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American Express® Gold Card
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Terms Apply
60,000 point welcome offer - most points ever offered for this card
Chase Sapphire Preferred®
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Terms Apply
60,000 bonus points – worth up to $750 in travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Blue Cash Preferred® Card
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Terms Apply
$300 welcome offer (expires 12/10/2020), and up to 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets
IdentityForce®
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For a limited time, get 25% off UltraSecure+Credit and 2 months free on all annual plans.
Citi® Double Cash Card
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Earn up to 2% cash back: 1% when you buy, 1% when you pay the bill
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Here's how these 5 new credit card welcome bonuses from American Express, Capital One and Chase compare

American Express, Captial One, and Chase are all offering industry-leading welcome bonuses on new credit cards. Here's how they compare.

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Editor's Note: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card's 80,000-point welcome bonus mentioned below is no longer available. The current offer is worth 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months.

Many credit card issuers have been busy releasing new limited-time promotions ahead of the holiday season. Rewards cards from American Express, Capital One and Chase have seen record-setting welcome bonus offers worth up to $1,000, depending on the card.

If you're looking to maximize credit card rewards, earning a welcome bonus is a great perk on top of the rewards you already earn by using your card.

CNBC Select breaks down the welcome bonuses for these five cards and what they're worth:

Amex, Capital One and Chase welcome bonus comparison

Credit card Welcome Bonus Spending requirement Time frame Offer expiration Approximate value of welcome bonus*
American Express® Gold Card60000 points$40006 monthsTBA$600
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express$300 statement credit$30006 monthsDecember 10$300
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card100000 points$2000012 monthsTBA$1000
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card80000 points$40003 monthsNovember 8$1000
Chase Freedom Flex℠$200 cash back$5003 monthsTBA$200

*See our methodology.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture cards both offer the most lucrative welcome bonuses worth approximately $1,000. However, the minimum spending requirements are on the higher end — $4,000 over three months and $20,000 over 12 months, respectively.

That said, if you’re comparing the Sapphire Preferred and Venture bonuses, the Sapphire is a better choice since you only need to spend less than a quarter of what Venture requires. Both cards have a $95 annual fee.

The Amex Gold card also has the same $4,000 minimum spend as Sapphire Preferred, but it gives you double the amount of time to earn the bonus (six months versus three months). While you have more time, the Gold card welcome bonus is worth roughly $400 less than Sapphire Preferred.

If $4,000 is too much to spend, the Blue Cash Preferred card has a slightly lower $3,000 minimum spend, but the welcome bonus is worth half of the Gold card — $300. However, this isn’t unusual since cash-back cards typically offer lower bonuses than rewards cards that earn points.

Another perk that may sway you to opt for the Blue Cash Preferred card is that the $95 annual fee is waived your first year when you apply by December 10, 2020 (see rates and fees). Even with the $95 annual fee, this card is cheaper than the Amex Gold card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Since spending thousands of dollars on a welcome bonus may not be reasonable for everyone, you can also consider the Chase Freedom Flex. This no-annual-fee cash-back card is offering a $200 bonus that’s easy to earn with its $500 spending requirement over three months.

When determining the best welcome bonus, consider how you can redeem each offer for maximum value, which we explain below.

What Amex, Capital One and Chase welcome bonuses are worth

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card
On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide and shop at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    See rates and fees

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

 

The Amex Gold card's 60,000-point bonus can be worth up to $600 when you redeem points for flights and gift cards. But since the value of points varies based on redemption method, other redemption options can be worth less. Statement credit redemptions are worth $360, while booking prepaid hotels through Amex Travel is worth $420.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new card within the first six months

  • Annual fee

    $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95 (offer expires 12/10/2020)

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases, N/A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

 

Blue Cash Preferred card members receive cash back in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits. The $300 welcome bonus is worth up to $300 in statement credit redemptions or up to $300 in gift cards.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Information about the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel℠, 2X miles per dollar on every other purchase

  • Welcome bonus

    100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening or earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    17.24% to 24.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

Venture cardholders can redeem 100,000 bonus miles for $1,000 in statement credits with Purchase Eraser. Traditionally, travel expenses made within the past 90 days were the only Purchase Eraser option, but food delivery, takeout, streaming services and phone services are eligible through December 31, 2020.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase Sapphire Preferred®
On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 2X points on travel and dining worldwide, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

The Sapphire Preferred card's 80,000-point bonus can be worth up to $1,000 thanks to the added value points receive on eligible redemptions. When you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or grocery store, dining, home improvement store and eligible charity statement credits with Pay Yourself Back, points are worth 25% more.

Other cash-back redemptions are worth up to $800 and redeeming for gift cards can be worth $800 or more if there's a gift card sale.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠
On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on dining and at drug stores, 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Since Freedom Flex cardholders receive cash back in the form of Ultimate Rewards points, the $200 bonus is equal to 20,000 points. Points are worth up to $200 in statement credits or more than $200 when Chase is running a gift card sale. You can even transfer points between other Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Bottom line

Overall, the best welcome bonus depends on how much money you can reasonably afford to spend with a new card. Consider the spending requirements and time frame for each offer to narrow down your options. You should also review the annual fee and rewards rates to make sure the card is worthwhile.

If you're looking to maximize rewards and spending thousands of dollars to earn a bonus is within your means, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture.

If you need more time to earn a bonus that has typical spending requirements of $3,000 or $4,000, the Amex Gold and Blue Cash Preferred are good options with six-month time periods.

And if you want a bonus that's easy to earn and doesn't require much spending, the Chase Freedom Flex is your best choice.

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Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC 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.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save 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.

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 shopping habits.


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

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.

Information about the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication

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