Best Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers 2019

Brendan Harkness

Author

Brendan Harkness

Updated September 10, 2019

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The signup bonus — one of the most valuable and coveted credit card features, with the potential to put a huge dent in your spending or help you score free flights and hotel stays.

Many rewards cards come with signup bonuses, also known as introductory bonuses or welcome bonuses.

These bonus offers can provide a surprising amount of value, with returns on spending ranging from around 20% on average to more than 50% in some cases. Some are the equivalent of $100 or less, while others can be worth more than $1,000.

You’ll usually have to spend a certain amount with the card in a certain period of time, and the countdown begins as soon as your account is opened (i.e., as soon as you’re approved). It doesn’t start when you get the card in the mail, or when you activate the card.

Travel cards of all kinds tend to provide the best bonuses, so look into your favorite airline and hotel brands to see what’s currently available. You’ll find some of them below, along with the best offers from a couple other card types.

Want to see our current favorite bonus offer? Jump down to the business rewards section below.

Best Pick For

Cash Back Rewards

Why we picked this card

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review) is an excellent pick for grocery shopping and buying gas, and it has a great introductory bonus too. Most people should be able to reach this bonus with just two or three months of normal shopping.

Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $250 statement credit for spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
    • Return on spend: 25%
Spending Rewards
  • 6% cash back for:
    • U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually)
    • Select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% cash back for:
    • U.S. gas stations
    • Transit
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Key Features

  • Amex Offers: Find significant discounts at a changing selection of merchants and websites, like (at the time of publication) Best Buy, Pandora, and select meal kits.
  • ShopRunner membership: ShopRunner provides free two-day shipping and returns at participating online retailers.
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 12 months, then 14.74–25.74% Variable (Rates & Fees) (Rates & Fees)
  • Annual fee: $95

Read more in our Review of the American Express Blue Cash Everyday® and Blue Cash Preferred® Cards.

Runners Up

  • $300 cash bonus for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
    • Return on spend: 10%
  • 4% cash back on Dining and Entertainment
  • 2% cash back at Grocery stores
  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

 

  • $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after account opening
    • Return on spend: 20%
  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice: Gas, Online shopping, Dining, Travel, Drugstores, Home improvement/furnishings stores
  • 2% cash back at Grocery stores and Wholesale clubs
  • Spending limit: 3% and 2% rewards limited to the first $2,500 spent per quarter
  • Annual fee: $0

 

  • Cashback Match: Double cash back in your first year, awarded at the end of the first year
    • Return on spend: up to 10%
  • 5% cash back in rotating categories, up to $1,500 spent per quarter
  • Annual fee: $0

Best Pick For

Point Rewards

Why we picked this card

You can use the American Express® Gold Card (Review) to earn quite a few Amex Membership Rewards points quickly, with a fairly low spending requirement that most people should have no trouble reaching.

There’s a sizable annual fee (Rates & Fees) with this card, however, so only get it if you’ll make good use of the rewards (focused on food and airfare) and benefits (focused on food and travel).

Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 35,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $350–$700 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 17.5%–35%
Spending Rewards
  • 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar at:
    • U.S. supermarkets (up to $12,000 spent annually)
    • Restaurants worldwide
  • 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar on Flights booked directly through airlines or American Express Travel
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases

Key Features

  • $100 annual airline fee credit: Good for incidental airline fees, like baggage and in-flight food and drinks. Does not apply to flight tickets.
  • $120 annual dining credit: Earn up to $10 in statement credits per month for purchases at eligible restaurants and food delivery services.
  • Point transfer: To airline and hotel loyalty programs, like JetBlue, Southwest, Marriott, and Hyatt.
  • The Hotel Collection: Provides up to $100 in credits for every eligible hotel stay of two nights or more.
  • Amex Offers: Find discounts and extra point opportunities at a changing selection of merchants and websites, such as (at the time of publication) Staples, Macys.com, and Amazon.
  • No foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees)
  • Annual fee: $250 (Rates & Fees)
  • Charge card: You must pay your balance in full each month.

Read more in our Review of the American Express® Gold Card.

Runners Up

  • 30,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
    • Value: $300
    • Return on spend: 10%
  • 3X points on Dining, Gas, Travel, and Streaming services
  • Annual fee: $0

 

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card
  • 15,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
    • Value: $150–$300 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 15%–30%
  • 3X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually)
  • 2X points at U.S. gas stations and American Express Travel
  • 50% point bonus: By making 30 or more purchases per billing period
  • Annual fee: $95

Best Pick For

General Travel Rewards

Why we picked this card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review) comes with a great intro bonus for travelers. It’s made even better because you can transfer those points to a variety of partner programs, turning them into airline miles or hotel points that could be worth 2 cents each or more.

Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $600–$1,200 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 15%–30%
Spending Rewards
  • 2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Travel
    • Dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar everywhere else

Key Features

  • 25% point bonus: When redeeming for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Point transfer: Transfer points at a 1:1 rate to leading airline and hotel frequent travel programs, like Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus.
  • Luxury Hotel Collection: Book eligible rooms to get perks like daily breakfast for two, complimentary WiFi, room upgrades, early check-in, late checkout, and unique gifts.
  • Visa Signature Concierge: Call to speak with your personal concierge any time, day or night.
  • Premium Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Get primary coverage on eligible car rentals so you don’t have to pay for insurance and your premiums won’t go up after an accident.
  • Shop through Chase/Chase Offers: Earn more points by shopping at participating retailers in the Shop through Chase and Chase Offers marketplaces.
  • Annual fee: $95

Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Runners Up

  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $600–$1,200 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 15%–30%
  • 3X points for Travel, including gas stations
  • 2X points at Restaurants and on Entertainment
  • Annual fee: $95

 

  • 50,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 16.67%–33.33%
  • 10X miles at hotels.com/venture through January 2020
  • 2X miles for every other purchase
  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

 

  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
    • Value: $500
    • Return on spend: 16.67%
  • 2X points on Travel and Dining
  • 1.5X points for all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $95

Best Pick For

Premium Travel Rewards

The Platinum Card® from American Express
Why we picked this card

The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) is one of the top premium travel cards, currently boasting the largest intro bonus (but not by too much). This card stands out for its best-in-class airport lounge access, along with valuable hotel statuses and travel credits.

Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $600–$1,200 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 12%–24%
Spending Rewards
  • 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Flights booked directly through airlines or through American Express Travel
    • Prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel
  • 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar on other eligible travel expenses booked through American Express Travel
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases

Key Features

  • Global Lounge Collection: Complimentary access to Priority Pass, Centurion, American Express International, Delta Sky Club, Escape, Airspace, Lufthansa, and Plaza Premium Lounges.
  • $200 annual airline fee credit: Good for incidental costs like checked bags and in-flight food (not flight tickets) at your selected airline.
  • $200 annual Uber credits: $15 in statement credits for Uber rides each month, except for December which gets $35.
  • $100 annual Saks credits: Up to $100 in statement credits each year for Saks Fifth Avenue: $50 from January through June, and $50 from July through December.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit: A statement credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100 every four years) or TSA PreCheck ($85 once every four-and-a-half years).
  • Complimentary elite hotel statuses: Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status.
  • The Hotel Collection: A $100 hotel credit and room upgrades when available for every eligible two-night stay.
  • No foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees)
  • Annual fee: $550
  • Charge card: You must pay your balance in full each month.

Read more in our Review of The Platinum Card® from American Express: Is It Worth the $550 Annual Fee?

Runners Up

  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 12.5%–25%
  • 3X points for Travel (after the full travel credit is used) and Dining
  • Annual fee: $450

 

  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 12.5%–25%
  • 5X points on Air travel and Restaurants
  • 3X points on Hotels and Cruise lines
  • Annual fee: $495

Best Pick For

Co-Branded Hotel Rewards

Why we picked this card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (Review) provides a great bonus, with a very high potential return on spend. You’ll also receive a host of helpful benefits to enhance your time spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties.

Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 75,000 Bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $750–$1,500 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 25%–50%
Spending Rewards
  • 17X Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar at Marriott Bonvoy properties
    • 6X Bonus points per dollar from the card
    • 11X Base points per dollar for Silver Elite status
  • 2X Marriott Bonvoy Bonus points on all other purchases

Key Features

  • Annual Free Night Award: Get one Free Night Award every year, beginning after your first account anniversary.
  • Complimentary Silver Elite status: Includes a 10% point bonus, reservation guarantee, priority late checkout, and more
  • Path to Gold Elite status: Spend $35,000 in an account year to earn Marriott Gold Elite status.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits annually: Toward a higher member status
  • Free in-room premium internet: At participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Annual fee: $95

Read more in our Review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase.

Runners Up

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
  • 75,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $750–$1,500 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 25%–50%
  • 18.5X points at Marriott Bonvoy properties (6X from the card, 12.5X from member status)
  • 3X points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and Flights booked directly with airlines
  • Annual fee: $450

 

  • 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus points for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value (miles): $500–$1,250 (assuming 0.4–1.0 cent per point)
    • Return on spend (miles): 25%–62.5%
  • 30X points at Hilton (12X from the card, 18X from member status)
  • 6X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
  • Annual fee: $95 (Rates & Fees)

 

  • 125,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$1,250 (assuming 0.4–1.0 cent per point)
    • Return on spend: 16.67%–41.67%
  • For the first 12 months: 40X points at IHG; 4X points for every other purchase
  • After the first 12 months: 25X points at IHG; 2X points at Gas stations, Grocery stores, and Restaurants
  • Annual fee: $89

Best Pick For

Co-Branded Airline Rewards

Why we picked this card

The AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® has (in our view) the best credit card intro offer for an airline, with bonus miles along with a companion fare credit — all for simply paying the annual fee and making a purchase, with no spending requirement.

