Airline miles & credit card points mean that you don’t need to be rich to travel often. Anyone with good credit can take a dream trip anywhere if they focus spending on new credit cards to unlock sign up bonuses.

Every month, we assess all of the current available card offers and rank them based on a number of criteria, such as signup bonuses, ongoing value, annual fees charged, and perks included for the cardholder.

Use the list below as a guide to work your way through top to bottom in order to earn the highest return on your spend and maximize the benefits of these cards. Keep in mind that while we rank these offers in the order that we do, the best offers for you may vary based on upcoming travel plans, bank rules and restrictions, and other criteria. For instance, if you’re below Chase’s 5/24 limit, you should only focus on the Chase cards in this list first for maximum value.

Below are the top ten travel credit card offers available for January 2021.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

BONUS: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Iberia, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, Hyatt, and more.

The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on dining and travel. Dining includes bars, restaurants, and fast food. Travel includes airfare, hotels, taxis, rental cars, tolls, parking, and much more.

The Sapphire Preferred is arguably the best card for those just dipping their toe in the travel credit cards rewards pond: The points are versatile, category bonuses solid, and the annual fee isn’t significant.

Make sure you’re under Chase’s 5/24 rule before you apply for this card.

Annual Fee: $95

2a. Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card


The Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card technically comes with a $750 cash back sign up bonus for spending $7,500 within the first three months, but what you are actually earning is 75,000 bonus Ultimate Reward points. They are a different kind of point than what’s earned by the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred.

I said technically above because it is marketed as a cash back card. But the Ultimate Reward points it earns don’t have to be redeemed for 1 cent each, as most card advertisements lead you to believe. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer the 50k Ink Business Cash Ultimate Rewards to one of those accounts to turn them into the kind of Ultimate Rewards earned by the respective account that are transferrable to nine airline or three hotel loyalty programs for outsized value on international/premium cabin award flights and expensive hotel rooms. This increases their value to somewhere around 2 cents each (meaning 75k Ultimate Rewards would be worth around $1,250 instead of $750).

Alternatively, moving them to your Sapphire Reserve card also means you can redeem the points for 1.5 cents each on cash flights through the Chase travel portal, which is often the better deal (compared to turning them into airline miles) for domestic flights.

Category bonuses on this card are lucrative as well:

  • 5 Ultimate Reward points per dollar on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services.
  • 2 Ultimate Reward points per dollar on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants

And you get all of this for no annual fee, ever. Just don’t charge foreign purchases on it as you’ll get hit with fees.

If you have a Sapphire Reserve, Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred, then I highly recommend scooping up this card for its earning potential with that 5x category bonus points in business specific expenses. Even if you don’t have one of those other Chase cards, 5x points redeemed as 5 cents cash back from office supplies, cell phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services is a fantastic return.

Annual Fee: $0

2b. Chase Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card


The Chase Ink Business Unlimited Card offers a sign up bonus of $750 cash back for spending $7,500 within three months of account opening. Just like the Ink Business Cash, however, if you also hold a Sapphire Reserve, Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred, then you can transfer those Ultimate rewards earned by the Ink Business Unlimited to your other Chase account and they magically turn into the kind of Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred to airline loyalty programs, increasing their value dramatically.

What’s also pretty appealing about this card, which is the business counterpart to Chase’s Freedom Unlimited consumer card, is that it will earn 1.5 points on ALL purchases with no cap. That’s a great return (especially if you can transfer those Ultimate Rewards to a more valuable account) for no annual fee.  This card charges foreign transaction fees so it won’t be a good option to use when traveling.

Annual Fee: $0

3. Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

BONUS: 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card offers 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $15,000 in the first three months.

Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.

The Ink Preferred earns 3x points on travel; shipping; internet, cable, and phone services; and search engine or social network advertising (on the first $150,000 spent annually), and 1x points on everything else.

You’ll also get up to $600 in coverage per claim in cell phone protection against theft or damage for you and your employees, as long as you pay that cell’s bill with the Ink Preferred.

This business card offers solid benefits and return on spending as a stand-alone card and allows you to earn a lot of Ultimate Rewards points quickly if you can meet the minimum spend requirement.

Annual Fee: $95

4. American Express Gold Card

BONUS: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

With a major update to the welcome bonus, the Amex Gold jumps way up in our rankings this month. This is the highest public welcome bonus on this card in some time, and if you combine that with the incredible category bonuses that the Amex Gold offers, it really should hold a place in your wallet.

It’s the category bonuses that really make this card shine, allowing you to earn a lot of Membership Rewards very quickly on categories that consumers spend tend to spend heavily in:

  • 4 Membership Rewards per dollar spent at U.S. Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
  • 4 Membership Rewards® points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • 3 Membership Rewards per dollar spent directly booking with an airline or on
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.

Annual Fee: $250 

5. Southwest Personal Credit Cards

BONUS: Earn up to 80,000 bonus points. 50,000 bonus points after $2,000 spend in the first 3 months. Plus 30,000 bonus points after $10,000 spend in the first 9 months

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit CardChase issues three consumer Southwest-branded credit cards. In terms of earning Rapid Rewards points on everyday spend, they’re the same. However, in terms of benefits, you’ll notice quite a difference. We break them down here for you.

The biggest reason to open a Chase Southwest personal credit card is likely because rewards earned from the credit cards count toward earning the Companion Pass, Southwest’s buy-one-get-one-free perk. This means that it’s possible to earn a large chunk of Rapid Rewards points toward the benefit when welcome offers are high. Most people achieve this by opening one business card and one personal card early in the year and adding some spend to earn the rest of the points.

For more information on the Southwest Companion Pass and how to earn it, go to Southwest Companion Pass: What You Need to Know for 2021.

