Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses Of August 2021

The Most Valuable Current Offers for New Cardholders

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The best sign-up bonuses available on credit cards stand out for their superior value. They can be worth hundreds of dollars—or even more than $1,000. Credit card issuers offer them as an incentive to apply for an account and use it regularly. If you’re looking for a credit card with a lot of upfront value, here are our top choices based on how much you can earn.

Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses of August 2021

Best Overall, Best for Flexible Travel Rewards : Chase Sapphire Preferred Card


Our Rating Among Cards With a Sign-up Bonus
4.9
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Current Offer

Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2X points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose This Card

If you want a sizable bonus that you can use in a variety of ways, including travel, this is our top pick for you. The 100,000-point bonus offer that you’ll get by spending $4,000 within three months is worth at least $1,250 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards, but you can pump up the bonus value by transferring those points to a travel partner loyalty program, like United Airlines’ MileagePlus or World of Hyatt. Since Chase has a 1:1 transfer ratio for points, you won’t lose value by moving your bonus points around that way. Also, the ongoing rewards earning rates are competitive and flexible, since so many different travel purchases can earn 2 points per $1 spent, even parking and toll fare.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Good bonus compared to other travel cards with similar annual fees

  • Option to transfer points to eligible airline and hotel programs, often at a 1-to-1 ratio

  • Points are pretty valuable when redeemed for travel

  • Some premium travel insurance benefits

Cons
  • No credits to cover incidental airline fees or other travel-related costs

  • Few everyday purchase categories earn extra points

Highlights
  • Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R). For example, 100,000 points are worth $1.250 toward travel.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.
  • With Pay Yourself Back(SM), your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.

Best Airline-Specific Card : AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard


Our Rating Among Cards With a Sign-up Bonus
4.8
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
Current Offer

Earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $99
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2X miles for every one dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1X miles for every dollar spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose This Card

This card’s bonus is not just valuable, but incredibly easy to earn. Make just one purchase within 90 days of opening your account (and pay the $99 annual fee, of course), and you’ll get 60,000 miles. Other cards may require you to spend thousands to earn a bonus worth far less. Plus, The Balance has found AAdvantage miles are among the most valuable offered by a frequent flyer program (2.04 cents each, on average), so the miles alone are worth a whopping $1,224 if used for flights.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • American Airlines miles are worth more than most airline miles, according to The Balance’s valuations

  • Excellent and super-easy-to-earn welcome bonus

  • Good array of travel perks, including free checked bags

  • Optional program to increase number of miles earned per purchase

Cons
  • Annual fee isn’t waived for the first year

  • Few purchase categories that earn extra miles

Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.
  • Get up to $25 back as statement credits on inflight Wi-Fi purchases every anniversary year on American Airlines operated flights.
  • Each anniversary year, earn a Companion Certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after spending $20,000 on purchases and your account remains open for 45 days after your anniversary date.
  • Receive 25% inflight savings as statement credits on food and beverages when you use your card on American Airlines operated flights.

Best for Cash-Back Rewards : Discover it Cash Back


Our Rating Among Cards With a Sign-up Bonus
3.9
Discover it® Cash Back
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 14 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose This Card

Patience pays off with this card. Instead of awarding a lump sum cash-back after you reach a spending threshold soon after opening your account, Discover will match all rewards you earn during your entire first year with the card. There’s no limit on how much Discover will double, either. Based on average household spending, we estimate you’ll earn about $376 in rewards each year. That means this unusual first-year bonus would be worth $376, more than what other no-annual-fee cash-back cards are offering these days. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Excellent rewards-earning rate for quarterly bonus categories

  • Great welcome bonus matches all cash back earned at the end of your first year

  • Rewards can be redeemed any time for any amount

Cons
  • Limits on how much cash back you can earn in bonus categories each quarter

  • Enrollment required to earn extra cash back each quarter

  • No travel insurance, extended warranties, or other perks

Highlights
  • Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Earn 5% cash back on your everday purchases at different places each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • No annual fee.
  • See if you're pre-approved – with no harm to your credit to check.

