Best Credit Cards for Points and Cash — Free Hotel Stays/Free Money

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Conrad Koh Samui, Thailand

Conrad Koh Samui, Thailand

UPDATE: 09.17.18

Added:

  • The Crystal Visa Infinite 75,000 points (HT DoC)

Welcome to the ONLY CREDIT CARD LIST ON THE WEB that doesn’t waste your time with lousy offers and where you’ll find the very best credit card bonuses.

Please keep in mind:

  1. Don’t apply for cards with low bonuses! Nowadays, most issuers are limiting your ability to get a credit card based on your application history. Be stingy with your credit card applications. 
  2. My threshold for a good credit card bonus is $400. Normally, I won’t apply for less. However, if you already “collect” certain currencies, like American Express MR or Chase UR points, do go for a lesser bonus from another credit card to top up your points.
  3. Know the rules. Check the Credit Card Rules section at the bottom of this page, but YMMV.

Some offers come and go… and then come back again. To preserve my sanity and myself from hard manual labor (read the title of this blog again) I will use the following legend.

  • BOLD BLUE TYPEFACE – THE OFFER IS CURRENTLY WORKING.
  • REGULAR TYPEFACE – THE OFFER IS DEAD OR “ON HOLD”.

Whatever you do, read the fine print in a credit card’s T&C before applying. Most of these offers have spending requirements and annual fees (that are sometimes waived for the first year). Know what you’re going into and make sure you’re OK with it.

I only post publicly available offers on this page unless it’s easy to get a targeted or a non-public offer.

Some offers come and go… and then come back again. To preserve my sanity and myself from hard manual labor (read the title of this blog again) I will use the following legend.

BOLD and BLUE: The links are working. Use the link that provides a higher bonus (Duh!).

Not BOLD, not BLUE: The links are dead or on “hold”

Hilton

UPDATE: There are better offers if you open this link in the INCOGNITO mode (HT: Chong786)

Personal no-fee card:

  • 100,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
  • No annual fee

The Ascend card

  • 150,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Weekend night reward after your first anniversary
  • $95 annual fee
  • Gold status
  • 10 free visits to Priority Pass airport lounges

If the link above stops working, this is the next best thing: Make a dummy booking on the Hilton page.

When you get to the final page you’ll see a small ad at the bottom. Don’t finish the booking.

Click the ad and you’ll see 2 options.

Personal no-fee card:

  • $50 statement credit
  • 75,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
  • No annual fee

Business card:

  • $100 statement credit
  • 125,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Annual fee $95
  • Other benefits as outlined in the Business Card description below

HT: DoC

Regular offers:

Hilton Honors American Express 50,000

  • 50,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
  • No annual fee
  • 100,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Weekend night reward after your first anniversary
  • $95 annual fee
  • Gold status
  • 10 free visits to Priority Pass airport lounges

Hilton Honors American Express Business 100,000

  • 100,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Weekend night reward after the first anniversary
  • $95 annual fee
  • Gold status
  • 10 free visits to Priority Pass airport lounges

UPDATE: INCREASED OFFER

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire 150,000

  • 150,000  Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • $450 annual fee
  • Free Diamond status
  • One weekend night reward annualy
  • $250 in Hilton Resort Credits and $250 Airline Fee incidentals Credit each year
  • Free Priority Pass airport lounges access for you and up to 2 guests

It’s possible to do even better and score an extra $50 statement credit via dummy booking on the Hilton website. Check these posts from Miles to Memory and Doctor of Credit.

IHG (InterContinental, Holiday Inn, etc.)

Chase IHG Rewards Club Traveler 65,000 Points

Update: not valid anymore

  • Spending requirement: $2,000/3mths and adding an authorized user.
  • $29 annual fee, not waived.
  • 4th award night free
  • Gold Status
  • Free anniversary night at up-to 40,000-point IHG hotel.

Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier 105,000 Point and $50 statement credit

  • Spending requirement: $2,000/3mths ($3,000 for the 100K card) and adding an authorized user.
  • $50 statement credit
  • $89 annual fee, waived for the 1st year.
  • 4th award night free
  • Platinum Status
  • Free anniversary night at up to 40,000-point IHG hotel.

