I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same). Terms apply to the offers and benefits listed on this page.
I’ve laid out a theory on how to value miles and points and did my best to assign a current value to each currency. This is important because 1 United mile isn’t worth the same as 1 British Airways Avios and neither has the same value as a Hilton Honors point.
When we talk about how much you’ll earn from flying, staying, or credit card spend we need to use a value per point in order to make an educated comparison between opportunities.
Card Offers, Sorted By the Value of Their Initial Bonus Offers
Looking into the up front bonuses offered by credit cards, what I did was to take the total bonus offered and convert that to a dollar value (based on my published valuations) and subtract the card’s first year annual fee. Here are my favorite card bonuses, in order of most lucrative total bonus value:
|First Yr||Bonus Value|
|Bonus||Ann. Fee||Net of Fee|
|Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business||200,000||$0||$2,200|
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card||80,000||$95||$1,345|
|UnitedSM Explorer Business Card||100,000||$95||$1,305|
|British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card||100,000||$95||$1,105|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||60,000||$95||$985|
|CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®||70,000||$0||$980|
|AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®||75,000||$95||$955|
|UnitedSM Explorer Card||65,000||$0||$910|
|Ink Business Unlimited(SM)||50,000||$0||$900|
|AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®||60,000||$99||$741|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card||70,000||$199||$711|
|Avianca Vuela Visa® Card using promo code SB4060||60,000||$149||$691|
|The World Of Hyatt Credit Card||50,000||$95||$605|
Of course what we see right away is that Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business and UnitedSM Explorer Business Card float right up towards the top. They have really large up front bonus offers, but it also requires heavy spending to earn those bonuses.
Another stand out point, though, is just how valuable the bonus is on the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card without a huge spending requirement, just $5000 over three months.
Most Valuable Card Bonuses For The Spending Each Requires to Earn
Let’s look at things another way and calculate a sort of ‘efficiency’ – how much bonus are you earning per $1000 in required spend (or less)?
|AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®||$955||$1,000||$955.00|
|AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®||$741||$0||$741.00|
|Avianca Vuela Visa® Card using promo code SB4060||$691||$1,000||$691.00|
|Ink Business Unlimited(SM)||$900||$3,000||$300.00|
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card||$1,345||$5,000||$269.00|
|CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®||$980||$4,000||$245.00|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||$985||$5,000||$197.00|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card||$711||$5,000||$142.20|
|The World Of Hyatt Credit Card||$605||$6,000||$100.83|
|UnitedSM Explorer Card||$910||$10,000||$91.00|
|British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card||$1,105||$20,000||$55.25|
|UnitedSM Explorer Business Card||$1,305||$25,000||$52.20|
|Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business||$2,200||$50,000||$44.00|
Here it’s the cards that have the lowest spend requirements along with big bonuses that stand out most – although arguably when I’m calculating this I should also be including the rewards for the spending, not just the bonus.
For instance the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business card doesn’t just offer a bonus of 200,000 miles – when you spend the required $50,000 to earn the full bonus in the allotted time you also earn 2 miles per dollar on that $50,000 in spend. Should we be looking at this, then, as 50% more return than I’ve listed?
How to Choose a Bonus to Earn?
Start with the points you want to collect, that match your reward goals. If you have enough spend where it’s not a constraint, you’ll be able to earn the bonuses offered regardless of how much spending they require (here are seven simple ways to meet minimum spend on a credit card) then go for the offer with the biggest total value.
If you only have a limited amount of spending available, you want to make sure you can earn the bonus being offered – the Chase Ink cards (eg Ink Business Unlimited(SM)) and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card as well as the AAdvantage cards are especially appealing.