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A lot of credit cards have really enticing signup bonuses: Spend a certain amount in a short time period, and you’ll earn a few hundred dollars’ worth of rewards.

But which credit cards offer the best signup bonuses or welcome offers? We did the research, and here’s what we found:

  • Best of the cash back rewards credit card:
  • Best of the rewards points credit cards:
    • The Platinum Card® from American Express: American Express offers a generous welcome offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 in the first three months of opening your account. These points are worth up to $600 if used to book travel or make select purchases through American Express Membership Rewards®.
    • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of opening your account; points are worth $500.
  • Best of the travel credit cards:
    • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of opening your account; points are worth $750 if redeemed for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
    • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of opening your account; points are worth $625 if redeemed for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Best of the 0% APR credit cards:
    • Citi Simplicity® Card: 0% APR on balance transfer for 21 months; 12 months on purchases; then a variable APR of 15.99% – 25.99% will apply.
    • Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months (fees apply) then a variable APR of 17.49% – 26.99% will apply.
    • HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months; then a variable APR of 12.99 %, 16.99% or 20.99 will apply. 

Why should you care about signup bonuses?

Credit card welcome offers and signup bonuses are one of the best ways to earn rewards. These bonus rewards are often significantly higher than the rewards you’ll earn on day-to-day spending. Even credit cards that offer 5% cash back only give you $5 for every $100 you spend; a good signup bonus can earn you a few hundred dollars.

Credit card signup bonuses are also good ways to offset a credit card’s annual fee. The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, for example, comes with a $95 annual fee. The fee is waived for the first year; if you earn your $500 signup bonus, you’ve covered the cost of the next five years of annual fees.

If you have a travel credit card, the signup bonus is often enough to cover the cost of a plane ticket. That’s like turning your signup bonus into a free flight!

Lastly, don’t forget that any purchases you make in the introductory time period towards your signup bonus also earn the credit card’s everyday rewards. If you spend $3,000 in 90 days with your Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, you get your 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, plus 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining and 1.5 points for all other purchases.

The best credit card signup bonuses

Highest cash back

The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card comes with a $500 cash back bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. This card is designed to reward foodies, with an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% cash back on everything else. You’ll have to pay a $95 annual fee, but don’t worry — the fee is waived the first year, and if you earn your $500 bonus, you’ll have more than enough to cover it.

The Discover it® Cash Back card doesn’t have a traditional signup bonus; instead, Discover will match all of the cash back you earn at the end of your first year as a cardholder. If you earn $500 in cash back rewards, Discover will give you another $500. If you earn $1,000, Discover will give you another $1,000. There’s no limit.

The Discover it® Cash Back card has no annual fee, and you’ll get 5% cash back on various categories that rotate every quarter (for up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter) each time you activate as well as 1% cash back on all other spending. Check out our guide to Discover it® Cash Back bonus categories to learn more.

Highest points welcome offer

The Platinum Card® from American Express is part of the American Express Membership Rewards® program, and points earned with the card can be redeemed for everything from travel to cash back to charitable donations. You’ll get 60,000 Membership Rewards® points as a welcome offer after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Those points are worth as much as $600 if you use them to book travel or make select purchases through American Express Membership Rewards®.

The Platinum Card® is also a premium travel rewards card. It comes with a $550 annual fee, but cardholders earn 5 points per dollar on travel and hotel purchases made through American Express Travel, 1 point per dollar on all other purchases, and a suite of perks including Uber credits, airport lounge access, and more.

One more important note: the Platinum Card® is a charge card, not a credit card — which means you need to pay off any purchases you charge to the card in full every month.

If you have a bank account with Bank of America, you’ll want to consider the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. In addition to the 50,000 bonus points you’ll earn after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of opening your account (a $500 value), you’ll also earn unlimited 2 points per dollar on travel and dining and 1.5 points per dollar on all other purchases — and if you are a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, those point values go up.

This card has a $95 annual fee, but you can offset that cost with your signup bonus — or the up to $200 you could earn in combined airline incidental and TSA Precheck®/Global Entry® statement credits.

