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While it’s important to have a credit card that earns rewards every time you swipe it, one of the best — and fastest — ways to rack up a bunch of cash back or travel points and miles right off the bat is with a lucrative credit card sign-up bonus. Accumulating rewards from a sign-up bonus is the best way to put more money in your wallet, or to jet off on a dream vacation, from flying down to Disney World to exploring the beaches of Thailand.
But offers come and go regularly, so it’s vital to know when a credit card is offering a top-notch sign-up offer that can earn you the biggest possible bonus. And since many credit card issuers these days restrict the number of cards you can get with them — or the number of times you can get a card — you’ll want to apply for a credit card when it’s offering a peak sign-up bonus.
So, how do you know which credit card sign-up bonuses are currently higher than normal? We’ve put together a list of the best credit card sign-up bonus offers available in January 2023 so you can get as many points or miles as possible when you apply. Get a new credit card with the right offer, and you’ll rack up rewards in no time.
Best for flexibility: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Best for bonus categories: Citi Premier® Card
Best for travel perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Best for United flights: United Quest℠ Card
Best for IHG stays: IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
Best for Hilton stays: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Best business card with no annual fee: Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
Best for small businesses: American Express® Business Gold Card
Why did we choose these credit card sign-up bonus offers as the best for January? Dive into the details of each card with us, and see how they stack up.
If you want rewards that are flexible and easily redeemable, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers many options. And right now, new applicants can earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.
Although this isn’t one of the highest offers we’ve seen from this card, it’s still a great card for those getting their feet wet in points and miles and you can still get a ton of value from the sign-up bonus.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for cash back at 1 cent apiece, or for travel via the Chase travel portal at a rate of 1.25 cents each. At that rate, 60,000 bonus points would be worth $600 in cash or $750 in travel, which on its own is a great return just for getting one credit card.
But you can also transfer your points to any of Chase’s 14 airline and hotel partners and potentially get even more value for them. That’s why frequent flyer website The Points Guy values Ultimate Rewards points as high as 2 cents apiece, meaning 60,000 points can be worth up to $1,200 in travel.
Aside from the sign-up bonus, you’ll also earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, 2 points per dollar on travel (or 5 total points for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards) and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Plus, through March 2025, you’ll also earn 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides, which is a nice extra bonus.
Other money-saving benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred include a complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership for at least 12 months when you sign-up by Dec. 31, 2024. The card also offers many extra insurance benefits, such as purchase protection, extended warranty, trip delay/cancellation protection, trip delay protection, lost baggage protection and primary rental car coverage.
With a relatively low $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the perfect card to dip your toes in the water with travel rewards and start learning how to utilize them to get outsized value.
Now, if you prefer a luxury credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is another option. It currently offers new card holders the same 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months after opening the account. Points from the card can be transferred to the same travel partners as the Chase Sapphire Preferred — at the same 1-to-1 ratio — or can be redeemed through the travel portal at a higher rate of 1.5 cents each.
While this card has a significantly higher annual fee of $550 per year, you’ll find many benefits that help offset the cost, such as $300 in annual travel credits, a Priority Pass Select membership and more.
If you prefer a credit card that puts cash right in your pocket, that’s where the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express comes into play, and right now, new card members can earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first six months after opening an account.
Since the card offers a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 (see rates and fees), you’re coming out well ahead in the first year, and the $3,000 minimum spending requirement averages out to just $500 per month.
The Blue Cash Preferred is also one of the best cards to use for groceries, since you’ll earn 6% cash back as a statement credit on up to $6,000 in U.S. supermarket purchases each year (then 1%). With groceries taking up a significant portion of the average household budget, this could mean some serious cash back.
You’ll also earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions with the Blue Cash Preferred, 3% cash back on transit and at U.S. gas stations and 1% on all other purchases. But if you’d prefer a card that never has an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express might be the better choice. It offers less in cash back and has a smaller welcome offer, but it could make sense if you don’t spend that much on groceries each year.
While Citi credit cards don’t typically get as much attention as Chase and American Express cards, don’t overlook the Citi Premier card, especially right now. New card holders can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months after opening the account. That’s the highest bonus we’ve ever seen on the Citi Premier.
And even after you’ve earned the bonus, it’s easy to keep racking up points with the Citi Premier, because the card comes with a slew of bonus categories. You’ll earn 3 points for every dollar you spend at gas stations, at restaurants, at supermarkets, at hotels and on air travel, and 1 point per dollar on all your other purchases.
Once you’ve got all those points, you can redeem them for gift cards or book travel with them through Citi’s travel portal and get 1 cent per point in value. But if you’ve got some time and flexibility, you can do even better by transferring your points to any of Citi’s 16 airline and hotel partners, which now includes both Choice and Wyndham hotels.
