When I started this site, I was thinking I could do a post a day. How hard could that be? Well, this is my first post since February. It turns out when you have three kids, you really can’t do much besides your real job/making sure those kids do not kill each other. But there are so many great credit card bonuses available these days that I would derelict in my duty to get readers free travel if I didn’t share some of them now.
So let’s get to it. The usual caveats apply: your credit score should be above 700 before you apply for any of these. Make sure you can hit the minimum spend in time to get the bonus. Pay off the balance on these cards each month, unless there’s a no APR promo.
This is a new addition to the Chase card lineup. The signup bonus of $200 after spending $500 in the first three months isn’t huge, but that’s the start of what makes this card one you want to have. The Unlimited gives you 5% back on all grocery store purchases for the first year on up to $12,000 in spending. It also gives you 1.5% back on all other purchases for as long as you have the card. You get that “cash back” in Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
If you have a Chase “premium card” like the Sapphire or INK, you can transfer the UR points from your Unlimited account to the premium account and then use the points to transfer to airlines/hotel programs where you can often get 2 cents per point in value. So basically if used wisely, you are getting 3% back on every purchase with this card. That’s huge and best of all, there’s no annual fee. So this one you get and keep forever.
On top of all that, there’s no interest on all purchases for the first year. Of course, you need to be careful if you take advantage of that because the end of that first year will sneak up on you real quick and you don’t want to get hit with a 20% APR on your balance. If you have a regular Chase Freedom card right now, you can still get the Unlimited. Apply here.
Let’s get this out of the way: this card has a $250 annual fee. But the signup bonus, which was recently increased to 60,000 Membership Rewards points after $4,000 in spending in the first six months, more than makes up for it. You can use those points for statement credits, but the value is terrible. Same goes for gift cards.
The real value comes when you transfer the points to travel partners, especially to British Airways where you can use BA points to book American Airlines flights. The Points Guy values Amex MR points at 2 cents apiece so those 60,000 points are easily going to get you $1,000 worth of travel when people actually can do that kind of thing again without worrying about getting a deadly virus.
The Gold card gives 4X points at supermarkets and restaurants.There’s also $10 a month in statement credits when you use Grubhub or Seamless. If you take advantage of that, it knocks the annual fee down to $130. When the second year fee comes due, you can call the Amex and tell them you want to cancel. They will transfer you to the retention department which will likely offer you 10K-20K points to keep the card open. I would take that offer.
After year two, you need to consider how much you are spending on the card in the supermarket and restaurant categories and determine if the fee is worth paying. Amex won’t give you a retention bonus on the same card two years in a row. Apply for the Gold card here.
It’s a great time of the year to pick up this card. Let me explain. The signup bonus is meager, $50 after a single purchase. But the Discover it has rotating 5% cash back categories on up to $1,500 in spending each quarter. All cash back is also doubled the first year. Thus if you max out spending each of the promo categories each quarter, you are looking at $750 cash back by the end of 2021.
Applying now means you can get 10% back on Amazon purchases (gift card reloads count) until the end of the year and then you would get 10% back again on Amazon from Oct. 1, 2021 until one year from whenever you opened the card. The promo categories for each quarter of 2021 were just released and include restaurants, grocery stores, wholesale clubs and gas stations so it’s certainly feasible to be able to max out the bonus and end up with a total of $800 cash back.
The cherry on top: there’s no interest on purchases or balance transfers for 14 months. So if you are carrying a balance on another card and getting killed with interest, the Discover it is a great one card to consider. Apply for it here.
If you don’t want to worry about annual fees or transferring points for travel, the Everyday is a good option. The signup bonus is just a $100 statement credit after spending $1,000 in six months. But you also get 20% back on all Amazon purchases up to $200 back during the first year months. If you don’t use Amazon as much as I do (which is way too much), you can load $1,000 into you Amazon account and get the $200 statement credit.
There’s no interest on purchases for the first 15 months, 3 percent back at supermarkets and 2 percent at gas stations. Getting any Amex card also means you get access to Amex offers, which can be very lucrative. The Points Guy has the details on how to take advantage of that. Apply for the Everyday card here.
I have recommended this card several times and now it comes with an astronomical signup bonus. Spend $3,000 in the first three months and get 50,000 miles. Spend a total of $20,000 in the first year and get another 50,000 miles. That’s a lot of spending on one card, but if you can pull it off, this is a card you need to have.
100,000 miles is redeemable to $1,000 toward travel purchases. That category is very broad and through April 2021, you can also redeem toward restaurant purchases. If you have no travel plans, you can use miles for gift cards.
Some of those gift cards give you less than a penny per point in value, i.e. 10000 points get you an $80 Amazon gift card. But others are worth a penny a point. For example, you could redeem 100,000 miles for $1,000 in gift cards to Build a Bear and you can treat your child to the most luxurious stuff bear ever created. (Note: this is not a recommended use of points.)
The Venture gets 2 miles per dollar on all spending, but it does have $95 annual fee that is not waived so consider cancelling when your first year is almost up if you don’t use it much. Apply here.