The Best Sign-Up Bonus Credit Cards – Get Rewarded for Being New
We’re not going to sugar coat it: There are a ton of credit card companies competing for your attention. And when you think you’ve seen one amazing credit card sign-up bonus offer, another one comes along to top that one.
This, of course, is great news for the consumer. If you’re in the market for a new credit card, a welcome offer can be the cherry on top needed to seal the deal for you. But on the other hand, don’t be fooled by the intriguing sign-up bonus if it means you’re getting a sub-par credit card with lackluster features.
The best sign-up bonus credit cards not only reward you for opening a new account, but your reward earning potential continues long after the allure of the welcome offer has disappeared. Today we’re comparing the top credit cards offering a bonus for new cardholders to find out which one deserves a spot in your wallet.
- Overview of the best sign-up bonus credit cards
- Summary of the best sign-up bonus credit cards
- The bottom line
Overview of the best sign-up bonus credit cards
|Card issuer||Best for|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Ongoing rewards program|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Travelers|
|Discover It® Cash Back||Cash back|
|American Express Blue Cash Preferred®||Groceries|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Simple rewards structure|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Low intro APR|
|Chase Freedom Flex®||Choosing your rewards category|
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card||No annual fee|
|Citi Premier® Card||Everyday purchases|
The best sign-up bonus credit cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The generous bonus offer is the first thing you’ll notice with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. You earn 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first four months of card opening. Not sure what 60,000 points will net you? Turns out, it’s worth about $750 in rewards to redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. And with no blackout dates for travel rewards, you can put the $750 to use for airline travel too. Each point transfers 1:1, meaning for every point you earn, you earn 1 point in rewards. You earn 2x the points with dining and travel purchases too, making this an ideal card to use daily to earn travel rewards and more.
Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t stop with the bonus offer though. The travel card features other perks, such as the PayYourselfBack® promotions where you earn 25% more for your points. Plus, when you use it for travel, you have access to 24/7 customer service, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, and no foreign transaction fees. Eligible items you purchase with your card include Extended Warranty Protection for added reassurance and product protection.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, but the reward structure and benefits far outweigh the $95 if you take advantage of all the card has to offer.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is another option for those who want a sign-up bonus offer from the Chase family of cards. The Reserve offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Immediately you start earning 3x rewards points for all travel and dining purchases, and 1x the rewards for all others.
Chase Sapphire Reserve also features the Pay Yourself Back®, but with this card, your points are worth 50% more during special offers (versus 25% for Chase Sapphire Preferred). Using your card means access to 24/7 customer service, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, and Extended Warranty Protection for product purchases too.
While the $550 annual fee is pricier than other credit cards with similar offers, you receive a $300 travel credit each year on your account anniversary. Plus there is $0 in foreign transaction fees and you receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check. If you take advantage of these yearly offers, it makes up for the cost of the card.
Discover it Cash Back
The Discover it® Cash Back is a great choice for those who want cash back rewards throughout the year. In your first year, you earn an unlimited amount of Cashback Match, which is an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
For rewards, the Discover it® Cash Back uses rotating categories for its loyalty program, and depending on the rotating category, you earn up to 5% cash back on everyday purchases. The categories could be grocery store purchases, gas and transportation like Uber, and streaming services like Netflix; if you make the purchases or reach the spending requirement you get extra one-time rewards. All purchases earn at least 1% cash back. You’ll be pleased to know your cash back never expires and you can use your cash back online with Amazon and Paypal.
Another benefit of the Discover it® Cash Back is the 0% Intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. This is in addition to the $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, making it ideal for every day or traveling. While this card doesn’t have a traditional bank of reward points for the sign-up bonus, the unlimited Cashback Match and other perks of the card make the Discover it® Cash Back worth adding to your list for consideration.
American Express Blue Cash Preferred
If you like a nice-sized welcome offer and you spend a good deal of your budget each month at the grocery store, then the American Express Blue Cash Preferred® may be a perfect option for you. The $300 cash back after you spend $3,000 in purchases in six months is meant to draw you in, then the 6% cash back on groceries throughout the year is what keeps you around. Plus you’ll earn 3% on gas and transit and 1% cash back on all other purchases with your card.
The first year, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred® has $0 in annual fees, then afterward it’s $95. The only downside to this card is if you want to use it overseas, there is a 2.7% foreign transaction fee. But if the grocery store is the only adventurous place you’re going these days, then you’ll quickly earn cash back with this Amex and potentially earn another $300 in extra cash back if you spend $3,000 in six months.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The same Capital One Venture Rewards you see all over television with clever commercials is the same card with a simple - yet generous - reward structure. To kick off your bonuses, you earn 25,000 points if you spend $500 in the first three months. To continue your earning streak, you earn unlimited 1.25 bonus miles per dollar spent every day. You can use your miles towards airline miles, lounge access, or numerous other exciting categories. The other bonus with this card is your miles never expire.
The Capital One Venture Rewards features both a 0% introductory APR, and no annual fee. When you use your card while traveling you’ll have numerous additional protections including travel accident insurance and car rental collision damage waiver. If you’re looking for a card with a straightforward rewards structure and an easy way to pick up a 25,000-mile bonus, then the Capital One Venture Rewards is worth reviewing.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
For those who want to maximize earning potential on everyday purchases and earn a sign-up bonus then Chase Freedom Unlimited is another option for you from the Chase family. The current sign-up bonus offer of $200 cash back on $500 of purchases in the first three months maximizes your earnings in a short amount of time. Plus you’ll continue earning 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with the potential to earn up to 5%.
