Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase. Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Regular APR: 14.99 - 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases). Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases). Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Regular APR: 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Regular APR: 15.99%-22.99% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases 1.8% cash rewards on digital wallet purchases including Google Pay™ or Apple Pay® during the first 12 months from account opening
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Regular APR: 14.49%-24.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • Regular APR: 13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter! Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase. Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores. Earn 1% on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Regular APR: 14.99 - 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
  • Welcome Offer: Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Regular APR: 13.24% - 19.24% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • Regular APR: 15.99% - 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Some of the offers on this page may have expired.

The information about the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed by the card issuer.

Bankrate’s guide to credit card sign-up bonuses

If getting a great sign-up bonus from a new credit card is your goal, the personal finance experts at Bankrate can help you do it the right way.

The best credit card bonus offers for new cardholders can deliver hundreds of dollars in cash back, thousands of travel miles and more. Each offer has real value, but which ones are the most valuable for you? Do they match up with your spending habits and the goals you want to accomplish with your new credit card? Is there an overall best credit card bonus offer for new cardholders?

Here’s everything you need to know about the best credit card sign-up bonuses for 2021:

Our picks for top sign-up bonus credit cards

Card Sign-up Bonus Spending Requirement Bankrate Review Score
Chase Freedom Unlimited® $200 cash bonus $500 within first 3 months 4.6 / 5
(Read full card review)
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card $200 online cash rewards bonus $1,000 within first 90 days 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 80,000 points (worth $1,000 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®) and up to $50 in statement credits toward grocery store purchases within your first year after account opening $4,000 within first 3 months 4.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card $150 cash bonus $500 within first 3 months 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Rewards+® Card 15,000 ThankYou Points $1,000 within first 3 months 4.6 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Freedom Flex℠ $200 cash bonus $500 within first 3 months 4.5 / 5
(Read full card review)
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card $750 $7,500 within first 3 months 4.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card 40,000 Rapid Rewards points plus 3X points on dining for the first year $1,000 within first 3 months 4.1 / 5
(Read full card review)

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

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Why it’s best for cash back in multiple categories

The sign-up bonus offers new account holders the chance to earn $200 after spending just $500 in their first three months. However, you won’t have to wait to start earning cash back in a variety of categories, including 5 percent on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases, 3 percent on dining and drugstore purchases and 1.5 percent on all other purchases. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a valuable and versatile choice, especially if you pair it with one of the Chase Sapphire cards.

Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why it’s best for choice of cash back category

You’ll earn a $200 online cash welcome bonus after spending just $1,000 in your first 90 days. What’s more impressive is that you get to choose between gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstore or home improvement purchases as your 3 percent cash back category. Plus, you’ll earn 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined 3 percent and 2 percent category spending per quarter, then 1 percent) and unlimited 1 percent on every other purchase. If you want to control where you earn your highest cash back rate, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is a great choice.

Read our Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card review.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Why it’s best for biggest travel sign-up bonus

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you get 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $1,000 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus you’ll earn up to $50 in statement credits toward grocery store purchases within your first year after account opening.In addition to the impressive, sign-up bonus, the card earns 2X points on travel and dining worldwide and 1X points on everything else.

Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Why it’s best for flat-rate cash back

You’ll get a $150 cash bonus after spending just $500 in your first 3 months. You’ll also earn an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase, but that flat rate does get a little bit steeper in certain cases. Qualified digital wallet purchases like Google Pay™ or Apple Pay® earn 1.8 percent during your first 12 months as a cardholder. This no-annual-fee card matches up well with consumers who are digital wallet first, physical wallet second. The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa’s consistent rewards and easy-to-reach sign-up bonus make it an affordable everyday option.

Read our Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card review.

Citi Rewards+® Card

Why it’s best for rounding up rewards

You’ll get a 15,000-point sign-up bonus when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Even more interesting, the Citi Rewards+ Card has a unique feature — with every purchase you make, Citi rounds up your rewards to the nearest 10 points on every purchase. The card earns 2X ThankYou Points at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000 in combined purchases each year, then 1X points) and 1x ThankYou Points on everything else. With no annual fee and the round-up feature, you can get a lot of value out of this card beyond the sign-up bonus.

Read our Citi Rewards+® Card review.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Why it’s best for rotating cash back categories

The sign-up bonus is a $200 cash bonus when you spend at least $500 within the first three months of card ownership. Where you can really cash in is with the rotating bonus categories that earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases (then 1 percent) each quarter you activate. No-limit cash back categories include 5 percent on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases, 3 percent on restaurant and drugstore purchases and 1 percent on all other purchases. The rotating bonus categories and high rewards rates in other categories have tremendous cash back potential.

