Hear from our editors: The 9 best credit card sign-up bonuses of 2021

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These offers are no longer available on our site: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Hear from our editors: The 9 best credit card sign-up bonuses of November 2021

Updated November 19, 2021

This date may not reflect recent changes in individual terms.

Editorial note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

Written by: Tim Devaney

Here are our picks for the best credit card sign-up bonuses and welcome offers of 2021, which can be worth hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars.

We found the best bonuses by calculating a dollar value for card offers using our estimated value of what those points and miles are really worth.

Here are Credit Karma’s picks for the best credit card bonuses.



Platinum Card® from American Express: $2,180 estimated value

Here’s why: The Platinum Card® from American Express features a welcome bonus that could be worth about $2,180, depending on how you redeem the points.

  • Welcome bonus: 100,000 Membership Rewards® points
  • Spending requirement: $6,000 on purchases
  • How long you have to earn it: 6 months from account opening

When redeemed for travel through American Express Membership Rewards®, this welcome bonus is worth only $1,000. But you could get a much better value by redeeming your points through a transfer partner (instead of the Membership Rewards® program).

For example, if you transfer your points to Delta SkyMiles®, we estimate your welcome bonus could be worth about $2,180.

Of course, you’ll have to weigh the one-time welcome bonus against the recurring $695 annual fee.

Check out our review of the Platinum Card® from American Express to learn more.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: $1,446 estimated value

Here’s why: The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® features a sign-up bonus that could be worth about $1,446 when redeemed for flights, based on our estimated value of 2.41 cents per mile.

  • Sign-up bonus: 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles
  • Spending requirement: One purchase, plus paying the $99 annual fee
  • How long you have to earn it: 90 days from account opening

In addition to the sign-up bonus, you could also earn an Anniversary Companion Certificate after spending at least $20,000 on eligible purchases during your card membership year and keeping your account open for 45 days after your anniversary date. This allows you to take one guest along on a round-trip domestic flight for only $99, plus no more than $43.20 in taxes and fees.

See our picks for the best American Airlines credit cards to learn more about the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®.

American Express® Gold Card: $1,308 estimated value

Here’s why: The American Express® Gold Card features a welcome bonus that could be worth more than $1,300, depending on how you redeem the points.

  • Welcome bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards® points
  • Spending requirement: $4,000 on purchases
  • How long you have to earn it: 6 months from account opening

If you redeem your points for travel through American Express Membership Rewards®, the bonus will only be worth up to $600. But you could get a better value by transferring your points to Delta SkyMiles®, where we estimate the bonus is worth $1,308.

Keep in mind, the card comes with a $250 annual fee.

Check out our review of the American Express® Gold Card to learn more.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: $1,205 estimated value

Here’s why: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® features a sign-up bonus that could be worth about $1,205 when redeemed for flights, based on our estimated value of 2.41 cents per mile.

  • Sign-up bonus: 50,000 American AirlinesAAdvantage® bonus miles
  • Spending requirement: $2,500 on purchases
  • How long you have to earn it: 3 months of account opening

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® carries a $0 intro, then $99 after first year annual fee. If you spend at least $20,000 on purchases each year and renew your card, you’ll receive a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount, which could help you offset the annual fee.

Check out our review of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® to learn more.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: $1,205 estimated value

Here’s why: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® features a sign-up bonus that could be worth about $1,205 when redeemed toward flights, based on our estimated value of 2.41 cents per mile. But you have to spend twice as much to earn it than you’d have to with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®.

  • Sign-up bonus: 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles
  • Spending requirement: $5,000 on purchases
  • How long you have to earn it: 3 months of account opening

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® carries a hefty $450 annual fee. But if you appreciate luxury, you’ll enjoy the complimentary Admirals Club® membership and VIP airport experience, which includes access to priority check-in and screening lanes.

Check out our review of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® to learn more.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: $1,090 estimated value

Here’s why: The luxurious Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card features a welcome bonus that could be worth about $1,090 when redeemed toward flights, based on our estimated value of 2.18 cents per mile.

  • Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus miles (plus 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles®)
  • Spending requirement: $3,000 on purchases
  • How long you have to earn it: 3 months

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card charges a heart-stopping $550 annual fee, but it can be offset by the companion certificate. This allows you to bring one guest along on a first-class, domestic, round-trip flight for no more than $75 in taxes and fees.

Check out our review of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card to learn more.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: $1,090 estimated value

Here’s why: The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card features a welcome bonus that could be worth about $1,090 when redeemed for flights, based on our estimated value of 2.18 cents per mile.

  • Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs).
  • Spending requirement: $2,000 on purchases
  • How long you have to earn it: 3 months

You’ll also get up to $100 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within your first three months with the card. The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card also comes with a companion certificate each year after your account anniversary, which could help make up for the $250 annual fee. This allows you to bring a guest on a domestic round-trip flight for no more than $75 in taxes and fees.

Check out our review of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card to learn more.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: $1,026 estimated value

Here’s why: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card features a sign-up bonus that could be worth more than $1,026, depending on how you redeem the points.

  • Sign-up bonus: 60,000 bonus points
  • Spending requirement: $4,000 on purchases
  • How long you have to earn it: 3 months from account opening

When redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, this bonus is worth $750, according to Chase.

But here’s the trick: You could get a better value for your points if you redeem them through a transfer partner (instead of through Chase’s own rewards program). According to our estimated point valuations, some transfer partners offer better redemption rates than Chase does. So if you can take advantage of a better redemption rate, the sign-up bonus becomes more valuable.

For example, if you redeem the points through United MileagePlus®, we estimate a value of $1,026 for your sign-up bonus.

That’s pretty good for a relatively affordable $95 annual fee. Take a look at our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to learn more.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: $855 estimated value

Here’s why: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® features a sign-up bonus worth $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, according to Chase. But you could get a better value if you redeem through a Chase transfer partner. Your bonus could be worth about $855 if you transfer your points to Chase partner United Airlines.

  • Sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus points
  • Spending requirement: $4,000 on purchases
  • How long you have to earn it: 3 months from account opening

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a $550 annual fee, but this is partially offset by its $300 annual travel credit that’s given to you as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.

Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to see why we believe it’s the “Michael Jordan of credit cards.”


How to make the most of your credit card sign-up bonus or welcome offer

Ultimately, how much your points are worth depends on how you redeem the points. For example, you could theoretically get a higher point value if you use your hotel program points to redeem for hotel nights than for, say, cash back. But we can help you with an idea about how much you could earn from each bonus, based on a specified redemption option.

To take advantage of a credit card’s sign-up bonus or welcome offer, it’s important that you have a plan for how to earn it before you apply for the card.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Don’t spend more than you can comfortably afford to pay back. If earning bonus points is important to you, make sure you apply only for credit cards that offer a sign-up bonus or welcome offer with a spending requirement you can afford as part of your regular spending habits.

Plan big purchases. If you have a big purchase coming up — one that you’d planned to make anyway — you may want to put it on your new credit card, so it can help you meet the requirements of the bonus-points offer.

Keep track of time. Be mindful of the time frame in which you have to earn the sign-up bonus or welcome offer. Most credit cards on this list give you about three months to hit the spending requirement.

Remember, a credit card’s sign-up bonus or welcome offer is often a one-time thing, so before you apply, make sure there are other features that make the card worth using afterward.


About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Karma. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.