The best credit card offers in February 2021: Earn points, miles, or cash back

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If you want to earn lots of points, miles, or cash back quickly, the best strategy is to apply for a rewards credit card and earn its intro bonus. You’ll usually have to meet a minimum spending requirement in a specified time frame (typically a few months), and it’s well worth the effort to unlock a big bonus.

Even better, many top travel rewards cards are currently offering record-high welcome bonuses. Some of these offers are only available for a limited time, so you shouldn’t wait long to apply.

The best credit card welcome offers available now:

Credit cardWelcome bonusPlatinum Card® from American Express60,000 points after your spend at least $US5,000 in your first 3 months of account opening (elevated offer)**The Business Platinum® Card from American Express75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $US15,000 within your first 3 months of account opening (elevated offer)***American Express® Gold Card60,000 points after you spend at least $US4,000 in your first 6 months of account opening (elevated offer)Citi Premier® Card60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $US4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card100,000 points after spending $US15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening (elevated offer)Ink Business Cash® Credit CardInk Business Unlimited® Credit Card$US750 bonus cash back after you spend $US7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening (elevated offer)Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card60,000 points after you spend $US4,000 in the first three months of account openingChase Freedom Unlimited®Chase Freedom Flexâ”$US200 after spending $US500 in the first three months from account opening Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card80,000 points (50,000 points after you spend $US2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months ,and an additional 30,000 points after you spend $US10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months) (elevated offers end February 8, 2021)Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit CardUp to 100,000 points after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements (elevated offer)
Hilton Honours American Express Surpass® CardHilton Honours American Express CardThe Hilton Honours American Express Business Card

Increased welcome bonuses that include new statement credits (elevated offers)IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card140,000 bonus points after spending $US3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening ** The Platinum Card® from American Express: (Note: New cardmembers can earn 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $US15,000 in combined purchases, during the first 6 months of card membership)

*** The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: New cardholders can also earn 5x points on eligible US purchases on shipping, wireless telephone services, advertising in select media, office supplies, and gas stations in the first three months of account opening, up to 80,000 bonus points per category

Quick tip: Along with offering huge welcome bonuses, some credit card issuers have added new benefits and spending categories due to the COVID-19 pandemic — including statement credits that can save you money.

The best credit card welcome bonuses available now

American Express Platinum Card® from American Express

Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is offering one of the most lucrative bonuses we’ve seen in recent months, and its many benefits can more than make up for the $US550 annual fee The Platinum Card® from American Express – Rates & Fees. While it’s well known as a premium travel card, the Amex Platinum is worth considering even if you’re staying close to home right now.

You can still get hundreds of dollars in value from perks like up to $US200 in Uber (including Uber Eats) credits per year, up to $US100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits, and up to $US30 per month in PayPal credits through June 2021. The Platinum Card also comes with excellent shopping and purchase benefits, including return protection, extended warranty, and targeted discounts and bonuses through Amex Offers.

Did you know? There are plenty of ways to redeem Amex Membership Rewards points that aren’t travel-related — including statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, and even food delivery.

Travellers can take advantage of up to $US200 in airline fee credits each calendar year, airport lounge access, complimentary hotel elite status with Hilton and Marriott, travel insurance, and Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts. You can use the Amex Membership Rewards points you’ll earn with the card to book flights, hotels, and more through Amex Travel, or transfer points to airline and hotel partners like Delta, British Airways, and Marriott.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Small-business owners have a big opportunity to earn a massive amount of points with the limited-time welcome bonus on The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Like the personal Platinum Card, there’s a hefty annual fee — $US595(See Review) — but it’s more than worth it if you can maximise the card’s perks.

Amex Business Platinum Card members get some of the same perks as personal cardholders, including airline fee credits, hotel elite status, and airport lounge access. You can also receive up to $US200 in Dell statement credits per year, and get a 35% points rebate when you redeem points for first- or business-class tickets, or for any fare with your selected airline, through Amex Travel (up to 500,000 points back per calendar year).

