Just days after the COVID-19 pandemic reached the shores of the US, millions began losing their jobs, and as a result, credit card companies pulled back on lending in a big way, fearing massive waves of bankruptcies among consumers.
According to Bloomberg, just 57 million credit card offers were mailed out to consumers across the country in June 2020, when pandemic-induced lockdowns were in full force.
A year later, however, people are emerging from their homes again, eager to get back on the road after a year or more of staying put. And, thanks to unprecedented amounts of government stimulus, people’s bank accounts are flush with cash.
Credit card companies have taken note. Issuers mailed a total of 257 million card offers in March, still down from a year prior, but up 23% compared to February, according to Bloomberg.
And, the race to offer the most alluring sign-up offer is back on, with issuer after issuer offering some of their best ever offers on cards.
The credit card arms race is a great thing for consumers, who are reentering the world with more opportunities than ever to earn massive amounts of credit card rewards to fund future travels.
Here are the five best credit card offers available right now.
Best for those new to the credit card game: Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Chase’s Sapphire Preferred has been a fixture of the credit card rewards market since it was first unveiled over a decade ago. With an annual fee of just $95, the card offers an impressive value thanks to it earning two points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases as well as other perks like trip-delay protection, primary car- rental insurance, and more.
Right now, the card is offering a massive 100,000-point bonus after you sign up and spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account. The Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are flexible and valuable, thanks to the numerous airline and hotel loyalty programs that partner with Chase.
Best for those who want to travel, but don’t know where to or when: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The big draw of Capital One’s Venture Rewards Credit Card is that it provides the cardholder a ton of flexibility, especially in times like these, when travel plans can change on a dime.
For a fee of $95 per year, the card earns two miles for every dollar spent on all purchases. And then, they can be redeemed at a fixed rate of one cent per mile for any travel expense, including Uber or taxi rides, parking fees, tolls, and more -—- in addition to airfare, hotel stays, cruise fares, etc. You simply charge the purchase to your Venture card and then “wipe it off” once it posts to your statement.
Capital One recently introduced travel partners to which you can transfer your miles to, but the real value of this card is the high-earning potential and flexibility of its miles. Whether you’re taking the kids to Walt Disney World or going on a romantic anniversary trip to Europe, you’ll be able to save significantly on the cost of your trip.
The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 miles: Earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months or 100,000 miles after spending $20,000 in purchases in the first 12 months.
The spending requirement to achieve the full 100,000-mile bonus is certainly high, but if you’re planning, for example, a home renovation project, it’s a no-brainer to get this card in your rotation.
Best for foodies: American Express Gold Card
Whether you’re heading back to your favorite restaurants or continuing the voracious grocery shopping habits you acquired during the pandemic lockdowns, the American Express Gold Card is a must-have for anyone who likes food.
The card, which comes with an annual fee of $250, earns four4 points per dollar spent at restaurants (which includes takeout and delivery), four points per dollar spent at US grocery stores (up to $25,000 per year, then one point per dollar after that) and three points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly through the airline or through Amex Travel.
And, it offers up to $120 per year in Uber cash credits -—- in the form of $10 per month -—- used for rides or Uber Eats.
Right now, the Gold card is offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first six months. But, there may be an even higher welcome bonus of 75,000 points, depending on the applicant.
Best for fitness fanatics: Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
If you are one of the many people who have been considering hopping on the Peloton trend that became a cultural force throughout the pandemic -—- or if you’ve already made the plunge –— you should have the Chase Sapphire Reserve in your wallet.
The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening an account. But perhaps more exciting is that cardholders can earn 10 points per dollar spent on Peloton bikes, treads, and accessories over $1,800, up to a maximum of 50,000 points earned.
Through December 2021, cardholders will receive up to $120 in statement credits to cover the cost of monthly memberships: either the Peloton Digital ($13) or the All-Access ($39) level.
The Sapphire Reserve costs $550 annually, but comes with other perks for travelers, like $300 in annual travel credits, a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck services, travel protection, and more.
Honorable mention: The aforementioned Chase Sapphire Preferred also offers perks for Peloton owners and members: five points per dollar spent on Peloton bikes, treads, and accessories over $1,800, up to a maximum of 25,000 points earned, as well as up to $60 in monthly statement credits for membership fees.
Best for hotel guests: Hilton Amex Aspire
If you’ve got your eye on trips this summer and later this year — whether — a road trip or to an international excursion — and hotels will be a part of that plan, you should certainly consider taking advantage of the increased offers Hilton and American Express are offering on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card.
Right now, you can earn up to a whopping 180,000 bonus points for signing up: Earn 130,000 points after spending $2,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening an account and then earn an additional 50,000 points after spending a total of $10,000 on purchases within the first six months.
For the relatively low fee of $95 per year, this represents a great value. Hilton has properties all over the world, from budget hotels to lavish, five-star resorts, meaning you can put those points to use practically anywhere you decide to go.
And, the card offers complimentary Gold status in the Hilton Honors program, which entitles you to free breakfast, room upgrades (when available), and more.
The return of travel also means a return to generous credit card offers. As you look at the rest of the year and beyond, you may want to consider adding one (or more) of these cards to your wallet to make sure you don’t leave anything on the table and to guarantee significant savings on your next trip -—- whenever and wherever that may be.