Summary List PlacementThe best credit card welcome offers available now:

American Express® Gold Card: 60,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 6 months of account opening (Elevated offer)
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: up to 100k Capital One miles — 50k miles after you spend $3k in the first 3 months of account opening and another 50k miles after you spend $20k in the first 12 months  (Elevated offer)
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening 
Chase Freedom Unlimited®: 5x rewards at grocery stores for your first account year as a cardholder (on up to $12,000 spent) and $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening (Elevated offer)
Chase Freedom Flex℠ : 5x rewards at grocery stores for your first account year as a cardholder (on up to $12,000 spent) and $200 back after you spend $500 in the first 3 months of account opening (Elevated offer)
United℠ Explorer Card: 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open (plus, an additional 10k bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months)(Elevated offer)
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months from account opening
United Club℠ Infinite Card: 100k United miles after you spend $5k in the first 3 months of account opening (Elevated offer)
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Earn up to 100k points after meeting tiered minimum spend requirements (Elevated offer)
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
Platinum Card® from American Express: 60,000 points after your spend at least $5,000 in your first 3 months of account opening
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: 100k points after you spend $15k in the first 3 months of account opening
Citi Premier® Card: 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

If you want to earn points, miles, or cash back, the quickest option is signing up for a rewards credit card and earning its intro bonus. This typically requires meeting a minimum spending requirement in the first three months or 90 days, and it’s well worth it — you’ll be rewarded with thousands of points or miles to put toward your next trip, or with a sizeable amount of cash back. 
There’s more good news: Several of our favorite travel cards are offering record-high welcome bonuses, so it’s a great time to apply.
Amex Gold Card
Amex Gold Card
The Amex Gold Card is one of our favorite rewards cards, especially for dining. You’ll earn 4x points at restaurants worldwide and up to $120 in annual dining credits that you can use at select restaurants and on Grubhub and Seamless.
 
The card hasn’t always offered a standout welcome bonus (previously it was just 35,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after new cardholders spend $4,000 in the first three months), but it’s recently increased the intro offer to 60,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 6 months of account opening. Considering you can transfer your Amex points to nearly two dozen travel partners, 60,000 points can unlock lots of options for flights or hotel stays.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Welcome offer: Up to 100,000 miles — 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months from account opening, and another 100,000 miles after you spend $20,000 or more in the first 12 months from account opening
 
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has consistently added benefits over the last few years. While previously you could only use miles to erase purchases on your statement, you can now transfer them to a variety of airline programs, including Air Canada, Air France/KLM and Etihad. There are occasionally transfer bonuses that help you stretch your miles further, too.
This card offers a strong lineup of benefits considering the reasonable $95 annual fee. You get an application fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and earn 2x miles on all purchases.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
 
If you want a rewards credit card with points that can be used with a variety of travel partners, you can’t go wrong with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It’s one of the best general credit card picks if you’re new to the world of points and miles or if you don’t want to pay the $550 annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, as the Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee.
 
The card offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points, and you can use those points to book travel directly through Chase, or you can transfer them to partners like British Airways, Hyatt, Singapore Airlines, and United. 
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the best cash-back cards you can get, and it now offers one of the intro bonuses. Beyond the standard $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months from account opening, new cardholders can now earn 5% cash back on up to $12,000 spent at grocery stores in their first account year.
 
That makes this card one of the best credit cards for grocery purchases — for those lucky enough to be able to take advantage of this offer. Outside of the grocery bonus, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on most purchase you make (the Freedom Unlimited also recently started offering bonus cash back on eligible travel, grocery, and drugstore purchases).
You can even pair the Freedom Unlimited with one of Chase’s more premium cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and you’ll be able to redeem the rewards from the Freedom Unlimited for travel with transfer partners like Hyatt, Marriott, United, and Singapore Airlines.
Chase Freedom Flex
Chase Freedom Flex℠
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ recently replaced the Chase Freedom card in Chase’s lineup of cash-back cards, and it’s offering the same great sign-up bonus as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. You’ll get a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, plus 5% cash back on up to $12,000 in grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) made in your first year.
 
There are other reasons to consider this card, though. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ has no annual fee and earns 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories after activation (on up to $1,500 spent per quarter, then 1%), 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases and 1% back on everything else.
United℠ Explorer Card
United℠ Explorer Card
The United℠ Explorer Card is a great option if you fly United a few times a year, as it offers a free checked bag, 25% off inflight purchases, and two one-time United Club passes. There’s a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.
 
Until January 13, 2021, new cardholders can get a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open (plus, an additional 10k bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months). This is a significant step up from the card’s standard bonus of 40,000 United MileagePlus miles (after you spend $2,000 in the first three months).
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of our favorite cash-back cards, and it’s currently sweetening the pot for new cardholders. If you apply by December 10, the annual fee is $95 (waived the first year if you apply by 12/10/2020) and you can get a welcome bonus of a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months from account opening.
United Club℠ Infinite Card
The United Club Infinite was released earlier this year to replace the discontinued United Club Card. It offers full membership to United Club airport lounges, so both you and your eligible travel companions can have a comfortable place to relax before a flight. 
Before this new 100,000-mile sign-up bonus launched, the card’s $525 annual fee was being waived for the first year. But 100,000 miles can easily be worth more than $525, especially if you redeem them for a business- or first-class flight.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest’s premium business card is running an elevated bonus, and if you can earn the full 100,000 points, you’ll have plenty of rewards for booking flights — and you’ll earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
 
The Companion Pass gets you two-for-one travel (your companion only has to pay taxes and fees), and you need to earn 125,000 qualifying points in a year to earn it. You’ll meet that requirement if you earn the full 100,000-point bonus (since you’ll earn at least 1 point per dollar on the $25,000 in required spending), so this offer could potentially be a great deal.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card offers an application fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, plus four upgraded boardings on Southwest per year and in-flight Wi-Fi credits. 
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card just launched an extra-high welcome bonus of 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, which can score you up to 14 award nights at IHG hotels (since redemptions start at 10,000 points per night).
 
