumers, but rather, it helps push those medium-usage consumers to make that one additional purchase.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EDo rewards and loyalty programs overcome customer service issues? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ENot much research has been done on this topic. If anything, if the reward or loyalty programs face customer service issues themselves, it might backfire. Those consumers who are involved in the reward and loyalty programs might be slightly more patient when facing service issues, as they have a greater sense of loyalty, but it is not enough to overcome them.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EDo you feel that the brand naming of rewards (e.g., \"gold elite status\") creates an emotional impact on shoppers? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EYes, it does create an emotional impact. Consumers feel appreciated and special. However, if the reward is too easy to obtain, it might not have the same emotional impact. \n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--horizontal-center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root Button--root Button--primary Button--auto-width\" title=\"Back to all experts\" href=\"#expertadvice\"\u003EBack to all experts\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
headshot of expert

Genevieve O'Connor, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Marketing, Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University

How do words like "bonus" or "rewards" impact consumers’ buying decisions?

When customers hear the terms "bonus" and "rewards," they may instinctively be attracted to a program due to a choice heuristic. Heuristics, or mental shortcuts, help customers make a decision while reducing their cognitive load. In this case, a promotion rule heuristic may be applied where customers are attracted to a product or service that is incentivizing them.

#### Do rewards and loyalty programs overcome customer service issues? Why or why not?

Rewards and loyalty programs are far too commonplace to overcome customer service issues. Rewards and loyalty programs are used to attract and engage customers while also strengthening customer retention. Companies must be cognizant that service issues will happen. Though service issues and failures can create blockades between a customer and provider, they also present a viable opportunity for the provider to strengthen their relationship with the customer. Rather than relying on "fringe benefits," when an issue or failure presents itself a company should first and foremost acknowledge the customer’s concern, apologize and find a way to ensure the customer’s concerns are being met.

Do you feel that the brand naming of rewards (e.g., "gold elite status") creates an emotional impact on shoppers? Why or why not?

Perception is a powerful tool in marketing and has been shown to influence customers. The use of color — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — is a proven way to acknowledge status. When a customer attains the next level (i.e., moving from silver to gold), they are being rewarded, which could trigger an emotional response. Also, the term elite may make the customer feel special as well as important to the company. In terms of emotion, research shows that when consumers evaluate brands, they tend to be more receptive to ads that appeal to their emotions (e.g., personal feelings) rather than ads that appeal to their cognition (e.g., brand features and facts).

{"backgroundColor":"white","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 60px;\" data-src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/genevieve-oconnor_yo7typ\" src=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_60\/v1\/genevieve-oconnor_yo7typ\" data-srcset=\"https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/genevieve-oconnor_yo7typ 1x, https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/genevieve-oconnor_yo7typ 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"expert-genevieve-oconnor\"\u003EGenevieve O'Connor, Ph.D.\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EAssociate Professor of Marketing, Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--root ShortcodeToggle--article \" id=\u003E\n \u003Cbutton class=\"ShortcodeToggle--toggle\" onclick=\"this.parentNode.classList.toggle('ShortcodeToggle--open');\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeToggle--label\"\u003ESee their advice\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/button\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents-wrapper\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents\"\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EHow do words like \"bonus\" or \"rewards\" impact consumers\u2019 buying decisions?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EWhen customers hear the terms \"bonus\" and \"rewards,\" they may instinctively be attracted to a program due to a choice heuristic. Heuristics, or mental shortcuts, help customers make a decision while reducing their cognitive load. In this case, a promotion rule heuristic may be applied where customers are attracted to a product or service that is incentivizing them.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E#### Do rewards and loyalty programs overcome customer service issues? Why or why not?\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ERewards and loyalty programs are far too commonplace to overcome customer service issues. Rewards and loyalty programs are used to attract and engage customers while also strengthening customer retention.\nCompanies must be cognizant that service issues will happen. Though service issues and failures can create blockades between a customer and provider, they also present a viable opportunity for the provider to strengthen their relationship with the customer. Rather than relying on \"fringe benefits,\" when an issue or failure presents itself a company should first and foremost acknowledge the customer\u2019s concern, apologize and find a way to ensure the customer\u2019s concerns are being met.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EDo you feel that the brand naming of rewards (e.g., \"gold elite status\") creates an emotional impact on shoppers? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EPerception is a powerful tool in marketing and has been shown to influence customers. The use of color \u2014 bronze, silver, gold and platinum \u2014 is a proven way to acknowledge status. When a customer attains the next level (i.e., moving from silver to gold), they are being rewarded, which could trigger an emotional response. Also, the term elite may make the customer feel special as well as important to the company. In terms of emotion, research shows that when consumers evaluate brands, they tend to be more receptive to ads that appeal to their emotions (e.g., personal feelings) rather than ads that appeal to their cognition (e.g., brand features and facts).\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--horizontal-center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root Button--root Button--primary Button--auto-width\" title=\"Back to all experts\" href=\"#expertadvice\"\u003EBack to all experts\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}