Marriott and Ritz Carlton

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus 75,000 points

  • Increased limited time offer
  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $95, not waived.
  • Free night at up to 35,000-points hotel after the anniversary.

Marriott Rewards Premier Business 75,000 points

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $99, waived for the 1st year.
  • Free night at 1-5 Cat after the 1st anniversary.

Chase Ritz-Carlton 2 Free Nights (Tiers 1-4)

Chase Ritz Carlton Card

  • Spending requirement: $4,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $450, not waived.
  • Lots of other goodies.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card 75,000 Points

New Offer

best credit cards for miles AMEX SPG Card

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card 100,000 Points

New Offer

best credit cards for miles AMEX SPG Business Card

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths ($5,000/3mths for business card).
  • Annual fee: $450, not waived.

New: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card with 100,000-points bonus

(Weak bonus, I recommend to wait)

  • Spending requirement: $5,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $450.
  • $300 SPG or Marriott Rewards statement credit.
  • Free Night Award (up to 50,000 points).
  • Priority Pass Access.

Hyatt

Chase Hyatt 60,000 Points 
Chase Hyatt Card

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths for 40,000 and another $3,000/6mths for 20,000 more points.
  • $95 annual fee, not waived.
  • Discoverist Status.
  • Free Cat. 1-4 night annually.

Choice Privileges (Comfort Suites, Clarion, etc.)

Barclaycard Choice Privileges 32,000 Points Barclaycard Choice Privileges Card

  • Spending requirement: $1,000/3mths.
  • No annual fee.

Radisson Rewards (Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn, and Country Inn)

US Bank 85,000 Points Personal and Business Cards

US Bank Club Carlson cards

  • Spending requirement for Premier and Business cards: first purchase for 50,000; $2,500/3mths for additional 35,000 points.
  • Annual fee: $75 for Premier and $60 for Business.
  • Gold Status and 40,000 renewal points for Premier or Business.

You can apply for every card on that page, including the no annual fee card, since they are all distinct products (not at the same time, though).

Wyndham Rewards

Barclaycard Whyndam 45,000 Points 

You will find the terms when you scroll to the bottom (HT to DoC) 
Barclaycard Wyndham Card

  • Get 30,000 points after the first purchase and 15,000 after spending $2K/3mths.
  • Annual Fee: $75. Not waived.

Best Western

Best Western Rewards Premium 70,000 Points

Best Western Card

 

  • Spending requirement: $1,000/3mths for 50,000 points and $5,000 in 12 months for another 20,000 points.
  • $59 annual fee, waived for the first year.

Best Western Rewards Business 48,000+32,000-Point OfferBest Western Business Card

  • Spending Requirement: $1,000/3mths for 48,000 points and $25,000 in 12 months for $32,000 points.
  • Annual fee: none.

OTHER CREDIT CARDS

You can transfer points from credit card programs to hotel programs or redeem them for free hotel stays. 

American Express Membership Rewards Cards

The American Express Membership Rewards program encompasses several Platinum and Gold cards. Some of them are as follows:

AMEX Platinum 60,000 MR Points.

best credit cards for miles American Express Platinum Card

AMEX Platinum Charles Schwab 60,000 MR Points 

Must have or open a $1,000 Charles Schwab account

best credit cards for miles american express platinum charles schwab

Benefits for all American Express Platinum cards:

  • Spending requirement: 5,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $550 (NOT waived).
  • Transfer points to multiple airlines and hotels.
  • Lots of other goodies

There is also a 100,000-point Platinum offer with a mammoth $25,000 spending requirement — not recommended.

AMEX Business Gold Rewards 50,000 Points

  • Spending requirement: 5,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $175 (waived for the first year).

AMEX Gold Ameriprise 25,000 MR Points

best credit cards for miles american express ameriprise

  • Spending requirement: 1,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $160 (waived for the first year).

Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve 50,000 UR Points 

best credit cards for miles chase sapphire reserve

  • Spending requirement: $4,000/3mths.
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Annual fee: $450.
  • Transfer points to several airlines and hotels.

Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000 to 80,000 UR Points  

UPDATE: DEAD Note: now you’re only eligible for a bonus from Chase Sapphire cards once in 48 months! However, check creditcards.com/cardmatch. The Sapphire offer I received from Chase still states 24 months, not 48. 

best credit cards for miles chase sapphire preferred

  • Spending requirement: 4,000/3mths for 50,000 points
  • Annual fee: Waived for the 1st year.
  • Transfer points to several airlines and hotels

Chase Business Preferred 80,000 UR Points (on the left)

best credit cards for miles chase business preferred ink

  • Spending requirement: 5,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $95 not waived.
  • Transfer points to several airlines and hotels.

Chase Ink Business Cash $500/50,000 Points

  • Spend requirement: $3,000/3mths.
  • No annual fee.
  • Can transfer to airlines and hotels if you have a premium UR card
  • Can transfer to airlines and hotels if you have a premium UR card

Chase Ink Unlimited $500/50,000 points

  • Spending requirement: $3,000/3mths.
  • 1.5X on everything
  • No annual fee.
  • Can transfer to airlines and hotels if you have a premium UR card

Citi ThankYou Cards

Better Citi ThankYou Premier 60,000-point Offer (HT: Reddit u/PlentyPointsu/PlentyPoints)

Citi ThankYou Premier Card 50,000 Points Offer

best credit cards for miles citi thankyou premier

  • Spending requirement: 3,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: Waived for the 1st year, $95 thereafter.

Citi ThankYou Prestige Card 75,000 Points Offer

  • Spending requirement: 7,500/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $450, not waived.
  • Too many goodies to list.

Barclays

Barclays Arrival + 60,000 Points Offer

  • Spending requirement: 5,000/3mths.
  • Annual fee: $89, not waived.
  • Earn 2X on all purchases.

US BANK

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Card 25,000 points

Wait for the next Olympic Games.

  • Spending requirement: $2,000 in first 4 months.
  • Annual fee: $49 (waived first year).
  • You would have earned 7,450 Bonus FlexPoints during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 in addition to the 25,000-point bonus
  • More goodies

US Bank FlexPerks Gold 30,000 Points

Pick the card in the middle. You can redeem 30,000 points for a flight up to $450.

best credit cards for miles us bank flex perks gold

  • Spending requirement: $2,000 in first 4 months.
  • Annual fee: $85 (Not waived).

US Bank Altitude Reserve 50,000 Points

You can apply online only if you’ve had a prior relationship with US Bank for at least 35 days. Otherwise, apply in the branch.

best credit cards for miles us bank altitude reserve

  • Redeemable for up to $750 in travel purchases.
  • Spending requirement: $2,000 in first 4 months.
  • Annual fee: $400 (Not waived).
  • Lots of other goodies

UBS Visa Infinite 50,000 Points (must call: 888-762-1232)

UBS Visa Infinite

  • 50,000 miles (good for up to a $900 flight ) after spending $3,000 in first 3 months.
  • $495 annual fee.
  • Lots of other goodies.

Wells Fargo Business Platinum Credit Card $500

Must be a banking customer for 12 months prior or read this DOC post on maximizing Wells Fargo bonuses

  • $500 miles after spending $5,000 in first 3 months.
  • No annual fee.

Capital One Venture Rewards 50,000 Miles

Don’t be confused by the “miles” thing. You can redeem them for any kind of travel at 1: 100.

  • Spending requirement: $3,000 in first 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year).

Capital One Savor $500 bonus

  • Spending requirement: 3,000/3mths.
  • $95 annual fee waived for the first year.
  • 4X on dining and entertainment, 2X on groceries.
  • Other goodies

Capital One Spark Miles for Business 50,000 miles

  • Spending requirement: $4,500 in first 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year).

Capital One Spark Cash for Business $500

  • Spending requirement: $4,500 in first 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $59 (waived first year).