If you’re not sure which version of the card is best for you, our comparison of the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum can help narrow down your choice.

Amex Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

The Amex Gold Card is sometimes overlooked as the “kid brother” to its Platinum siblings, but it’s actually one of our favourite rewards cards, especially for dining. You’ll earn 4x points at restaurants worldwide uo to $US25,000 per year (then 1x) and up to $US120 in annual dining credits that you can use at select restaurants and on Grubhub and Seamless. It also offers up to $US120 Uber Cash ($US10 month) credit each calendar year.

The card didn’t always come with an attention-grabbing welcome bonus, but it’s now increased its intro offer to 60,000 points after you spend at least $US4,000 in your first 6 months of account opening. Considering you can transfer your Amex points to nearly two dozen travel partners, these points can unlock lots of options for flights or hotel stays.

Citi Premier® Card

Citi Premierâ” Card

The Citi Premier Card is another card that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. It earns flexible Citi ThankYou Rewards points that you can redeem for travel, transfer to airline partners, cash in for statement credits, gift cards, or merchandise, and even use to pay off your student loan or mortgage.

In addition to offering 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $US4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening, the Citi Premier Card stands out for its pandemic-friendly bonus categories, including 3 points per dollar at restaurants and supermarkets. This makes the card a great option for maximizing your everyday purchases — because everyone has to eat.

The Citi Premier Card also comes with a hotel savings benefit that can offset its entire $US95 annual fee. This perk will save you $US100 once per calendar year when you book a hotel stay of $US500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) through ThankYou.com.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card offers the highest welcome bonus among Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points: 100,000 points after spending $US15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Plus, it has generous bonus categories — you’ll earn 3 points per dollar in the first $US150,000 in combined purchases you make on categories including travel, shipping, and advertising (and 1 point per dollar on everything else). This card has a $US95 annual fee, and it offers benefits like primary rental car insurance when you’re renting a car for business purposes and cell phone protection.

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

If you’re looking for Chase small-business card but don’t want to meet the hefty spending requirement on the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, the no-annual-fee Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is a great alternative. You’ll earn $US750 bonus cash back after you spend $US7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — awarded as 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is a good pick if you spend a lot in the card’s bonus categories: 5% cash back (5x points) on the first $US25,000 spent (then 1x) in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services each account anniversary year, 2% back (2x points) on the first $US25,000 spent (then 1x) in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year, and 1% back (1x points) on all other purchases with no cap.

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Some small-business owners don’t want to fuss with bonus categories or spending limits. If that’s your style, the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card is an easy pick — it earns 1.5% cash back (1.5x points) on all eligible purchases with no caps.

It’s also offering a bonus of $US750 bonus cash back after you spend $US7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening (75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) and has no annual fee. Although you won’t have the opportunity to earn bonus points in popular business categories, the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card is a good fit if you value simplicity and straightforward earning.

Chase Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

You can’t go wrong with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — it’s one of the best to start with if you’re new to credit card rewards (or if you don’t want to pay the $US550 annual fee on its premium sibling, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®).

The card offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $US4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. The great thing about Chase Ultimate Rewards points is their flexibility — redemption options include booking travel directly through the Chase Travel Portal, transferring points to airline and hotel partners like United and Marriott, or cashing in rewards for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the best cash-back cards you can get, and it now offers one of the most generous intro bonuses, too. New cardholders can earn $US200 after spending $US500 in the first three months from account opening (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points).

You’ll earn 5% cash back (5x points) on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% cash back (3x) on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% cash back (1.5x) on everything else. You can even pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with one of Chase’s travel cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and unlock the ability to transfer points to partners like Hyatt, British Airways, and Singapore Airlines.

Chase Freedom Flexâ”

Chase Freedom Flexâ”

The no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex┠has the same great welcome offer as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®: a $US200 Bonus after you spend $US500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points).

