Every month I make a post with what I consider to be the best credit card offers at the time, with a particular focus on the best travel credit cards.
It’s 2021, and for many of us there’s a sense of hope. People are starting to get vaccinated, and hopefully at some point this year (at least) parts of the world will start to return to normal. That’s a great reason to start getting your points earning strategy in order, so you’re ready to plan your dream trip when the time is right.
While there are several excellent long-standing credit card offers, the specifics of the top offers are constantly changing (be it the annual fee, minimum spending requirement, or even amount of the welcome bonus).
If you read my blog on a daily basis then by all means skip this post, but for me it’s a useful, “current” place to refer people who ask about which cards they should apply for, a question I get on a daily basis.
Why You Should Care About Credit Card Offers
Simply put, when the time is right, most people want to travel better, but don’t know how. One of the best ways to improve your travel experience is to pick up an excellent credit card that can add value to you.
After all, doesn’t this…
Etihad’s 787 business class
…look better than this?
Etihad’s 787 economy class
This is more true in the coronavirus era than ever before, given that more space has become the ultimate luxury.
When applying for a credit card, consider three main points:
- The bonus — how many points can you earn for signing up for the card and completing some amount of spending; this typically ranges from a single purchase to several thousand dollars
- The rewards structure — pick a credit card that offers bonus points in the categories you spend the most on, whether that’s dining or groceries or gas or airfare
- The perks — some cards offer perks that more than justify the annual fee, even if you don’t spend money on the card; for example, there are hotel credit cards with sub-$100 annual fees that offer annual free night certificates that can be redeemed at hotels that cost $300+ per night
There are so many credit cards worth having
In this post I’m focusing primarily on the welcome bonuses, which can be one of the best ways to get rewarded quickly. Often a good credit card bonus will be enough earn you an international ticket in first or business class, which many would otherwise assume is off limits.
11 Best Credit Card Offers February 2021
Let’s look at some of the best credit card welcome bonuses that are available this month. Here’s what I consider the 11 best to be, plus a shoutout to the current best offer that isn’t actually a credit card:
Special Mention: Brex Cash With Up To 110K Bonus Points
While this is not a credit card (or a debit card, or a checking account), a shoutout has to go to opening a Brex Cash account, since this is quite literally the best opening bonus for travel rewards on the market, better than any credit card.
This no-fee business account can earn you a bonus of up to 110,000 Brex points, and there’s not even a credit pull. On top of that, this is a useful account to have for your business. See my previous posts for more on this incredible opportunity:
Earn up to 110K bonus points with a Brex Cash account
1. Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Current offer: 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95
Why it’s a great offer: The Ink cards have extremely generous category bonuses that help sole proprietorships and small businesses maximize points on everyday credit card spending. This card offers 3x points on the first $150,000 spent annually in combined purchases on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.
This is a card that’s good for both for the welcome bonus and for everyday spending. I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me, the welcome bonus is worth $1,605 after subtracting the annual fee.
Learn more about the Ink Business Preferred.
Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for a stay at the Park Hyatt Milan
2. American Express® Business Gold Card
Current offer: 70,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 within three months, plus up to $300 in statement credits (up to $150 on advertising in select U.S. media, and up to $150 on U.S. shipping)
Annual fee: $295 (Rates & Fees)
Why it’s a great offer: This is an incredible new limited time offer valid through April 7, 2021. In addition to a great welcome bonus, this is also one of the best Amex business cards for earning Membership Rewards points, given the 4x points categories. I value the welcome bonus at up to $1,195, factoring in the points and statement credits, and deducting the annual fee.
Learn more about the Amex Business Gold.
Amex points rack up quickly with the Amex Business Gold
3. The Platinum Card® from American Express
Current offer: 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within six months, plus 10x Membership Rewards points on the first $15,000 spent in the first six months on U.S. groceries and U.S. gas stations
Annual fee: $550 (Rates & Fees)
Why it’s a great offer: Not only is the Amex Platinum offering a welcome bonus of 75,000 points, you can also earn 10x points in popular categories, which I value at an incredible 17% return on spending. The Amex Platinum is a perks-rich card, offering a $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 annual Uber credit, $100 annual Saks credit, lounge access, and so much more. The card is even offering great limited-time perks in light of the reduced demand for travel.
Learn more about the Amex Platinum Card.
Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Platinum
4. Ink Business Cash® Credit Card & Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
Current offer: 75,000 points after spending $7,500 within three months
Annual fee: no annual fee
Why it’s a great offer: While these are two different cards, they have the same sign-up bonuses (which were recently increased) and both don’t have an annual fee, so I’ll cover them in the same section here. The Ink Cash offers 5x points in useful categories (on the first $25,000 spent per cardmember year on office supply stores, internet, cable TV, mobile phones, and landlines), and the Ink Unlimited offers 1.5x points on all purchases.
For both cards, points can be pooled with the Ultimate Rewards points earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Assuming you have one of these cards in conjunction with one accruing premium Ultimate Rewards points, I value the welcome bonuses on these cards at $1,275 each.
