Biggest travel sign-up bonus

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Terms Apply
Intro offer
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 $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Rewards rate
2x–5x
Annual fee
$95
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

BEST FOR ROUNDING UP REWARDS

Apply now
On Citi's secure site
Terms Apply
Intro offer
20,000 points Earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com
Rewards rate
1X–2X
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for cash back in multiple categories

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Terms Apply
Intro offer
Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
Rewards rate
1.5%–5%
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for choice of cash back category

Apply now
On Bank of America's secure site
Terms Apply
Intro offer
$200 $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Rewards rate
1%–3%
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for rotating cash back categories

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Terms Apply
Intro offer
$200 Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Rewards rate
1%–5%
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best business sign-up bonus

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Terms Apply
Intro offer
$750 Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Rewards rate
1.5%
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
13.24% - 19.24% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Terms Apply
Intro offer
40,000 points Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, now enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn.
Rewards rate
1X–2X
Annual fee
$69
Regular APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

The information about the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed by the card issuer.


Compare Bankrate’s top sign-up bonus credit cards

Card Sign-up bonus Spending requirement Bankrate review score
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 60,000 points (worth $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards) $4,000 within first 3 months 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Rewards+ Card 20,000 points $1,500 within first 3 months 3.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Freedom Unlimited worth up to $300 cash back Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) 4.6 / 5
(Read full card review)
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card $200 online cash rewards bonus $1,000 within first 90 days 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Freedom Flex $200 cash bonus $500 within first 3 months 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card $750 $7,500 within first 3 months 3.9 / 5
(Read full card review)
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card 40,000 points $1,000 within first 3 months 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)

A closer look at the best sign-up bonus credit cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Best for biggest travel sign-up bonus

  • This card is a good fit for: Travelers seeking great rewards value and a relatively low annual fee.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Luxury-seeking travelers looking for perks like airport lounge access.
  • What makes this card unique? One of the top selling points of this card is the fact that you can transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to Chase’s impressive list of airline and hotel partners. You don’t see that kind of flexibility and value among many travel credit cards.
  • Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card worth it? Definitely. Not only does the sign up bonus effectively pay for the annual fee, but its impressive rewards structure and boosted points value when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards makes it completely worth it.

Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Citi Rewards+ Card

Best for rounding up rewards

  • This card is a good fit for: Everyday shoppers who want to earn travel rewards.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Cash back seekers. While you can redeem your rewards for cash back or statement credits, you’ll get half the value you would get if redeeming for travel or gift cards, according to Bankrate’s evaluation.
  • What makes this card unique? The rewards structure seems pretty standard, but there’s an interesting and valuable detail: The rewards you earn from every purchase will be rounded up to the nearest ten points. So, a $3 coffee earns 10 ThankYou points.
  • Is the Citi Rewards+ Card worth it? Yes. It has a reasonable minimum spend requirement—all for no annual fee. You’ll get a lot of value from this card, even beyond the sign-up bonus.

Read our Citi Rewards Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Best for cash back in multiple categories

  • This card is a good fit for: People who want the option to redeem for travel and cash back.
  • This card is not a great choice for: International travelers who want to use the card abroad. A 3 percent foreign transaction fee will apply to purchases made outside of the U.S.
  • What makes this card unique? If you already have a premium Ultimate Rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can transfer your rewards to that account and redeem them for greater value. That way, you earn rewards in more categories while maintaining maximum redemption value.
  • Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it? Absolutely. With boosted rewards rates on travel (purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards), as well as everyday categories like drugstore and restaurant purchases—plus no annual fee—this card’s sign-up bonus packs in serious value.

Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited review.
Jump back to offer details.

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Best for choice of cash back category

  • This card is a good fit for: Credit card users who value a customizable rewards structure.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Big spenders. There’s a $2,500 combined spending cap per quarter on the 2 percent and 3 percent bonus categories. Once you reach that threshold, your bonus rate for those categories drops to just 1 percent until the next quarter.
  • What makes this card unique? Other cash back cards offer rotating bonus categories, but this card is pretty unique for offering cardholders the power to choose from six categories and change your selection up to once per month.
  • Is the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card worth it? It depends. The sign-up bonus is fair, but cardholders may find real value is in the automatic 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs earned. When you consider the rewards earned in your choice category, this card has the potential to be very valuable for cardholders.

