As temperatures rise and the economy rebounds, the rewards credit card market is also starting to heat up again. Card issuers have been increasing the amount of points, miles and cash back being offered to new cardmembers.
However, while it is always tempting to apply for a card with an attractive sign-up bonus, you should make sure this is the right card for you. For credit card users who have excellent credit, pay their statement balances in full, and are highly organized, these cards offer a quick head start on the path to their next award trip. Nevertheless, applicants should be careful to comply with the terms and conditions of each offer to ensure that they receive the bonus points and miles they are promised.
Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard
This card offers new applicants 100,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles as a sign-up bonus, but only after they use it to spend $10,000 within the first three months of opening their account. It also features a $200 statement credit to cardholders who spend at least that much in the first 90 days of their account. Other benefits include cardholder’s first bag checked free, priority check-in, and access to American’s Admiral’s club lounges and the US Airways lounges. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, but no foreign transaction fees.
British Airways Visa Signature Card From Chase
This card offers 50,000 points after using it to spend just $2,000 within three months of opening an account. Points can be used for award flights on British Airways or on any of their partners, such as American Airlines and US Airways. In fact, travel rewards enthusiasts know that flights under 650 miles require only 4,500 points each way. Such flights include trips between from Atlanta to Miami, Denver to Dallas, and Chicago to Washington, DC. Another benefit is the Travel Together companion ticket, which cardholders receive after using their card to make at least $30,000 in purchases within a calendar year. Unfortunately, this benefit only applies to award flights operated by British Airways, and the companion must also pay taxes, fees and the substantial fuel surcharges imposed on award tickets by British Airways. There is a $95 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card From Chase
This card offers new cardholders 50,000 points when they spend just $2,000 within three months of opening an account. These points are worth $700 toward any flight in their “Wanna Get Away” fare class. A great feature of this program is that award flights can be changed or canceled with no fees, and unused points are returned to the traveler’s account. In addition, these points count toward the 110,000 needed to earn a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, which allows passengers to add someone to any paid or award reservation at no cost except the mandatory taxes. A popular strategy is to get both the personal and business versions of this card, leaving the applicant just a few thousand points away from earning the coveted Companion Pass. There is a $69 annual fee for this card.
The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard From Barclaycard
This German carrier offers their card to Americans who want to earn miles that can be used on Lufthansa or any Star Alliance carrier. New applicants earn 20,000 Miles & More miles after their first purchase, and another 30,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within 90 days. These miles by themselves are enough to earn a first-class round-trip award in a three-class cabin on their partner, United Airlines. These are the transcontinental flights that offer full lie-flat seats. There is a $79 annual fee for this card.
Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card
New cardholders receive 50,000 points after the first purchase, and an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 on the card within 90 days of account opening. Cardholders actually earn five points per dollar spent on this card and ten points per dollar at Carlson Rezidor properties, so rewards add up quickly. Best of all, when cardholders redeem an award they get their last night free, so miles go very far. Frankly, their most attractive properties are not in North America, but they offer many luxury hotels in Europe and other parts of the world. There is a $75 annual fee for this card.
Keep in mind that applicants must have excellent credit to be approved for one of these premium reward cards, so it’s a good idea to check your credit scores (which you can do for free on Credit.com) to see where you stand before you apply. Furthermore, these cards will have higher interest rates than similar cards that do not feature rewards. Those who tend to carry a balance may want to focus on finding cards with the lowest interest rates and possibly a 0% APR balance transfer offer. (Here’s a good guide to figuring out if you need a balance transfer credit card.)
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
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