Here is a list of the top 10 best credit card sign-up bonuses for January 2014. There are several great offers that came out this month, as well as some offers that have been around for awhile, but still offer a lucrative sign-up bonus worth mentioning.
Since the details of the best credit card offers are always changing–increased offers, terms, annual fee–I will post a list each month of what I believe are the top ten best credit card offers.
This monthly post will serve as an updated review of the best current offers, though you can always check the top deals found on my list of the best credit card offers.
Let’s get down to business, here is my round-up of the 10 best credit card sign-up bonuses for January 2014:
1. Ink Plus® Business Card and Ink Bold® Business Card
Current bonus offer: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: Waived the first year, then $95 per year
Why I dig it: This is one of the longest standing great offers from Chase and it continues to be one of the best. Here’s why: Ultimate Rewards points are some of the most flexible points because you can transfer them to any of the 1:1 transfer partners. This allows you to redeem them for exactly what you want and you have the option between valuable airline and hotel partners. By keeping your points as UR you also allow protection from future devaluations by individual programs.
Both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus offer great 5x bonus spending categories to earn more points through everyday purchases. You get 5x points at office supply stores, internet, cell phone, and cable, and 2x points on gas and hotels. Both the bonus and the points earning potential of these cards are very lucrative!
I value Ultimate Rewards points at about 1.6 cents each, making this bonus worth $800.
2.Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
Current bonus offer: 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within 90 days
Annual fee: Waived the first year, then $89 per year
Why I dig it: With its 2x points on all purchases, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World MasterCard® is one of the best all-around rewards credit cards. Plus, when you redeem points, you get a 10% mile rebate, meaning you are essentially earning 2.2% cash back.
One of my favorite aspects about the card is that it is a hassle free way to earn 2.2% back on every $1 spent. This is why I highly recommend it to anyone who does not have a fixed-value points earning card or would just like to diversify their miles accounts.
You can redeem points at a fixed rate for any travel purchases, so you can purchase any flights or hotels and simply redeem points for a statement credit. If you don’t want to carry around many cards, then this card is a great one to keep in your wallet because it earns some of the highest cash back bonuses among any cards out there.
The current 40,000 mile bonus on the Arrival card is worth $440 when redeemed for travel.
3. The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®
Application Link: The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®
Current bonus offer: 40,000 miles after first purchase
Annual fee: $89 per year
Why I dig it: This is a great time to earn US Airways miles and in the near future (as the merger continues) they will become American Airlines miles. You’ll get 40,000 miles after your first purchase, so this is a great card to through into a round of applications or for anyone that doesn’t want to manufacture spend to meet a spending requirement. The card also gets you a free checked bag for you and four of your travel companions on domestic US Airways flights..
This card has been hotly debated as to whether it will disappear and when, either way it’s a great way to earn 40k US Airways miles to book trips now on oneworld alliance or wait until they change to AA miles. Getting this card before it’s gone is a no brainer in my opinion.
4. The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®
Application Link: The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®
Current bonus offer: 40,000 Frontier miles after spending $500 within 90 days
Annual fee: Waived the first year, then $175 per year
Why I dig it: You can get two free round trip flights within the US (including Alaska!) with The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard® 40,000 mile bonus. It’s only 20,000 miles to fly anywhere round trip with Frontier Airlines within the US. This is the highest offer I have seen for this card and is a great deal for anyone looking to get free domestic flights.
Any round trip flight to Alaska during the summer that is under $400 is a great deal, so 40,000 Frontier miles could easily be worth ~$800+ in free flights when redeemed for trips to Anchorage or Fairbanks.
For having a low minimum spend of $500, the 40,000 miles is a great bonus and can get you:
- 2 round trip awards anywhere Frontier flies within the US, including Alaska
- 1 round trip award anywhere Frontier flies in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
You can get two free round trip flights within the US (including Alaska) with The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard® 40,000 mile bonus. It’s only 20,000 miles to fly anywhere round trip with Frontier within the US.
It only costs 30,000 miles to fly to any of Frontier’s destinations in Mexico and Central America, so you can get a free round trip flight and still have 10,000 miles left over.
5. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Current bonus offer: 45,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months and adding an additional authorized user that makes a purchase within three months
Annual fee: Waived the first year, then $95
Why I dig it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns Ultimate Rewards points that are extremely valuable because you can transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to Korean Air, United, Hyatt, and many other valuable partners. The card earns double points on dining and travel which makes it a great everyday card. With the 7% annual points “dividend” you’re essentially earning 2.14 points per dollar.
I value Ultimate Rewards points at around 1.6 cents per point which makes this sign-up bonus worth $720.
6. United MileagePlus Explorer Card
Current bonus offer: There are many reports of an offer of 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months by applying at a local Chase bank branch. The online public offer is 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. On top of this offer, you can get another 5,000 miles by adding an additional user.