Read our Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Chase Freedom Flex

Best for rotating cash back categories

  • This card is a good fit for: People who like to earn boosted cash back in multiple categories.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Those who don’t like having to remember to activate the new bonus categories each quarter.
  • What makes this card unique? Rather than fixed bonus categories, as most rewards cards offer, the Chase Freedom Flex comes with bonus categories that rotate quarterly. The Discover it® Cash Back is one of the only cards to offer a similar structure. Read our full comparison of the Discover it Cash Back and the Chase Freedom Flex to determine which is a better fit for you.
  • Is the Chase Freedom Flex card worth it? Yes. The sign-up bonus offers a good payout for such a low spending requirement—earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Beyond the welcome offer, the rotating bonus categories and high rewards rates in other categories have tremendous cash back potential.

Read our Chase Freedom Flex review.
Jump back to offer details.

Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card

Best for business sign-up bonus

  • This card is a good fit for: Small-business owners seeking a first rewards card.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Owners looking to earn rewards in specific bonus categories. If you’re interested in a tiered rewards structure more than flat-rate, consider the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card.
  • What makes this card unique? Employee cards come at no additional cost, a feature that business cards often charge for. Plus, you can set custom spending limits on employee cards for added security.
  • Is the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card worth it? It depends. The card does have a consistent rewards structure, value-boosting perks and no annual fee. Think carefully about whether or not you can afford the spend requirement before you decide on this card for its sign-up bonus.

Read our Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Best for airline sign-up bonus

  • This card is a good fit for: Frequent Southwest Airlines flyers looking for a low annual fee.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Someone who might not always fly with Southwest Airlines.
  • What makes this card unique? As a reward for your brand loyalty, Southwest offers several perks that can take the headache out of traveling. Lost luggage is reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger, and delayed luggage is insured up to $100 per day for three days. Plus, your first two bags fly free (size and weight limits apply), and there are no fees for flight changes.
  • Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card worth it? Yes. It’s a great starter card for frequent Southwest flyers. With its low annual fee of $69 and its lucrative rewards, this card offers a great deal of value.

Read our Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.


What is a credit card sign-up bonus?

A credit card sign-up bonus is an incentive that credit card issuers offer new customers to entice them to sign up for new credit cards. These bonuses often come to customers in the form of cash back or points, and typically require that the cardholder spend a certain dollar amount in a fixed time period—usually three months from account opening.

Like anything involving credit cards, you should consider a card holistically—not just the sign-up bonus—when determining if it’s right for you.

Bankrate insight
Most cards keep the same bonuses or welcome offers for long periods of time, but occasionally they change it up. Browse our list of credit card limited-time offers to compare the most up-to-date sign-up bonuses and more.

Types of sign-up bonuses

There are several types of credit card sign-up bonuses. They include cash back, rewards points, travel miles and, in some cases, merchandise. Anything a credit card issuer offers new cardholders to incentivize them to sign up could be considered a part of a sign-up bonus, but the most common types of sign-up bonuses are:

  • Cash back: Cash back is one of the most common forms of sign-up bonuses. A cash back sign-up bonus will usually fall between $100 and $500, depending on the credit card. Oftentimes, cash back sign-up bonus show up as a statement credit on the card account.
  • Travel miles: Whether you sign up for a general travel card or a co-branded airline credit card, the best cards offer airline miles or travel points redeemable for flights and more.
  • Rewards points: Points are arguably the most flexible type of sign-up bonus, as they can be redeemed for travel purchases, cash back or statement credits. However, points may not translate to miles or cash back at a 1:1 ratio, so be aware of point values and how to calculate them.

What to know about sign-up bonus offers

Sign-up bonus restrictions are arguably one of the most confusing parts of credit card welcome offers. Sign-up bonuses often require cardholders to go beyond a basic understanding of a card’s features and dig into issuer restrictions and limits. When choosing a credit card based on its sign-up bonus keep the following in mind:

Issuer restrictions

Credit card churning is when consumers frequently open new credit cards to qualify for sign-up bonuses without the intent to use the card over the long term. In order to prevent credit card churning, many of the major credit card issuers set limits on how often people can sign up for cards and earn sign-up bonuses. Most of these restrictions include limits on how many cards you can have with one issuer and how often you can receive sign-up bonuses if you’ve claimed them in the past. For example, the Chase 5/24 rule states that cardholders can’t get a new Chase credit card if there are five or more credit card inquires on their credit report in the past 24 months, and you can only earn a sign-up bonus once every 24 to 48 months.

Some purchases don’t count toward sign-up bonuses

Most everyday purchases should bring you closer to meeting the spending requirement for a sign-up bonus. On the other hand, credit card issuers make exceptions for certain transactions that don’t qualify. Ineligible purchases and transactions typically include:

  • Cash advances
  • Balance transfers
  • Lottery tickets
  • Wire transfers
  • Fees, including annual fees
  • Refunded purchases

In many cases, these purchases don’t earn rewards either.