Best Hotel-Specific Card : IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card


Our Rating Among Cards With a Sign-up Bonus
3.9
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 month from account opening. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points after you spend $20,000 on purchases and make one additional purchase each account anniversary year.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 Intro fee for the first year. After that, $89.
Rewards Earning Rate Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel, 2 points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1 point on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose This Card

If you're a regular guest at one of the hotel chains in the IHG hotel network when you travel (like Holiday Inn or Hotel Indigo), this card’s massive bonus is tough to beat. Spend $3,000 within three months of opening an account and you’ll get 150,000 points worth $1,110, based on our average point value calculations. On an ongoing basis, you’ll earn up to 25 points per $1 spent with IHG, which is great considering the so-so per-point value of IHG rewards. Oh, and you’ll get an extra 10,000 points every year you spend $20,000 in a year (plus one additional purchase). 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Generous rewards on IHG hotel and resort purchases

  • Competitive bonus for new cardholders

  • Automatic VIP status with the IHG loyalty programs means lots of extra perks for frequent guests

Cons
  • Reward points are worth less than 1 cent each on average, based on our research, which is low

  • Terrible transfer rate when moving rewards to a partner airline loyalty program

Highlights
  • Earn 150,000 bonus points plus a Reward Night after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points after you spend $20,000 on purchases and make one additional purchase each account anniversary year.
  • Cardmembers receive Platinum Elite status.
  • Enjoy a reward night after each account anniversary year at IHG hotels worldwide.
  • Enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights.

Best Travel Card With No Annual Fee : Discover it Miles


Our Rating Among Cards With a Sign-up Bonus
3.9
Discover it® Miles
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar spent.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 14 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose This Card

If simple, low cost rewards are your jam, this is the travel card for you. You’ll get 1.5 miles on all purchases, even those that aren’t travel-related and at the end of the year, Discover will match all the rewards you earned that year. That’s an unusual but potentially valuable new-cardholder bonus. Sure, you’ve got to wait for it, but since it’s based on your spending and there’s no limit on how much you can earn, you’re in control of how big your bonus will be. That’s worth an extra bit of patience. The miles earned with this card are easy to use, too. Just use the card to pay for travel and then request reimbursement in the form of statement credits. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No annual fee

  • Miles can be redeemed as travel statement credits or cash back

  • Generous, unconventional bonus doubles your first year earnings

  • Competitive 0% purchase APR offer

Cons
  • Miles can’t be transferred to airline loyalty programs

  • No travel insurance benefits

  • Card acceptance may vary compared to Visa or Mastercard

Highlights
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases.
  • Only Discover automatically matches all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Use your card to pay for airfare, hotels, rideshares, and more with no blackout dates. Then easily redeem miles as a statement credit for travel or get cash.
  • No annual fee.

What Are Sign-Up Bonuses & How Do They Work?

Sign-up bonuses are incentives that rewards credit cards offer to encourage consumers to open a new credit card account. They can be in the form of cash back, points, or miles, or as a discount on a store credit card.

Depending on the card, you may get the offered bonus (also known as a welcome offer) as soon as you’re approved, after you make your first purchase, or—most commonly—after you spend a certain amount within a specified period. 

Bonuses can be a great way to gain value from a credit card fast. While some cards offer them with less than $100 in value, others offer cash back, points, or miles worth much more—sometimes in excess of $1,000. 

Credit card issuers sometimes change the bonuses on their cards. Depending on when you apply, you may get a limited-time offer that’s worth more than the card’s typical incentive.

What Are the Different Types of Bonuses?

You can break bonuses down by the type of rewards you earn:

Cash Back

If you’re applying for a cash-back credit card, you’ll typically receive the bonus as a direct deposit, statement credit, or paper check. Cash-back bonuses are usually represented as the actual cash value you’ll receive.

Points or Miles

Some credit cards, primarily travel cards, offer bonuses in the form of points or frequent flyer miles. Depending on the rewards program, however, the value of each point or mile can vary. This means that a larger bonus in terms of points or miles doesn’t necessarily mean more value.

Store Discount

Some cards, usually store credit cards, give you a bonus in the form of a discount, which applies to your first purchase with the card or to your immediate purchase if you apply at the cash register.

What Are Some Pros & Cons of Bonuses?

Focusing on getting the best credit card bonus can be a good thing, but there are also some drawbacks to thinking only of the short term.

