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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 travel points and miles right off the bat is with a lucrative sign-up offer. Accumulating rewards from a credit card sign-up bonus is the best way 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 limited-time bonus offers available in September so you can get as many points or miles as possible when you apply. Get a new credit card with the right limited-time offer and you’ll rack up rewards in no time, putting you one step closer to that much-needed vacation.
The best limited-time credit card bonuses for September 2021
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for flexibility
Citi Premier® Card: Best bonus categories
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for groceries
United℠ Explorer Card: Best for United miles
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best for IHG stays
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best travel credits
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for travel perks
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card: Best business card with no annual fee
American Express® Business Gold Card: Best for small businesses
Why did we choose these limited-time credit card bonus offers as the best for September? Dive into the details of each card with us, and see how they stack up.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Best for flexibility
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 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.
That’s the highest sign-up offer we’ve ever seen on this card, making this the best time in the past 10 years to apply for it. If you can scoop up those 100,000 bonus points, you can easily get a ton of value from the sign-up bonus alone.
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, 100,000 bonus points would be worth $1,000 in cash or $1,250 in travel, which on its own would be an excellent 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 100,000 points can be worth up to $2,000 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 all travel and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Plus, through March 2022, 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 December 31, 2021, and up to $60 in Peloton membership credits through December 31, 2021. 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.
Citi Premier Card: Best bonus categories
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 partners, which for a limited time through Nov. 13 even includes American Airlines.
The ability to transfer points to Citi’s airline partners is why The Points Guy values Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents apiece. At that rate, those 80,000 bonus points are worth as much as $1,360 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 Citi gives you the option to convert that cash back into ThankYou points and combine them 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.
Blue Cash Preferred: Best for groceries
Even as travel returns, you might 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 $150 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first six months after opening an account, plus 20% back as a statement credit on Amazon purchases in the first six months of card membership, up to $200 back.
The card also currently comes with a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 per year thereafter (see rates and fees). That means you’re easily coming out 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 home-cooked meals becoming more popular over the last year, this could result in 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.
United Explorer Card: Best for United miles
United Airlines currently has increased sign-up offers on all of its credit cards, so if you’re a United fanatic or even just an occasional United flyer, now might be a good time to pick up one of the airline’s cards..
The United Explorer Card is typically the most popular choice with United enthusiasts, and right now new applicants can earn up to 70,000 bonus miles — 60,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months after opening the account, plus an additional 10,000 miles after you spend $6,000 in the first six months. The Points Guy values United miles at 1.3 cents apiece, which makes 70,000 miles worth $910.
You’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on United, restaurants and hotel stays, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else with the United Explorer Card. But it’s more valuable for its United-specific perks, such as a free checked bag on United flights for you and a companion traveling on the same reservation, two one-time United Club lounge passes per year, 25% back on inflight purchases and priority boarding. You’ll also get up to a $100 fee reimbursement when you apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Now, $6,000 is a lot of money to spend on a credit card in just six months, so if the United Explorer card’s minimum spend requirement is a little too high for you, you might consider the United Club Infinite Card instead. This card currently comes with 75,000 bonus miles after you spend just $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
So why wouldn’t one automatically consider the United Club Infinite card first? Simple: It has a whopping $525 annual fee. But the card comes with a complimentary United Club membership, which normally costs at least $650 a year. That means if you’re planning to buy a United Club membership anyway, you might want to consider getting the card instead and effectively pay less.
Plus, with the United Club Infinite Card, in addition to all the same perks as the United Explorer Card, you’ll earn an elevated 4 miles per dollar on United purchases, 2 miles per dollar at restaurants and on all travel (not just hotels) and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. You’ll also get two free checked bags on United flights, instead of just the one free checked bag you get with the United Explorer Card.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Card: Best for IHG stays
If you’ve been contemplating getting the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card at some point, now’s not a bad time to do it. New card applicants can currently earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening the account.
While 150,000 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 150,000 points are worth about $750 toward IHG hotel stays.
Fortunately, the sign-up offer isn’t the only reason to apply for the IHG Premier. If you stay regularly at IHG properties, which includes Holiday Inn, InterContinental and Kimpton Hotels, the benefits can be quite phenomenal for a card that only has an $89 annual fee after the first year.
For starters, 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.
Another great benefit is that, starting with the second year you have the card and every year thereafter, you’ll receive a reward night that can be used at any IHG property costing up to 40,000 points. Just using this certificate each year can easily offset the card’s annual fee.
Finally, the IHG Premier is also one of the least expensive cards that comes with cell phone protection. When you pay your monthly cell bill with your IHG Premier, if your cell phone is damaged or stolen, you’ll be reimbursed for the repair or replacement, up to $800 per claim with a $50 deductible and up to two claims every 12 months with an overall $1,000 maximum.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best travel credits
The Chase Sapphire Reserve might look expensive on paper with a $550 annual fee, but once you take into account all the statement credits the card offers, the cost can actually be relatively reasonable. And right now might be a great time to jump on the card while it’s offering new card holders 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.
First off, the card comes with a $300 annual travel credit, which can be applied toward anything you pay for with your Sapphire Reserve that codes as “travel.” This includes not just airfare, hotels and car rentals, but also trains, taxis, ride-shares, parking and much more. Plus, through the end of 2021, you can also use the credit for gas and grocery store purchases, along with the usual eligible travel charges.
The travel credit alone effectively brings the card’s annual fee down to a more reasonable $250 a year. But in 2021, Chase Sapphire Reserve card holders also get up to $60 in DoorDash credits, and up to $120 in credits toward Peloton All-Access or Digital Memberships. If you’re able to take advantage of all these statement credits, that’s another $180, effectively dropping your annual fee to just $70 for 2021.
The Sapphire Reserve earns 3 points for every dollar spent on travel, and 5 total points per dollar on air travel or 10 total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase them through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after the $300 annual credit). You’ll also get 3 points per dollar on dining, 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2022, 10 points per dollar on Peloton bike, tread and accessory purchases over $1,800 through March 2022 with a maximum of 50,000 points, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
On the redemption side, you can transfer any points earned with the Chase Sapphire Reserve to the same 14 airline and hotels partners as the Chase Sapphire Preferred. But, if you prefer to redeem your points through the Chase travel portal, your points are worth even more than the Sapphire Preferred at 1.5 cents apiece.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers the same travel and purchase protection benefits as the Sapphire Preferred, but goes one step further when it comes to trip delay protection. With the Sapphire Reserve, your coverage kicks in if your trip is delayed by six hours or more (or requires an overnight stay), while you can’t file a claim with the Sapphire Preferred until your delay has hit the 12-hour mark.
American Express Platinum: Best for travel perks
If you’re a road warrior — or will be back in the skies often as the pandemic wanes — 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 100,000 bonus points when you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership, plus a whopping 10 points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. for the first six months after you open the account, up to $25,000 in combined purchases.
The Points Guy values American Express Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making this offer worth as much as $2,000, plus any additional points you earn from the limited-time 10x bonus categories.
One of the most popular perks that comes with the card is access to more than 1,200 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 $179 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 now 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).
Ink Business Unlimited: Best business card with no annual fee
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 $750 in bonus cash back after spending $7,500 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, Chase Sapphire Reserve or 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 $750 in bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 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.
Finally, the Ink Business Preferred is also offering an incredibly rich 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 75,000 bonus points when you apply for the Ink Business Unlimited.
Click here to earn 75,000 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.
American Express Business Gold: Best for small businesses
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.
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.
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