Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

We’ve vetted some of the most popular offers on the market and narrowed down the list to a select number that fit with what we value in a credit card – namely, balancing rewards with Swiss Army knife-style perks that help you ascend to conquer your money goals.

Best for: Travel and points transfers Chase Sapphire Preferred®

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On Chase's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

It's one of the most popular travel cards for a reason. This offer is practically a must-have for travelers seeking a big sign-up bonus and if you spend enough on credit to justify paying a small annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Best for: Flat-rate travel miles Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

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On Capital One's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

Few travel cards can go toe-to-toe with this offer's lineup, including the sign-up bonus, unlimited rewards, and best-in-class hotel rewards program.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Terms and Conditions
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Best for: Bonus cash rewards and no annual fee Discover it® Cash Back

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On Discover's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

A clear cash-back leader with a laundry list of perks, including double cash back in the first year and other essential wallet-friendly features like no annual fee.

Discover it® Cash Back Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
Terms and Conditions
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Best for: Cash sign-up bonus Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

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On Well Fargo's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

This card one of the largest cash sign-up bonus we've seen for a no-annual-fee card. It's relatively low spending threshold to unlock the bonus is great for low spenders looking to pocket an easy bonus. 

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights

  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 14.74%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions

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Best for: Flat-rate cash rewards and flexible redemptions Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months

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On Capital One's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

This may be the most versatile and flexible cash-back card on the market. The recent addition of a longer 0% intro APR makes the offer hard to pass up, especially if you're wanting to keep a one-card wallet.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Terms and Conditions
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Best for: For premium travel Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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On Chase's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

The annual fee isn't cheap but the sign-up bonus, premium rewards for travel & dining, and array of valuable travel credits make this a compelling offer that will offset the cost of the annual fee for many.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights

  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Named a 'Best Travel Credit Card for 2017' by MONEY®Magazine
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

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On Bank of America's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

The best-in-class intro bonus offer, premium travel & dining rewards, and up to $200 in travel-related statement credits make this a compelling offer for travelers who can justify paying an annual fee.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights

  • Receive 50,000 bonus points- a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you can get a 25%-75% rewards bonus on every purchase. 
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don’t expire
  • Flexibility to redeem for a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® or Merrill Lynch®accounts like checking, savings, and 529, for gift cards or use at the Bank of America Travel Center.
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee

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On Bank of America's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

If you're seeking cash-back versatility to earn premium cash rewards for gas at grocery stores, plus a leading intro bonus offer and an intro APR offer, then this card is worth considering.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights

  • No annual fee
  • NEW OFFER: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
  • Easily add your Mastercard® credit card to any digital wallet for a simple, secure, and convenient way to pay online, in-app, and in-store

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Best for: Bonus cash rewards and no annual fee Chase Freedom®

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On Chase's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

The marquee feature is the fact that this offer earns up to 5% cash back, but the card is packed with a deep bench of perks that is rare in the cash back category. It's a leading pick no doubt.

Chase Freedom® Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee

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On Bank of America's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

The new intro bonus offer is unmatched in its no-annual-fee travel class. The other versatile perks make it even more compelling.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card - 25,000 Bonus Points Offer Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • NEW OFFER: 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 16.74% - 24.74% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%

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Best for: Travel card with no annual fee Discover it® Miles

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On Discover's Secure Website

Our Bottom Line

A fit for occasional travelers, this card's most valuable perks are unlimited 1.5 Miles per $1, no foreign transaction fees, and double miles in the first year.

Discover it® Miles Review
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee. 
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel. 
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases. 
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers. 
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more. 
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up. 
  • No Annual Fee.
Terms and Conditions
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Get our latest tips and uncover more of our top picks to help you conquer your money goals

People who have good to excellent credit scores can cash in on sign-up bonuses valued at hundreds of dollars just for opening a new credit card account and using it for purchases. In a competitive card market, issuers are paying out some of the largest sign-up bonuses in recent memory.

In this new “golden age” for credit card rewards, sign-up bonuses remain one of the best ways to get a fast start toward earning high rewards. You can think of a sign-up bonus as a way to earn elevated rewards shortly after opening a new credit card account.

How we picked the winners

Big dollar bonuses, the quality of the cards rewards program, justifiable fees, and promotional APR offers are all major ranking factors for inclusion on this list. What’s also important are both the absolute size of the bonus and the spending requirement to qualify. It’s common for no-annual-fee cards to include cash bonuses ranging from $150 to $200 when spending $500 to $1,000 within three months. Cards with annual fees should generally offer a bonus valued at $500 or higher, with most requiring $3,000 to $4,000 in spending within three months to qualify. Our picks either match or beat these ranges, while also delivering in other important categories outlined above.

