After flying around the world (in distance) about four times so far this year, I need to remind myself that earning miles by flying is a lot of work. Friends often ask how they can earn miles quickly and easily. My response is always the same: the easiest way is to earn miles and points from credit cards. That’s why I am sharing with you my favorite credit card offers for September 2019 (all available to the public).
Welcome Bonus Offers
Excluding hotel credit cards, getting 40k to 50k bonus miles or points is fairly standard with credit card sign-up bonuses. The really great offers feature 60k upwards — some even offer 100k miles or points.
Hotel cards should have a different analysis. Consider the bonus in terms of how many free nights you can earn from those points. In general, hotel points are less valuable than airline miles (on a per point basis).
Another important point to consider is transfer of points. Several credit card currencies transfer to hotel and airline programs. Here is information on credit card transfers to partner programs.
Many of the top tier credit cards offer additional travel benefits. This can include trip delay and cancellation insurance, lost or delayed baggage insurance, primary car rental insurance, as well as lounge access.
Initial Minimum Spend Requirement
Almost all offers come with some type of initial spend requirement. To receive the sign-up bonus points, expect to meet a $3,000 to $5,000 minimum spending requirement, usually to be reached within three months of account opening. Another consideration is the annual fee, which reduces the value of the sign-up bonus. Some cards may waive that fee for the first year, but don’t expect that from the cards paying the highest bonus sign-ups. However, those costs may be offset by travel perks and benefits. Those could come as travel reimbursement, Global Entry fee reimbursement, lounge access, and automatic hotel status.
Favorite Travel Rewards Credit Card Offers
Welcome Offer: 125,000 bonus point offer after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
IHG’s offer has added a longer term bonus. For the first 12 months of card ownership, you can really rack up additional points with higher tiered earnings.
- Earn 25 points per dollar at IHG hotel properties, plus the 10 points per dollar for being an IHG member plus a 50% bonus on those 10 points for being a Platinum Member. (Up to 40x points).
- 4 points per dollar on all other spend.
Annual Fee: $89
Comment: This is IHG’s best ever offer. For more information on the card and its benefits, read my full review.
Welcome Offer: The Chase Sapphire Reserve is offering 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
Annual Fee: The Annual Fee is $450, however the card offers $300 in annual travel credits for airfare, hotels, cab rides, Uber, etc. The points redeem at a rate of 1.5 cents each through the Chase portal, so the welcome bonus alone is worth at least $750.
Comment: The Chase Sapphire Reserve also features a Priority Pass membership, plus up to $100 fee credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and a multitude of other premium benefits. See our review on why we think it is one the best travel rewards credit card. We also love using it as one of our favorite ways to book flight deals with 3x points on travel.
Pro-Tip: If you’re thinking about adding a Chase card and picking up some Ultimate Rewards points, you need to know about the Chase 5/24 rule.
Welcome Offer: For a limited time through 12/4/19, earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases on the Business Platinum Card, within your first 3 months of card membership. (See rates and fees.)
Annual Fee: $595
Comment: A valuable welcome bonus offer, but it does come with a very high minimum spending requirement. Offer may be good fit for small businesses owners as well as people who can generate that spend easily. If you can take advantage of it, the WeWork benefit alone is worth thousands. Of course, there’s the Centurion Lounge access, $200 airfare credit, and much more.
Welcome Offer: American Express is offering 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles and 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $450 ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) See Rates & Fees.
Comment: Cardmembers receive Main Cabin Priority Boarding on Delta flights and their first bag free on Delta flights. The card comes with a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+ or Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon card renewal. The Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express comes with access to Delta Sky Club access. You can bring up to two guests for $29 additional per guest.
Welcome Offer: Earn 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. In addition, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $195 ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) See rates & fees.
Comment: For those who are loyal to Delta, this card offers a great value and a means to earn elite status through Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM’s.) One notable benefit is the companion certificate each year upon renewal.