The ability to transfer points to Citi’s airline partners is why The Points Guy values Citi ThankYou points at 1.8 cents apiece. At that rate, those 80,000 bonus points are worth as much as $1,440 in travel.
Plus, if you get the Citi Premier and like the way it works, you can dive even further into the Citi ThankYou Rewards ecosystem by pairing it with either the Citi® Double Cash Card or the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card — or both. Both cards are marketed as cash back cards, but they actually earn rewards in the form of ThankYou points, which you can then combine all together in one big pot.
So you can put all the cards in your wallet and use each one where it earns the most rewards — the Citi Premier in its bonus categories, the Citi Custom Cash in the one eligible category each month where you spend the most money and the Citi Double Cash for everything else. It’s a great strategy to quickly rack up a huge balance of travel rewards while paying only one $95 annual fee across all three cards.
If you expect to be flying the skies often in 2023, The Platinum Card from American Express provides many elite VIP benefits when you travel… and a few even when you aren’t.
Right now, new card members can earn 80,000 bonus points when you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. Frequent flyer website The Points Guy values American Express Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making this offer worth as much as $1,600 in travel.
One of the most popular perks that comes with the card is access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world, including Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta) and Priority Pass Select lounges (enrollment required). You’ll also receive complimentary Marriott Gold and Hilton Gold elite status (enrollment required), which offers special perks such as room upgrades (when available), complimentary breakfast at participating properties, bonus points on paid rates and more.
And, if you rent cars often, you’ll also be bumped up to Avis Preferred status, National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status and Hertz Gold Plus Rewards (enrollment required).
Then there are the annual credits. The Amex Platinum comes with up to $200 in credits each year for airline incidental fees, up to $200 in Uber Cash each year (doled out in $15 monthly portions with $35 in December), up to $240 in annual digital entertainment credits in portions of $20 per month, up to $189 in annual CLEAR® membership credits and up to $100 in credits for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue, split into $50 increments for each half of the year (enrollment required before using these credits). Additionally, you’ll get up to $100 in credits toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership every five years you have the card.
The Amex Platinum also comes with cell phone protection, extended warranty protection, purchase protection, trip cancellation and trip insurance, trip delay insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance and no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
If you’re looking for United miles, the United Quest Card currently comes with an impressive sign-up bonus. Right now you can earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months after opening the account. The Points Guy values United miles at 1.21 cents apiece, which would make 80,000 miles worth $968 in United travel.
The United Quest Card does come with a $250 annual fee, but there are a number of benefits that can help offset a good chunk of that cost, including up to $125 in statement credits for United purchases charged to your card. This is a yearly benefit — available every 12 months from the date you first open the card — and if you can use all $125 in credits each year, you’re effectively knocking off half of the $250 annual fee.
Also, starting at your first anniversary as a card holder — meaning one year after you were approved for the card — and each year thereafter, you’ll get 5,000 United miles back when you redeem your miles for a United- or United Express-operated flight, regardless of the number of miles redeemed. You can even earn this mileage rebate twice per year.
For those chasing United elite status, the United Quest Card earns 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) for every $12,000 you spend on the card, up to 3,000 PQP per year. While this won’t earn you elite status on its own, if you aren’t flying as much in 2023 as you typically might, it can help push you over the threshold.
Other benefits of the United Quest Card include 3 points for every dollar you spend on United purchases (after your $125 in annual credits), 2 miles per dollar on travel, dining and select streaming services, up to $100 in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credits, free first and second checked bags for you and a companion traveling on the same reservation, priority boarding, 25% back on United in-flight purchases, one year of DashPass membership (must activate by 12/31/2024) and no foreign transaction fees.
If you’ve been contemplating getting the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card at some point, now’s a great time to do it. New card applicants can currently earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening the account.
While 140,000 points sounds like an earth-shattering amount, remember that not all travel points are created equal. The Points Guy values IHG points at 0.5 cents apiece, so 140,000 points are worth about $700 toward IHG hotel stays, which is still a pretty sizable haul for a low-priced credit card.
Also, starting with the second year you have the card and every year thereafter, you’ll receive a reward night certificate that can be used at any IHG property costing up to 40,000 points. And the certificate can now also be augmented with additional points so you can use it at nearly any IHG hotel in the world. The IHG chain includes Holiday Inn, InterContinental and Kimpton Hotels, among many others, making this certificate an incredibly flexible perk. Just using this benefit each year can easily offset the card’s $99 annual fee.
