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One of the best aspects of getting a new credit card is earning a big chunk of rewards right at the start from a new customer bonus. These bonus offers alone can often earn you enough points or miles for a round-trip flight or a multi-night stay at the resort of your dreams — all just by being approved for a credit card with a strong offer and meeting the minimum spending requirement.
And if you’ve been on the cusp of applying for a new credit card, right now there are a number of cards offering lucrative welcome bonuses of 100,000 points or more. Of course, not every credit card is created equal, so a 100k bonus on one card might actually be worth a lot more than another.
But don’t worry! We’ve gone through all of the biggest bonus offers currently available and picked out the best based on the value of the points, the card’s benefits and who should get it. So take a look at our list of the best credit cards with 100,000 bonus points or more and see which one is right for you.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Best card for Hilton hotels
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Best card for Marriott hotels
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best card for IHG hotels
British Airways Visa Signature Card: Best card for British Airways
JetBlue Plus Card: Best card for JetBlue
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Best card for Southwest
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best travel card for consumers
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Best travel card for businesses
Let’s dive into the details of each of these cards and see how they compare and how much each bonus offer is actually worth.
Best card for Hilton hotels
If Hilton is your go-to chain when it comes to hotel stays, the Hilton Honors Aspire Card is absolutely the right credit card for you — especially with this lucrative welcome offer. Right now, new card members can earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months after opening the account.
Based on the point valuations of CNN Underscored’s partner The Points Guy, those 150,000 bonus points are worth as much as $900 in travel. Plus, you’ll automatically get many other perks with this card that will come in very handy during your next Hilton stay.
Right off the bat, you get automatic Diamond status with the Hilton Aspire Card. This is Hilton’s top-tier elite status level that will earn you more points when you stay at a Hilton, lounge access, complimentary breakfast and room upgrades. If you aren’t able to earn elite status the hard way — especially this year — this is an easy way to travel like royalty and save money.
The card also comes with a free weekend reward night certificate, which you’ll get on every account anniversary (meaning each year on the date you first opened the card). And if this becomes your go-to credit card, you can earn a second weekend night certificate by spending $60,000 on the card within a calendar year.
Typically, as the name describes, the weekend reward nights are limited to just weekends. But Hilton has made some temporary changes due to the pandemic, so you can redeem certificates expiring anytime through December 31, 2022, on any day of the week. Additionally, certificates typically expire 12 months after they’re earned, but right now all certificates issued between May 1 and December 31, 2020, are valid for 24 months, and all certificates issued in 2021 are extended until December 31, 2022.
Now, we aren’t going to sugarcoat it — all of these perks come at a steep price. The Hilton Aspire Card has a $450 annual fee. But other money-saving benefits of the card include up to $250 in annual Hilton resort statement credits, and up to $250 in annual airline fee credits. So you’re essentially more than covering the cost of the annual fee with these credits if you’re able to use them all.
But if you still think the $450 annual fee is too steep, or you can’t use all the benefits, there are two other Hilton Honors credit cards that are also offering increased welcome bonuses.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is currently offering 130,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months after opening the account, and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is offering the same 130,000 bonus points but with a $3,000 minimum spend requirement within the first three months after opening the account.
Both cards come with a significantly lower annual fee of just $95, though of course the benefits aren’t quite as good. While you’ll have the opportunity to earn Hilton Honors Diamond status, you’ll have to spend $40,000 on the card within the year to get it, which may not necessarily be worth it. And to earn a free weekend night certificate, you’ll have to spend $15,000 on the card within a calendar year.
Not sure which Hilton card to get? We recommend trying to roughly plan out your next year of travel to see if the increased annual fee is in fact worth it. That may be hard to do, given that we don’t know much about travel yet in 2021, but if you have an idea of how much you might be on the road, you could be surprised to discover that the premium Hilton card can be worth the cost.
One more thing — if you grab one of these Hilton cards soon, all points earned from purchases on all Hilton credit cards between May 1 and December 31, 2020, count toward Hilton elite status and lifetime Diamond status.
Best card for Marriott hotels
For a limited time until January 31, 2021, new Marriott Brilliant Amex card members can earn up to 125,000 bonus points — 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in purchases in the first three months after opening the account, plus an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of card membership. On top of the points earned, you’ll also get complimentary Marriott Platinum elite status for one year, between February 1, 2020, and January 31, 2022.
The Points Guy values Marriott points at 0.8 cents apiece, which makes the full 125,000-point bonus worth $1,000 in travel. However, the 100,000 points you’ll earn initially are valued at about $800.
