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Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Million Mile Secrets reader Paul Davis commented:
Do you track the most points ever offered for any particular card? I know some cards cycle on and off at different levels (like the Chase Ink Plus). And, I know some cards have 1-time offers (like the Citi Executive 100,000 mile offer).
I also acknowledge that history doesn’t necessarily provide the ability to predict what might happen in the future. Example I’m looking at right now: Citi ThankYou Premier card now offering 50,000 Citi ThankYou points. It looks like they have offered more at times in the past.
So, I don’t know whether to apply now or wait for a better, richer offer. Looking for some perspective. I hate the idea of applying and then seeing a better offer in 6 months. A chart with the most points offered by card would be fabulous.
Fantastic question and idea, Paul. I wish I could tell whether the top deals for each card will come back (and when).
That said, let’s have a look at the highest sign-up bonuses ever offered for the most popular cards.
And I’ll give my best guess as to whether we’ll ever see these deals again!
Highest Sign-Up Bonuses Ever Offered
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and remember these top deals for the cards that get folks the most Big Travel with Small Money!
|Card Name||Current Sign-Up Bonus (After Meeting Minimum Spending Requirements)||Highest Sign-Up Bonus (After Meeting Minimum Spending Requirement)|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points||100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points (targeted)|
|The Business Platinum Card From American Express||40,000 American Express Membership Rewards points||150,000 American Express Membership Rewards points (targeted)|
|Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express||25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points||75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points (targeted)|
|The Business Gold Rewards Card From American Express||25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points||75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points (targeted)|
|American Express SimplyCash||$250||$300 (targeted)|
|American Express EveryDay Preferred||15,000 American Express Membership Rewards points||15,000 American Express Membership Rewards points plus a year of free Amazon Prime membership|
|American Express EveryDay||10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points||10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points|
|Starwood Preferred Guest American Express (Personal)||25,000 Starwood points||35,000 Starwood points|
|Starwood Preferred Guest American Express (Business)||25,000 Starwood points||35,000 Starwood points|
|Chase British Airways||Total of 100,000 British Airways Avios points||100,000 British Airways Avios points|
|Chase Freedom||15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150)||35,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($350)|
|Chase Ink Cash||20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($200)||30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($300)|
|Chase Ink Plus||60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points||70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points||50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points|
|Chase Southwest Plus (Personal)||40,000 Southwest points||50,000 Southwest points|
|Chase Southwest Premier (Personal)||50,000 Southwest points||50,000 Southwest points|
|Chase Southwest Premier (Business)||50,000 Southwest points||50,000 Southwest points|
|Chase United MileagePlus® Explorer Card (Personal)||30,000 United Airlines miles||65,000 United Airlines miles plus $50 statement credit|
|Chase United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card||50,000 United Airlines miles||60,000 United Airlines miles|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®||50,000 American Airlines miles||100,000 American Airlines miles|
|Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card||40,000 Hilton points||75,000 Hilton points|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®||50,000 American Airlines miles||50,000 American Airlines miles + 2 Admirals Club lounge passes|
|Citi Prestige® Card||50,000 Citi ThankYou points||100,000 Citi ThankYou points (targeted)|
|Citi ThankYou® Premier Card||50,000 Citi ThankYou points||60,000 Citi ThankYou points|
If I’ve missed 1 of your favorite deals, let me know and I’ll update the post!
1. The Platinum Card From American Express
The highest bonus I’ve seen for the American Express Platinum card last came around in January. You’d earn 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after you spent $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account. (EXPIRED.)
This was a targeted offer so only folks who were able to see it using the CardMatch tool could apply.
I wouldn’t count on a public offer for 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points returning any time soon. That said, it always pays to check the CardMatch tool before you apply.
2. The Business Platinum Card From American Express
But it came with a whopping $20,000 spending requirement in 3 months!
This was also a targeted offer, but many folks were able to approved by quoting an offer code.
3. American Express Premier Rewards Gold
The regular sign-up bonus for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card is 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
But in the past, AMEX has targeted folks for offers as high as 75,000 points after spending only $1,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of account opening. (EXPIRED)
That’s a fabulous deal for a card which waives the annual fee in the 1st year!
These deals came around in 2012 and 2013, so I don’t think we’ll see them again any time soon. But I’d love to be surprised! 🙂
4. The Business Gold Rewards Card From American Express OPEN
Earlier in 2015, there were a couple of ways to get a much better (triple the usual number of points!) deal on the The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN.
Normally, the sign-up bonus is 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months. But with these offers, you’d earn 75,000 points (1 of the offers required double the minimum spending). (EXPIRED)
To get the better deal, you could either call with a special offer code to apply. And some folks had success with an online link (which required some clicking and using different browsers to see the deal).
