Best Big Spend Bonuses

Note: American Express is a Frequent Miler advertiser. Regarding card offers and benefits described here, terms & conditions apply.

One way in which banks try to encourage spending on their credit cards is by offering bonus points or perks for high spend.  For example, some cards offer bonus points once you’ve spent $25,000 (or so) in a calendar year.  Others offer elite status or other perks for high spend.  Below is a roundup of the cards that offer the best high spend bonuses.  This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but if you know of cards that deserve to be here, please let me know.  I’ll plan to update this post as things change and as I learn more.  I’ll also add this post to the Credit Cards menu at the top of my blog.  Note that I do not plan to list cards that are no longer available for new sign-ups.

Rebate Values

For each card below, I estimate the rebate value of the points and perks earned as follows:

For redeemable points and miles, I use my Fair Trading Prices chart to estimate their rebate value. Note that these rebate values are not the amount of value you will get from a flight or a hotel.  Instead, they are estimates of how much it is reasonable to pay for those points if they were available for sale.

Airline elite status is valued at 3 cents per elite qualifying mile (see “How much should you pay for Elite Qualifying Miles?“).  It is very important to understand, though, that elite qualifying miles are worth nothing if you do not earn enough to reach the next elite status level; and with most programs the elite qualifying miles disappear at the end of the calendar year if not used.  Delta is an exception in that elite qualifying miles earned above each elite level do roll over to the next year.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

  • $10K spend: 1 free weekend night (approximate value $250)
  • $40K spend: HHonors Diamond Status (approximate value $300)
  • Card earns 10X at Hilton, 5X airline & car rentals, and 3X elsewhere
  • Automatic Perks: Hilton Gold status
  • Total rebate value at $10K spend, assuming 3X categories: 3.85% (or 2.9% accounting for annual fee)
  • Total rebate value at $40K spend, assuming 3X categories, and assuming Diamond status is worth $300: 2.7% (or 2.5% accounting for annual fee)
    • Note 1: you would have to stay at a lot of Hilton properties to get $300 value from Diamond status, especially since Gold status is automatic with this card.
    • Note 2: the rebate % would increase if significant spend is within bonus categories (Hilton properties, airlines, car rentals).

Chase British Airways Visa Signature

  • $30K spend: 1 travel together ticket good for two years (approximate value $800, but only if used for international business or first class travel)
  • Card earns 1X for all spend (3X for British Airways)
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Total rebate value at $30K spend: 3.7%
  • Total rebate value after annual fee: 3.3%
  • Total rebate value after annual fee if companion pass isn’t used: 1%

American Express Delta Reserve

  • $30K spend: 15K bonus miles + 15K gift-able MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Miles)
  • $60K spend: Additional 15K bonus miles + 15K gift-able MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Miles)
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Automatic Perks: Delta SkyClub access, free companion pass, enhanced upgrade priority, free checked bags, priority boarding
  • Total rebate value at $30K or $60K spend:
    • 1.5 redeemable miles + .5 MQMs per dollar.
    • Approximate rebate value: 3.4%

Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

  • Points earned on any Southwest credit card count towards annual Companion Pass. Companion Pass requires earning 110K Rapid Rewards points within a calendar year.
  • $110K spend (or combine with other ways to earn points to get to 110K points): Companion Pass good for rest of current calendar year and all of following calendar year.
  • Annual Fee: $69 or $99 (depending on the chosen card)
  • Automatic Perks: 3K or 6K bonus points per year
  • Rapid Rewards points become twice as valuable for duration of Companion Pass.
  • Total rebate value (if you use all earned points for “Wanna Getaway” fares and companion is included): 1.67 X 2 = 3.34%

American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles

  • $25K spend: 10K bonus miles + 10K MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Miles)
  • $50K spend: Additional 10K bonus miles + 10K MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Miles)
  • Annual Fee: $195
  • Automatic Perks: Free companion pass, free checked bags, priority boarding
  • Total rebate value at $25K or $50K spend:
    • 1.4 redeemable miles + .4 MQMs per dollar.
    • Approximate rebate value: 3%

American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass

  • $40K spend: Diamond Status
  • Annual Fee: $75
  • Card earns 12X at Hilton; 6X grocery, restaurants, and gas; and 3X elsewhere.
  • Automatic Perks: Hilton Gold status
  • Assume average 4.5X points earned on spend
  • Total rebate value at $40K spend (assuming Diamond status value = $300): 2.91%
    • Note: you would have to stay a lot at Hilton properties to get $300 value from Diamond status.

