Best Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses – January 2015

credit card sign up bonusSign up bonuses are one of my favorite ways to earn credit card rewards. There are currently some great credit card sign up bonus offers, up to $500 or more, and I have used a few of them myself. Basically you have to sign up for a credit card with a bonus and meet the various requirements within a time limit to get the bonus.

Sign up bonuses are normally awarded in some form of credit card reward points which you can normally use for either a statement credit, travel, gift cards or other rewards based on what each program offers. Each program values points differently so it is important to know your options before you cash out your sign up bonus.

You may get $0.01 of value per point if you apply your reward points to a statement credit or you could $0.0167 of value per point if you transfer your points to another program and use them with the other rewards program. This can greatly alter the value of the credit card sign up bonus reward points so make sure you know what you’ll use your points for before you sign up for a particular sign up bonus credit card to get the best deal.

Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

This is my most recent favorite bonus credit card that I personally have applied for. You can earn 40,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of having an account. When you redeem your miles for travel you’ll earn a bonus of 10% of the miles you redeemed.

This card offers an awesome 2 miles per dollar on all purchases you make, which will equate to 2.2% value if you redeem your rewards for travel after the 10% miles redemption bonus.

Bonus miles can be redeemed for a statement credit on travel purchases at $0.01 per mile and redeemed for a regular statement credit at a value of $0.005 per mile. Barclaycard considers the following as travel categories:

  • Airlines
  • Travel Agencies & Tour Operators
  • Hotels
  • Motels & Resorts
  • Cruise Lines
  • Passenger Railways and
  • Car Rental Agencies

After meeting the minimum spend amount for the sign up bonus, you’ll essentially have earned $506 in cash back if you redeem it all for travel. That’s pretty sweet! This card also has a EMV chip for overseas travel!

Keep in mind that while this card waives the $89 annual fee for the first year, you will have to pay it in the following years.

Want the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Elite World Mastercard? You can apply for it here!

Apply Now

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

chase_sapphire_preferred_credit_card_sign_up_bonus I personally signed up for this card a couple years ago. The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card has an amazing 40,000 point sign up bonus after you spend $4,000 within 3 months of opening your card.

The 40,000 points can be applied as a statement credit or direct deposited into your bank account for $400 with each point being worth a penny. If you use the rewards through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program you can get $500 worth of value. However, there are some even better ways to use your 40,000 point sign up bonus.

Advanced card users will likely transfer their points to another rewards program at a 1 point to 1 point value to some of these amazing rewards programs: British Airways Executive Club, United MileagePlus®, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, Korean Air SKYPASS, Amtrak Guest Rewards®, Hyatt Gold Passport®, Marriott Rewards®, Priority Club® Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.

I transferred my points to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® program because each Chase Ultimate Rewards point is equal to 1 Rapid Rewards point. I can exchange 100 Rapid Rewards points for $1.42 in Wanna Get Away?® fares which essentially increases the value of my points 42%! Not shabby.

You also earn points for your purchases. You earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

A couple of the other great benefits include no foreign transaction fees and the card is Chip and Signature enabled for when you’re traveling internationally. They even have a customer service number answered directly by real humans! You don’t have to go through any computer automated prompts and that is pretty awesome if you ask me.

There is an annual fee but Chase will waive the $95 annual fee on the Sapphire Preferred card for the first year. You’ll have to pay the fee each year after that.

P.S. This card is pretty cool because it is made of metal and heavier than normal credit cards.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus and Premier Credit Cards from Chase

southwest_airlines_rapid_reward_plus_credit_card_sign_up_bonusIf you fly on Southwest these cards offer some tremendous sign up bonus values! Both credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus and Premier, offer 50,000 sign up bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months of opening an account. Those 50,000 points can be redeemed for over $700 in Wanna Get Away?® fares which can be redeemed for a round trip flight.

In addition to the sign up bonus you earn 2 points for every dollar spent on Southwest Airlines® when you book directly with the airlines and 2 points for every dollar you spend on Southwest Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar spent.

Both versions of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card have anniversary bonuses. The Plus credit card has a 3,000 point anniversary bonus and the Premier credit card has a 6,000 point anniversary bonus.

The Premier version boasts no foreign transaction fees which can save you a ton of money if you commonly use credit cards in foreign countries.