Welcome Offer: There’s a fantastic sign-up bonus of 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of card membership.
Annual Fee: $95
Comment: The sign-up bonus is worth at least $1,000 if redeemed through the Chase portal. The card offers one of our favorite ways to book flight deals with 3X Ultimate Rewards points on travel including flights, public transportation, Uber, and more.
Welcome Offer: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Annual Fee: $199
Bonuses: 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary. Plus earn 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
- Along with these benefits, 4 upgraded boardings each year (at the gate or ticket counter on day of travel)
- Up to $100 credit towards TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
- Wi-Fi credit (365 Wi-Fi credits, which means you can fly every day on Southwest and have free Wi-Fi)
- Unlimited cards for employees
- No foreign transaction fee
Welcome Offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. (See rates & fees.)
Annual Fee: $550
Comment: While it’s near the top of the list for annual fees, travelers will appreciate the included benefits, such as $200 annual airline credit, up to a $100 credit towards the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application and up to $200 in annual Uber credit. There’s the Saks Fifth Avenue credit and hotel status with Marriott and Hilton (Gold status which includes breakfast). Cardholders receive 5X Membership Rewards points for every $1 in air or hotel purchases booked through the Amex travel portal or directly with the airline.
Welcome Offer: The current offer is for 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. Because Venture Miles redeem at 1 cent each, the sign-up bonus is worth $500.
Annual Fee: $95, waived for the first year
Comment: A great travel rewards credit card, because it earns 2x miles on all purchases. It also offers up to $100 fee credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Additionally, Capital One recently launched the ability to transfer miles to a number of partner airlines.
This card is a great option for hotel purchases via hotels.com/venture as you’ll earn 10x points for every dollar.
Welcome Offer: Earn 130,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. Cardholders also get a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year. (See rates & fees)
Annual Fee: $95.
Comment: The highest offer from Hilton with a card that also offers 12x points at Hilton portfolio hotels, 6x points at US restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations and 3x points on all other purchases. You also receive automatic Gold elite status.
Welcome Offer: Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first three months of Card Membership. (See Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee: $95
Comment: Highest offer ever from this Hilton card. Offers you 12x at Hilton hotels, 6x on select business & travel purchases and 3x everywhere else. Again, you get automatic Gold elite status plus the Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Earn another Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend an additional $45,000 in purchases on your Card in the same calendar year.
Cardholders are rewarded with 10 free airport lounge visits each year once enrolled in complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which offers access to over 1,000 lounges in over 120 countries.
Welcome Offer: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
Annual Fee: $95
Comment: The sign-up bonus is worth at least $750 (if redeeming those points through the Chase travel portal). A top choice for many travelers, this card has both many redemption partners (both hotel and airline) along with a travel portal. It earns 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1x point per dollar on everything else.
Welcome Offer: Now earns 3% cash back (or 3x Ultimate Rewards Points!) on all spending up to $20,000 in the first year of card membership (and 1.5% back on all spending after that).
Comment: Chase’s newest no annual fee card could make it one of the best cards for earning Chase points or cash back on your everyday spending.
Transferable Points: Pro Tip
As airlines seem to be ever devaluing their miles and frequent flyer programs, moving your spend patterns to flexible rewards programs with transferable points can make you a savvy traveler. American Express, Capital One, Citi and Chase all offer rewards credit cards that allow direct transfers to multiple frequent flyer programs.
If you are seeking to redeem miles for a specific redemption and that redemption is unavailable or priced too high, you can counter by choosing a more favorable redemption with a partner airline.
If you don’t want to bother with all the rules, partners, and transfer ratios, you can simply sign-up for one of Juicy Miles’ membership plans which easily present redemption options and calculations in a Kayak-like award search tool. Better yet, the tool now incorporates limited time transfer bonuses when calculating award pricing and alerts you to the latest transfer bonuses.
There is a vast array of credit card offers out there, and they are constantly changing. These are my picks for my favorite travel rewards cards for September 2019.
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