Bonus offer aside, the best feature of the Marriott Brilliant Amex is that, on an annual basis, you’ll get up to $300 in statement credits for Marriott purchases. Since the card comes with a $450 annual fee, if you stay at a Marriott property just once or twice a year, you’ll likely be able to get the full value of the statement credits, effectively making your out-of-pocket cost of carrying the card just $150.
Also, starting with the second year you have the card, the Marriott Brilliant Amex also comes with an annual award certificate that can be used at any Marriott hotel for one night costing 50,000 points or less — which typically means any Category 1-5 property, plus off-peak and standard redemptions at Category 6 hotels, and off-peak redemptions for Category 7 properties. That certificate can easily make up the remaining cost of the annual fee after you’ve used the annual credits.
However, business owners looking to keep their expenses low right now might prefer the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, which only costs $95 a year. For a limited time through January 13, 2021, this card is offering 100,000 bonus points after you make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn up to $150 in statement credits within your first six months of card membership for eligible purchases on US advertising in select media.
Similar to the consumer card, Marriott Business card members will also get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum elite status for one year, between February 1, 2020, and January 31, 2022.
Best card for IHG hotels
The IHG Rewards Club Premier card is currently offering a record-high 140,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. With a low $89 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, this is a credit card that IHG travelers should pay attention to.
Although IHG points aren’t worth as much as some other hotel loyalty programs, this sign-up offer is still worth a decent $700 toward travel based on The Points Guy’s valuations. But the real reason to have this card — and to keep it year after year — are the benefits.
Our favorite benefit by far is the annual night certificate you’ll get starting at the second year you have the card. With this certificate, you can stay for free at any IHG property costing 40,000 points or less. This benefit alone can be worth hundreds if you use it at a hotel when the cash price is high, which can very quickly make up for the annual fee.
On top of that, when you have the IHG Premier card, you’ll get your fourth night free when you use your points to redeem for a free stay. If you find yourself staying at hotels for more than a few nights at a time, this perk can be invaluable. And don’t forget about the complimentary Platinum elite status and cell phone protection that you get with the card — two additional benefits that are the icing on the cake.
Now, if you prefer not to pay an annual fee, you can consider IHG’s lower-tier credit card, the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card. This card offers a 100,000-point bonus after you spend $2,000 on the card within the first three months, and you’ll still get your fourth night free when redeeming points, plus cell phone protection (although you’ll only be reimbursed for up to $600 per claim versus $800 per claim with the IHG Premier). But you won’t get the rest of the more expensive card’s benefits.
Best card for British Airways
If you get the British Airways Visa Signature Card right now, you can earn up to 100,000 bonus points — 50,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, and an additional 50,000 bonus points after you spend $20,000 in the first year.
While $20,000 sounds like a lot, if you break it down monthly, it’s a more manageable $1,666 per month. However, getting a credit card aligned with an international airline is probably not top of your list right now — especially due to many travel restrictions. But the redemption opportunities with this card might surprise you quite a bit.
Both British Airways and American Airlines are part of the OneWorld alliance, which means you can redeem your British Airways points (which are called “Avios”) for domestic American Airlines flights. And in fact, there are many scenarios where you can use significantly fewer British Airways Avios than American Airlines miles for the exact same flight.
And for those who are looking to fly British Airways internationally once travel resumes broadly, the British Airways Visa offers the opportunity to have a companion fly with you for just the cost of taxes and fees by spending $30,000 on the card in a calendar year to earn a Travel Together Ticket. But be warned — those taxes and fees can sometimes be extremely high.
Learn more about the British Airways Visa Signature Card.
Best card for JetBlue
For the first time ever, JetBlue has increased its sign-up bonus offer on the JetBlue Plus Card to a whopping 100,000 bonus points — 50,000 points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days, plus an additional 50,000 points after spending a total of $6,000 within the first 12 months. While there are two spending tiers to meet to earn the full bonus, you have an entire year to do it.
If you live in a JetBlue hub, this is a must-have credit card — especially right now since the current offer is worth $1,300 in travel based on The Points Guy’s valuations. Plus, one of the best perks of the card is that you get 10% back on all point redemptions, so the bonus offer alone will yield you an extra 10,000 points as you eventually redeem them all.
Another nice perk of the JetBlue Plus Card is that if you’re able to spend $50,000 on the card in a calendar year, you’ll get automatic JetBlue Mosaic elite status. While this status won’t get you a spot at the front of the plane, it allows you to change and cancel most flights for no fee — a perk that’s used quite often in my own household.