The 0% introductory APR for 15 months, and 14.99% to 23.74% afterward, plus the $0 annual fee make Chase Freedom Unlimited ideal for those who need to limit their fees the first year. The biggest drawback to this card is the 3% foreign transaction fee if you use the card overseas. But with unlimited cash back and rewards that never expire, you can pad your wallet with plenty of U.S. dollars throughout the year.
Chase Freedom Flex
The Chase Freedom Flex is similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited but where the two cards differ is with the cash back categories for rewards. The sign-up bonus offer is the same, where you earn $200 after spending $500 three months from account opening.
The Chase Freedom Flex still allows you to earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and 3% on dining and drugstore purchases. But you earn 1% on all other purchases (versus 1.5% with the Unlimited), plus you can choose a rotating category each quarter and earn another 5% on the selected category.
Both the Unlimited and Freedom Flex offer trip cancellation/interruption insurance. When you use your card to pay for your travel, you would be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares, if your trip is canceled or cut short by covered situations.
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card is perfect if you want no annual fee and a $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening. To keep the rewards coming, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card allows you to earn 3% cash back in a category of your choosing, - and you can change your category at any time. Then you earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back for all other purchases, making it a smart choice for everyday items.
Cash back and an additional $200 aren’t the only bonuses with this card. The 0% APR introductory rate for the first 12 months, after which is 13.99% to 23.99% APR, gives you the chance to save serious money in interest.
Citi Premier Card
Earning 60,000 in points for spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening is a great way to start off a relationship with any credit card, but the Citi Premier® Card has even more to offer. 60,000 is worth $600 in Citi Rewards, which can be redeemed for gift cards, travel, or other fun rewards. Plus you’ll earn 3x the points for each dollar you spend on gas, groceries, restaurants, travel, and hotels, plus 1x the points for all other purchases.
The annual fee is low, $95 per year, but in return, you receive a $100 annual hotel savings benefit and no foreign transaction fees. Not only does this card reward everyday purchases, but it’s great for frequent travelers too.
Summary of the best sign-up bonus credit cards
|Issuer||Sign up or bonus offer||Reward structure||APR||Annual fee||Foreign transaction fees|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||60k / spend $4k in 4 mos||2:1 dining, travel; 1:1 all others||15.99% to 22.99%||$95||None|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||50k / spend $4k in 3 mos||3:1 dining, travel; 1:1 all others; $300 travel credit annually||16.99% to 23.99%||$550 each authorized user, $75 per year||None|
|Discover it® Cash Back||Cash back match the first year||5% cash back rotating, 1% all others||0% 14/mos then 11.99%-22.99%||$0||None|
|American Express Blue Cash Preferred®||$300 after $3k in 6/mos||6% grocery/streaming, 3% gas stations/transit, 1% all others||0% 12/mos then 13.99%- 23.99%||$0 1st yr, then $95||2.7%|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||25k /spend $500 in 3 mos||1.25:1 every purchase||0% 12/mos then 15.49%, 21.49% or 25.49%||$0||None|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||$200 after $500 in 3/mo, 5% grocery 1st/yr||5% travel, 3% on dining/drugstores, 1.5% all others||0% 15/mo, then 14.99%-23.74%||$0||3%|
|Chase Freedom Flex®||$200 after $500 in 3/mo, 5% grocery 1st/yr||5% travel, 3% dining/ drugstores, 1% all others, 5% bonus categories||0% 15/mo, then 14.99%-23.74%||$0||3%|
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card||$200 after $1k in 90 days||3% your category, 2% grocery, 1% all others||0% 1st 12/mo, then 13.99%-23.99||$0||3%|
|Citi Premier® Card||60k/spend $4k in 3 mos||3:1 gas, groceries, restaurants, travel and hotels, 1:1 all other purchases||15.99% - 23.99%||$95||None|
How do I know which is the best sign up offer for a credit card?
Not only should the sign-up offer entice you, but ideally it’s for something you would purchase anyway. For instance, if you know you spend $3,000 during the holidays, you could put the purchases on a sign-up credit card and earn the bonus for the purchases you would have already budgeted for.
Other important credit card considerations include:
- Cash back or rewards points potential
- Ease of redemption - how often do points or rewards expire?
- Annual fee (and other fees)
- Introductory rates, balance transfer fees, and foreign transaction fees
How can I maximize my sign-up bonus credit card?
Make sure you choose a card with low annual fees and other low transaction fees. If you’re getting dinged every time you need your card, then it’s not worth it. The best approach to maximizing your bonus is when you receive it for purchases you planned to make anyway.
Make sure you compare cards head-to-head. It’s good to see the features side by side, so you see where the card has a distinct advantage. And choose a card that fits your lifestyle. If you never travel then it’s wise to stick with a cash back or rewards points you can use towards gift cards and merchandise.
Who should use a signup bonus credit card?
Sign up bonuses are offered by credit card issuers to tempt cardmembers into charging as many purchases as possible, in the name of earning additional rewards or a cash bonus. The credit card companies make their money when you don’t pay your balance each month and they charge you interest.
The best credit card offers are ones where you can maximize your earning potential and pay as little interest as possible. If you remain disciplined, then these credit card rewards can become a useful tool in your finances.
The bottom line
Should you open a new credit card only for the sign-up bonus? That may be a question only you can answer. But if you do need a new credit card, why not choose one that maximizes your earning potential simply because you’re a new customer? The best sign-up bonus credit cards are the ones that not only offer you a great welcome bonus but reward you for your loyalty throughout the year.