15 Best Bank Bonus Credit Cards (2017)

By: Brittney Mayer • November 28, 2017

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Every time you use your favorite credit card to make a purchase, the merchant must pay the credit card issuer a fee for the pleasure of collecting your money. While the specific fee varies by issuer, it’s generally around 2% of your purchase price — and that adds up quickly.

Because these purchasing fees are a big part of how many issuers make their money, it’s in each one’s best interest to encourage you to use its brand of card over its competitors. As the credit card market becomes increasingly saturated, however, issuers have needed to incentivize the use of their particular cards.

It was then that credit card rewards were born — and so, too, was their supersized sibling: the signup bonus. Fairly brimming with potential points and cash back, cards with succulent signup bonuses can be found from nearly every major bank.

Cash Back | Travel | Points

Top “Cash Back” Bank Signup Bonuses

The simplest of the credit card rewards, the cash back bonus is exactly what it sounds like: the bank or issuer gives you a portion of your spending back.

When you use a cash back card for purchases, the bank gives you a percentage of each qualified purchase back.

While this is usually a statement credit, not actual paper currency, cash back rewards are essentially like having a rebate coupon that’s good everywhere your credit card is accepted.

When it comes to finding the best cash back signup bonus, you’ll want to look at the minimum spending requirement; most signup bonuses have them. Make sure you can afford to pay off your purchases, or you may spend more on interest payments than what you receive in cash back rewards. You’ll also want to look out for annual fees, which can put a dent into any bonus.

With a minimum spending requirement attainable by most credit card users, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has a solid signup bonus offer. You’ll also get an introductory 0% APR on new purchases, giving you a little more wiggle room to repay your purchases.

Unique among the major issuers, Discover has put its own twist on the signup bonus with its Cashback Match program. The Discover Cashback Match card did away with the spending requirement, instead offering a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you earn during the first year of spending.

Those interested in the Chase Freedom Unlimited, but whose spending fits into a few key categories, should instead look at the Chase Freedom card. The Freedom has the same solid signup bonus offer, as well as 5% cash back in rotating categories such as groceries and gas.

If your monthly spending is enough to hit the minimum requirement, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card signup bonus is a good choice. Not only is it one of the larger cash back signup offers, but the card also has an unlimited 1.5% cash back on purchases.

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card has a good-sized signup bonus with a very attainable minimum spending requirement, making it a top choice for cash back signup bonus offers.

Top “Travel” Bank Signup Bonuses

Although cash may be king in many respects, when it comes to credit card rewards, it’s not always best. Anyone who travels regularly may prefer to earn miles, which often give you a greater dollar value per mile when redeemed for travel expenses like airline flights or hotel stays.

Travel rewards cards earn you points toward flights, hotel stays, car rentals, cruises, and more.

Travel rewards signup bonuses will have similar minimum spending requirements as those required for cash back bonuses, so be sure you can meet them if the bonus is your goal.

You’ll also want to make sure you can redeem your travel rewards with the specific airlines or hotel chains you use while traveling, as well as investigating the blackout dates or other availability restrictions.

Worth a full $0.01 per mile, the rewards from your Capital One® Venture® Rewards signup bonus can get you farther when redeemed for travel. Capital One® miles can be redeemed on any airline or hotel, so you can use your favorite brands. The minimum spending requirement might be a little hefty for some, so make sure you don’t get in over your head.

With a whopping signup bonus worth up to $0.0125 per mile when redeemed for travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a stellar choice and the best value of the bunch. Of course, that’s provided you comfortably meet the large spending requirement without getting stuck with a bundle of interest charges.

For those who like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards credit card but don’t feel they can meet the large spending requirement, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards card is a good alternative. You can get the same $0.01 per mile and blackout-free redemption, but with a slimmed down signup bonus and spending requirement.

The Discover it Miles card comes with the same twist on the signup bonus as its cash back card: all of the miles you earn in your first year of spending will be doubled at the end of the year. You can also redeem on any airline or with any hotel chain, giving you tons of travel flexibility.

With a good-sized signup bonus, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® can get you the most rewards when you redeem for travel. And while its 5% redemption bonus sweetens the pot, the card’s larger spending requirement may not be for everyone.

Top “Points & Rewards” Bank Signup Bonuses

Don’t want to be limited to cash back rewards, but not really into travel? Don’t fret, you still have tons of options for quality signup offers, including cards offering flexible points and unique bonuses.

Points and rewards cards offer flexibility in what you redeem your rewards for, with options from cash and gift cards to merchandise from the issuer.

Points and rewards cards offer greater versatility in the types of goodies you can redeem your rewards for, with options ranging from gift cards to your favorite stores and restaurants to brand-name merchandise direct from the issuer.

As always, keep an eye on minimum spending requirements and potential annual fees that can cut into your bonus. You’ll also want to make sure the individual rewards program offers the type of redemption options for which you’re looking.

You may get top dollar when you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred card for travel purchases, but that’s not the only way to redeem your points. Your Ulitmate Rewards points can also be used for things like gift cards, or even be redeemed for cash.

When it comes to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® credit card, the low spending requirement makes the already decent signup bonus even better. You’ll also get incredible flexibility when you redeem your points, with the option to use them for travel, gift cards, cash, and even merchandise.

Another incredibly flexible rewards program, the signup bonus you get from meeting the moderate spending requirement on the Citi ThankYou® Preferred card can be redeemed for travel, entertainment, or retail purchases. You can even make a contribution to your favorite charity using ThankYou points.

While flexible rewards are well and good, sometimes you know exactly what you want — such as a brand new General Motors vehicle. The Cadillac BuyPower Card from Capital One® offers huge rewards on your first $5,000, and unlimited earnings on all other purchases. Rewards can be redeemed toward a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac at your favorite dealer.

For those who are Sony® fans, but not so into PlayStation® products, the Sony® Card from Capital One® will net you a signup bonus you can redeem for a range of sweet Sony® stuff, including games and movies. The Sony® Card from Capital One® has the same easy spending requirement of making your first purchase within 90 days.

The Best Way to Earn While You Spend

In today’s world, many of us would rather use plastic than paper — at least when it comes to how we make our purchases. And while rewards programs and signup bonus offers aren’t the only reasons we like to swipe when we buy, they certainly seem to be the effective incentive the issuers intended them to be.

Regardless of how sweet the deal may appear, however, remember that interest payments can add up quickly, so never spend more than you can afford to pay back in a timely manner. Signup bonuses are little good if you spend more than they’re worth trying to pay off your credit card.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

About the Author

Brittney Mayer

Brittney is a Contributing Editor for Digital Brands, Inc., where she uses her extensive research background to develop comprehensive guides and in-depth company profiles for BadCredit.org and CardRates.com. Brittney specializes in translating complex ideas into readable, engaging content for B2C and B2B audiences.