Pros
  • You can get hundreds of dollars of value fast

  • Value can help negate the card’s annual fee

Cons
  • You may miss out on other features

  • Temptation to overspend

Pros Explained

  • You can get hundreds of dollars of value fast: Most of the best credit card bonuses require you to spend a certain amount of money in the first few months with the card. Once you meet that requirement, you can get hundreds of dollars worth of cash back, points, or miles to use whenever you want.
  • Value can help negate the card’s annual fee: Many cards that offer big bonuses also charge annual fees. If you want to “test drive” a card before choosing whether to hold onto it long-term, the card’s bonus may cover the cost of the annual fee several times over while you make your decision.

Cons Explained

  • You may miss out on other features: If you focus solely on a credit card’s bonus for new cardholders, you may miss out on valuable rewards and benefits that come with another card. For example, one card may have an excellent bonus but a mediocre ongoing rewards program and few extra credit card perks. If you’re planning on keeping a card for a long time, look at it holistically instead of focusing on just one feature.
  • Temptation to overspend: If you’re required to spend thousands of dollars to qualify for a bonus, it could tempt you to spend more than you normally would. Before you apply for a credit card, check your budget to make sure you can meet the minimum spending requirement with your normal spending habits.  

How Should You Choose a Card Based on Its Bonus? 

There’s no single credit card bonus best for everyone, so you’ll need to consider a few things before you make a decision:

  • Your spending habits: If you don’t spend a lot each month, it may not be worth trying for a bonus that requires that you spend thousands of dollars in the first few months. Check your budget and consider cards that won’t cause you to overspend.
  • Real bonus value: Figuring the value of a cash-back bonus is simple, but it can get more complicated with travel rewards cards. Check out our list of best travel cards to find links to reviews that contain point-valuation information. That can help you determine the real value of a particular bonus.
  • Your preferences: While some cards offer higher bonuses than others, there may be other features that are deal-breakers for you. Check each card’s annual fee and the options you have for redeeming your rewards. If you prefer cash back, for example, a travel card with less flexible redemption options may not be worth it to you, even if it has a higher bonus.

Some of the best credit card bonuses for new cardholders require that you have good or excellent credit. If your credit history needs some work, it's best to focus on that first before applying for a card you're unlikely to be approved for.

If a bonus is an important factor to you as you look for a new credit card, take another look at the cards we consider to have great bonuses:

Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses
Credit Card Category Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Best Overall $95
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Best for Flexible Travel Rewards $95
AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard Best Airline-Specific Card $99
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Best Hotel-Specific Card First year $0, then $89
Discover it Cash Back Best for Cash-Back Rewards $0
Discover it Miles Best Travel Card With No Annual Fee $0

How Do You Redeem Rewards?

Rewards redemption options can vary by credit card, but here are some general options you might get based on the type of credit card you choose:

Cash Back

You can typically redeem cash-back rewards as a statement credit, direct deposit, or paper check. With some cards, you may also be able to use rewards to buy gift cards, shop online, book travel, and more.

General Travel

These credit cards usually allow you to either use your points or miles to book travel through the card issuer’s travel portal or book travel directly with any travel merchant and use your rewards to get a statement credit for that purchase. You may also have the option to transfer your points or miles to other travel loyalty programs for more flexibility.

Co-Branded Airline or Hotel

Rewards earned with airline and hotel credit cards are deposited into a loyalty program account with the co-branded partner. If you have an airline card, you may be able to use your points or miles for several things, but you’ll usually get the most value with free flights. The same goes for hotel credit cards, which typically get the best value when you redeem points for free hotel stays.

Store

If you have a store credit card, you may be able to redeem your rewards as a certificate for use with the retailer, a credit for online or in-store purchases, gift cards, or even cash back.

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Our reviews are always impartial. No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

We reviewed more than 100 credit cards that offer one-time bonuses to new cardmembers, and these are the cards that made the cut for this list.

What We Score

We look at the number of points or miles earned in a bonus, and convert those bonuses to a dollar value using our analysis of credit cards rewards programs and Americans' travel habits. We also evaluate bonuses based on the amount of time a cardholder has to earn the bonus and how much they have to spend to earn it.

Beyond that, we evaluate cards' rewards-earning rates, regular APR, rewards flexibility, and perks. For more information about how The Balance evaluates credit cards, see our full credit card review methodology