Bank of America Virgin Atlantic

  • $2500 spend: 1 tier point
  • $15,000 spend: 7,500 anniversary bonus miles
  • $25,000 spend:
    • 15,000 anniversary bonus miles
    • Half off companion reward ticket in coach
  • $37,500 spend: 15 tier points = Silver status
  • $100,000 spend: 40 tier points = Gold status
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • 1.5 miles per dollar for all purchases
  • Rebate value at $25,000 spend:
    • 52,500 miles earned. Assume miles worth 1 cent each.
    • Rebate value: 2.1% (or 1.72% after annual fee)
      • Elite status benefit not counted in this rebate estimate.

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest

  • $30K spend: Starwood Gold Elite status.
  • 20K points: 5K bonus on transferred miles. E.g. transfer 20K SPG points to most airline programs and you’ll receive 25K miles.
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Automatic Perks: 5 nights & 2 stays credit towards SPG elite status
  • Gold status is good for free internet, occasional room upgrades, late checkout. Estimated value: $100 (actual value depends greatly on how often perks are used)
  • Total rebate value at $30K spend: 1.95%


Chase United MileagePlus Explorer

  • $25K spend: 10K bonus miles
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Automatic Perks: 1st checked bag free; priority boarding; two United Club passes per year
  • Total earnings per dollar (if you spend exactly $25K in a calendar year):
    • 1.4 miles per dollar (Note that the United MileagePlus Club card earns 1.5 miles per dollar automatically)
    • Total rebate value at $25K spend: 1.8%

JP Morgan Select

  • $100,000 spend: 25,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Card earns 2X airline, hotel, and car rentals; 1X elsewhere
  • Assume average 1.1X
  • Total earnings per dollar (if you spend exactly $100K in your account year):
      • 1.35 points per dollar
      • Total rebate value at $100K spend: 1.8%
      • Total rebate after annual fee: 1.7%

JP Morgan Palladium

  • $100,000 spend: 35,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee: $595
  • Card earns 2X airline, hotel, and car rentals; 1X elsewhere
  • Assume average 1.1X
  • Total earnings per dollar (if you spend exactly $100K in your account year):
      • 1.45 points per dollar
      • Total rebate value at $100K spend: 1.9%
      • Total rebate after annual fee: 1.3%

Comenity Capital Bank’s Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card

  • $30K spend: 15K status points
  • Annual Fee: $149
  • Automatic Perks: $150 off companion ticket each year, no change or cancel fees.
  • I am not familiar enough with this program to assign a rebate value to this bonus.

Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa

  • $10K spend: Gold status
  • $75K spend: Platinum status
  • Annual Fee: $395
  • Automatic Perks: 3 club level upgrades; $100 hotel credit for each 2 night or longer stay.  Airport lounge access.  $200 annual credit for airport incidentals.

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  1. […] Originally Posted by sent The loan rep then says 99% of professionals taking this kind of equipment loan don't do it this way. Then he starts telling me it's a bad idea to put it on a CC. I ask why, and he says bc people forget to pay their CC and now they are paying a higher interest on the CC rather than just the interest on the loan. I said that's dumb because I pay my CC off on time. Then he starts lecturing me about how if I have extra money sitting around, I should fully fund my retirement and just let the loan company send the vendor the check. I asked how long does it take for the check to arrive and he tells me it is overnighted the minute they get the invoice. I am still . He then says most people don't have the $60K sitting around. OK, I buy that. I have the $60K to front the money and wait a week or two for the loan check and am pretty sure my not-yet fully funded retirement accounts won't take a huge hit in 2 weeks. But why would he care if the loan was repaid to me versus being paid to the Vendor when the vendor said I could do it via the CC method? He's afraid you gamble that money away and declear bankrupcy? Maybe 99% ARE dumb so that such advice is sound 99% of the times. I'm also puzzled to why so many people are using debit card to buy stuff — sometimes hundreds of dollars. If you want to apply for new cards, this may be interesting:…spend-bonuses/ […]


  1. You need to factor in the annual fees to get a better picture. For example, with the Delta Reserve the 3.4% rebate comes in at a value of $1,020 with $30k spending and $2,040 with $60k. Subtracting the annual fee gets you a rebate of $570 or 1.9% and $1,590 or 2.65%.

    • David: Good point. I’ll add the annual fees. Many cards offer great perks along with their annual fees, though. For example, the Delta Reserve offers free lounge access & free companion pass. Those alone can offset the annual fee. So, I’ll probably list two rebate %s: one with the annual fee and one without.

  2. You forgot the current Brit Air offer, or I suppose excluded it since its the terms of min spend vs an annual hurdle available.

    But the incremental $9K to the first 25K tier is a 5.2% yield @ your 1.29cpp rate, and the subsequent 10K (to 20K) is a 4.84% yield.