Learn more about the Ink Business Cash, learn more about the Ink Business Unlimited.
Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel in Singapore Airlines Suites
5. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Current offer: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months, plus a $50 grocery credit to be used within the first 12 months
Annual fee: $95
Why it’s a great offer: Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to Singapore, United, Hyatt, and many other programs. The card is also great for everyday spending given that it offers double points on dining and travel. On top of that, the card recently added a $50 grocery credit to the bonus. I value the welcome bonus on this card at $975.
Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for the Park Hyatt Maldives
6. Citi Premier® Card
Current offer: 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95
Why it’s a great offer: This is an often overlooked mid-range transferable points card. It has excellent bonus categories, as it offers 3x points on gas, dining, groceries, air travel, and hotels, and the card also offers up to a $100 annual hotel credit. I value Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, so to me the welcome bonus on this card is worth $925.
Learn more about the Citi Premier Card.
Redeem your ThankYou points for travel on EVA Air
7. American Express® Gold Card
Current offer: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 within six months
Annual fee: $250 (Rates & Fees)
Why it’s a great offer: This recently refreshed card has a bonus of 60K points, which is among the best offers we’ve seen on the card. Not only does it offer up to 4x Membership Rewards points on dining and at U.S. supermarkets, but the card also offers up to a $120 annual dining credit, and Uber Cash & Uber Eats benefits.
Learn more about the Amex Gold Card.
The Amex Gold offers multiple Uber benefits
8. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Current offer: Up to 100,000 Rapid Rewards points — 70,000 points after spending $5,000 within three months, and an additional 30,000 points after spending a total of $25,000 within six months
Annual fee: $199
Why it’s a great offer: If you meet both tiers of the spending requirement as a new cardmember you’ll have a balance of at least 125,000 Rapid Rewards, which is more than enough to earn Companion Pass. On top of that, this card has so many great perks that make it worth holding onto long term, from an anniversary points bonus, to free Wi-Fi on Southwest, to upgraded boardings.
Learn more about the Southwest Performance Business Card.
Earn Southwest Companion Pass with this card offer
9. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card & Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Current offer: 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 within three months, plus a $150 statement credit after your first purchase within the first three months
Annual fee: $95 on the Surpass (Rates & Fees), $95 on the business (Rates & Fees)
Why it’s a great offer: Both of these Hilton Amex cards are newly offering improved bonuses, and they’re truly incredible. Not only are you earning more points than before, but you’re also earning statement credits worth more than the first year’s annual fee. These cards offer Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you have them, and give you the opportunity to earn free weekend night certificates.
Learn more about the Hilton Honors Surpass, learn more about the Hilton Honors Business.
Redeem Hilton Honors points at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos
10. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, & Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card
Current offer: Earn a Companion Pass through February 28, 2022, plus 30,000 Rapid Rewards points, after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $69 (Plus), $99 (Premier), $149 (Priority)
Why it’s a great offer: While these are three different cards, they all have the same limited time bonuses, valid through March 10, 2021. We’ve never seen a publicly available bonus that makes it easier to earn Companion Pass, which is one of the best deals in travel. It’s hard to put an exact value on this offer, since it depends on how much value you’ll get out of Companion Pass.
Each card has its own value proposition, and personally I think the Priority Card is most worthwhile, as it offers a 7,500 point anniversary bonus, a $75 annual travel credit, savings on inflight purchases, and more.
Learn more about the Southwest Plus Card, learn more about the Southwest Premier Card, learn more about the Southwest Priority Card.
The Southwest Priority Card is my favorite personal Southwest credit card
11. IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Current offer: 140,000 IHG Rewards Club points after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $89 annual fee
Why it’s a great offer: This card is offering an exceptional welcome bonus, and there are so many perks that make this card worth holding onto long term. The card offers an anniversary free night certificate, fourth-night free on award redemptions, IHG Platinum status for as long as you have the card, and so much more.
Learn more about the IHG Premier Card.
This card is extremely valuable for IHG stays
Rules Of Applying For Credit Cards
Before applying for cards, makes sure you’re aware of the rules each bank has for credit card applications.
One of the common misconceptions people have is that they think applying for credit cards will hurt their credit. The opposite is largely true, actually. Assuming you use your credit responsibly (and make payments on time, don’t utilize too much of your credit, etc.), applying for credit cards can actually help your credit.
Lastly, if you are going to apply for credit cards, make sure you do so responsibly — only apply for them if you have self-control and won’t end up in debt, and try to pay your balance in full every month, or else the finance charges will negate any rewards earned.
Best Credit Cards Summary
The above are just some of the best credit card offers out there right now, though there are so many others to choose from.
If you’re already into miles & points but don’t have some of the above cards, consider applying. If you’re new to miles & points, now is the time to get started (and I think something like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Premier® Card, or American Express® Gold Card, are great options to start).
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees), American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (Rates & Fees), The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Rates & Fees).