Why you can trust us

In building The Ascent, we reviewed hundreds of credit card offers on more than 6,000 data points to find the very best cards issuers have to offer. That means scouring every last word of the fine print, and comparing cards on rewards and other perks to find the credit card industry’s A+ students. Most importantly, as sign-up bonus hunters ourselves, we’ve applied for and used many of the cards we picked as the best in the category.

What is a sign-up bonus?

A credit card sign-up bonus is a financial incentive you receive for opening a new credit card account and using it for a certain amount of spending shortly after account opening. A typical sign-up bonus might offer cardholders $150 in cash after spending at least $500 in the first 90 days after account opening.

Credit cards with the best sign-up bonus opportunities generally carry an annual fee and require more spending to qualify. For example, the best card on the market currently offers $750 in sign-up bonus travel value, though it carries an annual fee and requires $4,000 of spending in the first 3 months after account opening.  In contrast, no-annual-fee credit cards offer sign-up bonuses worth $150 or $200 and typically require only $500 to $1,000 in spending in the first three months after account opening.

Front-end vs. back-end bonuses

We tend to think that new cardholder bonuses can be divided into two categories. There are what we call “front-loaded bonuses,” which offer a certain amount of rewards for meeting a minimum spend, and “back-loaded bonuses,” which pay bonuses based on your spending over longer periods of time.

  • Front-loaded bonuses – These cards offer nearly immediate rewards in the form of a bonus for making a certain amount of spend in the first 3 months after account opening. Front-end bonuses are the most common. 
  • Back-loaded bonuses – Discover cards tend to have back-end bonuses where you receive a bonus calculated based on your spending over a full year. For example, Discover it® - Cashback Match™ matches all rewards earned in the first year of having the card, effectively doubling rewards you earn. If you spend heavily, such offers can be very lucrative, though you’ll have to wait longer to collect your bonus rewards. 

Valuing sign-up bonuses

The financial value of a sign-up bonus may not be as obvious as it appears, particularly if the sign-up bonus is denominated in “points” or “miles” rather than cash because the value of a point or mile may vary based on the redemption method.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offer sign-up bonuses of 50,000 points or miles, respectively. That said, though the numbers look similar, the actual value of the sign-up bonus varies greatly when these rewards are redeemed for travel.

Credit card Sign-up bonus Travel value per point or mile Sign-up bonus value
Chase Sapphire Preferred® 50,000 points $0.0125* $625
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 50,000 miles $0.01 $500

Redeemed through Chase's travel portal

Of course, there are other ways to measure rewards. Some people like to compare sign-up bonuses based on the value of the bonus as a percentage of the spending requirement to get it. Viewed in this way, Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card actually offers more value.

Credit card Sign-up bonus Minimum spend requirement Sign-up bonus as a percentage of the minimum spend requirement
Chase Sapphire Preferred® 50,000 points ($625 in travel value) $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening 15.6%
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 50,000 miles ($500 in travel value) $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening 16.7%

All this is to say that sign-up bonuses should be compared to how much spending you can reliably expect to put on a card during the sign-up bonus period. If you can only spend $2,000 in a three month period, then it makes little sense to sign up for a credit card that requires $3,000 of spending to get the sign-up bonus, for example.

Should you pay an annual fee?

The largest sign-up bonuses are typically offered by credit cards that have annual fees and large minimum spending requirements to get the bonus. For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers a new cardholder bonus worth $625 in travel or $500 in cash, but it carries an annual fee of $95, which is waived in the first year. In contrast, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card includes a $200 cash-rewards bonus, but it doesn’t carry an annual fee.

The Chase card requires $4,000 of spending in the first 3 months to qualify for the sign-up bonus, whereas the Bank of America card only requires $500 in spending in the first 3 months.

Some higher spenders and frequent travelers may be better off with the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, but people who have lower spending needs may be better off with the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card because it has a lower spending requirement for the bonus, and a $0 annual fee.

If you intend to carry a card for the long haul, then it would be wise to consider the cost of the annual fee when making a decision on which card is best. We tend to think the best way to look at annual fees is to consider them as  a fee you pay for an increased rewards rate on your spending.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 2 miles per $1 of spending, which equates to a rewards yield of 2% when miles are redeemed for travel. In contrast, Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card offers 1.25 miles per $1 spent, equating to a rewards yield of 1.25% on all purchases when rewards are redeemed for travel.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a better card if you spend more than $12,667, the point at which the increased rewards yield covers the $95 annual fee ($95 divided by 0.75% = $12,667). This is a simple calculation that can be done as you narrow your choices to two or three cards to figure out which card offers the best long-term value.

