Every year I earn well over one million Frequent Flyer miles and points. About 250,000 of them come through actual travel, but the rest come through travel hacking: the art of seeing the world on a budget.
One of the easiest ways to earn a lot of miles all at once is through credit card signup bonuses. When managed carefully (i.e., you pay your bills on time), there’s no downside and you can keep the miles coming for a long time.
We’ve had a bunch of new offers recently, and it’s been a while since I’ve done a roundup. This post contains the best current card offers as of Friday, March 10.
If getting every card from this post, you’d earn as many as 430,000 points or miles. Happy travels!
In this edition:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit card (Apply in branch)
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
- The Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express
Chase Sapphire Preferred® & The Chase Sapphire Reserve Cards
Why it’s good: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit card are great options for travelers because of their solid signup bonuses and flexibility in the different ways you can use Ultimate Rewards points for redemptions.
For just a couple more days—until March 12—you can still get the coveted bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve through a banker in your local Chase branch and spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. This card carries an annual fee of $450, but the $300 annual travel credit and other travel bonuses including Global Entry reimbursement and Priority Pass membership offset that nicely.
If you’re not ready to spring for Sapphire Reserve, or if it’s just a hassle to apply in-branch, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is always a fantastic option for travelers and the one card I recommended to anyone looking to get into travel hacking. You’ll get 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months, plus an additional 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you add an authorized user to your account and make a purchase within the first 3 months.
Why it’s good: Get an 80,00 point bonus when you spend $5,000 in first three months from account opening on this Ultimate Rewards earning Business card. Benefits include no international transaction fees, employee cards at no additional cost, and category bonuses on office supply expenses plus hotels and gas stations.
Key point: Ultimate Rewards points are a valuable travelers currency as they transfer 1:1 to 10 partners including United, Hyatt, British Airways, Marriott, IHG, Southwest and more. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for your personal spending, the Chase Ink Plus® Business Credit Card makes a good companion card for business expenses as Ultimate Rewards points can be combined between your accounts.
Why it’s good: You’ll get the standard bonus of 25,000 Starpoints when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership, but then you’ll earn an additional 10,000 bonus points when you spend an additional $2,000 in the first 6 months of card membership.
This promotion is only around for a limited amount of time—through April 5, 2017, to be precise—and with the new Starwood/Marriott merger, this offer may never come around again. Plus, with this new merger, points earned on the SPG American Express can be used in more places than ever before.
Key point: When transferring these points to one of Starwood’s many global airline partners, 5,000 miles is added to every transfer of 20,000 points (20,000 SPG points = 25,000 miles). This means that the bonus on this card is actually equivalent to 33,000 miles and could be transferred for a domestic return ticket redemption, or even a one-way Economy Class ticket as far as Asia on some airlines.
Why it’s good: For a limited time, you can get an impressive 50,000 United miles bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months your card is open. This card offers lots of benefits to United travelers, including priority boarding, free baggage when your ticket is paid for with your United card, access to increased inventory of saver award fares, 2 United Club passes annually, and no expiration of your United miles as long as your account is open.
Key point: This is a great offer for United fliers and anyone planning a trip on Star Alliance carriers (Lufthansa, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, etc.). Additionally, it’s also a great card to pair with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, since those points can be transferred to United.
Why it’s good: If the 50,000 Rapid Rewards points aren’t enticing enough, all points earned on this card count towards the Southwest companion fare! If you fly Southwest, you should really consider this card because of all of the fantastic perks it includes like the 3,000 point bonus on your cardmember anniversary every year, unlimited points that don’t expire as long as your account is open, no blackout dates, and at least 1 point/$1 spent on all of your purchases.
Key point: Rapid Rewards points are useful for domestic travel and to reach destinations in Mexico and Central America. Plus, the bonus on this card will get you nearly half way to getting the coveted Southwest Companion Pass that lets you take a friend on all of your Southwest travels for free.
Why it’s good: In addition to their special 25,000 Membership Rewards point offer, this business card has flexible reward benefits, no annual fees, and a 30% bonus of Membership Rewards points on your annual spending every year.
If you’re looking to invest in a new business card, The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express is a good place to start!
Frequently Asked Questions
A few questions and attempted answers are below.
Does this really work?
Yes. I’ve been receiving regular signup bonuses for more than five seven years. Many of our readers have also had great success.
Is this bad for airlines and banks?
No. They are happy to have new customers, especially those who are responsible and trustworthy.
Isn’t it bad for your credit to apply for so many cards?
Not unless you don’t pay your card balances. If you’re responsible and don’t default on any accounts, you can earn signup bonuses to travel for nearly free for a long time to come. You should also pay your bill in full each month, so that you’ll never pay interest or finance charges on all those miles you’re earning.