That could cost you as little as $99.01! (But let’s call it $100 for simplicity here.) Most intro bonuses return a portion of what you spend, but in this case you can actually get many times more out of it than you put in.

The Companion Certificate is good for one guest at $99, plus taxes and fees. That’s hard to beat; you’ll find a similar offer for Alaska Airlines below, which has a spending requirement but is still a great deal.

Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus miles and a Companion Certificate after paying the annual fee and making a purchase in the first 90 days
    • Value (miles): $600–$1,200 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend (miles): Up to 600%–1,200%
Spending Rewards
  • 7X AAdvantage miles per dollar for American Airlines purchases
    • 2X AAdvantage miles per dollar from the card
    • 5X AAdvantage miles per dollar from AA member status
  • 1X AAdvantage mile per dollar spent everywhere else

Key Features

  • 25% in-flight discount: A 25% discount for in-flight purchases on AA-operated flights (awarded as statement credits)
  • Annual $25 in-flight WiFi credit: For in-flight purchases on AA-operated flights
  • Preferred boarding: Group 5 boarding for the cardholder and up to four companions, on AA-operated flights
  • Anniversary Companion Certificate: Spend $20,000 in a calendar year to earn a Companion Certificate, good for one guest at $99 plus taxes and fees.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $99

 

Runners Up

  • 40,000 bonus miles and a Companion Fare after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days after account opening
    • Value (miles): $600–$800 (assuming 1.5–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend (miles): 30%–40%
  • 5X miles at select Restaurants
  • 3X miles for Alaska Airlines purchases
  • Annual fee: $75

 

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
  • 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 MQMs for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
    • Value (miles): $350–$525 (assuming 1–1.5 cents per point)
    • Return on spend (miles): 35%–52.5%
  • $100 statement credit for making a Delta purchase in the first 3 months
  • 7X miles at Delta (2X from the card, 5X from Delta member status)
  • Annual fee: $195

 

  • 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $400–$600 (assuming 1–1.5 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 40%–60%
  • 2X points at Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards partners
  • Annual fee: $149

 

  • 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after account opening
    • Value: $400–$600 (assuming 1–1.5 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 40%–60%
  • 12X points for JetBlue purchases (6X from the card, 6X or more from flight status)
  • 2X points at Restaurants and Grocery stores
  • Annual fee: $99

Best Pick For

Business Rewards

Why we picked this card

The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card (Review) has perhaps the best welcome bonus currently available when it comes to cards that aren’t co-branded with airlines and hotels. It’s made all the better because you can transfer those points to airline and hotel loyalty programs, where they could be worth 2 cents each or more.

You could also opt for a more modest redemption bonus of 25%, for 1.25 cents per point, by redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 80,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $800–$1,600 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 16%–32%
Spending Rewards
  • 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent on:
    • Travel
    • Shipping purchases
    • Internet, cable, and phone services
    • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar everywhere else

Key Features

  • 25% point bonus: When redeeming for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Point transfer: Transfer points at a 1:1 rate to leading airline and hotel frequent traveler programs, like World of Hyatt or JetBlue TrueBlue.
  • Luxury Hotel Collection: Book eligible rooms to get perks like daily breakfast for two, complimentary WiFi, room upgrades, early check-in, late checkout, and unique gifts.
  • Shop through Chase/Chase Offers: Earn more points by shopping at participating retailers with the Shop through Chase and Chase Offers marketplaces.
  • Free employee cards: Get up to 70 free employee cards to help track spending and earn more rewards.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $95

Read more in our Review of the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

Runners Up

  • 75,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $750–$1,500 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 25%–50%
  • 17X points at Marriott Bonvoy properties (6X from the card, 11X from member status)
  • 4X points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. wireless service providers, U.S. shipping purchases
  • Annual fee: $125 (Rates & Fees)

 

For the two Chase Ink cards below, if you have another Chase card that allows point transfers (like the Ink Business Preferred) you can move your rewards to the card with the better redemption options to get more value. A $500 bonus could be worth $1,000 or more with a savvy point transfer.
  • $500 cash bonus for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Return on spend: 16.67%
  • 1.5% cash back for every purchase you make
  • Annual fee: $0

 

  • $500 cash bonus for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Return on spend: 16.67%
  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent each year at Office supply stores and on Internet, cable, and phone services
  • 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent each year at Gas stations and Restaurants
  • Annual fee: $0

 

  • 50,000 bonus miles for spending $4,500 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (assuming 1–2 cents per mile)
    • Return on spend: 11.1%–22.22%
  • 2X miles for every purchase
  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

 

  • $500 bonus cash back for spending $4,500 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Return on spend: 11.1%
  • 2% cash back for every purchase
  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Is a Signup Bonus Credit Card Right for You?