Some of the consistent benefits across all cards include:

  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases. Earn between 12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 on up to $2,000 spent per month.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on all other Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • As a cardmember, you’ll receive anniversary points annually, with the amount varying by the card product.

Annual Fees: Priority ($69), Premier ($99) Plus ($149)

6. Capital One Venture Rewards Card

BONUS: 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, another 50,000 bonus miles (100,000 total) after spending $20,000 in the first 12 months.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card comes with a tiered sign up bonus of 50,000 Capital One miles after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months. You’ll earn the second 50,000 miles after you spend a total of $20,000 in the first 12 months.

A Capital One mile can be redeemed for one cent in the form of cash back towards travel, or transferred to 12 airline mileage programs at a rate of 1,000 Capital One miles to 750 airline miles.

You can also transfer to another three airline programs but at a rate of 1,000 to 500. To translate that bonus into a more digestible value, it’s worth up to 37,500 airline miles. Partners include airlines from all three alliances, including Flying Blue, Aeroplan, Etihad, and Avianca, and more.

As you’ll earn 2 of these Capital One miles per dollar spent on everything you charge to the card, that means your minimum return on spend is 2%, which is great for a card with options to transfer to airline miles. Another cool perk: Up to $100 credit FOR TSA PRE✔® or Global Entry.

Annual fee: $95

7. The Platinum Card from American Express

BONUS: 75,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months, or 100k if you’re targeted through the CardMatch Tool.

The regular offer for the Platinum Card from American Express comes with 75,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Sometimes Amex targets customers for 100k bonuses (see below), and sometimes referral bonus offers can be higher.

Membership Rewards transfer to around 20 hotel and airline programs including Delta, All Nippon Airways, Aeroplan, and British Airways.

The card has a $550 annual fee. But it comes with huge benefits like $200 in airline fee reimbursement, the best airport lounge access out of any premium travel card, hotel status, $200 in Uber credit annually, and a 5x category bonus for purchases directly from airlines. For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card.

Before applying for this offer, read 100k Amex Platinum Targeted Offer to learn about the massive targeted bonus available to some through the CardMatch Tool. Check if you’re targeted for the 100,000 Membership Reward bonus offer on the Platinum Card (for spending the same amount of $5,000 in three months).

Annual Fee: $550

8. Citi Premier Card

BONUS: 60,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months

The Citi Premier Card comes with 60,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. That’s the highest bonus this card has ever offered. Points are the same as those earned by the Prestige, transferrable to a variety of airline loyalty programs that span all three alliances. Points are also redeemable for 1.25 cents each on any airline’s cash tickets (bonus is worth $750 redeeming this way).

Category bonuses include a stellar 3 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on travel and gas purchases, and 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on restaurant and entertainment purchases.

For a card with an annual fee of just $95 (that is waived the first year), that’s a valuable benefits package. You can also use this card abroad or on foreign purchases and no foreign transaction fees are collected. 

Annual fee: $95

9a. Chase Freedom Unlimited

BONUS: $200 cash bonus after spending $500 in 3 months. 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase has made significant improvements to it’s no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited card over the last few months, causing it to be a more serious contender for space in your wallet.

This card earns a $200 bonus in the form of 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $500 in the first 3 months of card membership.

First, they introduced a new signup promotion for cardmembers – earns 5x Ultimate Rewards points on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Then, they added bonus categories to the previously universal 1.5% earning card:

  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x on dining, takeout, and eligible delivery services
  • 3x at drugstores
  • 1.5x on everything else.

Annual Fee: $0

9b. Chase Freedom Flex

BONUS: $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

The Chase Freedom Flex is a terrific new card from Chase. It replaces the previously offered Chase Freedom Card (no longer available for new applicants), but offers better bonus categories:

  • 5% on bonus quarterly categories. Similar to the old Freedom, cardmembers will have to activate 5% back each quarter to receive 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases on bonus categories
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on dining, takeout, and eligible delivery services
  • 3% cash back at drugstores

The card would still earn 1% cashback on everything else.

Keep in mind that you can combine these points with other Chase Ultimate Rewards to be used with transfer partners and booking travel through the Chase portal.

Annual fee: $0

10. Chase Sapphire Reserve

BONUS: Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 spend in 3 months

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Points earned by the Sapphire Reserve transfer to all the same airline and hotel partners as the Sapphire Preferred. You can also redeem them for 1.5 cents each towards normal cash flights, which can be a better deal than redeeming miles within the United States.

This premium credit card comes with lots of lucrative benefits to offset the annual fee:

  • $300 travel credit each cardmember year (not calendar year)
  • $100 credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSAPre √ every four years
  • Priority Pass Select membership, which grants access to over 1,200 lounges around the world and guest access for two fellow travelers
  • A year of free Lyft Pink membership (15% off rides, priority airport pickups, etc)

The Sapphire Reserve offers 3x Ultimate Rewards on travel purchases, which kicks in after you’ve earned the $300 travel credit. You’ll also earn 3x at restaurants. Travel and restaurants are broad categories and include flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, tolls, parking, rideshare services, taxis, restaurants, bars, fast food, and night clubs.

Annual Fee: $550

Before you rush to sign up for new cards, remember to take into account that some miles are better than others for getting to specific destinations–not to mention issuing bank rules concerning eligibility if you’ve opened rewards cards in the past. For these reasons I recommend filling out a form for a Personalized Credit Card Consultation to get started on the right foot. Read this blog continuously to learn how to book your own dream trip with miles, or just leave the hard part up to us. MileValue’s Award Booking Service will spend your miles more efficiently to book a better trip than you can, so you can have more miles to go even more places!