Check the terms and conditions of any credit card you’re interested in to get a better understanding of what counts as an eligible purchase in relation to a sign-up bonus, as well as other important information about using the card.

Who should get a sign-up bonus credit card?

A sign-up bonus can be a great addition to all the perks that come with a credit card. But it’s important to remember that a sign-up bonus is just that, a bonus. A credit card should fit in with your existing habits and financial goals. Be sure to evaluate all facets of a credit card before you sign up for one.

A credit card with a great sign-up bonus might be right for you if you fall into certain categories:

Finding the true value of sign-up bonuses

A generous sign-up bonus, sometimes called a welcome offer, is one of the marks of a high-quality credit card. Sometimes, the biggest bonuses might require the most spending and a smaller bonus could turn out to be more economical.

Finding the best credit card bonus offers for new cardholders can require a little research. We’ve compared several cards highlighted on this page to see how much bang for the buck each one offers. The spending/bonus ratio measures the estimated maximum value* of the sign-up bonus (which may vary depending on which redemption option you choose) versus the spending requirement. By this calculation, the higher the ratio, the better.

Card Category Bonus Spending requirement Bonus/spending ratio
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Travel 60,000 bonus points $4,000 in first 3 months 0.25
Chase Freedom Flex Cash back $200 cash bonus $500 in first 3 months 0.40
Chase Freedom Unlimited Cash back worth up to $300 cash back Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) 0.40
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® Airline 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles $2,500 in first 3 months 0.28

*Estimated mile/point values are from The Points Guy monthly valuations.

However, don’t make a decision on a credit card based solely on the sign-up bonus. Other factors to consider include:

  • The annual fee and if it’s waived for the first year
  • The card’s overall perks and benefits
  • The rewards program associated with the card
  • The card’s variable APR

How to maximize your sign-up bonus

Once you’ve decided which sign-up bonus offer suits you best, there are a few steps you can take to make the most of the opportunity. Knowing your card’s rewards structure, staying current on additional special offers and understanding your redemption options can turbo-charge your sign-up bonus.

Take advantage of other special offers

Keep track of any additional special offers while looking for the best credit card sign-up bonus. Some of these limited-time offers and extras can sweeten the pot quite a bit, like:

  • Introductory 0 percent APR: Zero-interest intro offers can help you temporarily avoid interest on purchases and give you the opportunity to manage debt with a balance transfer.
  • Limited-time special rewards rates: In addition to a sign-up bonus, some issuers offer cardholders extra categories and/or boosted rates on certain purchases for a limited time.
  • Referral bonus: Issuers may provide a bonus if you steer someone else toward a card application. For example, Chase awards $100 to $500 or 15,000 to 75,000 points for referrals, depending on the card.
  • Anniversary bonus: Several cards, especially airline or hotel credit cards, reward your loyalty each year with a bonus. Select Marriott Bonvoy cards will give you a Free Night Award every year on your account anniversary, for example.
Bankrate insight
Many travel credit card issuers added a wealth of special perks in 2021 to make up for the absence of travel during the pandemic. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one example, offering a one-year DashPass membership to those who activate their card by March 31, 2022.

Know your redemption options

Redeeming your sign-up bonus for something valuable is every bit as important as the size of the bonus itself. It’s important to know the ways your credit card’s rewards program allows your sign-up bonus to be redeemed, such as:

  • Cash back (statement credit, direct deposit, check)
  • Travel
  • Conversion to cash back, points or miles
  • Partner loyalty program transfer
  • Online shopping checkout with rewards (PayPal, Amazon, etc.)
  • Credit toward qualifying bills or loans with the issuing bank
  • Gift cards
  • Merchandise
  • Charitable donation

Redeem your rewards for boosted value

When you’re exploring your card’s redemption options, pay close attention to the fine print since your bonus might gain value when redeemed through certain channels. You might see this boost for redeeming toward travel especially.

Bankrate insight
Chase offers a 25 percent value increase when you redeem points for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Sapphire Preferred Card and a 50 percent value increase with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

When should you second-guess getting a sign-up bonus card

  • If you’re unable to pay off your credit card balance in full each month. Leaving a balance on your card at the end of the month will result in interest charges. In this case you’re better off signing on for a card with a lower interest rate instead of focusing on a card’s sign-up bonus, especially if the spend requirement associated with that bonus is high.
  • If you’re still building your credit. Responsibly using a credit card is a great way to build up your credit score. Unfortunately, a lower credit score typically means a higher APR on a new credit card. Borrowers with lower scores should focus on securing cards with no annual fee (or a small annual fee) and a manageable APR.
  • If you’re only considering signing up for a card because of the sign-up bonus. Take a holistic view of any credit card you sign up for. Does it fit with your overall financial goals? Does it offer long-term benefits outside of the sign-up bonus? Be sure the answers to these questions work for you.