Do you like money for free? If so, a signup bonus credit card might be right for you.

It’s not really free money, because you need to spend with credit cards in the first place, and if you’re not responsible you could wind up with fees. But it’s about as close to free money (or travel) as you can get.

You should never spend money just to get a signup bonus, of course. You should only use credit cards to buy things you would normally buy. Pay off the statement balance by the due date or you’ll be charged interest, cutting into your rewards (unless you have a 0% intro APR). And we don’t recommend opening new cards purely for the bonuses.

But if a card fits in with your spending habits and offers a great bonus too, why not go for it? Follow the simple rules above and credit card bonuses can be effectively free. You won’t need excellent credit scores to nab a sweet bonus, but cards for better credit tend to have better bonuses.

Here are some situations where welcome bonuses can make big differences.

  • Everyday spending: Many cards with bonus categories for everyday purchases, like groceries and gas, have intro bonus offers; you may be able to hit spending requirements with nothing more than a few months of your usual errands.
  • Travel: If you’re going on a trip you could use a bonus to get a flight or two for free, or stay an extra night at a nice hotel. Planning ahead will be crucial here to make sure you have the card you need in time.
  • Large expenses on the horizon: When you know there’s a big purchase or two coming up, like furniture, a TV, or even a car, you could use a credit card bonus to help lighten the load on your bank account. Or you could use that as an opportunity to bank points for a vacation.
  • Rent: Rent is a fairly large monthly expense, making it a good target for intro bonus spending — if you can pay with a credit card, that is. If your landlord doesn’t accept credit card payments, you can look into a payment service like Plastiq or RadPad.
  • Tax season: Depending on how much you owe, you may be able to reach spending requirements by paying your taxes. There’s a fee to pay by credit card, but the bonus should offset that by far.

Learn more about introductory bonuses here, including some creative ways to hit minimum spend requirements.

Introductory bonuses are subject to change, and travel cards tend to have the most mercurial —but also most valuable — bonuses. It’s typically impossible to predict when an offer might change, unless you see an expiration date, so if you find a good offer that you want it’s usually best to take it quickly.

Public Offers and Private Offers

There are both public signup bonuses and private signup bonuses. Public offers are open to anyone, and private offers are only available to select groups of targeted consumers.

Private offers are typically better than public, perhaps offering $250 or $300 cash back instead of $200. The spending requirement may remain the same or it could change.

You may get private credit card offers online, by email, or by postal mail. Consider checking if you’re pre-approved for any credit cards, which may show you private offers that you’re eligible for (although it won’t always show you every available private offer).

Selection Criteria: What Makes a Great Signup Bonus?

Signup bonuses are pretty easy to evaluate. Spend some money, get some rewards. But not all bonuses are created equal.

Ask yourself these questions when comparing credit card signup bonuses:

  • What kind of rewards are being offered? The most common bonus reward types are cash back, points, and statement credits:
    • Cash back is usually just what it seems to be, although there may be several redemption options like statement credits, direct bank deposits, gift cards, etc.
    • Points may have different values depending on how you redeem them, and they can be the most valuable reward type if you’re willing to put in the effort to find good deals.
    • Statement credits are the easiest to grok, because their values are simply deducted from your card balance.
  • Can I make good use of the rewards? Cash back and statement credit bonuses are simple, basically like big discounts on your spending, and these may be perfect for some people. But if you care more about maximizing rewards, particularly for travel, you may want bonus points that you can transfer for frequent flyer miles or hotel points (look at ChaseAmex, Capital One, and Citi for that).
  • What’s the return on spend? Calculate how much value you get for the required spending (we’ve done this for you in many cases). Is the spending requirement reasonable? 75,000 points may sound like a lot, for example, but if they take $7,500 in purchases to get, you might not be getting a lot for your spending.
  • Will I have enough time to meet the spending requirement? Most card issuers give you three months or 90 days to reach a spending requirement (“three months” translates to about 90 days in most cases, too). You may see 4-, 6-, or even 12-month offers. Some rare cards might only give two months. Be sure to keep track of how much time you have, starting as soon as your card account was approved and opened.
  • Does it make sense for me to have this credit card? Consider all the card features except the intro bonus. Would you use the card without the bonus? Does it fit into your spending habits, or have benefits you’ll find useful over time? Don’t let a great bonus blind you to an otherwise lackluster credit card.
Signup bonuses can make any card offer look more attractive, but there’s more to credit cards than bonuses. See our favorite cards for a variety of categories in the Best Credit Cards.
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