Friday, September 21, 2012

Best credit card sign-up deals

I frequently receive requests from travelers wishing to maximize credit card sign-up bonuses.  Needless to say, credit card bonuses are the best, easiest, and cheapest way to churn miles for your next trip to Asia or Europe.  For example, with its 50,000 point sign-up bonus, the American Express Gold Business card will land you enough miles for a roundtrip flight to Japan with the sign-up bonus alone.  A consolidated list of the best credit card offers is available on Lucky's blog with Boarding Area.  My personal picks are the following:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa card
40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months; no annual fee the first year

Chase Hyatt Visa card
Two free nights at any Hyatt worldwide after first purchase; one free night each year at category 1-4 hotels; $75 annual fee the first year

Chase Ink Plus Business card
25,000 Ultimate Rewards points after your first purchase, and 25,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $10,000 within three months; no annual fee the first year

American Express Gold Business card
50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months; no annual fee the first year

With all these valuable offers and churning opportunities, which credit card is for you?  It's a difficult question to answer, and it depends mostly on where your destination is.  Obviously, the Chase Hyatt card means little to anyone who's staying at their grandma's place in China.  But to anyone flying to a destination with a flagship Park Hyatt hotel like the Maldives or Dubai, then the Hyatt card can yield a value in excess of $1,400.  If you're flying to Japan, then you'll want the Amex Gold biz card since points can be converted to ANA miles at a 1:1 ratio.  A roundtrip ANA award trip from SFO to Tokyo can be redeemed for as little as 40k miles, so the 50k sign-up bonus gives you more than enough miles for the trip.  However, if you're planning a trip to Athens with a stopover in Stockholm, then Chase Ultimate Rewards will be more valuable since United miles (transferable at a 1:1 ratio) allows you to go anywhere in Europe with a free stopover for 60k miles.

All said and done, there isn't a card that can be deemed "the best" because they all offer different perks and transfer options.  For advice on which card is best for you or if I'm simply missing anything, please comment below.


  1. what cards do you use for everyday spending post-bonus?

  2. That would depend on your spending habits since every card offers additional points for spending in certain categories. But if you were to stick with only one card, then I'd recommend the Sapphire Preferred card since it's accepted everyone with no foreign exchange fees while offering 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, which everyone pays for.