Read our Chase Freedom Flex℠ review.

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Why it’s best for business sign-up bonus

This card’s sign-up bonus offers $750 cash back after you spend $7,500 within 3 months of opening your account. You’ll also earn 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, with no caps or categories, making it easy to earn a respectable amount of cash back even if you spend modestly. The Ink Business Unlimited is a no-annual-fee card that offers quite a bit of bang for your buck, beginning with the sign-up bonus.

Read our Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card review.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Why it’s best for airline sign-up bonus

New cardholders can earn 40,000 points, plus 3X points on dining for the first year, after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months. Depending on your destination, you might spend that much for one or two round-trip tickets. Also, you earn 2 Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases, as well as purchases made with the airline’s hotel and car rental partners, plus 1x points elsewhere. The $69 annual fee is comparatively modest, but the 3% foreign transaction fee makes the card best suited for domestic travel.

Read our Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card review.

What is a credit card sign-up bonus?

A credit card sign-up bonus is a one-time reward that you earn by making a certain amount of purchases with the new card within a specific amount of time, usually three months from the day you open your account. Once you meet the spending requirement, you’ll typically receive the bonus in two to three billing cycles.

Most cards keep the same bonuses or welcome offers for long periods of time, but keeping an eye out for limited-time offers might lead to a lucrative opportunity. Some issuers might have one or more limited-time offers available to new cardholders at any given time. These offers occasionally change, so double-check during the application process — there may be an updated limited-time option you didn’t know about before.

Types of sign-up bonuses

There’s no clear-cut best credit card bonus offer for everyone, but taking a look at the three most common sign-up categories can help you find your ideal choice:

Rewards points

With a sign-up bonus offering points, you’ll usually see a range as low as 10,000 and as high as 100,000 points after meeting the spending requirement.

Travel miles

Sign-up bonuses involving miles usually run between 10,000 and 100,000 miles and may require $500 to $3,000 or more in purchases within the first three months of account opening. With most cards, you’re able to redeem your miles for cash back, gift cards, merchandise and more, but the best value usually comes from using them for travel purchases.

Cash back

Cash back sign-up bonuses tend to vary between $100 and $500, depending on the card. To qualify for the cash back bonus, you usually have to spend between $500 and $3,000 within three months.

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.

Comparing the best 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, though, the biggest bonuses might require the most spending to earn 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 80,000 bonus points $4,000 in first 3 months .25
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Cash back $200 cash bonus $500 in first 3 months .40
Chase Freedom Unlimited Cash back $200 cash bonus $500 in first 3 months .40
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® Airline 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles $2,500 within first 3 months .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 size of the annual fee and whether 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 reward 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:

Know your redemption options

Redeeming your sign-up bonus for something valuable is every bit as important as the size of the bonus itself. After all, a large bonus miles offer is worth much less if you don’t redeem it for travel. It’s important to know the ways your 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.

Notably, 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®.

Should you get a sign-up bonus credit card?

A sign-up bonus or welcome offer can provide an alluring incentive to get a new credit card. How do you know if it’s the right decision for you? Consider some of the possible advantages and disadvantages before you apply.

The bonus itself is an obvious financial incentive. Depending on the card and the offer, you could be in line to earn a generous cash back bonus, a bundle of travel miles or whatever specific reward the offer entails. These things have real monetary value.

Getting a sign-up bonus credit card can also be an opportunity to upgrade from the card you’re currently using. In addition to the bonus, the newer card might offer a better rewards program, more perks and so on.

On the other hand, opening a new credit account is a big commitment. A hard-inquiry credit check that accompanies a card application can temporarily reduce your credit score. If the new card has an annual fee in addition to a bonus, you’ll need to factor in that cost as you consider applying for it.

The overriding goal of having credit is to use it responsibly. Sign-up bonuses can be lucrative, but always be sure to weigh any short-term gains against your overall credit health.

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

Our criteria for including a card on this list include:

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

The spending requirement to qualify for the bonus should be proportional to its value.

Overall quality

The card should have a Bankrate Score that puts it in the upper tier of credit cards available from our partners.

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:


Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, loans, mortgages and other personal finance products for Bankrate since 2018. His work has also appeared on websites including Nasdaq.com, Zillow.com and The Simple Dollar. He was previously an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to bbridges@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

* 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.