Now that wedding expenses are behind me, I’m finally free to get back into the credit card game. Several card issuers have announced bigger sign-up bonuses for cards I had considered getting. Great timing! But some of these are also expiring soon. Here are a few of the better offers I’m considering along with my rationale for applying.
Alaska Airlines – 50,000 Miles
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® from Bank of America normally has a sign-up bonus of just 25,000 miles and occasionally goes up to 40,000, so the new offer of 50,000 miles is quite impressive. Cardholders get 25,000 miles up front and another 25,000 miles after spending just $1,000 in the first 90 days. The annual fee is $75. (HT to Canadian Kilometers)
This card’s main benefit is an annual $118 companion fare (including taxes) for travel in coach. It’s a bit of a downgrade from the previous benefit that was also available in first class, but it is still something I’ve used regularly. Alaska makes it easy to use the miles, too, with two classes of saver awards that in my experience offer more availability than other carriers. You can also use them to book on carriers like Emirates, which isn’t a member of any airline alliance. Note the terms on this particular offer are more restrictive. You may end up with a lower offer.
*Bonus Mile Offer: This one-time promotion is limited to new customers opening an account in response to this offer and is valid for a limited time by invitation only. This offer is not valid for customers that have applied for this product in the last 12 months.
Lufthansa Miles & More – 50,000 Miles
The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard® is normally has a sign-up bonus of just 20,000 miles but is currently offering a whopping 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. But even though this is a European carrier, the miles can be quite valuable to Americans. Once United devalues its award chart, Miles & More will require fewer miles to book first class awards on Lufthansa while also offering better availability since partners like United typically have access to fewer seats. Awards in business class to Europe are cheaper, too, with a special discount on economy class tickets for U.S. residents.
Want to go to Hawaii or take United’s p.s. service from coast-to-coast? United codes these “first class” seats as business class on a two-cabin plane for the sake of award inventory. That means you pay Lufthansa’s cheaper business class award price with access to the same saver level award availability that United offers its own customers.
Note: This limited-time offer is set to expire on Sunday, December 15, and will probably go back to only 20,000 miles. The annual fee is not waived.
Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex – 100,000 Miles
After announcing its big expansion in the Seattle market, Delta decided to go one further and try to get us all to apply for the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express®. Sign-up offers tend to be around 35,000 to 50,000 miles. Unless you live in Seattle and apply by December 31. Area residents can see if they’ve been targeted, like me, for a special 100,000-mile offer.
You need to spend a total of $4,000 in six months (the first $1,000 within three months), which isn’t bad. But while that $1,000 in spend can be with anyone to get the first 50,000 miles, you need to spend $4,000 with Delta to get the extra 50,000 miles. American Express is pretty good about offering long qualification periods, and the annual fee is waived the first year. I wouldn’t normally be excited about SkyMiles, which Gary Leff rightly calls “SkyPesos,” but there is a lot you can do with 100,000 of them. I do not expect to see such an offer come around again soon. If you don’t live in Seattle, you might try updating your address in your SkyMiles account profile before checking your eligibility.
British Airways Visa Signature — 100,000 Miles
This super-sized offer from the British Airways Visa Signature® comes around about twice a year, and like the Miles & More card, I don’t want Americans to overlook the hidden value of a foreign loyalty program. British Airways’ Avios points can be redeemed for award travel on partners like Alaska Airlines and American Airlines. If you do so for domestic travel, there are no fuel surcharges unlike British Airways’ own international flights. And because Avios uses a distance-based award chart, many awards are much cheaper than if booked through Alaska or American.
Consider a short flight of 650 miles or less. These cost only 4,500 points one-way. I could visit my parents in Santa Rosa, CA, at this price or go slightly further to San Francisco or Los Angeles for only 7,500 points one-way. Readers on the East Coast have many more short flights available to them out of American Airlines’ hubs in New York and Miami. Avios is also the cheapest way to get to Hawaii if you live on the West Coast. You can book any of Alaska’s many routes to Hawaii for only 25,000 points round-trip. That means a single credit card offer can get you four award tickets to Hawaii! The biggest catch is that British Airways prices these awards by individual segment. Prices go up quickly if you make a connection, which is why I’ve focused here on examples of non-stop travel.
You earn the first 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 in 90 days (the annual fee is not waived). You’ll earn another 25,000 miles after spending $10,000 in the first year and another 25,000 miles after spending $20,000 in the first year. Take a screenshot of the offer page. I got some bull from Chase about only applying for a 50,000-mile offer. They never admitted their mistake but did send a letter offering to honor the terms and conditions I described. This offer expires on December 31.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature®
Spend $1,000 in 3 months for 50,000 miles
The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard®
Spend $5,000 in 3 months for 50,000 miles
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
Spend $1,000 in 3 months for 50,000 miles and a total of $4,000 in 6 months to get a total of 100,000 miles
British Airways Visa Signature®
Spend $2,000 in 3 months for 50,000 miles and a total of $20,000 in 12 months to get a total of 100,000 miles