Plus, all IHG Premier card holders receive complimentary IHG Platinum elite status and their fourth night free when using points to book an award stay. So if you’re booking a four-night stay at a property that costs 40,000 points a night, you’ll only have to redeem 120,000 points for it.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is one of the top mid-tier hotel credit cards you’ll find, and potentially the best perk that comes with the card is automatic Hilton Honors Gold elite status. Although this is a step below Hilton’s highest Diamond status level, you’ll still get space-available upgrades, complimentary continental breakfast for two guests, your fifth night free on award nights and the possibility of lounge access if you’re upgraded to the executive lounge floor.
Other Hilton Amex Surpass card member perks include a free weekend night when you spend $15,000 on your card within a calendar year, 10 free visits each year to Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide and 12 points for every dollar spent at Hilton properties.
Best of all, right now, the Hilton Amex Surpass is offering 130,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 on purchases within three months of opening the account. While we’ve seen slightly better offers in the past, this is still a great opportunity to snag a huge number of Hilton points with one credit card offer.
Now, if you prefer to earn top-tier Hilton Diamond status right off the bat, you’ll want to instead consider the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. The card comes with a slew of benefits, including automatic Diamond status without ever having to step foot in a Hilton property. That top-tier status — along with up to $250 in annual airline fee credits, an annual $250 resort credit, Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership and an annual weekend night certificate upon account renewal — can help offset the annual fee. While this card’s utility is nearly unmatched among luxury hotel credit cards, you’ll pay a pricey $450 annual fee every year you have it.
All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by CNN. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is not currently available through CNN.
Chase currently has some unbelievable sign-up offers on its no-annual-fee business credit cards, including the Ink Business Unlimited. Right now, new card holders can earn $900 in bonus cash back after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first three months. You’ll be hard pressed to find an offer this high on any other credit card with no annual fee.
This card is very straightforward, as you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no bonus categories to worry about or track. And if you prefer travel rewards to cash back, the Ink Business Unlimited offers potential flexibility on that front as well.
If you have a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, the rewards you earn with the Ink Business Unlimited can be transferred to your premium card, and from there, redeemed for travel at a higher rate, or even transferred to one of Chase’s partner loyalty programs for potentially even more value.
Even though it’s a no-annual-fee card, you’ll still find many valuable benefits on the Ink Business Unlimited, such as purchase protection, extended warranty protection and primary car rental coverage when you rent a car for business purposes. But you’ll want to steer clear of using this card internationally, as you’ll be charged a 3% foreign transaction fee on overseas purchases.
And this isn’t the only Chase business card currently offering a top-of-the line sign-up bonus. The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card also earns $900 in bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 within the first three months after opening the account. The main difference between the two cards are the number of points you’ll earn on your everyday purchases, as the Ink Business Cash has several bonus categories but earns only 1% on all other purchases instead of the 1.5% of the Ink Business Unlimited.
Finally, the Ink Business Preferred is also offering an incredibly rich credit card sign-up bonus — 100,000 bonus points when you spend $15,000 in the first three months after opening the account. This card comes with a $95 annual fee, but additional point-earning opportunities and even more benefits.
Click here to earn 90,000 bonus points when you apply for the Ink Business Unlimited.
Click here to earn 90,000 bonus points when you apply for the Ink Business Cash.
Click here to earn 100,000 bonus points when you apply for the Ink Business Preferred.
The American Express Business Gold Card is an intriguing card for small businesses who don’t have expenses the fall into easy-to-predict categories each month, and the card currently comes with a rich welcome offer of 70,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months after opening the account.
With the Amex Business Gold, you’ll earn 4 points per dollar on the two select categories where your business spends the most each month, and those categories will automatically change each month to match where you’ve spent the most. There’s a $150,000 annual cap for earning bonus points in these select categories, but you’ll still earn 1 point per dollar even after you reach the cap.
The select categories eligible to earn bonus points are:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. gas stations
- U.S. restaurants (including take out and delivery)
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. purchases for online, TV and radio advertising.
- U.S. purchases of computer hardware, software and cloud systems from select technology providers
The Amex Business Gold card does have a $295 annual fee (see rates and fees), but when you use your points to book flights through American Express Travel, you’ll get 25% of your points back (up to 250,000 points per calendar year) for flights booked with one airline that you choose annually, or on any airline when you book business or first class flights.
Need help getting rid of credit card debt? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best balance transfer credit cards available right now.
Click here for rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred card.
Click here for rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday card.
Click here for rates and fees of the American Express Platinum card.
Click here for rates and fees of the American Express Business Gold card.
American Express cell phone protection, extended warranty, purchase protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay insurance, and car rental loss and damage insurance eligibility and benefit levels vary by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Purchase protection, extended warranty and car rental loss and damage coverage underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Trip delay, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and cell phone protection underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. Car rental loss and damage coverage offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.