There are several increased credit card sign-up bonus offers out there right now that are getting a lot of coverage on various blogs. Some of these offers really are great, while others are getting way more attention than they deserve. None of these offers are outright terrible, but I hope my non-biased opinion (or at least lack of financial incentive) will give you a more even perspective of how good these increased sign-up bonuses really are and whether they’re right for you. So which of these credit card offers is worth the hype? Here’s my take on each one:
Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card (70,000 miles after $1,000 spent within 3 months)
The public offer for the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Club Card is 30,000 miles after $1,000 spent in 3 months. That makes 70,000 miles (plus an extra 5,000 for adding an authorized user) a solid offer. The bad part? This is a targeted offer and the $95 annual fee isn’t waived the first year like it is for the public offer. In all fairness, paying $95 for 40,000 miles is a bargain, considering earning the same number of miles through non-bonuses manufactured spending (without factoring in shopping portal cash back bonuses) would cost at least $340. On the same Flyertalk page as the 70,000 mile offer, there is one for 50,000 miles, with the first year’s fee waived. I’d still go for the 70,000 mile offer if you’re eligible, since it’s a quick and easy way to bank 70,000 United miles.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard (60,000 miles after $5,000 spent within 3 months)
The normal sign-up bonus for the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard is 50,000 miles. With memories of the 100,000 mile sign-up bonus still fresh, I don’t consider this an increased sign-up bonus – especially now that AAdvantage miles have been devalued and the card carries a $450 annual fee that isn’t waived the first year. This offer doesn’t even include the $200 travel credit that the 100,000 mile offer came with. There’s a $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check fees every 5 years and cardholders still get Admiral’s Club membership. Despite my general rule of thumb that a card offer isn’t worth writing about unless it goes up by at least 10,000 miles, I don’t consider this a great offer.
Bank of America Alaska Card (30,000 miles after first spend + $100 statement credit)
I love Alaska miles, so me scoffing at this offer from the Bank of America Alaska card has nothing to do with a negative perception of the program – but 30,000 miles? That’s just 5,000 miles more than usual. Anything less than a 10,000 mile increase, in my opinion, isn’t worth waking up for. The extra $100 statement credit does make things better, but I personally won’t be going out of my way to jump in on this offer the way I did when the sign-up bonus was 50,000 miles. I’m not saying this is a terrible offer and you should ignore it – get it if you need a Bank of America card to round off a credit card churn, but like I said, I’d rather have an extra 25,000 miles than 5,000 plus a $100 statement credit.
Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card (100,000 points after $5,000 spent within 3 months)
The sign-up bonus for the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card is up from 50,000 points to 100,000 points after $5,000 spent within 3 months. The combined 105,000 points can be redeemed for two nights at a top-tier Category 9 Marriott hotel or upwards of 17 nights at lower category properties. Recently, the card got upgraded to allow cardholders to earn Marriott Gold status after spending $50,000 in a calendar year. Marriott Gold elite status is actually pretty useful: Members get lounge access or breakfast if the lounge is closed, along with 25% bonus points, discounts at on-site gift shops, free local phone calls and Hertz #1 Gold status for a year.
So is this card worth getting? Unless you can get more than two free nights, I wouldn’t bother. If you’re eligible to pick any Chase business card (especially in light of the 5/24 rule), you could certainly do better with the Chase Ink Plus, which not only has a lucrative 5x bonus category you can use to generate valuable, flexible points easily, but that can be transferred to a myriad of transfer partners where points go further. Whether this is a good offer really depends on what you do with the bonus and whether you decide to keep this card long term.
IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card (70,000 points after $2,000 spent within 3 months)
The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card has always been popular for long-term use thanks to the unrestricted free night certificate, which is issued every year after paying the $49 annual fee. The current sign-up bonus is 10,000 points higher than the usual offer and 10,000 points lower than last year’s 80,000 point bonus. While an extra 10,000 points may not sound like much, it could mean an extra night at a Category 1 hotel, two extra nights at a Pointbreaks property, or an additional night at a Category 6 IHG hotel. This is a good card to hold onto, so if you can get it while the sign-up bonus is higher than usual, I say go for it. You have until June 29, 2016 to decide.
The Platinum Card from American Express (100,000 points after $3,000 spent in 3 months)
The public offer for the American Express Platinum card is 40,000 points after $3,000 spent, so the targeted 100k bonus is a major step up. The 100,000 point offer does pop up regularly, though I’ve seen offers of 150,000 and even heard of a highly targeted 250,000 point bonus for the personal and business card floating around. This sign-up bonus is targeted, so check your email (or mail) to see if it’s been extended to you. American Express imposes a once-in-a-lifetime sign-up bonus policy per card, so you want to make sure you get the highest possible sign-up bonus from each Amex card you apply for. In this case, I think if you manage to get targeted for a Platinum Amex offer of 100,000 points or more, you’re in good shape.
Delta Skymiles Credit Cards (50,000 – 60,000 miles, MQM’s, and $50 – $100 in statement credits)
Through July 6, all three Delta Skymiles cards are offering increased sign-up bonuses after $2,000 spent within 3 months. The Gold Delta Skymiles personal and business card are offering 50,000 miles, plus a $50 statement credit after the first Delta purchase made in 3 months. Meanwhile the Platinum Skymiles card is offering 60,000 miles, 10,000 MQM’s and a $100 statement credit after the first Delta purchase.
While the $95 annual fee on the two Gold cards is waived the first year, the $195 annual fee on the Platinum Skymiles card is not. I personally wouldn’t pay $195 for 10,000 extra Skymiles, but some people might find the 10,000 MQM’s and extra $50 statement credit useful. YMMV, as usual.
Redeeming Skymiles isn’t always easy, but I have on occasion found them useful. When I flew to Detroit last year, Delta was the only program with saver award space, saving me over $200 on a last minute flight. Occasionally, when programs like American Airlines AAdvantage have zero award space to Europe, you can find saver space on Delta. It’s a hit/miss, but I’m saying all this to point out that Skymiles can come in handy sometimes.
What do you think of the increases sign-up bonuses on these credit cards? Are you applying for any of these cards?
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