Credit card sign-up bonus FAQs

A sign-up bonus (often also referred to as a "welcome offer" or "introductory offer") is an offer extended to credit card applicants — usually in the form of points, miles or cash back — to encourage them to apply for a card and use the card once their account is opened.

We think the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card currently has one of the best offers around, but the value of an offer varies by the needs of each cardholder, including the type of rewards (points, miles or cash back) they prefer, and how they plan to redeem the rewards.

Cashback credit cards reward you with cash back for applying and typically meeting a spending requirement. It's important to note that cashback rewards can take many forms — e.g., a cashback certificate (see the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi), statement credits or points that you can redeem for a variety of rewards including cash back (see the Chase Freedom Unlimited®).

In order to earn a sign-up bonus, you'll need to meet the requirements to earn the bonus, which usually include spending a certain amount of money on a card within a certain time period. It's important to thoroughly read the terms and conditions of an offer before you apply for a card to make sure you understand all the requirements — cardholders sometimes open cards and receive a rude awakening a few months later when they learn they aren't qualified for the sign-up bonus.

Many issuers have restrictions on the number of cards you can apply for and the number of times you can apply for a particular card. Furthermore, cards usually offer valuable ongoing benefits to their cardholders in addition to the sign-up bonus. You should look at the value of all a card's benefits as a whole before applying — not just the sign-up bonus.

While it's a great time to apply for many of the offers on this page, some cards frequently change their offer and sometimes offer elevated, limited time offers. It's worth researching the history of a bonus on a particular card before you apply — if a card has a history of boosting its offer on a regular basis, you might want to wait until an elevated offer swings around before applying.

Requirements vary by the card. You'll need good to excellent credit to qualify for most offers on this page.

You should avoid applying for a credit card sign-up bonus if you are ineligible for the offer (make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully), you can't qualify for the card (be sure your credit score is up to snuff and see if the issuer allows you to prequalify), you are incapable of meeting the spending requirements, or owning a rewards credit card would tempt you to spend more than you can afford to pay off. Afterall, the rewards aren't worth it if you end up in debt.

If you don't use your card, you likely won't qualify for the sign-up bonus. Furthermore, if your card lies dormant for a long period, the issuer may choose to cancel your account.

Recap of the best credit card sign-up bonuses for December 2022

Methodology

To make choosing the right card easier, we've looked at credit cards reviewed on ValuePenguin as well as cards on major issuer sites to compile a list of top sign-up bonuses. To choose the best credit card offers available right now, we look at both the number of points or miles offered and the average value of those points or miles (based on our own internal estimates). We select offers that will offer the most dollar value for the average cardholder.

Number of points/miles x Average value of points/miles = Offer value

Occasionally we find welcome offers that don't include a set number of points. Here are our approaches to common scenarios:

  • A free night certificate: We consider the average number of points required for a top-tier room, and multiply those points by the point value.
  • Additional bonus points on purchases: We consider the additional points earned on top of the regular earning rate, and calculate how many bonus points an average cardholder would earn, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. We multiply this amount by the point value.

We also consider other card benefits such as travel and purchase protections, lounge membership and airline companion passes in deciding between comparable offers. Our choices are not influenced by our advertisers. Learn more on how we calculate rewards.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

The information related to Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card, Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® CardHilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and American Express Cash Magnet® Card have been independently collected by ValuePenguin and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).