And because this is an AMEX business card, some folks who held it in the past were able to get it again. That’s because AMEX allows folks to earn the sign-up bonus on business cards more than once, as long as they haven’t held the card in the past 12 months.
5. American Express SimplyCash
Link: Targeted Snail Mail $300 Offer for American Express SimplyCash (EXPIRED)
The American Express SimplyCash is a cash back business card with NO annual fee.
Until September 21, 2015, you’ll earn $250 cash back after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the 1st 6 months of opening your account.
Check your mailbox, because you might be targeted for a higher offer!
Emily and I received an offer in our postal mail for $300 cash back after meeting minimum spending requirements. That’s terrific for a no-annual-fee card!
6. American Express EveryDay and EveryDay Preferred
But last year, there were limited time offers for both cards which included a year’s free membership in Amazon Prime (worth $99).
Normally, the sign-up bonuses for these cards are 15,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your accountwith the American Express EveryDay Preferred.
And 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after meeting the same spending requirement with the American Express EveryDay card.
7. The Starwood Preferred Guest Card From American Express (Personal and Business)
For several years, usually in the summer, American Express has increased the sign-up bonus on the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express personal and business cards to 30,000 Starwood points after meeting minimum spending requirements.
Normally, the sign-up bonus is 25,000 Starwood points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
I can’t guarantee this offer will return again, but it’s come back every summer for several years, so chances are pretty good!
Folks love Starwood points because they’re so flexible. And because you’ll get a 5,000 point bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to airline partners. Check out my series on how to earn and use Starwood points!
1. Chase British Airways
Link: Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card
In 2012 and 2013, folks who collect British Airways Avios points hit the jackpot with a huge 100,000 British Airways Avios point sign-up bonus on the Chase British Airways card.
But to get the big bonus, you had to spend a total of $20,000! Luckily, there are lots of ways to meet minimum spending requirements.
Usually, the sign-up bonus is 50,000 British Airways Avios points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
Many folks use British Airways Avios points for cheap, short-haul domestic coach flights on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines. A 1-way flight under 650 miles only costs 4,500 British Airways Avios points!
So the 100,000 British Airways Avios point sign-up bonus was worth over 11 domestic short-haul coach round-trip tickets! Amazing.
I’d love to see this deal come around again. But I’m not holding my breath!
2. Chase Freedom
Link: Chase Freedom
A couple of times a year, Chase usually increases the sign-up bonus on the Chase Freedom card to 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, worth $200 cash back.
Normally, the sign-up bonus is 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($100 cash back) after meeting minimum spending requirements.
But did you know there was a 35,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards point sign-up bonus ($350 cash back!) in 2012? That’s a fantastic offer for a card with no annual fee.
The Chase Freedom is 1 of my favorite no-annual-fee cards because it makes it easy to earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points in categories that change each quarter, just remember to activate the bonus.
And if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (which is longer available), you can transfer points earned from the Chase Freedom to airline and hotel partners like United Airlines and Hyatt.
3. Chase Ink Cash
Link: Chase Ink Cash
The Chase Ink Cash is another great no-annual-fee card. Usually, the sign-up bonus is 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($200) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
The bonus was increased most recently in May 2015.
Folks like the Chase Ink Cash because it earns 5X points at office supply stores and on phone, internet, cable TV, and wireless purchases. And 2X points at gas stations and restaurants.
This is a business card, so read my tips on how to fill out a Chase business card application. And how your small business may qualify you for a business card!
Going by Chase’s history, it wouldn’t surprise me if the better 30,000 point offer returned later this year or next year. But no guarantees!
4. Chase Ink Plus
Link: Chase Ink Plus
In October 2014 we saw the highest offer ever for the Chase Ink Plus card. You’d earn 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth at least ~$875 in travel) after spending $5,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of account opening.
The only downside of the offer was that the $95 annual fee was NOT waived for the 1st year as it usually is. But I’d gladly pay $95 for an extra 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points!
This was an amazing deal! Normally, the sign-up bonus on this card is 50,000 Chase Ultimate rewards points after meeting minimum spending requirements.
And occasionally Chase will increase the bonus to 60,000 points, most recently this spring.
I really hope this offer comes back! You can read my post which shows how to get thousands of dollars in travel from the 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points you’d earn from this deal!
5. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
It’s been a few years since we’ve seen an increased sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
Currently, the sign-up bonus is 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
This is a very popular card because it earns 2X points on travel (a very broad category!) and restaurants. And it doesn’t add foreign transaction fees.
So perhaps we haven’t seen a recent increased bonus because the card is appealing enough that Chase doesn’t need to promote it as much?
That said, folks who are new to our hobby should read my post about Chase’s new application rules. If you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards in the past 24 months (from any bank!), it’s unlikely you’ll get approved for Chase branded cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
That’s also why it makes sense to make this 1 of the 1st cards you get when starting out.