The Chase Freedom Flexâ” earns 5% cash back (5x points) on rotating quarterly bonus categories after activation (on up to $US1,500 spent per quarter, then 1%), 5% back (5x) on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back (3x) on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1% back (1x) on everything else.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

All three Chase Southwest personal cards, including the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, are offering a record-high welcome bonus of 80,000 points (50,000 points after you spend $US2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months ,and an additional 30,000 points after you spend $US10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months) until February 8, 2021.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee ($US69) of the bunch, but also the fewest benefits. It’s the only Southwest card that adds foreign transaction fees, and it doesn’t earn tier-qualifying points from meeting spending thresholds like the others. That said, you’ll earn 3,000 points each card anniversary (worth about $US45 in Southwest airfare) and the welcome bonus alone can get you most of the way to qualifying for the Southwest Companion Pass.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the mid-level Southwest personal card, with a $US99 annual fee. It comes with the same sky-high welcome bonus and offers a few more perks, including tier-qualifying points for reaching spending thresholds, 6,000 points on your card anniversary, and no foreign transaction fees.

Quick tip: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is worth the higher annual fee if you’re trying to earn elite status or plan to use the card overseas — and because the anniversary points are worth about $US90 in Southwest flights, they will effectively knock out most of your yearly cost to keep the card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card has a $US149 annual fee, but it’s well worth it even if you fly Southwest just a few times a year. In exchange for the higher upfront cost, you’ll get valuable benefits that can be worth much more than you paid — along with the same huge welcome bonus as the others.

Cardholders receive 7,500 points each card anniversary (worth about $US112 in Southwest flights), up to $US75 in statement credits toward Southwest purchases each year, four upgraded boardings per year when available (worth up to $US50 each time), and a 20%discount on inflight purchases including Wi-Fi.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is also offering an elevated bonus, and it’s the highest of them all: 70,000 points after you spend $US5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, and an additional 30,000 points after spending $US25,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. If you can spend enough to earn the full bonus, you’ll have plenty of rewards for booking flights — and you’ll earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

The Companion Pass essentially gets you two-for-one travel on paid and award tickets (your designated companion only pays taxes and fees), and you need 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year to earn it. However, Southwest has credited eligible Rapid Rewards members with 25,000 qualifying points for 2021 due to COVID, effectively reducing the requirement to just 100,000 points. You’ll more than meet that requirement if you earn the full 100,000-point bonus (plus you’ll earn at least 1 point per dollar on the $US25,000 in required spending).

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card also offers an application fee credit of up to $US100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, plus four upgraded boardings on Southwest per year and inflight Wi-Fi credits.

American Express Hilton Honours American Express Surpass® Card

Hilton Honours American Express Surpass® Card

American Express recently increased the welcome bonuses on three Hilton credit cards, and the Hilton Honours American Express Surpass® Card got a big boost. You’ll earn 130,000 points after you spend at least $US2,000 in your first 3 months of account opening, plus a $US150 statement credit after your first purchase in the first three months of account opening — more than enough to offset the card’s $US95 annual fee Hilton Honours American Express Surpass® Card – Rates & Fees.

The Hilton Honours Surpass® Card comes with automatic Hilton Gold elite status, which gets you perks like room upgrades, bonus earning on stays, and complimentary breakfast. You’ll also receive a free weekend night (valid at almost any Hilton hotel) if you spend $US15,000 on the card in a calendar year.

American Express Hilton Honours American Express Card

Hilton Honours American Express Card

If you prefer a no-annual-fee (See Rates) card, the welcome bonus on the Hilton Honours American Express Card is worth considering. You’ll earn 80,000 points after you spend at least $US1,000 in your first 3 months of account opening, plus a $US100 statement credit after your first purchase in the first three months. It’s rare to see a bonus that high on a card with no annual fee.

