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Best Credit Card Offers – May 2018

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By: Bryce Conway – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

Every month I share a post with what I believe are the top credit card offers on the market according to the 10xT staff. Today we are going to take a look at the best offers for May 2018.

Apologies for being a few days late this month. A number of cards have shuffled their offers so I wanted to wait for everything to shake out before publishing the monthly list.

I rank these offers by looking at their signup bonus, cardholder perks, ongoing value, and any fees they may charge. And while the best offer for you will vary depending on a number of factors, I am going to rank the top offers based on the order in which I think they should be chosen by the average person.

This month features a few changes as a number of cards have raised and lowered their offers in the last month. To be honest it was hard to rank some of them because I had to weigh “this is the best offer we have seen on this card in a while” against “which has the higher overall value”. So there will be some variability based on your individual circumstances.

If you’ve ever watched the NFL Draft before, consider this list my version of “Todd’s Big Board”. It’s simply the best overall cards available without regard to a specific points/miles need.

I also divide these top credit offers in to two lists, one for those of you who are over 5/24 and one for those of you who are under.

(If you don’t know what the Chase 5/24 rule is you’re going to want to give this a read)

As always, feel free to email me with questions (Bryce@10xTravel.com) about your own situation and I would be happy to help you select the best card for you.

Here we go!

If you are under 5/24, here are the best cards available right now:

 

1) Chase Sapphire Preferred

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months
  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Trip delay and primary rental car insurance
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year 

(Full offer details here: Learn More)

Commentary:

Once again, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes in at #1 overall because of its incredible signup bonus, reasonable annual fee (that is also waived for the first year), and the amazing value of the points it earns.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are widely considered to be among the best points in the industry thanks to their ability to be transferred to multiple airline and hotel partners. This gives you a ton of options for redeeming your points no matter where you want to travel.

You can also redeem Ultimate Rewards to book travel via the Chase travel portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point, meaning the 50,000 bonus points offered by this card are worth a minimum of $625 when redeemed to book travel.

Transferring them to Chase’s many transfer partners can provide the highest redemption values if you know where to look.

One of the best examples of this is round trip to Hawaii for just 25,000 Korean SKYPASS miles. Meaning that the 50,000 point signup bonus from this card could score you two round-trip flights to Hawaii.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Bonus could get you 2 free flight to Hawaii!

Check out our recent article on why this should be the first card you start with for more information.

You can also read more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offer here.

Note that Chase has imposed new restrictions on the Chase Sapphire cards that limit your ability to get multiple versions of them. [More details on that here].

2) Chase Ink Business Preferred

Current Offer:

  • 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites each account anniversary year.
  • $95 annual fee not waved first year

(Full offer details available here: Learn More)

Commentary:

Chase Ink Business Preferred earns the exact same Chase Ultimate Rewards Points as the Chase Sapphire Preferred (discussed earlier) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve (that’s next).

The 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and can be transferred to any of Chase’s hotel or airline partners, which include Southwest, United, Hyatt, Marriott, and more.

One of the best things about this card is that you can pool all of your points with those earned from your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, making for a seamless integration of points earned from your business and points earned from personal spending.

Personally I use this card for almost all of our business expenses here at 10xT, mainly because of the 3x points on advertising purchases and the fact that all of the points can be combined with my Chase Sapphire card.

This is certainly the best business credit card on the market (we use it for all things 10xT) and also one of the best overall cards. If you’re not sure what you do qualifies as a business, let us help guide you through the process. Many people incorrectly assume that they are not able to qualify for business credit cards.

You can read more about the Chase Ink Preferred offer here: Learn More

3) Chase Sapphire Reserve

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • $300 annual travel credit, good for any form of travel
  • Priority Pass Membership, giving you access to 900+ airline lounges worldwide
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every 5 years
  • Trip delay and primary rental car insurance
  • $450 annual fee not waived first year

(Full offer details here: Learn More)

Commentary:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is widely regarded as the best premium travel credit card on the market thanks to its generous signup bonus and incredible perks. It’s got a lot of moving parts though so let’s take a look at how they work.

