My Current Favorite Sign-Up Bonuses for Big Travel!

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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. 

The easiest way to earn lots of miles and points for your next vacation is credit card sign-up bonuses.  But there are so many great cards and the offers are constantly changing.

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

Wondering Which Cards You Should Sign-Up for Now?

I’ll tell you my top picks!

New to This Hobby?

The fastest way to earn miles and points for Big Travel with Small Money is from credit card sign-up bonuses and spending.  But you should keep these tips in mind before you start applying for credit cards:

  • Start Out Slow – I recommend folks who are new to this sign-up for 1 or 2 cards, until they’re comfortable.  This will give you time to see how your credit is impacted and if you’re able to pay your bills on time.
  • Set Your Travel Goals – Where and how do you want to travel?  Then figure out which miles or points will get you there.  Otherwise, you may wind up with points that aren’t useful to you.

My Favorite New & Limited Time Offers

Several cards have increased their sign-up bonuses lately and some of these deals are ending soon.  Here’s a look at my top 5 picks:

1.   AMEX Starwood

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Link:   My Review of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

 

The AMEX Starwood personal and small business cards both currently offer an increased bonus of 30,000 Starwood points when you complete the minimum spending.

This deal is 5,000 Starwood points more than the usual sign-up bonus and has only come around once a year for the past 4 years.  The extra points can be worth ~$200 or more in hotel stays.  So this is an excellent deal!

Aside from increasing the sign-up bonus, there are new perks (Boingo internet, NO foreign transaction fees, & more) that make the AMEX Starwood cards a better deal than they were before.

But this is the last day to sign-up and earn the increased bonus, because this deal ends September 14, 2015, (tomorrow)!

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

You Can Use Your 30,000 Starwood Points to Stay at Incredible Starwood Hotels Like the Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa in Mauritius

I like earning Starwood points because you can transfer them to ~30+ airline partners, like American Airlines or British Airways.

Plus, you get 5,000 bonus points for every 20,000 points you convert to airline miles.  This makes putting your everyday spending on the AMEX Starwood personal or small business card a better option than using an airline branded card.

2.   Citi Hilton Visa Signature

Link:   Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card

Link:   My Full Review of the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card

The sign-up bonus for the Citi Hilton Visa Signature has almost DOUBLED to 75,000 Hilton points when you spend $2,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

What I like about this card is it has NO annual fee, so you never have to cancel.  And 75,000 Hilton points is enough for up to 20 award nights at Hilton category 1 hotels or up to 10 award nights at Hilton category 2 hotels.

You can also use your Hilton points for more luxurious stays.  See my list of 10 hotel suggestions.

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

75,000 Hilton Points Can Also Get You a Night at the Prestigious Waldorf Astoria in New York City!

3.   AMEX Simply Cash

Link:   AMEX SimplyCash – $250 Statement Credit

Link:   My Review of the AMEX SimplyCash Card

Another deal that’s scheduled to end soon is the $250 sign-up bonus you can earn when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the 1st 6 months of opening an AMEX SimplyCash small business card.

This offer is set to end September 21, 2015.  The expiration date on this deal has been extended a few times, but I don’t know if that will happen again.

What I like about this card is there’s NO annual fee and you can earn 5% cash back at US office supply stores (and on US cell phone service).

Office supply stores like Staples carry gift cards to other stores like Amazon, movie theaters, and restaurants.  So you can earn 5% cash back in even more categories!

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

With the AMEX SimplyCash Card, You Can Save 5% at Places Like Whole Foods, Amazon, Nordstrom, and More by Purchasing Gift Cards at Office Supply Stores

The AMEX SimplyCash card is a small business card, so check out my post on 3 ways you might qualify for a business card.  And here’s my guide for completing an AMEX business card application.

4.   Chase Southwest Cards

Link:   Chase Southwest Premier

Link:   Chase Southwest Premier Small Business Card

It’s now easier to earn the Southwest Companion Pass (a friend can fly with you for up to 2 years)!  That’s because you can earn 50,000 Southwest points with both the Chase Southwest Premier personal and small business cards when you complete the minimum spending.

The $99 annual fee on each card is NOT waived.

We don’t earn a commission on the Chase Southwest Premier small business card, but we’ll always tell you about the best deals!

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

The Southwest Companion Pass Makes It Easy for Friends and Family to Travel Together on the Cheap! And Signing-Up for the Chase Southwest Premier Personal & Small Business Cards Will Get You Most of the Way There!

5.   Citi AAdvantage Executive

Link:   Citi American Airlines Executive – 75,000 American Airlines Miles

Link:   My Review of the Citi American Airlines Executive

When you sign-up for the Citi AAdvantage Executive card and spend $7,500 within the 1st 3 months, you’ll earn 75,000 American Airlines miles.

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

75,000 American Airlines Miles Is Enough for a 1-Way First Class Ticket to Almost Anywhere in the World! Which Destination Will You Choose?

This card does come with a $450 annual fee.  But 75,000 American Airlines miles can be worth much more than that!  For example, you could use the miles for a 1-way First Class flight to Europe.  Or 2 round-trip (off-peak) coach ticket to Hawaii!

Plus, you’ll get access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges (free drinks, snacks, and Wi-Fi).

