In no particular order, here’s my choices for the top 10 credit card sign-up bonuses for March 2014.
1. Citi American Airlines Executive: While a $250 first year fee ($450 minus $200 statement credit) is nothing to sneeze at, the $10,000 spend in 3 months should be fairly easy to do if you follow some of our manufactured spending tips. 110,000 AA miles is a king’s ransom and you can go anywhere in the world in economy (although why would you want to?) and they are most of the way there in business or first class.
Fee: $450 a year although you get a $200 statement credit your first year
2. US Bank Lifemiles: US Bank increased the sign-up bonus on this card from 20,000 miles to 40,000 Lifemiles after a $3,000 spend within 120 days. While the offer was due to expire on April 30th 2014, it is still there. So there is a bit of risk involved that it won’t be honored. The Avianca Lifemiles program is not too well-known, but their award chart is actually quite good and as long as you can avoid the horrendous call center at all costs, 40,000 Lifemiles is a great stash… especially if you’re in the know with super-discounted awards using these miles. One caveat: you can’t mix and match cabins on awards which is very annoying.
This offer has expired now! However, you can earn 20,000 miles by applying here.
3. Chase Ink Bold/Ink Plus: Every travel blogger’s favorite business card, I find that even with the Hyatt and United devaluations, the 5x points on office-related supplies (including cell phone and cable bills) and the 2x on travel makes this card worth it. Doubly good if you’re hitting the manufactured spending hard and getting 5x points buying and reselling things from Staples and Office Depot. The increased sign-up bonus of 60,000 point bonus (after $5,000 spend in three months) is a great way to pad your Ultimate Rewards point stash.
Fee: Free first year then $95 per year
Apply here for the Ink Bold
4. Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® – Earn 2x on all purchases: This card has just changed names from the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard®. Earn 2x on all purchases is a fixed-point redemption program. 40,000 bonus points ($440 in value when redeemed against travel spend) from a $3,000 spend is a good way to subsidize cheap flights, hotels or even cruises and the 2 points per $1 spent makes this a solid choice for an everyday spender card.
Fee: Free first year then $89 per year
5. Wells Fargo Propel World: This new card is modeled after popular American Express Cards. Wells Fargo is a new issuer for most of us. 40,000 rewards points are added to your account if you spend $3,000. This is good for up to $650 in flights (experiences vary as this card is still new). You also get a $100 voucher for airline incidentals. Great new card!
The $175 fee is waived for the first year.
6. The Premier Miles & More World MasterCard®:
This card has been varying with 20,000 to 50,000 Miles & More miles as sign-up bonus. The current offer is as good as it gets for this card. Miles & More adds crazy charges for most Star Alliance carriers but can be good value for carriers that do not have (or have low YQ) charges. LOT, United, Singapore Airlines and to an extent Turkish Airlines come to mind. We reviewed the card lately.
Fee: $79 first year fee not waived
7. American Express Starwood Personal/Business: SPG points are widely acknowledged as the most valuable mile/point currency in the industry. This is because they not only allow you to book hotel rooms with Starwood, but transfer to dozens of airline partners, and then at a 25% premium if you execute the transfer in 20,000 point denominations. The sign-up bonus is comparatively low at 25,000 points after $5,000 in spend, but these points are just as valuable as 100,000 Hilton points. You can apply for a Starwood Business and a Starwood Personal card at the same time.
Fee: Free first year then $65 per year
8. American Express Platinum – 40,000 Membership Rewards Sign-Up Bonus: With a $450 annual fee, this card is certainly not for everyone. Having said that, I’ve written here about some of the benefits and ways to get outsized value out of this card.
Fee: $450 per year, first year not waived – Tips on how to allay the annual fee
9. Citi ThankYou Premier Card: This is another fixed value points card. 50,000 points is the best offer their card has ever had and it gets you $650 in flights when you book through their engine. It’s 20,000 after approval and 30,000 after the first renewal. The rewards engine has 99% of the flights you can find on Orbitz but not all. Citi is usually good with approvals but sometimes needs a reminder to which offer you signed up for. So take some screen shots.
Fee: Free first year then $125 per year
10. Barclay’s US Airways Premier World: As I mentioned in this series, US Airways and American are going to be merging their operations at the end of this month. This is a great way to stockpile additional AA miles, especially like me if you’ve already signed up for all of the Citi credit cards that offer bonuses on American miles. Also, these cards from Barclay will eventually be phased out so it’s not a bad idea to catch some miles from an expiring business relationship.
Fee: $89 first year fee not waived