Let’s start with the bad news. It has a $450 fee that is not waived for the first year. Plan on it being charged to your card in the first month or so.

Most people don’t get past that fee. But read on…that $450 gets you a ton of amazing perks.

For starters, you get 50,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. See above for an overview of how these points work (they’re amazing).

Having Sapphire Reserve also makes your Chase points worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book travel, meaning your 50,000 point bonus is worth $750 of travel.

Next, you get a $300 annual travel credit that is good for any sort of travel expense. Even paid tickets. So unless you are spending less than $300 on travel per year (in which case, why are you reading this website?) your $450 annual fee is effectively $150 per year.

image1

The swipe marks say it all; Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of my personal favorites

Finally, your Sapphire Reserves comes with complimentary membership to Priority Pass. Allowing you to access more than 900 airport lounges worldwide.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also gives you a $100 credit every five years to cover your application fees for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, as well as some of the best trip interruption and rental car insurance coverage on the market. Personally, I think that TSA Precheck is the best $100 I have ever spent.

The fee is certainly not cheap but in this case it is absolutely worth it.

10xT Writer Caroline Lupini wrote a fantastic review of all things Chase Sapphire Reserve, check it out here.

You can also read more about the card offer here: Learn More

Note that Chase has imposed new restrictions on the Chase Sapphire cards that limit your ability to get multiple versions of them. [More details on that here].

4) Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Current Offer:

  • $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchase in the first
  • 5% cash back at office supply stores, internet, cable and phone services
  • 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants each year
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $0 annual fee

(Full offer details here: Learn More)

Commentary:

This $500 (50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points) offer was launched a couple months ago and is the highest public offer I have ever seen for this card. I am not sure how long this will last.

The real play with Ink Cash is to pair with another Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card (Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ink, Sapphire Preferred) and transfer points earned from the Ink Cash to your Chase Ultimate Rewards account. This allows your $500 “cash” signup bonus to be used for higher value travel redemptions.

This effectively gives you a way to earn 5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on purchases made at office supply stores, internet, and cable and phone services.

You can read more about the Chase Ink Cash car here: Learn More

5) Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card (New Card!)

Current Offer:

  • 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Free Night Award (up to 35,000 points) every year on your account anniversary
  • 6 points per $1 spent at Marriott and SPG hotels, 2 points per $1 on everything else
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status
  • $95 annual fee, not waived

(Full offer details can be found here. Learn More

Commentary:

This is a brand new credit card to the points/miles world! It just launched in early May and there is a lot to love about it.

For starters, the 100,000 point bonus. This is even higher than the bonus offered on the old Marriott card and the recent Starwood/Marriott integration opens up a LOT of ways to use these points. Remember that this 100,000 point bonus is the equivalent 33,000 Starwood points, which many readers value quite highly.

I used 75,000 Marriott points to book a multi-night stay at the Rome Marriott Flora

You can use them to book award nights at hundreds of Marriott or Starwood properties or transfer them to more than a dozen airline programs.

This card also gives you an annual free night on your account anniversary each year, able to be used at any Marriott hotel that costs up to 35,000 points per night. Which covers most Marriott properties in their portfolio and makes the card worth keeping indefinitely in my opinion.

And finally, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit card offers 6x points per $1 spent at any Marriott/SPG properties and 2x points per $1 on everything else. Making it a decent choice for everyday spend for anyone looking to earn points to be used with the more than one dozen airline transfer partners of Marriott.

We are not yet 100% sure if you need to be below 5/24 to get this card, but my guess is yes. We do know however that you are not eligible to receive this 100,000 point bonus if you have received another Marriott personal card bonus in the last 24 months.

You can read more about the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card here. Learn More.

6) Chase Southwest Airlines Business Card 60k (Plus and Premier only 40k)

Current Offer:

  • 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months (40,000 points after $1,000 spend for the personal cards)
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • 6,000 (3,000 for personal plus) bonus points on your cardmember anniversary
  • $99 fee ($69 for Plus) not waived first year

(You can read the full offer details by visiting our credit cards page)

Commentary:

The Southwest Business credit card bonus has jumped back to 60,000 points while the personal cards remain at 40,000 each.