This card will also save you money each time you fly American Airlines and US Airways, because you’ll get the 1st checked bag free for you and up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation.

4 Cards That Are Still Great Deals!

These offers have been around for a while now, but they’re still some of the best deals out there!

1.   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   My Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

It’s no secret that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is 1 of my favorite cards.  That’s because you can earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining, both categories where I do a lot of spending!

You can earn 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your Chase Sapphire Preferred account.  And the $95 annual fee is waived the 1st year.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are very flexible.  With airline, hotel, and rail partners you have lots of options when it comes to using your points.

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

As Long as You Have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold, You Can Transfer Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Any of Their Transfer Partners

I prefer to transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to partners like United Airlines and Hyatt.

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Transferred to Hyatt Is Enough for 2 Nights at the Hyatt Regency Maui, Which Could Save You ~$1,100!

2.   Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

Link:   Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve – 2 Weekend Nights + $100 Credit

Link:   My Review of the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

With the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, you can earn 2 weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) nights at almost any Hilton hotel when you complete the minimum spending.  That’s why it’s my favorite Hilton hotel card!

Plus, you can now earn a $100 statement credit after you spend $100 or more on your 1st stay at a Hilton Hotel within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

This more than covers the $95 annual fee, which is NOT waived for the 1st year.

To get this deal, make a test reservation at Hilton.com and the offer should appear in a banner on the page.  Emily and I don’t earn a commission on this offer, but we’ll always tell you about the best sign-up bonuses.

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

The 2 Weekend Nights You Get With the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card Can Save You Thousands of Dollars on a Stay at Hotels Like the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa

My series on the top Hilton hotels to use your 2 weekend nights, may give you some ideas on where to stay!

3.   Citi Prestige

Link:   Citi Prestige

Link:   My Review of the Citi Prestige Card

You can earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points with the Citi Prestige card.  To earn the bonus, spend $3,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.  (EXPIRED.)

You can use 50,000 Citi ThankYou points with transfer partners like Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.  Or use them to book up to $800 in American Airlines flights through the Citi Travel Portal through July 23, 2017!

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

The 50,000 Citi ThankYou Points You Earn With the Citi Prestige Are Worth Up to $800 in American Airlines Flights With No Blackout Dates! And You’ll Still Earn Miles for Your Flight!

And even through this card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee that’s NOT waived the 1st year, you can come out $50 ahead with the statement credits alone!

That’s because you’ll earn:

  • $250 airline statement credit (good towards airfare and other airline fees) in 2015
  • Another $250 airline statement credit in 2016 before you have to pay your next annual fee

Plus, you’ll get other perks like a $100 credit for your Global Entry application, lounge access, and more!

So this is a fantastic deal!

4.   Citi ThankYou Premier

Link:   Citi ThankYou Premier

Link:   My Full Review of the Citi ThankYou Premier

You can also earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points when you sign-up for the Citi ThankYou Premier card and spend $3,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.  (EXPIRED.)

The $95 annual fee is waived for the 1st year.

You can redeem the 50,000 Citi ThankYou points for $625 worth of airfare booked through the Citi Travel Center.  And if you have the Citi Prestige card, they can be worth up to $800 in flights on American Airlines through July 23, 2017!

Or you can transfer your points to partners like Virgin Atlantic for award flights to Hawaii or Flying Blue for good deals on award flights to Europe!

My Current Favorite Sign Up Bonuses For Big Travel

The 50,000 Citi ThankYou Points You’ll Earn With the Citi ThankYou Premier Card Is More Than Enough for a Round-Trip Flight to the Aloha State!

Bottom Line

Cards like the AMEX Starwood personal and small business and AMEX SimplyCash increased sign-up bonuses are ending soon.  (Tomorrow is the last day for the AMEX Starwood cards!)

The Citi Hilton Visa Signature, Chase Southwest Premier personal and small business, along with the Citi AAdvantage Executive cards also currently come with an improved sign-bonus.

And you still can’t go wrong with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve, Citi ThankYou Premier, and Citi Prestige.

You can always find a list of the latest offers in the Hot Deals page.  Which are your favorites?

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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3 responses to “My Current Favorite Sign-Up Bonuses for Big Travel!

  1. Daraius,
    I’ve had the Citi Hilton too recently to apply right now. Do you know how long the 75K is expected to last?
    Thanks for the great post!

  2. Daraius, I currently have an AmEx Everyday Preferred and Starwood Personal. This month I picked up the Gold Rewards Premier and the Starwood business cards to take advantage of the signup bonuses.

    Since it is common wisdom that AmEx limits you to 4 credit cards, that leaves me 1 slot. I was planning on the Simply Cash for the $250 bonus that’s a 1st for this card, but now I find that there is an extraordinary offer for the Everday card for 25,000 pts, much higher than usual.

    Two questions: Which of those 2 cards would you choose? Would AmEx let me have both an Everday card and an Everyday Preferred card?

  3. Hi Million Mile Secrets!

    I’m glad the Southwest card has the 50k bonus points but the timing is not optimal if you want to maximize the duration of the companion pass. Any suggestions (assuming the offer is valid for a few more weeks) on how we can apply for the card soon but have the points apply on our account around Jan/Feb? I was hoping this offer would come late October/November

    Thanks!
    Hassib