Highest travel rewards

The Chase Sapphire program offers some of the best travel cards on the market. All you have to do is decide whether you want the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which comes with a $95 annual fee (waived the first year) — or if you want to pay the $450 annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Both cards come with a plethora of points and perks, but you’ll earn more points — and a slightly higher signup bonus — with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card:

  • 2x points on travel and dining.
  • 1x points on all other purchases.
  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.
  • Points are worth 25% more if redeemed for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (so your 50,000 bonus points are worth $625).
  • $95 annual fee (waived the first year).

Chase Sapphire Reserve®:

  • 3x points on travel (immediately after earning travel credit) and dining.
  • 1x points on all other purchases.
  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.
  • Points are worth 50% more if redeemed for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (so your 50,000 bonus points are worth $750).
  • $300 annual travel statement credit.
  • TSA Precheck/Global Entry fee credit.
  • Airport lounge access.
  • $450 annual fee, plus $75 for each additional user.

Best APR intro period

Three credit cards give you the opportunity to pay zero interest on purchases or balance transfers for a lengthy period: The Citi Simplicity® Card, the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card, and the HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card.

The Citi Simplicity® Card comes with no annual fee, no late fees, and no penalty rates. The HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card has no annual fee, no penalty fees, and offers a late fee waiver. The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card just comes with no annual fee. None of these cards offer rewards, but they’re great if you’re looking to fund a large purchase for an extended period of time before paying off the balance.

Best balance transfer intro offer

If you want the longest possible period of time to pay off your balance transfer, you want the Citi Diamond Preferred® Card. This card offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months, as well as 0% APR on purchases for 12 months; then a variable APR of 15.74% – 25.74% will apply. ( This offer is no longer available)

You won’t get any rewards with the Citi Diamond Preferred® card, but you will get nearly two years to pay off your balance transfer without paying interest. You also won’t have to pay an annual fee. ( This offer is no longer available)

What to watch out for

Credit card signup bonuses can require you to spend a large amount of money in a short amount of time. They’re banking on some customers being unable to pay off their purchases and incurring high rates of interest — so don’t let yourself become one of those customers.

If you put $4,000 in purchases on a credit card and only make the minimum payment, you could end up paying the equivalent of your signup bonus in interest over time. Remember: credit card interest compounds and any unpaid interest gets added to your balance!

Although you might be tempted to go for one of the best credit card welcome bonuses because you like the idea of $500 in bonus cash, it’s sometimes better to apply for a credit card that offers a bonus that matches your typical monthly spending. For example, if you usually put around $350 on your credit card each month, look for a card that offers a bonus if you spend $1,000 in three months — like the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

How to make sure you get the sign-up bonus

You’ll only get your signup bonus if you make a specific amount of eligible purchases within the time limit — so pay attention to how much money you’re putting on the card! Use your online account to check your purchase history and make sure you’re on target to hit your bonus.

Read your credit card’s fine print to learn what counts as an eligible purchase. In some cases, for example, returned purchases are no longer eligible to count towards your signup bonus. If you’re in the habit of making frequent returns, make sure you’re still making enough eligible purchases to hit your signup bonus.

Some people like to put all of their spending on their new credit card until they’ve made enough purchases to earn the signup bonus. That’s a good strategy, but don’t forget about your other credit card rewards. If you have a bonus category credit card that gets you a high cash back reward on Amazon purchases, for example, you might want to use that card for Amazon purchases and put everything else on your new credit card!

Other factors to consider

Signup bonuses and welcome offers are great, but you also want to look at the day-to-day rewards you might earn with a particular credit card. Some cards offer flat rate rewards, and others offer higher rewards for certain types of purchases. Don’t get stuck with a credit card that focuses its rewards on restaurant spending if you rarely dine out. Instead, make sure the card’s full rewards package makes sense with your lifestyle.

You’ll also want to consider whether you’ll still want this card in your wallet a few years from now — especially if it comes with a hefty annual fee. Yes, you can cancel your credit card after claiming your signup bonus and paying off your balance in full, but that can have a negative effect on your credit score.

Lastly, be aware that some credit card companies will turn down applications from people who’ve opened too many credit cards in the past year, and some companies don’t give signup bonuses to people who’ve already earned a signup bonus from a card in the same line (for example, you need to wait 48 months after earning a Chase Sapphire signup bonus before you are eligible for another Chase Sapphire signup bonus). Don’t try to churn your way through all of the best credit card signup bonuses. Instead, choose the card that’s best for you — and treat any additional rewards you receive as a bonus.