The best way to fully utilize these card bonuses is to work toward a Southwest Companion Pass, which is widely considered to be one of the best airline perks in the industry. To earn the pass you need to earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest points in the same calendar year.

Be aware though that Chase recently changed their rules to prevent anyone from getting two personal Southwest card bonuses in less than 24 months.

7) United MileagePlus Explorer (Personal & Business)

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. (40,000 after $2,000 spend for United personal)
  • 5,000 bonus miles after adding an authorized user and making a purchase (Personal version only)
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases (both versions) and other select categories (business only), 1 mile per $1 on everything else
  • Free checked bag for the primary cardmember and one companion traveling on the same reservation
  • 2 United Club passes each year on your cardmember anniversary
  • $95 fee waived for the first year

Commentary:

50,000 bonus points is a decent offer on the business card but the 40,000 personal card offer is lower than it has been in recent months. To put things in perspective, you can fly round trip to Europe on a Saver Level ticket for 60,000 United miles so this one card will just about earn you a free international flight.

You can also transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to United to top off your account if needed.

The 2 United Club passes are also a nice perk for anyone who doesn’t have a card that offers lounge access. Once you try the lounge life there really is no going back.

You will occasionally see targeted 60k offers on these cards, so be sure check your United account for one before hopping on the 50k offer.

Our own Julie Szpira wrote a recent article on why you should get the United MileagePlus explorer card. Worth a read for anyone considering getting this card.

Other cards to consider:

Chase Freedom: $150 bonus after $500 spend, rotating 5% back categories and 1% back on everything else. Can transfer your points to another Chase Ultimate Rewards card (such as Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or Ink) to be used at a higher value for travel.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: $150 bonus after $500 spend, 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Can transfer points as described in Chase Freedom above.

You can read more about the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited by visiting our credit cards page.

If you are over 5/24, here are the best cards available right now:

 

1) Citi ThankYou Premier

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3x points on Travel, which includes gas stations
  • 2x points on Dining and Entertainment, 1x on everything else.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee, waived first year

Commentary:

The Citi ThankYou Premier holds the top “over 5/24” spot again thanks to a generous 50,000 point bonus offer. The 50,000 bonus point offer is the highest public offer I have ever seen on this card and it does not come around very often.

The Citi ThankYou Premier is basically Citi’s version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The ThankYou Points can either be used to book travel (airfare, hotels, etc.) via the Citi Travel Center at a value of 1.25 cents per point or transferred to any of Citi’s transfer partners, which include Cathay Pacific, Air France, Etihad, Hilton, and more. Many, but not all, of the transfer rates are 1:1.

You can transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Cathay Pacific

At a value of 1.25 cents via the Citi Travel Center this 50,000 point bonus is worth $625 of travel, with the potential to fetch even higher values via a partner transfer.

I put this card at the top of the list because 1) the signup bonus represents a great value and 2) you don’t see the 50,000 bonus offer very often.

If you are over 5/24, and eligible to receive this card bonus, I think this card is a must get for any traveler.

You’ll want to be aware of Citi’s bonus and application rules before applying for this card.

2) The Business Platinum Card from American Express

Current Offer:

  • Limited time offer of 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards Points after you spend $10,000 in the first 3 months.
  • 25,000 additional bonus points after you spend an additional $10,000 in the first 3 months
  • 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels book on amextravel.com
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • $200 annual airline fee credit
  • $450 annual fee, not waived

Commentary:

The former top “over 5/24” card, the Business Platinum Card by American Express, checks in at #2 on this week’s list. Despite the offer terms remaining the same as last month.

Like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards are incredibly valuable because of their ability to be transferred to 17 airline partners and 3 hotel partners or use to book with Amex Travel.

The spend required to earn the bonus on this card is one of the highest on the market but the 5x on travel bookings with Amex is a great perk for business owners who need to book a significant amount of travel.

Amex Business Platinum cardholders also get complimentary access to the Amex Centurion Lounges, which are some of the best airport lounges in the US.

Amex Centurion Lounge, image courtesy of thecenturionlounge.com

Cardholders also receive Gold status with Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) and Hilton. When you link your SPG and Marriott accounts, you will then have Gold status with Marriott as well.

