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Credit Cards

Here are all the travel credit card welcome bonuses you need to know about

Select compares the welcome bonuses offered on top travel credit cards.

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There are no shortage of great welcome bonuses out there. American Express, Capital One, Chase and TD Bank are all offering new cardholders competitive welcome bonus offers worth up to $1,000, depending on the card.

Below, Select compares the sign-up offers on the best travel credit cards. Plus, we've round-up some of the impressive welcome bonuses being offered by top airline and hotel credit cards so you can decide the best choice for your next adventure.

Here are Select's top-ranked travel credit cards:

*See our methodology.

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture

With the Venture card, new cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus miles once they spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. For Chase Sapphire Preferred, eligible customers can earn 80,000 points after they spend $4,000 within the first three months from account opening.

Both cards have a $95 annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Gold

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Gold have lower welcome bonus offer values, both are premium travel credit cards that come with many luxury perks. For example, the Reserve card comes with a $300 annual travel credit, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck® fee credit of up to $100 every four years and Priority Pass™ Select lounge access at 1,000+ VIP lounges in over 500 cities worldwide.

The Amex Gold offers travel discounts and amenities for those who enroll with The Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group at no extra cost, plus up to a $120 annual dining credit ($10 a month) for purchases made with eligible restaurants (after a one-time enrollment) and a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying purchases through The Hotel Collection.

When comparing the Sapphire Reserve and Amex Gold bonuses, the Sapphire is a better choice (even though the Amex Gold gives you three extra months to reach the spending threshold) since the welcome bonus can be worth up to $150 more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

The Sapphire Reserve charges a $550 annual fee and the Amex Gold has a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).

For airline and hotel loyalists

Co-branded credit cards that are in partnership with an airline or hotel chain offer some of the best welcome bonuses of at least 40,000 bonus points or miles from Delta, Hilton, IHG, Marriott and United. If you favor a particular airline or hotel group, this might be a good option for you.

Delta fans

For consumers:

For business travelers:

Read more about these Delta welcome bonus offers.

Hilton fans

  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first 3 months of card membership. Plus, you can earn up to $130 in statement credits on eligible purchases made on the card at any of the Hilton family hotels in the first 12 months of membership.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $130 in statement credits on eligible purchases made on the card at any of the Hilton family hotels in the first 12 months of membership. Offer expires July 6, 2022.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within your first three months of card membership.

Read more about these Hilton welcome bonus offers.

IHG fans

Read more about this IHG welcome bonus offer.

Marriott fans

Read more about the best way to use Marriott Bonvoy rewards points.

United fans

  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening with the United Club℠ Infinite Card.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening with the United Club℠ Business Card.
  • Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months from account opening with the United Quest℠ Card.

Read more about this United offer here, and here for the United Quest Card.

For those hoping to travel abroad

While we wait to see if international travel ban restrictions continue over the coming months, you can sign up for a credit card now to maximize savings on your next vacation to a European city.

Chase is offering elevated welcome bonuses on select Chase co-branded airline credit cards: new cardholders signing up for the British Airways Visa Signature® CardIberia Visa Signature® Card or Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card can earn 100,000 Avios points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

Our methodology

To determine which cards will put the most money back in your pocket, Select evaluated 35 popular travel credit cards offered by major banks, financial companies and credit unions that allow anyone to join. We compared each card on a range of features, including travel rewards (points and miles), annual fee, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, one-time perks, annual perks, redemption rates, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available.

Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

We then estimated how much the average consumer would redeem over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee and assume that you are paying your credit card balance on time and in full each month so as not to incur interest charges.

It's important to note the value of a point or mile varies from card to card and based on how you redeem them. When we calculated the estimated returns, we assumed that cardholders are redeeming points/miles for a typical maximum value of 1 cent per point or mile. (Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value.)

Our final picks are weighted heavily toward the highest five-year returns, since it's generally wise to hold onto a credit card for years. This method also avoids giving an unfair advantage to cards with large welcome bonuses.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your travel habits.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.

Information about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and the Capital One Venture Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.