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card comes with an $89 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year — making it extra valuable to new cardholders looking to save on upcoming hotel stays.
Platinum Card® from American Express
American Express Platinum Card® from American Express
If you travel frequently and can put its many, many benefits to use, the Amex Platinum can be an easy decision even with its annual fee. See how Business Insider’s David Slotnick got more than $2,000 in value from the card in his first year for more info.
 
Of course, no one’s traveling right now due to the coronavirus, but it could still be worth getting the Platinum Card, especially because American Express has added some limited-time benefits to its cards, including up to $320 in statement credits for select streaming services and wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers (up to $20 each month from May to December) on the Amex Platinum. 
Some of the card’s top perks include a 5x earning rate on airfare purchased directly from the airline, up to $200 in airline fee credits each calendar year, up to $200 in Uber credits each cardmember year, and up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits each calendar year. The card also stands out for its airport lounge access benefits. Note: Starting January 1, 2021, the 5X points will apply up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. (Note: New cardmembers can earn 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during the first 6 months of card membership).
You can use the Amex Membership Rewards points you’ll earn with this card to book travel with airlines like British Airways, Delta, and Emirates, and with hotel partners including Marriott.
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card offers the highest sign-up bonus among Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points. Plus, it has generous bonus categories — you’ll earn 3 points per dollar in the first $150,000 in combined purchases you make on categories including travel, shipping, and advertising (and 1 point per dollar on everything else).
 
This card has a $95 annual fee, and it offers benefits like primary rental car insurance when you’re renting a car for business purposes.
Citi Premier Card
Citi Citi Premier Card
Welcome offer: 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Annual fee: $95
In addition to offering a very solid sign-up bonus, the Citi Premier Card stands out for its recently added bonus categories, including 3 points per dollar at restaurants and supermarkets. This makes the card a great option for maximizing your everyday purchases, because everyone has to eat.
 
The Citi Premier Card also added a hotel savings benefit. This perk will save you $100 once per calendar year when book a hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) through thankyou.com.
Why earn credit card rewards in the middle of a pandemic?
With travel on hold due to the pandemic, now may seem like an odd time to open a travel rewards credit card, but earning a sign-up bonus now can put you in a great position to use points and miles for your next vacation, whenever that may be. 
Plus, in addition to allowing extra time to earn a welcome bonus, issuers like American Express and Capital One are offering additional benefits tailored to life in quarantine, including new bonus categories for earning rewards and the option touse Capital One miles to cover food delivery and streaming services. And many issuers are extending the time you have to earn a welcome bonus — in most cases, from three to six months.
Before you apply for a new credit card, make sure you understand how credit card applications affect your credit score. Also make sure you treat your credit cards like debit cards, only spending what you can afford to pay back each month. If you carry a balance to earn rewards, you’ll be putting yourself in a bad financial position — and the interest fees you’ll rack up will easily outweigh any points or miles you earn.
FAQ
What is a sign-up bonus?
A sign-up bonus, also known as a welcome bonus or intro offer, is a reward of points, miles, or cash back for new cardholders who meet designated requirements. Usually, these requirements involve meeting a minimum spending threshold within the first three months after you open your new credit card account.
Do credit card sign-up bonuses change?
Some credit cards almost always have the exact same sign-up bonus, while others change frequently. If you’re considering opening a new rewards credit card, do your research to see whether the card you want has previously offered a higher bonus. If it has, it could be worth waiting until that elevated offer returns, or you may even be able to find that higher offer through the credit card issuer’s website.
What is the best credit card sign-up bonus?
There isn’t one single best sign-up bonus, because even if one card offers more points, not all points and miles are valued equally. There are also different types of credit card rewards: points, miles, and cash back, so the best sign-up bonus for you depends on the rewards you value most.
How can I use a credit card sign-up bonus?
There are typically several options for using a credit card sign-up bonus.
If you earn a cash-back sign-up bonus, you could be able to use it toward a statement credit to reduce your credit card bill, or you could receive the money in check form. With a travel rewards card, you could use your points or miles to book an award trip, or you decide to cash them out for gift cards, money back, or merchandise.
The exact options depend on the credit card you have and its specific rewards program, but the bottom line is that there are several possibilities for using your sign-up bonus.
Is a credit card without a sign-up bonus still worth it?
The short answer is yes. A credit card sign-up bonus can be a great incentive to apply, especially if you’re looking at a card that has an annual fee, but not every good credit card offers an intro bonus. For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card is one of our favorite cash-back credit cards, but it doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus. It could be worth forgoing an intro bonus if that card’s 2% cash back (1% back when you make a purchase, and another 1% back when you pay your bill) appeals to you. 
Related Content Module: More Credit Card CoverageJoin the conversation about this story »
Read More