Pros and cons of credit cards with sign-up bonuses

Sign-up bonuses can be a great addition to the overall benefits provided by a credit card. Some of the best sign-up bonuses are worth $1,000 or more. While a deal that has that level of rewards can initially seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to consider how a card can impact your finances before you choose one.

Pros

  • Notable value: Sign-up bonuses on cards are often worth hundreds of dollars in cash back or travel purchases, some ranging from $200 to over $1,000 in value.
  • Quick gratification: With certain cards, you can earn a hearty sum of rewards shortly after opening your account. Some cards will reward you with a sign-up bonus after making just a single purchase.
  • Ongoing rewards: Many cards that offer sign-up bonuses also come with rewards programs that you can use even after earning the bonus.

Cons

  • High credit score requirements: Cards with generous sign-up bonuses are frequently designed for people who have good-to-excellent credit.
  • Iffy long-term value: A fantastic sign-up bonus may distract from mediocre ongoing benefits. Be sure to evaluate the potential long-term value of the card, such as rewards rates, redemption options or whether or not you want to pay an annual fee.
  • Encourages overspending: Sign-up bonuses require you to spend a certain amount within a specific timeframe, spending beyond what you’re able to afford and incurring debt wipes out the benefits of a sign-up bonus.

How to choose the best sign-up bonus

In some ways, judging the best sign-up bonus involves the Goldilocks strategy—finding the one that’s just right. To that end, don’t impulsively apply for a credit card based solely on an attractive bonus. Make sure it’s worth your while before deciding.

Here’s a list of steps on how to choose the right card with the right bonus for you.

  1. Know your financial goals. Do you use credit cards to earn cash back, travel miles or another kind of reward? Answer that question and choose a sign-up bonus accordingly. If you don’t travel much, it doesn’t make sense to get a travel rewards card that offers extra miles as a sign-up bonus.
  2. Stay within your spending habits. Is your normal spending routine in line with what you would have to spend to earn the bonus? Here’s a quick illustration: If you usually spend $500 a month with your card, look for a sign-up bonus with a 3-month spending requirement of $1,500 or less. If you can’t realistically meet the spending requirement without overextending your budget, it’s best to avoid the temptation.
  3. Be selective about applying. Every credit card application involves a hard credit check that temporarily lowers your credit score, so don’t go overboard in your quest for a juicy sign-up bonus. Make sure to take advantage of any pre-qualification checks a credit card issuer may offer. This preliminary soft credit inquiry doesn’t guarantee eligibility, but it doesn’t hurt your credit score. An easy way to find pre-qualified credit card offers is through tools like CardMatch™. The CardMatch feature searches for pre-qualified offers from Bankrate’s credit card partners quickly and securely, with no effect on your credit score.

How we chose our list of top sign-up bonus credit cards

Bankrate uses a 5-star scoring system to evaluate the credit cards available from our partners. To select the cards featured on this page, we further refined the criteria to focus on factors we think make these the best credit card sign-up bonuses, including:

Bonus value

The bonus, whether cash back, travel rewards or multi-purpose points, should be well worth the time and effort of applying for the card. The bonus value should also compare favorably with the card's cost of ownership (annual fees, etc.).

Ease of acquiring the bonus

Two important factors to consider when deciding on a card with a sign-up bonus are the minimum required spend to earn the bonus and the timeframe in which you have to spend that amount of money. The spending requirement to qualify for the bonus should be proportional to its value.

Long-term value

Features outside of the bonus itself, such as annual fees, rewards rates and redemption options are also important to evaluate. Once the sign-up bonus requirements are met, you’ll need to gauge the ongoing value of the card and how it will best suit your lifestyle.

Learn more about credit cards with sign-up bonuses

For more information, read our expert reviews for individual cards and check out more resources from Bankrate.com:


Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate

Frequently Asked Questions

about the author
Mariah Ackary is a personal finance writer who specializes in credit card rewards and small business credit. Mariah is a lifelong writer, but she began writing about finance in 2018. She joined the Bankrate team in 2019, excited by the opportunity to directly help people make good financial decisions. Send your questions to mackary@bankrate.com ...
about the editor
Former Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other personal finance products since 2017. Before joining Bankrate, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.