Unfortunately, both credit cards have annual fees. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus annual fee is $69 and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier annual fee is $99. If you use all of your points each year, the extra $30 for 3,000 extra anniversary bonus points is actually worth $50 in Wanna Get Away?® fares so it might be worth it to splurge for the Premier card.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Chase Ink Plus Business Credit Card

chase_ink_plus_business_credit_card_sign_up_bonusThe Chase Ink Plus Business Credit Card offers one of the largest sign up bonuses I’m aware of at 50,000 sign up bonus points but it comes with a large spending requirement of $5,000 in the first 3 months from opening your account.

Just like the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, these points can be transferred with no transfer fees at a 1 point to 1 point value to any of the following reward programs: British Airways Executive Club, United MileagePlus®, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, Korean Air SKYPASS, Amtrak Guest Rewards®, Hyatt Gold Passport®, Marriott Rewards®, Priority Club® Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.

This credit card offers no foreign transaction fees and waives the annual fee for the first year. Each year after the first there is an annual fee of $95.

Even though this is a business card you can still apply for it as a sole proprietor by simply giving your name as the legal name of your business your SSN as the taxpayer identification number. If you sell anything on the side  or have a side gig that isn’t a W-2 job you could likely consider it a business (and you should be reporting the income to the IRS as well if it is taxable). Don’t lie about your business though… Be honest when filing out the application.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card

citi-hilton-hhonors-reserve-credit-card-sign-up-bonusIf you like fancy hotels then the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card might be worth checking out. You can earn two weekend night certificates, each good for one weekend night in a standard room with double occupancy at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio. To receive this sign up bonus you must spend $2,500 in eligible purchases within the first four months of card membership.

In addition to the sign up bonus, you will earn 10 bonus points for every dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio, 5 bonus points for every dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases and 3 bonus points for every dollar spent on all other purchases. These are in addition to the HHonors base points you may earn for your stays.

You can earn an anniversary bonus of one weekend night at select hotels and resorts if you spend $10,000 or more on eligible purchases in each card membership year.

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card features no foreign transaction fees and a Citi chip to assist in making global travel easier.

Finally, you will be rewarded complimentary HHonors gold status as long as you’re a Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve cardmember and can earn an upgrade to HHonors Diamond status by making $40,000 or more in eligible purchases during each calendar year.

Like many of these stellar sign up bonus cards, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card has a $95 annual fee.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

Citi-ThankYou-PreferreThe Citi ThankYou Preferred credit card can provide up to a 20,000 bonus ThankYou points bonus! In order to earn the full bonus, you must spend $1,500 in purchases in the first three months of account opening.

You can redeem your 20,000 points for $200 in gift cards or you can save them and use them for other great rewards such as merchandise.

You’ll earn 1 ThankYou point on every dollar of purchases, but for dining an entertainment purchases you’ll earn 2 ThankYou points for every dollar you spend. Points never expire and you can earn unlimited ThankYou points.

Feel free to travel the world with this credit card. It has Chip Technology for global acceptance.

As an amazing kicker, this card has no annual fee!

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Keep These Thoughts In Mind When Considering a Credit Card

Credit cards can be great tools and make you a ton of money, if, and only if you play the game correctly. I ALWAYS pay my credit card off in full every month and you should too. If you can’t do this I would suggest against getting credit cards.

If you have a problem with debt and/or credit cards I would suggest you not sign up for new cards. The cash back benefits do not outweigh the interest charges you will pay.

Credit card interest rates are normally higher than most other loans and the interest can add up fast. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

What sign up bonus credit cards have you used in the past? Are there any other offers I should be aware of or add to my list? I’d love to hear your input below in the comments!

The information in the article is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of January 14th, 2015. It will be periodically updated as offers change. As with any offer, make sure to read all of the details on the application site as those are the terms and conditions that will govern any credit card you sign up for. What you have read here is simply a summary and does not contain all terms and conditions.

photo by: AMagill

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Looks like some good cards! My wife and I both got Amex cards recently that had a really cool travel point program with it. We’ve already met the minimum and got $1000 for travel rewards and will be paying for our bathroom remodel next month with it. We’ll be using the points to go on a vacation early next year. :)

  2. I have churned almost all of those! I did the Southwest card this winter…but isntead of $800 in flights I took $500 in Walmart gift cards. Boring, I know, but it freed up $500 in my budget to throw at my mortgage. Right now we are churning Starwood Preferred guest cards for our trip to Europe next spring!