6. Chase Southwest
Link: Chase Southwest Plus
One of the most predictable increased sign-up bonuses is on the Chase Southwest cards.
Several times a year, Chase has increasesd the bonus on each (or all) of these cards from 25,000 to 50,000 Southwest points after meeting minimum spending requirements.
Signing-up for 2 Chase Southwest cards when the bonus is increased to 50,000 Southwest points is the easiest way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
That’s because you need to earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year to qualify for the Companion Pass. It’s the best deal for domestic travel, because your companion flies with you for almost free on both paid and award tickets!
With 2 Southwest cards and points earned from minimum spending, you’ll earn 104,000 Southwest points.
And it’s easy to earn the remaining 6,000 points you’ll need to achieve Southwest Companion Pass status!
7. Chase United MileagePlus Explorer (Personal and Business)
You’ll currently earn 30,000 United Airlines miles and a $50 statement credit after completing minimum spending with the Chase United MileagePlus (Personal) card. And 50,000 United Airlines miles with the Chase United MileagePlus (Business) card.
But in the past, it’s gone as high as 65,000 United Airlines miles, plus a $50 statement credit!
That’s more than enough for a 1-way Business Class award ticket to Europe!
I haven’t seen this good a deal since 2012, so I’m not sure when it will come back, if ever.
1. Citi Executive AAdvantage
Here’s a deal that appeared for several months last year that folks still talk about.
The Citi Executive AAdvantage card had an amazing 100,000 American Airlines mile sign-up bonus after you spent $10,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
And you’d earn a $200 statement credit and get access to Admirals Club lounges, which offset some of the steep $450 annual fee.
What made this offer extra special is that folks were able to apply for multiple versions of the card and earn the sign-up bonus again (and again, and again!).
I bet many of us have a LOT of American Airlines miles saved up because of this offer! I don’t like hoarding miles, though, because you never know when award programs will change and your miles could lose value.
The regular offer on this card has since dropped to 50,000 American Airlines miles (and no $200 statement credit). But there’s a new offer for the Citi Executive AAdvantage for 75,000 American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 on purchases in the 1st 3 months.
I don’t know how long this will last.
2. Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature
Finally, a current offer that’s the highest I’ve seen for a card! 🙂
There’s a limited-time offer available now for the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card. Usually, you’ll earn 40,000 Hilton points after meeting minimum spending requirements.
That’s almost double the usual bonus! And the best deal I’ve ever seen for this card.
And here’s my series of posts on top Hilton hotels throughout the world:
- 5 Great Hotels in Europe
- 5 Top US Hotels
- 5 Amazing Hotels in Australia and the South Pacific
- 5 Spectacular Hotels in Asia
- 5 Beautiful Hotels in the Caribbean
- 5 of the Best US Beaches
3. Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage
The best deal I’ve seen for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage was the 2013 offer which included 50,000 American Airlines miles and 2 Admirals Club lounge passes after completing minimum spending.
Normally, you’d earn 30,000 American Airlines miles after meeting minimum spending requirements with this card.
That said, there’s a current, limited-time offer for this Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage card. You’ll earn 50,000 American Airlines miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account. But Admirals Club passes are no longer included.
I miss when you could earn 100,000 American Airlines miles by applying for this card and the (no longer offere) Citi AAdvantage American Express card by using the 2-browser trick! Those were the days! 🙂
4. Citi Prestige
Link: Citi Prestige
In April, 2015, Citi increased the sign-up bonus on the Citi Prestige card from 30,000 Citi ThankYou points to 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after you spent $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account. (EXPIRED.)
Note: I found a report on FlyerTalk of someone receiving targeted 100,000 point Citi Prestige offer in their postal mail. Let me know if you’ve gotten this offer!
5. Citi ThankYou Premier
Link: Citi ThankYou Premier
Around the same time Citi made changes to the Citi Prestige card, they also made it easier to earn the full sign-up bonus on the Citi ThankYou Premier card.
In the past, it would take over a year (and payment of the annual fee) to earn the full 50,000 Citi ThankYou point bonus on the Citi ThankYou Premier. (EXPIRED.)
But now, you’ll earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months. (EXPIRED.)
That said, in 2012 there were reports on FlyerTalk of folks getting targeted snail mail offers for 60,000 Citi ThankYou points with this card.
I haven’t heard anything recently. So I’m not expecting any increased bonuses on this card any time soon.
Great credit card offers come and go, and some of our favorite deals for Big Travel included amazing increased sign-up bonuses.
It’s usually difficult to predict which of these deals will return in the future. But by looking at the history of these offers, you can sometimes get an idea!
Have I missed any of your favorite increased sign-up bonuses? Let me know if you remember better offers than the ones I’ve mentioned!
Thanks for the question, Paul!