Any plans to travel late this summer or fall? Booking flights and hotels for winter travel season yet? Well, now is the time start earning enrollment bonuses — and use credit cards points to book holiday travel. Here are some of the best travel credit cards and cashback card welcome bonuses available right now!
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is great for several reasons.
- Its current welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (after you spend $4000 within the first three months of being approved) equates to about $750 in travel when redeeming through Chase’s travel portal.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards are transferrable more than a dozen hotel and airline partners.
- The card earns double points on dining and travel (one point on everything else).
- The welcome bonus easily offsets the Chase Sapphire Preferred‘s $95 annual fee.
Not to mention, you’ll receive access to the Luxury Resort & Hotel Collection — whose benefits include:
- Daily breakfast for two (up to $30 per person or $60 total)
- $100 resort or spa credit (depending on the property)
- Room upgrades when available
- Early and late checkout when available
- Complimentary WiFi
If you used Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts in Las Vegas, keep in mind Sin City FHR properties no longer offer resort credit. The Chase Sapphire Preferred — whose annual fee is almost 80% less than the Platinum Card from American Express Platinum (learn more) and Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN (learn more) scores you more luxury hotel benefits for much cheaper.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (learn more)
Miles earned through the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (learn more and read a review of this card) can be used with any airline or hotel.
The annual fee is waived the first year. Beginning year two, it’s $95 annually. If you take advantage of the card’s $100 Global Entry credit, you’re not really out of pocket for any annual fees until year three. (If the annual fee really is deal-breaker, check out and consider the Capital One VentureOne credit card.)
You’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3000 on the card within three months of being approved.
Each dollar spent — no matter what category — earns two miles. Except for that hefty 10 points per dollar on Hotels.com purchases booked through Venture’s portal.
Learn more and read a review about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
What?! Why is a Southwest credit card being recommended on a site that focuses on Delta stuff?!
Simple: its welcome bonus is lucrative for the minimum spend required. You’ll earn 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending only $1000 within three months of being approved. Not to mention its annual travel credit makes the card worth more than lower annual fee cards.
The card has a $149 fee — but comes with a $75 Southwest annual travel credit. Essentially, that reduces your “out of pocket” to $74 (assuming you use the travel credit). That basically makes this card $25 cheaper than the lower annual fee Southwest Premier Card — which does not have any travel credit.
Not to mention, you’re annually gifted 7,500 anniversary points starting year two. Just because Southwest and Chase LUV having you as a cardmember.
You’ll also enjoy these additional benefits not available on the other Southwest consumer cards:
- Four Upgraded Boardings per year (when available) put you in boarding group A1-15.
- 20% credit on inflight drinks and WiFi
The only thing I don’t like about this card are its earnings:
- 2X points per $1 spent on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases.
- 1X on everything else.
(Seems someone took a page out of the Delta Amex playbook.)
Business-owners: check out the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card — and combine those miles with the Southwest Premier Card to earn yourself a cool 100,000 Rapid Rewards points — which almost qualifies you for A-list status.
Special note to Los Angeles-area travelers on short hops (i.e. Las Vegas, Bay Area, Phoenix, Sacramento, etc): get this card and fly Southwest out of Burbank until construction at LAX is done. Whenever that will be.
Platinum Card from American Express (learn more)
I know, I know. I griped about the scaling back of Vegas FHR benefits in my section about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. But if FHR isn’t a big deal to you, consider The Platinum Card from American Express.
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points using your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within three months of being approved. Certainly, the highest minimum spend requirement of the bunch we’ll discuss today. Thewelcome bonus isn’t fantastic — but the card’s benefits are.
Points can be transferred to a number of airlines such as Delta, Aeromexico, Air France/KLM, Cathay Pacific, ANA and more.
The annual fee is also fairly steep: $550. But this card is loaded with perks — taking advantage of them pretty much offsets the fee. (Active duty military and spouses: Amex waives annual fees for you.)
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That’s a potential $200 in annual Uber savings!
- $100 Global Entry credit every four years.
- Get up to $200 in airline fee statement credit each calendar year! Select an airline of your choice and receive credit for charges such as onboard food and beverage, baggage, and certain other purchases.
- Like shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue? You’ll love the $100 annual statement credit for Saks purchases (enrollment required).
So right there is $525 in annual savings.
Lounge Access Earns You Back the Rest
The Amex Platinum offers a plethora of airport lounge access — with complimentary meals, snacks, and beverages. In other words, stop paying for airport meals and cocktails where there’s a lounge!
- Receive complimentary Delta Sky Club admission when flying Delta Air Lines.
- Complimentary Centurion Lounge airport club access for you and up to two guests.
- Amex gives you free Priority Pass Select membership — good for admission at participating airport lounges worldwide. You and up to two guests can enjoy this great perk!