  3. I have a United card and got a Continental card before the merger. I have added a business card over the years as well. Last year I got a Hilton card for the hotel stays. You can really rack up points on the card quickly.

  4. I love credit card rewards. They are just so easy. Chase has had some pretty great offers lately. $500 for opening a Sapphire account is no small reward. If I was in the market for a new one, I’d seriously give that one a closer look.

  5. I got the email about that new Citibank card, but I have a Chase Freedom and a Chase Sapphire Preferred and love how those 2 cards work together!

    Hope you’re doing well :) Love the site design!!

  6. I churn cards all year long.. It takes discipline, but makes me about 2k a year for doing nothing..
    If it hasnt been mentioned here, its good to note that the best everyday card in the world (In my opinion) is the capital one spark business card. It earns 3% on EVERY purchase.. Not just gas. the only catch is a 99 dollar fee annually.

    • actually, I lied.. Its 2% on every purchase.. Still not bad.

      • Gordon, isn’t there an annual fee with that card? It’s good if you spend enough to make it worth it, but you definitely have to keep it in mind now that there are no fee cards at a flat 1.5%.

  7. I am trying to slowly ease my way into rewards cards. I did sign up for the Discover It card a couple months ago but haven’t used it yet. I just have this fear in the back of my head that I’ll buy more than normal with a CC. I am contemplating just charging any normal bills I can to it and then immediately logging in and paying it off so that I can rack up some rewards. I’d like to get the confidence to earn the big rewards.

    • If you can handle it then that sounds like a good strategy, but if you’re worried about getting into trouble with credit cards then I would say no reward is worth potential credit card debt!

  8. The new Wells Fargo cards probably deserve a mention as well, $400 in cash + $100 in airline reimbursements.

  9. Bill Long says:

    Bank of America offers a 0% interest card ( less than 1 year) and they award $25 each calendar quarter if you pay more than the minimum ( $25) each month and pay on time. If you open a small Bank of America checking/saving account and have the $25 bonus credited to the account you get another $5. You must make these payments each month in a quarter to get the $30 at the end of the quarter. Time getting the card in order to start a new quarter of payments. Keep enough on the card @)% to owe a minimum of $25 each month, play this out until the 0% runs out and then pay the card off. Can get $120 a year doing this.

    • Thanks for the comment Bill. This sounds really complicated though for such a small pay off compared to some of these other cards like the Barclay Arrival Plus. However, if this is what works for you, free money is awesome!

      • An easy way to use this BofA Balance Rewards card is to pay a small number of small recurring bills using the card. I have mine set up to pay 3 monthly bills automatically, totaling about $30 monthly. Paying the card balance in total every month is also automatic. Set it and forget it and get $120 a year. Not a lot of cash, but not bad for doing a few online transactions to set it up, and no annual fee.

  10. After the Sapphire my best card is the Venture its 40,000 bonus points for $3,000 in 3 months.

  11. In the past year and a half I got both the Southwest Premier and Signature cards when they each had a bonus of 50,000 points which they seem to offer a few times every year. When the combined bonuses and spending reached 110,000 points it also earned us a Companion Pass which has saved us thousands of dollars since my wife flies with me for free, even if I am paying with points! Then we got the Marriott Rewards card while it was offering a 70,000 point bonus. Our Marriott Rewards points were used to stay ten free nights in Marriott hotels over the past year, worth well over $1000. Most recently we started using the Chase Ink Business Plus card which was also offering a 70,000 point bonus that we will be able to use at Marriott hotels or on Southwest flights, or in many other places. It really pays to watch for those special offers!

  12. Currently I would say the Barclays US Airways Premier MasterCard with it’s 50,000 point sign up bonus is one of the best offers. The bonus is easily worth well over $500 dollars in flights. The card is being discontinued soon so act quick! It should also be noted that if you already have credit with Barclays and are denied for a card with them you can easily call them up and move some of your credit to get approved. I’ve only been 18 for 8 months and I just got the Barclays US Airways card along with their Arrival Plus (and the Chase Freedom) with the help of moving credit from my first card with them.

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