And lastly, American Express just upgraded this card to a new metal version. Not exactly a travel perk, but it certainly beats a plastic card.

3) Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express

Current Offer:

  • Limited time offer of 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 3x points per $1 in a category of your choice, 2 points per $1 on other bonus categories, 1 point per $1 on everything else.
  • $175 annual fee, waived first year

Commentary:

The real benefit of the Business Gold card is the ability to choose your 3x points category. You can choose from airfare, advertising, gas stations, shipping, and computer hardware and software.

And of course you are earning 2x points on all the categories that you did not choose. Making this one of the best go-to spending cards for business owners.

See the Business Platinum card commentary above for details on why Membership Rewards points are so valuable. Personally these are a close second in my book behind Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Another great perk of this card is the fact that the fee is waived for the first year. A rare feature for premium cards like this.

4) The Platinum Card from American Express

Current Offer:

  • Limited time offer of 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • $200 in annual Uber credits
  • $200 in annual airline incidental fees with one airline
  • Priority Pass + Centurion Lounge access
  • $100 TSA Precheck/Global Entry fee credit
  • $550 annual fee, not waived first year

Commentary:

Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Platinum Card from American Express is another example of a high-annual fee card that comes with a ton of great benefits.

Many people can’t get past the $550 fee, but the benefits more than make up for it.

The 60,000 bonus points can be transferred to 17 hotel and 3 airline partners or redeemed to book travel directly with American Express for a minimum of $600 of travel. You’ll get the most value by transferring to airline partners.

Throw in the $200 annual Uber credits ($15 per month and $35 in December). Simply add your Platinum Card to your Uber account and its automatic. Note that this also currently works for orders with Uber eats.

Like the Business Platinum from American Express, you will also receive Gold status with SPG and Hilton, an annual $200 airline fee credit, Priority Pass Select and Centurion Lounge access, and you’ll earn 5x points per dollar on hotel and airfare bookings via Amex Travel.

One key difference is that you can also earn 5x points per dollar on airfare when booking directly with an airline.

5) CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite

Current Offer:

  • 60,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA itinerates
  • 2x AA miles per $1 spent on AA and in select business categories, 1 mile per $1 on everything else
  • Get 10% of any redeemed AAdvantage miles back
  • $95 annual fee, waived first year.

Commentary:

60,000 is the highest public offer I have ever seen for this card, making it one of the better cobranded cards on the market right now. For perspective, you can fly round trip to Europe for 60,000 or less AA miles at Saver Level. Or one-way in business class.

This card doesn’t have fantastic ancillary perks but the signup bonus offer makes it worth pursuing for just about anyone over 5/24.

Note that the personal version of this card is offering just 30,000 bonus miles at the moment. So I would suggest waiting to get it.

6) AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 American Airlines miles when you make your first purchase and pay the annual fee
  • 2x points on American Airlines purchases, 1x on everything else
  • 10% of your redeemed miles back, up to 10,000 per year
  • $95 annual fee not waived

Commentary:

This card is pretty straightforward, make one purchase and pay the $95 fee to earn 50,000 American Airlines miles. No minimum spend required.

Ideally get both this and the CitiBusiness Aadvantage card to quickly stockpile 110,000 American Airlines miles, which can get you just about anywhere on the planet. Possibly in business/first class.

You can quickly earn 110,000 American Airlines miles with these 2 cards

Note that there is also a newly launched business version of this card that offers 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase.

7) Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Current Offer:

  • 75,000 Marriott Points after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
  • 5x points per $1 spent at Marriott and SPG hotels
  • 2x points per $1 spent on airline tickets, car rentals, restaurants, office supply stores, and other business expenses
  • $99 annual fee, waived first year

Commentary:

Note that despite being issued by Chase, this card is not subject to the 5/24 rule. You are eligible to be approved for the card even if over 5/24. It also does not add to your 5/24 count because it is a business card.

See the commentary under the Marriott Personal Card (under 5/24 section above) for more information on how Marriott points work.

I’m also not sure how much longer this card will be around with the launch of the new Marriott personal card.

8) IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Current Offer:

  • 80,000 IHG points after $2,000 spend in the first 3 months
  • 10 points per $1 spent at IHG hotels, 2 points per $1 at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, 1 point per $1 on all else.
  • One free night at an IHG hotel after your account anniversary each year*
  • IHG Platinum Status for as long as you hold the card.
  • $89 annual fee

*Restrictions apply

Commentary:

The IHG Card has jumped back to its 80,000 bonus, the highest I have seen it in quite some time.

The IHG card confuses a lot of people because you have probably never seen an “IHG Hotel” along the side of the road. IHG hotels include Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Candlewood Suites, and more. There are more than 5,000 of them to choose from worldwide.

Many IHG properties go for as little as 10,000 points per night, with occasional offers as low as 5,000 points per night via their Pointbreaks program

Note that Chase recently introduced new restrictions on the annual free night and it no longer works at any IHG hotel.

You can read more about this card by visiting our credit cards page.

9) British Airways Visa Signature Card

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Additional 25,000 points after you spend $10,000 in the first year
  • Another 25,000 bonus points after spending $20,000 in the first year
  • 3 points per $1 spent with British Airways, 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • One free night at an IHG hotel after your account anniversary each year*
  • Earn a Travel Together Ticket, good for 2 years, when you spend $30,000 in a year

Commentary:

The British Airways card bonus offer jumped this past month to 100,000 total bonus miles after you spend $20,000 in the first year (tiered bonuses, see above). This is the highest bonus I can recall seeing on this card.

Note also that Chase does not enforce the 5/24 rule on this card.

The play with British Airways miles is to use them for short distance flights on American Airlines and other OneWorld carriers. British Airways uses a distance-based award chart, meaning you can find some flights for as little as 7,500 miles each way.

Note that Chase also recently launched similar offers for the Air Lingus Card and Iberia Plus card, which also earn Avios.

You can learn more about these cards by visiting our credit cards page.

10) Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express (Personal and Business)

Current Offer:

  • 75,000 Hilton Points after $2,000 spend in the first 3 months. An additional 25,000 (100,000 total) points after spending another $1,000 in the first 6 months. (Business is 75,000 points after $3k spend, another 25,000 points after an additional $1k in 6 months)
  • Complimentary gold status with Hilton
  • 12x points on Hilton purchases, 6x at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. 3x on everything else.
  • $95 annual fee

Commentary:

The 100,000 bonus on this card is good compared to other Hilton offers but overall in the middle of the pack in the world of hotel cards. Remember, these are Hilton points we are talking about so don’t get too excited by the large number. Most consider Hilton points to be worth about 0.5 cents per point.

This card is worth getting if you are well over 5/24 and value Hilton points and Hilton Gold Status. Otherwise there may be better hotel cad options.

I recently was able to use Hilton points to book a 2 night stay at the iconic Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. Which is about as good a use of Hilton points as you will find.

Note that this card is the “new version” of another similar product that was discontinued in January.

11) Venture From Capital One

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2 points per $1 on all purchase
  • $95 annual fee, waived first year

(Full offer details here)

Commentary:

This is the easiest travel credit card on the market because the miles do one thing and one thing only; they erase any travel purchase at a value of 1 cent each.

Meaning the 50,000 bonus miles are worth $500 in free travel. Airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, Uber, taxis, you name it.  Simply pay with your Venture card and use your points to erase the charge later.

This card has only offered 40,000 bonus miles for a long time now so the 50,000 is a good deal.

Personally I use this card to fill in the “gaps” created by other points, such as boutique hotels, train tickets, and Ubers while I am traveling.

You can read more about the Venture Card here: Learn More.

Other cards to consider:

Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card: 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. $95 annual fee not waived first year. $100 annual travel credit for airline incidentals. The points can be redeemed at 1 cent each for statement credits so 50,000 = $500 in value.

JetBlue Plus Card: 40,000 bonus points after $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days. $99 annual fee not waived. This card is issued by Barclays and is a good grab for anyone living near an airport serviced by JetBlue.

As always, feel free to email me (Bryce@10xtravel.com) with any questions or if you need help choosing a card!

Happy Travels,

Bryce

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