And while the card charges a $99 annual fee, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus points on every account anniversary, worth $65 based on The Points Guy’s valuations. While this doesn’t fully make up for the annual fee, it reduces it significantly.
Best card for Southwest
A great sign-up offer might be one reason to get this card, but the value goes even deeper. First, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card currently offers up to 100,000 bonus points — 70,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months after opening the account, and an additional 30,000 bonus points after spending $25,000 in the first six months.
You can usually redeem Southwest points for “Wanna Get Away” fares at 1.5 cents each, so on the surface, this bonus is worth a solid $1,500 toward Southwest travel. But you can get even more value than that. That’s because if you earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, you’ll earn the coveted Southwest Companion Pass.
The Companion Pass allows a friend or family member to fly with you for free — plus minimal taxes and fees — for the rest of the year it’s earned, plus the entire following year. Best of all, points earned from this credit card sign-up offer and spending on the card count toward earning the pass!
So if you apply for the Southwest Performance card now and employ a little strategy, you can be on your way to earning the Southwest Companion Pass for most of 2021 and all of 2022. Here’s how: Since you have three months to meet the minimum spend requirement for the first portion of the bonus, make sure to hold off on hitting that threshold until January 1, 2021, so that the bonus points count in 2021 instead of 2020.
Then, once you meet the second part of the spending requirement, you’ll earn the extra 30,000 bonus points for a total of 100,000 points from the sign-up bonus, and you’ll also have earned 25,000 points from spending $25,000 on the card. This gives you a total of 125,000 qualifying points — the exact amount required to earn the pass.
This card also offers many benefits that outweigh its $199 annual fee. You’ll get up to a $100 credit toward the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, four upgraded boarding passes per year and 365 Wi-Fi credits per year. That’s all on top of the 9,000 bonus points you receive after each account anniversary year, which itself is worth $135 toward a Southwest flight.
Best travel card for consumers
If you’re looking for simplicity, the Capital One Venture is the perfect travel credit card. And to make it even better, it currently features a limited-time offer that allows you to earn up to 100,000 bonus miles — 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, and an additional 50,000 bonus miles after spending $20,000 in the first year.
With the Capital One Venture, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend on every purchase, with no need to worry about bonus categories. Your miles can be redeemed for any travel purchase on your credit card statement — this includes hotels, airfare, train rides, taxis, Uber, Airbnb stays and more.
You’ll get a fixed 1 cent per mile when you redeem this way, meaning you’re getting a 2% return on every dollar you spend with the card. This makes the 100,000 bonus miles worth $1,000 toward almost any travel purchase you make.
But, since travel is limited for many these days, Capital One is making it even easier to use your miles right now. Through December 31, 2020, you can also redeem miles for both food delivery and streaming services in the same way and at the same rate as you do for travel.
For people who are loyalty program experts, you can also transfer your Capital One miles to 15 different airlines and hotels. Redeeming your miles this way can make them worth more, but it takes time and effort to find valuable redemptions when you transfer your miles. So many people may prefer to simply use their miles to redeem directly for travel purchases at 1 cent each.
Other benefits of the Capital One Venture card include extended warranty protection and up to a $100 credit towards the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The card also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, but it does have a $95 annual fee.
Best travel card for businesses
If you’re in the market for a flexible business travel credit card, look no further than the Ink Business Preferred. With the card’s current sign-up offer of 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first three months after you open the account, you could be looking at $2,000 in travel value based on The Points Guy’s valuations — the highest bonus on our list.
The Ink Business Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points — similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve — and you can use these points in a few different ways. You can redeem them for cash back at 1 cent apiece, or redeem them for travel through Chase’s travel portal at 1.25 cents apiece.
But to get the most value for them, you’d want to do some homework and learn about Chase’s 13 airline and hotel travel partners, since you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to any of these partners at a 1-to-1 ratio. Transferring points is the best way to get premium redemptions like first or business class flights, but it does take some time and effort to find the best awards.
Another perk of the Ink Business Preferred — and possibly the best reason to be a card holder — is its cell phone protection benefit. When you pay your cell phone bill with the card, you and all your employees on your phone plan are covered if a phone is stolen or damaged. This can potentially save your business a lot of money, all while earning 3 points for every dollar you spend on your phone bill.
Other desirable perks of the card include purchase protection, trip insurance, trip delay protection and primary car rental insurance. But the one downside to this offer is its high minimum spend — $15,000 in the first three months after you open the account. However, for many businesses, putting $5,000 per month in business expenses on a credit card may not be very challenging.
Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best credit cards of 2020.