You can also try to get the targeted offer by following these steps.
Many folks have reported that they have been able to send Chase a Secured Message to match the 50k offer, but there are no guarantees of this method working.
Annual Fee: Waived the first year, then $95 per year
Why I dig it: Although United is devaluing their miles for awards booked after February 1, 2014, they are are still some of the most valuable miles for US travelers. Most of the award chart increases will hit the partner international premium cabin awards, so you can still book United and economy partner flights at mostly the same price after the devaluation.
If you are able to get the 50,000 mile offer plus the 5,000 miles for the additional authorized user, you will have a total of 57,000 miles after hitting the minimum spend. This is enough for 2 domestic round trips (25,000 each) and almost enough for an economy round trip award to Europe (60,000 miles).
Because United has great stopover rules, you can book some amazing international award trips and get free one ways. This is one aspect that will keep United miles in competition with American Airline miles. which will have a better award chart after the United devaluation kicks in.
7. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card
Application Link: Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card
Current bonus offer: 50,000 points after the first purchase, and an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 on the card within 90 days
Annual fee: $75
Why I dig it: This sign-up bonus has been one of my favorite offers over the last year. The value of the 85,000 point bonus offer is extremely lucrative and it has a minimum spend of only $2,500. One of the biggest perks of this card is that you get the second night free when you book stays of 2 or more award nights! This essentially doubles the value of your points.
This card was my favorite card of 2013 because I was able to redeem six free nights at Radisson Blu hotels across Europe after earning the sign-up bonus from both the personal and business version of the card. These hotel stays easily had a value of more than $3,000, and during each stay, I was upgraded to a suite with the automatic Gold status that the card gives me.
After hitting the minimum spend you will have close to 100,000 points which is worth 4 free nights at Club Carlson’s top category hotels (50k per night) when booking two night stays. I stayed at three amazing Radisson Blu properties on my last trip to Europe and used the bonus free nights on each occasion.
8. British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Current bonus offer: 50,000 Avios after spending $2,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95
Why I dig it: British Airways uses a distance based award chart that allows you to book awards based on distance flown. This is incredibly valuable for direct short-haul flights and you can create amazing multi-leg trips. Each one way starts at just 4,500 Avios. Booking one way short-haul flights can be useful to connect open jaws and to create short round trips.
This card bonus is not great for long haul international flights because of the high fuel surcharges on those flights. The card is great to fill in all the short direct flights that you need to book, and will save you miles vs. using American or United miles.
There is also an offer available for 100,000 Avios after spending $20,000 dollars within a year. If you are a big spender this offer may be worth it to you.
9. Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage MasterCard
Application link: Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage MasterCard
Current bonus offer: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: Waived the first year, then $95 per year
Why I dig it: American Airlines miles are one of the (if not the most) valuable airline miles out there. Considering the United and Delta devaluation and taking into account the American Airline/US Airways merger, these miles will be even more valuable. You can use them on any of the Oneworld partners and travel to almost anywhere in the world. On top of that, you get access to some of the best premium cabin flights in the world.
I consider this sign-up offer to be worth about $950 and put a value of about 1.9 cents per mile. American Airline miles have incredible flexibility because you can use them on any of its 3 award charts, and have access to book on any of the partner airlines.
10. Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards
Current bonus offer: 50,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 within 3 months
Annual fee: $99 for the Southwest Premier card and $69 with the Southwest Plus version of the card.
Why I dig it: Currently all four versions of the Southwest credit cards are offering 50,000 Southwest points after spending $2,000 within 3 months. You can get ~$850 in free Southwest flights or you could redeem them for $500 in free Amazon gift cards with 50,000 Southwest points.
These are some of my all-time favorite cards and because there are four version of the card, you can earn the bonus for each one. You can apply for two versions of the Southwest credit cards and earn 104,000 Southwest points after hitting the minimum spending requirements. To earn the companion pass you have to earn 110,000 Southwest points in one year.
110,000 Southwest points along with the Southwest Companion Pass is worth up to ~$3,666 in Southwest travel! The Companion Pass allows a companion to fly free on any Southwest flights that you fly on for up to two years! They only pay the $5.00 security fee, but no extra points!
There are some great new offers currently available, and now it a great time to earn some miles for Summer travel. The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard is incredibly valuable for free summer travel within the US, and you can even fly to Alaska for only 20,000 miles! If you’re looking to get the Southwest Companion Pass now is also a great time because all 4 versions of the Southwest credit cards are offering the 50k sign-up bonus.
I would suspect that there will be a few mega bonuses in the near future since we haven’t seen anything from American Express as of late. Amex offered 75k points several times last year on the Business Gold Rewards card and in my opinion will likely again, however the past offers have been live for only a few days before being pulled.