    I don’t have a value for the travel together ticket for the next 10K (to 30k). Although I suppose this portion is available each year.

    I just picked this card up and since you have a year to cross the subsequent spend its kind of a perk to know that spend between app cycles can be earmarked to a high yield (as long as you know you can reach the hurdle).

    • Dave: Thanks! I did indeed forget about the BA card. I won’t count the signup offer as part of the rebate since that is a one time thing for each person, but I will try to estimate the value of the companion pass. Plus, the BA card gives 1.25 points per dollar so that helps too.

  3. I was also going to suggest the BA card
    30k spend gets you 37500 avios + companion pass
    putting a value on the companion pass is tough, could be $1,000, could be $10,000.
    let’s say for arguments sake that it’s $1,000
    that’s 37,500 +$1,000 for $30k spend.
    You value avios at 1.29 cpp, so that’s $483.75+1,000= 1483.75

    -$95 for annual fee = 4.6%

    those percentages go up the more you value the companion pass.

    • Steve: Thanks for the added thoughts about the BA card. I think I will estimate the value at $1000

      Carl: Thanks. I’ll add that info. I don’t consider Hyatt card to be one of the “best” big spend bonuses. Sapphire doesn’t have any (unless you count the 7% annual dividend). I do have the MileagePlus united card in there.

  4. I would like to see this comparison to include the annual fee and renewal benefit

    How about adding:
    Sapphire (are there any spend bonuses?)
    United cards

  5. Good post. I did not know about the wavied processing fees for US Air. The big question is that could you be earning greater value elsewhere with your high spend? For example, spending $20k and getting ~5X points using a variety of tricks equates to 100K UR points, or a roundtrip ticket to Europe. I personally would rather have more miles than status.

    • romsdeals: That’s very true. The point of this post is to list the best offers available for big spend, but not to imply that any of these are the best way to spend your money

      pas: Yes, those costs do add up, but they vary from none to a lot so I don’t think it would make sense to add those fees to this post.

      Karl Mitchell: Thanks! I’ll look into the VA card more deeply!

  6. Another cost to consider will be the cost of making the spend. So if $4.95 is paid to generate spend of $500..then that adds up.

  7. You missed that the Virgin Atlantic BoA card gives 7,500 miles at $15k spend and an additional 7,500 miles at $25k spend. Not bad for a card that earns 1.5 miles/$ AND get you status for spend.

  8. JP Morgan Select – 25k at $100k spend
    JP Morgan Palladium – 35k at $100k spend
    Chase Old Bold – 10k at $25k; another 12.5k at $50k; another 25k at $100k. It’s not a currently offered card but a lot of people have it.
    Chase Fairmont – 1 free night at $12k
    Amex Business Gold (the Gold before this current version) – 25k MR at $50k spend

  9. The free internet on the SPG gold status is very valuable, specially overseas. I have been in some hotels in Europe that charge in excess of 25 euros per day for internet. If you add the price of using skype with the internet for phone calls, then it adds up big time. To me is much more that $100 per year.
    Plus that gold status also gives you either 250 points on checking in or a welcome drink. If you check in/check out several times a year, those points can add up.

    • Ricardo: I understand that the relative value of something like SPG Gold status varies tremendously from person to person. Hilton set the price of Gold status at $95 with the Citi Hilton Reserve card and Hilton offers better benefits for Gold members than SPG does. So, I think $100 is fair as an average value. Remember that some people might not use the benefit at all.

  10. FM – you’ve left out the very best earning card – big or small – curious omission. But fine with me – don’t want it abused any more than it needs to be.

  11. I didn’t say Hyatt has a big spend bonus- instead, just that’s it hard to keep track of where it’s worth putting spend. A summary of best bonuses and best places to put general spend, would be valuable.

    I used to have 3-4 cards and life was simple. Now it’s hard to keep track of everything.

  12. How do you compute the American Express Delta Reserve value as 3.4%?
    suppose you spend $60K, the return should be:
    Did I miss anything?

  13. Ild sell my delta points for 1.29cents a piece. But what’s fair trading price when it’s illegal to sell them. To me, the points are worth much less since its almost impossible to redeem them if you don’t have great flexibility.

  14. You have to love the PRG card. It is pretty easy to spend $30K at grocery stores, which is all 2X points, leading to 3.23% back using your numbers. At least that’s what I’m working toward.

  15. So I have a dilemma. I need to spend 200k this year and credit cards are accepted. So not knowing what most of this acronyms mean can you advise what would be the best way? And the way that would have the rewards last the longest? I don’t understand MQM’s or EQM’s ect.

  16. Great job as always, but could use a little update. Just off the top of my head, missing Citi AT&T Access More & Barclays AAdvantage Aviator cards.

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