The Best Rewards Cards to Apply for in May

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There’s no quicker and easier way to earn a large amount of miles quickly than with a new credit card. And before the holidays is the perfect time to get one, because it’s even easier than the rest of the year to meet the minimum spending requexired to earn signup bonuses.

Every month I post what I find are the best signup bonus offers out there. Several of last month’s offers are gone or changed, and new better offers have arrived. So here’s the current up to date list of best initial card bonus deals.

Here are the cards I consider to have the very best initial bonus offers right now:

  1. Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card has an 80,000 point signup bonus after $5000 spend within 3 months. That can even be enough for a roundtrip business class award ticket between the US and Europe. (Chase points are super valuable because they transfer directly to a variety of airlines and hotels.)

    It earns 3 points per dollar on travel — that’s airlines, hotels, rental cars, tolls, even Uber — and 3 points per dollar on shipping and advertising on social media and search engines, so great for anyone who advertises on Facebook or Twitter, or who spends money advertising with Google. It also comes with $600 protection against theft or damage when you use it to pay your cell phone.

  2. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card lets you earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

    This is the card to get started with. Get Sapphire Reserve later, perhaps product change to it after a year, this is the easier card to get approved for and it has a better annual fee.

    Points transfer to United, Hyatt, Southwest, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, JetBlue, Air France KLM, JetBlue, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Marriott Rewards, and IHG Rewards Club. Probably the best all-around credit card, certainly for getting started in the hobby, and with a great signup bonus.

    In fact since it has a bigger initial bonus offer than Sapphire Reserve (and you can’t get bonuses for both), and is easier to get approved for, a great strategy if you want Sapphire Reserve is to get the Sapphire Preferred card and ask Chase to product change in a year. In general Chase doesn’t approve this card for folks who have signed up for 5 or more new card accounts in the past 24 months, it’s the first card you should apply for.

  3. CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is offering 70,000 AAdvantage miles after $4,000 in purchases in first 4 months. This card has a $0 annual fee the first year (then $99).

    The card offers first checked bag on domestic American Airlines itineraries. There’s preferred boarding on American flights. In addition cardmembers earn an American Airlines Companion Certificate for domestic main cabin travel after $30,000 spend or more in purchases each cardmembership year and cardmembership renewal.

  4. AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard® best-ever offer with an initial bonus up to 75,000 miles: 65,000 miles after $1000 in purchases within 90 days and 10,000 more miles for making a purchase with an employee card. The card has a $95 annual fee which does apply first year.

  5. Ink Business Unlimited(SM) Credit Card is included here because while its initial bonus is $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, the value of the bonus shoots up if you have a Chase card whose points transfer to miles like Chase Sapphire Preferred.

    Transfer these points to that other Chase card and then those points transfer to miles. And it’s a no annual fee card that earns unlimited 1.5 points per dollar for ongoing spend.

  6. UnitedSM Explorer Card is offering up to 60,000 miles: 40,000 after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months and an additional 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $8,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open. (offer expired)

    What’s great about this $0 the first year then $95 annual fee card is the travel benefits when flying United. You get first bag for free when you use your card to purchase your ticket. You get priority boarding (avoid having to gate check your carry on, and indeed on a Basic Economy fare you can still bring on a full-sized carry on bag). You’ll get 2 one-time United Club passes each year for your account anniversary as well.

    Cardmembers get access to last seat availability on extra miles awards as well as extra saver award availability that general members don’t have. Elites with the card can receive complimentary domestic upgrades on award tickets.

  7. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers 60,000 points after spending $2000 n purchases in the first 3 months, arguably the best offer there’s ever been for the card. There’s a $149 annual fee and the card gives you a $75 Southwest travel credit and 7500 additional points at cardmember anniversary — each of which give you value worth at least half the fee. Then you get 4 upgraded boardings per year – A1-15 boarding, which you purchase at the gate and get statement credit back for and 20% back on Southnwest inflight purchases like inflight cocktails and internet.

    Notably the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has the same initial bonus offer with lower annual fee.

  8. Citi Premier℠ Card has an initial bonus of 50,000 points after $4000 spend within your first 3 months of cardmembership. The card’s $95 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months. It earns three points on travel including gas stations and two points on restaurants and entertainment. Points transfer to a variety of airline frequent flyer programs.

  9. Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® has a best-ever offer of 70,000 miles after $5000 spend on purchases within 90 days of cardmembership. When you redeem points at a penny apiece towards travel you get 5% of your points back, and you can redeem those at a penny apiece towards travel, and get 5% of your… I view this as $735.

    There’s no annual fee the first year, which is also fairly new. It hasn’t always been the case that the card’s $89 fee has been $0 the first year. So first year you’ve got that initial bonus without deduction. Here are the card’s rates and fees.

  10. The World Of Hyatt Credit Card is fantastic for anyone who likes Hyatt. It makes earning elite status easier, and spending is rewarding — for Hyatt stays, for bonus categories, and because of the additional free night after $15,000 in spend each cardmember year.

    The initial offer is to earn up to 50,000 Bonus Points – 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

    You’ll receive 1 free night every year after your cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort and earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year.

    The card lets you get automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open and 5 qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every year and also earn 2 qualifying night credits towards your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card.


    Park Hyatt Sydney Opera Deluxe Room is akin to a Junior Suite

Think there’s a card that belongs on this list but isn’t here, leave a comment!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

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