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Earn 1X Membership Rewards points on all other purchases (meh — I know)
Hotel Status and Credits
- Complimentary gold status with two hotel brands: Marriott and Hilton. Besides the occasional upgrade, status can score you late checkout, early check-in, and more.
- Receive complimentary benefits such as daily breakfast for two, resort or spa credit, upgrades, late check out and early check in when available and more with Fine Hotels & Resorts.
Keep in mind The Platinum Card from American Express (learn more) is a charge card — not a credit card.
Read a review of and learn more about The Platinum Card from American Express.
I swore I’d never get this card (SPOILER ALERT: I did) because, like René and many other travelers, I was upset when IHG majorly devalued the previous card’s yearly anniversary free night at any IHG property worldwide. They’ve since capped the redemption to properties that are 40,000 points and less.
So why did I get this card? The welcome bonus and second anniversary night. A hotel room for $89 (the card’s annual fee) is still a good deal. (Note the anniversary night kicks in year two. But you can have some good with the 80,000 welcome bonus points until then)
The card’s complimentary Platinum elite status has scored me a hospitality suite, some minor room upgrades, and plenty of early check-ins and check-outs.
- Earn 25 points total (yes, you read that right: 25.) per dollar spent during IHG stays. (I’m going rack up points, believe you me, during my stay at the Chicago Seminars this year.)
- Earn two points per buck spent on gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
- Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
And the card comes with a $100 Global Entry credit every four years.
Again, I hold this card because I received a great welcome bonus — and I also value the anniversary night.
If you hold the old/now-defunct IHG Rewards Club, pool that card’s anniversary night with the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card‘s. You’re essentially getting hotel night each year for a total of $138.
Most of us aren’t fans that Marriott torpedoed its own loyalty program. So why is the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature Credit Card on our list? It offers a nice welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases during the first three months of being approved.
The card’s $95 annual fee can still score you a discounted room with its anniversary night (good at properties up to 35,000 points) that triggers during year two. The card also bestows you complimentary Silver status with Bonvoy.
How About Its Bonus Categories?
- 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 6,900 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
- 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
So the earnings are fairly meh (certainly better than a few other cards). But a nice hotel room for $95 a year is certainly with considering.
Cash Back Cards
I know several people who like travel cards — but prefer cashback options. Here are a few with great bonus category earings and noteworthy welcome bonuses.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express (learn more about this card)
You’ll earn a $250 statement credit after spending $1000 on purchases within three months of being approved.
Check out these bonus categories:
- earn 6% back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets annually
- earn 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions (like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, Apple Music, and many others)
- earn 3% back on transit purchases (think Lyft, Uber, parking, tolls, etc.)
- earn 3% back at U.S. gas stations
- earn 1% back on everything else.
The $95 annual fee is easily offset if you spend at least $1600 a year between U.S. supermarkets and streaming services.
Read a review of and learn more about the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.
In addition to an easily met — and generous — welcome bonus, the US Bank Cash Plus Visa Signature Card lets you pick two categories in which you earn 5% back!
When you spend just $500 in the first three months of being approved, you’ll earn $150 cashback!
Another plus (no pun intended) no annual fee!
The US Bank Cash Plus Visa Signature Card rewards you 5% back on your first $2000 spent each quarter on two of the below categories:
- TV, Internet, & Streaming Services
- Fast Food
- Cell Phone Providers
- Department Stores
- Home Utilities
- Select Clothing Stores
- Electronics Stores
- Sporting Goods Stores
- Movie Theatres
- Gym/Fitness Centers
- Furniture Stores
- Ground Transportation (Lyft, Uber, Yellow Cab, etc)
Earn 2% back on a below category of your choosing:
- Grocery Stores
- Gas Stations
Everything else earns you 1% cashback.
I really like what people can do with this card: tons of earning potential and no annual fee.
Another no annual fee cash back card and easy welcome bonus: $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within three months of being approved.
Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories you activate each quarter. The rotating categories include:
- Gas Stations
- Grocery Stores
- Home Improvement Stores
- Gas Stations
- Select Streaming Services
- Department Stores
- Wholesale Clubs
- Chase Pay
Other eligible purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back.
You can redeem your cash back for several options:
- Cash Back. Plain and simple.
- Gift Cards
- Amazon Shop with Points
- Apple’s Ultimate Rewards Store
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card (learn more about this card)
Yet another no annual fee card with a simple welcome bonus: $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within three months of being approved.
- 3% back on dining and entertainment
- 2% at grocery stores
- 1% on all other purchases
Read a review of and learn more about the Capital One SaverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.
There you have it! We’ll profile some of these cards in-depth in the coming weeks and also update our list in August.
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