Bank of America

Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card 50,000 points

      • Spending requirement: 3,000/3mths.
      • $95 annual fee.
      • $100 incidental airline credit per calendar year.
      • Other goodies.

Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard $350 bonus

  • Spending requirement: 3,000/3mths.
  • No annual fee.
  • 3X on gas and office supply, 2X on restaurants.
  • Other goodies.

Navy Federal Credit Union

The Navy Federal Visa Signature Flagship Card 50,000-point offer

  • 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 90 days
  • 3x on travel, 2x on everything else
  • $49 annual fee waived in the first year
  • Must qualify for NFCU

City National Bank

Crystal Visa Infinite Credit Card 75,000-point offer

  • Annual fee is $400, no fee for authorized users
  • Increased 75,000 points after spending $5,000 in 3 months ((from 50,000 until 12.17.18)
  • The points are worth 1.0X-1.3X when redeemed for travel
  • $250 annual airline incidental credit for cardholder and up to 3 AU users (up to 4 according to Reddit users)
  • $100 airfare companion discount
  • Too many other goodies to list
  • Apply in branch or over the phone only:  CA, DC, DE, GA, NY, NV, TN
  • They verify income and assets

Credit Card Rules (please read carefully before applying for any card)

CHASE

You can’t get most Chase cards if you have received more than 4 cards from any issuers within the last 2 years (that’s including AU cards, although you might be able to remove AU cards from your credit report or during the reconsideration call). Notable exceptions:

  • British Airways
  • Marriott Business
  • Ritz Carlton
  • IHG
  • Hyatt

You can still apply for these cards even if you’re 5/24 or more. Most business cards don’t count, even Chase’s own business cards.

AMERICAN EXPRESS

You can’t get a sign-up bonus for the same card if you have received it in the past. Exceptions:

  • Targeted offers that don’t carry this policy language.
  • There is some leeway about products that are “same/different.” For example, I’ve gotten the bonuses from the regular Platinum and Platinum for Mercedes Benz cards.
  • A lot of time has passed. Some suggest 4-7 years.

There are suggestions that AMEX won’t allow you to have more than 4-5 credit cards at the same time (charge cards don’t count). I know I’ve had 6 AMEX credit cards at the same time, but it doesn’t mean that this datapoint is not accurate. YMMV.

Another datapoint indicates that you can’t get more than 2 credit cards in 90 days (again, charge cards don’t count). I can report that I have applied and received up to 4 credit cards in 3 months — although, once again, you might want to stay within the suggested parameters.

CITI

You can’t get a sign-up bonus for the card from the same “family” if you’ve opened or closed the card within the last 24 months. For example, you can’t get the bonus for the Premier card if you’ve had the Prestige card, and you can’t get a bonus for the Executive AAdvantage card, if you’ve opened or closed the regular AAdvantage card within the last 24 months. Exceptions:

  • Occasional public and targeted offers that don’t have this policy language.

You can open 2 Citi cards within 60 days and one business Citi card within 90 days. Add 2-3 days to this count to be on the safe side.

BANK OF AMERICA

  • You can get 2 BoA cards within 60 days
  • 3 cards within 12 months
  • 4 cards within 24 months

Business cards don’t count (supposedly).

BARCLAYS

There are conflicting reports regarding Barclays. Sometimes, they deny applications following 6/24 rules almost like Chase. But there are many reports contradicting these data points. In general, Barclays doesn’t like too many inquiries in the last 2 years and they don’t like it when you put their cards in a sock after getting the bonus. Keep it in mind if you are preparing to apply for a Barclays card.

CAPITAL ONE

You can get one card only (personal or business) within 6 months.

US BANK

It used to help when you froze the reports from 2 minor CRAs: Sage Stream and ARS before applying for a US Bank card. Not the case anymore, so don’t. Other than that, they don’t like too many recent inquiries, and they can shut down all your accounts if they determine (in their sole discretion, of course) that you’re abusing the program. Meaning — be very, very, very careful buying gift cards with a US Bank card.

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