While it doesn’t come with as many benefits as the other Hilton credit cards, you’ll still get a handful of benefits, including Hilton Silver elite status and bonus points on everyday purchases. Plus, if you spend $US20,000 or more on eligible purchases in a calendar year, you’ll get upgraded to Hilton Gold status, which comes with more perks — including free breakfast at Hilton hotels.

The Hilton Honours American Express Business Card

The Hilton Honours American Express Business Card

Along with an elevated bonus of a 125,000 points after you spend at least $US3,000 in your first 3 months of account opening, The Hilton Honours American Express Business Card earns bonus points in categories that will appeal to small-business owners.

Like the Hilton Honours Surpass® Card, The Hilton Honours American Express Business Card comes with automatic Gold elite status and the opportunity to earn a free weekend night certificate after spending $US15,000 on purchases in a calendar year, plus a second free weekend night after spending a total of $US60,000 in the same time frame.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card comes with a welcome bonus of 140,000 bonus points after spending $US3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, which is enough for up to 14 award nights at the lowest-priced IHG hotels (redemptions start at 10,000 points per night).

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card comes with an $US89 (waived the first year) annual fee, but each year cardholders receive an anniversary award night valid at IHG hotels that cost up to 40,000 points. It’s easy to get a value that more than exceeds the annual fee from this perk alone.

Why earn credit card rewards in the middle of a pandemic?

With travel still challenging due to the pandemic, now may seem like an odd time to open a travel rewards credit card, but earning a welcome bonus now can put you in a great position to use points and miles for your next vacation, whenever that may be.

Plus, in addition to allowing extra time to earn a welcome bonus,issuers like American Express and Chase are offering additional benefits tailored to life in quarantine, including new bonus categories for earning rewards and the option to use Chase points through Pay Yourself Back.

Before you apply for a new credit card, make sure you understand how credit card applications affect your credit score. Also make sure you treat your credit cards like debit cards, only spending what you can afford to pay back each month. If you carry a balance to earn rewards, you’ll be putting yourself in a bad financial position — and the interest fees you’ll rack up will easily outweigh any points or miles you earn.

Frequently asked questions

What is a sign-up bonus?

A sign-up bonus, also known as a welcome bonus or intro offer, is a reward of points, miles, or cash back for new cardholders who meet designated requirements. Usually, these requirements involve meeting a minimum spending threshold within the first few months after you open your new credit card account.

Do credit card sign-up bonuses change?

Some credit cards almost always have the exact same sign-up bonus, while others change frequently. If you’re considering opening a new rewards credit card, do your research to see whether the card you want has previously offered a higher bonus. If it has, it could be worth waiting until that elevated offer returns, or you may even be able to find that higher offer through the credit card issuer’s website.

What is the best credit card sign-up bonus?

There isn’t one single best sign-up bonus, because even if one card offers more points, not all points and miles are valued equally. There are also different types of credit card rewards: points, miles, and cash back, so the best sign-up bonus for you depends on the rewards you value most.

How can I use a credit card sign-up bonus?

There are typically several options for using a credit card sign-up bonus.

If you earn a cash-back sign-up bonus, you could be able to use it toward a statement credit to reduce your credit card bill, or you could receive the money in check form. With a travel rewards card, you could use your points or miles to book an award trip, or cash them out for gift cards, money back, or merchandise.

The exact options depend on the credit card you have and its specific rewards program, but the bottom line is that there are several possibilities for using your sign-up bonus.

Is a credit card without a sign-up bonus still worth it?

The short answer is yes. A credit card sign-up bonus can be a great incentive to apply, especially if you’re looking at a card that has an annual fee, but not every good credit card offers an intro bonus. For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card is one of our favourite cash-back credit cards, but it doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus. It could be worth forgoing an intro bonus if that card’s 2% cash back (1% back when you make a purchase, and another 1% back when you pay your bill) appeals to you.

Related Content Module: More Credit Card Coverage

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