Picking a good sign-up bonus card

Choosing which sign-up bonus card is best for you really comes down to a few key features. Here’s what you should analyze when making the decision on which sign-up bonus card is worthy of your application:

  • Look at the minimum spending requirement – Sign-up bonuses require you to meet a certain minimum spending amount to qualify. If you have lower spending needs, it may be smart to apply for cards that have a $500 or $1,000 minimum spending requirement vs. a card that requires $4,000 or more of spending to qualify.
  • Take note of the annual fee – Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers one of the highest sign-up bonuses on the market, as its bonus is valued at $625 of travel value. However, cardholders who hold the card for 8 years will pay more in annual fees ($95, waived in the first year) than they receive in value from the sign-up bonus. 
  • Consider on-going rewards rates – The sign-up bonus is just one part of a rewards program. You should also look for a card that offers a rewards program that fits well with your budget. For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers bonuses for spending on travel and restaurants, whereas Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card includes bonuses on spending at gas stations, grocery stores, and wholesale clubs.

Is a sign-up bonus card right for you?

A credit card that offers a sign-up bonus may appear to be a no-brainer, but there are a few instances in which prospective applicants might want to pass on a lucrative bonus offer. If all of the following statements apply to you, then you’re probably a good candidate for a card that offers a sign-up bonus:

You can meet the minimum spend requirement – New cardholder bonuses are all or nothing perks that require a certain amount of spending to qualify. If you can’t meet the spend requirement, you should probably pass on the card. 

You will redeem through the preferred method – Bonus points or miles you earn from a travel card are usually worth much more when redeemed for travel rather than cash. Redeem travel card bonuses for travel to get the most value from them. As a general rule, travel cards make sub-par cash-back credit cards. 

You will redeem through the preferred method – Bonus points or miles you earn from a travel card are usually worth much more when redeemed for travel rather than cash. Redeem travel card bonuses for travel to get the most value from them. As a general rule, travel cards make sub-par cash-back credit cards. 

You won’t carry a balance – If you plan on carrying a balance, a sign-up bonus card probably isn’t the best choice. That’s because the interest you pay on the balance can easily exceed the benefit of the new cardholder bonus. A card that offers 0% intro APRs on purchases or balance transfers would be a smarter pick, since the 0% intro APR can help you avoid hundreds of dollars in interest charges over the life of the balance.

You have good or excellent credit – Cards that offer sign-up bonuses require good to excellent credit. A credit score above 720 is ideal, since that puts applicants in a cohort of “prime” borrowers who are most likely to get approved for a high-end rewards card. Of course, people with lower scores can also get approved, since there are more factors (such as income) that play into credit decisions, but these cards generally aren’t open to people who have recent blemishes on their credit reports.

To recap, here are the best sign-up bonus credit cards

Card Sign-Up Bonus Best For…
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Graphic of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Sign-Up Bonus:

50,000 points

Best For:

Travel and points transfers

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Graphic of Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus:

50,000 miles

Best For:

Flat-rate travel miles

Discover it® Cash Back Graphic of Discover it® Cash Back Sign-Up Bonus:

Double cash back in the first year

Best For:

Bonus cash rewards and no annual fee

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Graphic of Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Sign-Up Bonus:

$200

Best For:

Cash sign-up bonus

Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months Graphic of Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months Sign-Up Bonus:

$150

Best For:

Flat-rate cash rewards and flexible redemptions

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Graphic of Chase Sapphire Reserve® Sign-Up Bonus:

50,000 points

Best For:

For premium travel

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card Graphic of Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card Sign-Up Bonus:

50,000 points

Best For:

Premium travel

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer Graphic of Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer Sign-Up Bonus:

$200

Best For:

Cash rewards program

Chase Freedom® Graphic of Chase Freedom® Sign-Up Bonus:

$150

Best For:

Bonus cash rewards and no annual fee

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card - 25,000 Bonus Points Offer Graphic of Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card - 25,000 Bonus Points Offer Sign-Up Bonus:

25,000 points

Best For:

Unlimited travel rewards

Discover it® Miles Graphic of Discover it® Miles Sign-Up Bonus:

Double miles in the first year

Best For:

Travel card with no annual fee