Introducing a new page to the Frequent Miler site…
Quite a while ago I introduced several varieties of unbiased signup offer rankings. They were broken down into types of cards, as follows:
- Top 10+ Transferable Points Credit Card Offers
- Top 10+ Airline Credit Card Offers
- Top 10+ Hotel Credit Card Offers
- Top 10+ Business Card Offers
I always wanted to create a single overall Top 10+ list, but I had a big problem. With many cards, the per point value I used was an estimated point acquisition cost (Fair Trading Price) whereas with other cards I used an estimated redemption value. There was no way to combine these card types fairly in a single Top 10 list.
Now, I’ve solved the problem by compiling a list of Reasonable Redemption Values for points and miles. While it’s impossible to know exactly how much a hotel point or airline mile is worth (it depends upon how you use them), the Reasonable Redemption Values offer a useful point-estimate. Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs) should be thought of as the value at which it is reasonable for an average person to get that much value or more. Those who cherry pick the best value awards will usually do better than the RRV — often much better. To be clear, RRVs are not perfect… Not even close. But I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect point estimation scheme. Instead, we now have something that is good enough to be useful.
Thanks to now having RRVs in hand, it is possible to compare across all types of credit cards. With that, I’ve published our first combined Top 10+ List: Top 10+ Credit Card Offers.
The plus “+” in the name is important. Even though the page initially only shows 10 cards, you can easily page forward or change the view to include more cards. In other words, if you want the display to show a Top 25 list or a Top 50 list, you can do that:
For each card, we estimate only first year value: the estimated value of the signup bonus plus statement credits, less any first year fees. This ranking is intended for those looking for credit card signup bonuses. It is not ideal for those looking for the best overall card for ongoing years.
Top 10 Cards Today
The Top 10 list will dynamically change over time as credit card offers change, or as I modify my Reasonable Redemption Value calculations. But, as of today, here’s the Top 10 list:
No surprise here. The card’s 100,000 point signup bonus plus $300 in travel credits is hard to beat. If you can get approved it’s a no-brainer.
Update: This offer for the Business Platinum card has expired. Please see our Best Offers page for a complete description of the current offer and benefits.
This one has a massive $15,000 spend requirement, but it also offers 100,000 valuable Membership Rewards points. Plus, this is the only card that makes Membership Rewards points worth 2 cents each towards most airfare. And, of course, Amex Platinum cards come with a slew of awesome perks.
This new Chase business card offers an 80,000 point signup bonus. I recommend signing up in-branch for this one. One of the best ways of getting approved is to go in-branch to see if you are pre-approved. Plus, by applying in-branch they’ll waive the first year annual fee.
An oldie but goodie. 50,000 points + 5,000 points for adding an authorized user.
Even though this card offers a signup bonus of up to 75,000 points, many will be surprised to see it in this top 10 list. After all, many blogs have written about how relatively worthless Virgin Atlantic miles can be (mostly because they add huge fuel surcharges to awards). But, Virgin Atlantic miles can be used to book Delta awards with no surcharges and often at extremely competitive rates. And, of course, they can be used to book Virgin Limited Edition properties such as Necker Island.
This one made the list with its current public 50K point offer even though targeted 75K offers are common. The fact that the card offers valuable Membership Rewards points with no first year annual fee helped move this one into the top 10. Despite that, I recommend waiting for a larger targeted offer.
This card has a 50,000 point signup bonus through the end of the year, but it’s extremely hard to get approved. It is available only to those who live in a select few states and is intended only for high net worth individuals. This one made the Top 10 list because you are allowed up to 3 free authorized user cards and each one gets its own $250 annual airline fee credit! To conservatively model the first year value we assumed that the new cardholder would have just one authorized user. Airline fee credits were valued at 90% of face value (e.g. 90% of $250 = $225, so with two cards = $450).
Through the end of this year, BOA is offering 30,000 points instead of the usual 20,000. Amtrak points are worth up to 2.9 cents each towards Amtrak travel, so those 30,000 points are worth up to $870.
All three varieties of the Southwest credit card are currently available with 50,000 point signup offers, but this is the only one that made the top 10 list because its annual fee is a bit smaller ($69 vs $99). If you can qualify for two new Chase cards, this is a great time to sign up for two different Southwest cards. If you earn 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying Southwest points early in 2017, you’ll be able to add a companion for free to all of your Southwest flights for the rest of 2017 and all of 2018! Points earned from the Southwest credit cards (including signup bonus points) qualify. Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards do not qualify.
This new Avianca card offers 60,000 miles after first purchase. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen such a valuable signup bonus with no minimum spend requirements! Avianca miles can be used to book flights on any Star Alliance airline including United, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore, etc. Unfortunately, their online booking engine is poor so using their miles can be frustrating.
Bonus card. I couldn’t stop at just 10 because the next card is quite interesting…
This Merrill Lynch card is offered by Bank of America. The current signup bonus is for 50,000 points after $3,000 spend in 90 days. Points earned with this card can be redeemed for airfare: one round trip ticket up to $500 costs 25,000 points. So, in total, this offer is worth up to $1,000 in flights.