There’s a great sense of hope, as 2021 sure is looking a lot better than 2020. All American adults now have access to vaccines, and many people are starting to plan summer travel. That’s exciting, and it’s a great reason to start getting your points earning strategy in order, so you’re ready to plan your dream trip when the time is right.
While there are several excellent long-standing credit card offers, the specifics of the top offers are constantly changing (be it the annual fee, minimum spending requirement, or even amount of the welcome bonus).
If you read my blog on a daily basis then by all means skip this post, but for me it’s a useful, “current” place to refer people who ask about which cards they should apply for, a question I get on a daily basis.
Why You Should Care About Credit Card Offers
Simply put, when the time is right, most people want to travel better, but don’t know how. One of the best ways to improve your travel experience is to pick up an excellent credit card that can add value to you.
After all, doesn’t this…
Etihad’s 787 business class
…look better than this?
Etihad’s 787 economy class
This is more true in the coronavirus era than ever before, given that more space has become the ultimate luxury.
When applying for a credit card, consider three main points:
- The bonus — how many points can you earn for signing up for the card and completing some amount of spending; this typically ranges from a single purchase to several thousand dollars
- The rewards structure — pick a credit card that offers bonus points in the categories you spend the most on, whether that’s dining or groceries or gas or airfare
- The perks — some cards offer perks that more than justify the annual fee, even if you don’t spend money on the card; for example, there are hotel credit cards with sub-$100 annual fees that offer annual free night certificates that can be redeemed at hotels that cost $300+ per night
There are so many credit cards worth having
In this post I’m focusing primarily on the welcome bonuses, which can be one of the best ways to get rewarded quickly. Often a good credit card bonus will be enough to earn you an international ticket in first or business class, which many would otherwise assume is off limits.
13 Best Credit Card Offers May 2021
Let’s look at some of the best credit card welcome bonuses that are available this month. Here’s what I consider the 13 best to be:
Current offer: 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95
Why it’s a great offer: The Ink cards have extremely generous category bonuses that help sole proprietorships and small businesses maximize points on everyday credit card spending. This card offers 3x points on the first $150,000 spent annually in combined purchases on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.
This is a card that’s good for both for the welcome bonus and for everyday spending. I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me, the welcome bonus is worth $1,605 after subtracting the annual fee.
Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for a stay at the Park Hyatt Milan
Current offer: 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months, plus up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year from account opening
Annual fee: $95
Why it’s a great offer: This is a new best-ever bonus on the card, which is all the more reason to pick it up right now. Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to Singapore KrisFlyer, United MileagePlus, World of Hyatt, and many other programs. The card is also great for everyday spending given that it offers double points on dining and travel. I value the welcome bonus on this card at $1,315.
Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for the Park Hyatt Maldives
Current offer: Up to 100,000 United MileagePlus miles — earn 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within three months, and earn a further 20,000 bonus miles after spending a further $5,000 within six months
Annual fee: $250
Why it’s a great offer: This is a brand new card with a phenomenal value proposition. In addition to a huge welcome bonus, the card offers valuable perks like a $125 annual United credit, up to 10,000 MileagePlus miles back annually when you redeem miles, and all kinds of perks when flying United. I value United MileagePlus miles at 1.4 cents each, so to me the bonus miles on this card are worth up to $1,400.
Redeem MileagePlus miles for travel in SWISS business
Current offer: 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within six months, plus 10x Membership Rewards points on the first $15,000 spent in the first six months on U.S. groceries and U.S. gas stations
Annual fee: $550 (Rates & Fees)
Why it’s a great offer: Not only is the Amex Platinum offering a welcome bonus of 75,000 points, but you can also earn 10x points in popular categories, which I value at an incredible 17% return on spending. The Amex Platinum is a perks-rich card, offering a $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 annual Uber credit, $100 annual Saks credit, lounge access, and so much more. The card is even offering great limited-time perks in light of the reduced demand for travel.
Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Platinum
Current offer: 75,000 points after spending $7,500 within three months
Annual fee: no annual fee
Why it’s a great offer: While these are two different cards, they have the same sign-up bonuses (which were recently increased) and both don’t have an annual fee, so I’ll cover them in the same section here. The Ink Cash offers 5x points in useful categories (on the first $25,000 spent per cardmember year on office supply stores, internet, cable TV, mobile phones, and landlines), and the Ink Unlimited offers 1.5x points on all purchases.
For both cards, points can be pooled with the Ultimate Rewards points earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Assuming you have one of these cards in conjunction with one accruing premium Ultimate Rewards points, I value the welcome bonuses on these cards at $1,275 each.
Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel in Singapore Airlines Suites
Current offer: 75,000 MileagePlus miles after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $99, waived the first year
Why it’s a great offer: This card is offering an excellent bonus with the annual fee waived the first year. On top of that the card offers some great perks for holding onto it, like two United Club passes annually, a free first checked bag, priority boarding, savings on inflight purchases, and more. I value United MileagePlus miles at 1.4 cents each, so to me the welcome bonus on this card is worth $1,050.
Redeem MileagePlus miles for travel in United Polaris
Current offer: 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95
Why it’s a great offer: This is an often overlooked mid-range transferable points card. It has excellent bonus categories, as it offers 3x points on gas, dining, groceries, air travel, and hotels, and the card also offers up to a $100 annual hotel credit. I value Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, so to me the welcome bonus on this card is worth $925.
Redeem your ThankYou points for travel on EVA Air
Current offer: 70,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 within three months
Annual fee: $295 (Rates & Fees)
Why it’s a great offer: In addition to a great welcome bonus, this is also one of the best Amex business cards for earning Membership Rewards points, given the 4x points categories. I value the welcome bonus at up to $895, factoring in the points and deducting the annual fee.
Amex points rack up quickly with the Amex Business Gold
Current offer: Up to 100,000 Venture miles — earn 50,000 Venture miles after spending $3,000 within three months, plus a further 50,000 Venture miles after spending a total of $20,000 within the first 12 months
Annual fee: $95
Why it’s a great offer: The Capital One Venture Card is offering a big limited time bonus, which is among the best we’ve seen on the card. This is one of the most straightforward and rewarding travel credit cards out there, and it offers some great perks as well. Capital One miles even recently became more valuable. I value Capital One Venture miles at 1.1 cents each, so to me the welcome bonus on this card is worth $1,100.
Redeem your Venture miles for travel in Emirates first class
Current offer: 80,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $199
Why it’s a great offer: The Southwest Performance Card has a huge welcome bonus with a fairly reasonable spending requirement. This card offers lots of fantastic long term perks, including anniversary bonus points, free Wi-Fi on Southwest, upgraded boardings, and more. I value Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.3 cents each, so to me the welcome bonus on this card is worth $841.
Earn Southwest Companion Pass more easily with this card offer
Current offer: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 within six months
Annual fee: $250 (Rates & Fees)
Why it’s a great offer: The Amex Gold was recently refreshed and has a bonus of 60K points, which is among the best offers we’ve seen on the card. Not only does it offer up to 4x Membership Rewards points on dining and at U.S. supermarkets, but the card also offers up to a $120 annual dining credit, and Uber Cash & Uber Eats benefits.
The Amex Gold offers multiple Uber benefits
Current offer: With this limited time offer through May 12, 2021, earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $5,000 within three months, plus $200 back in statement credits on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months
Annual fee: $450 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
Why it’s a great offer: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is a card that I have and find to be worthwhile. While there’s some sticker shock to the annual fee, the card offers a $300 annual Marriott credit that’s good as cash to me, and also offers an anniversary free night certificate valid at a property costing up to 50,000 Bonvoy points per night.
The Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a $300 annual Marriott credit
Current offer: Earn 125,000 bonus IHG Rewards Club points plus a free night reward (valid at a property costing up to 40,000 points) after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $89 annual fee
Why it’s a great offer: This card is offering an exceptional new welcome bonus, and there are so many perks that make this card worth holding onto long term. The card offers an anniversary free night certificate, fourth night free on award redemptions, IHG Platinum status for as long as you have the card, and so much more.
This card is extremely valuable for IHG stays
Rules Of Applying For Credit Cards
Before applying for cards, makes sure you’re aware of the rules each bank has for credit card applications.
One of the common misconceptions people have is that they think applying for credit cards will hurt their credit. The opposite is largely true, actually. Assuming you use your credit responsibly (and make payments on time, don’t utilize too much of your credit, etc.), applying for credit cards can actually help your credit.
Lastly, if you are going to apply for credit cards, make sure you do so responsibly — only apply for them if you have self-control and won’t end up in debt, and try to pay your balance in full every month, or else the finance charges will negate any rewards earned.
Best Credit Cards Summary
The above are just some of the best credit card offers out there right now, though there are so many others to choose from.
If you’re already into miles & points but don’t have some of the above cards, consider applying. If you’re new to miles & points, now is the time to get started (and I think something like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Premier® Card, or American Express® Gold Card, are great options to start).
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees), American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees).