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While it’s important to have a credit card that earns rewards every time you swipe it, one of the best — and fastest — ways to rack up a bunch of travel points and miles right off the bat is with a lucrative sign-up offer. Accumulating rewards from a credit card sign-up bonus is the best way to jet off on a dream vacation, from flying down to Disney World to exploring the beaches of Thailand
But offers come and go regularly, so it’s vital to know when a credit card is offering a top-notch sign-up offer that can earn you the biggest possible bonus. And since many credit card issuers these days restrict the number of cards you can get with them — or the number of times you can get a card — you’ll want to apply for a credit card when it’s offering a peak sign-up bonus.
So, how do you know which credit card sign-up bonuses are currently higher than normal? We’ve put together a list of the best limited-time bonus offers available in September so you can get as many points or miles as possible when you apply. Get a new credit card with the right limited-time offer and you’ll rack up rewards in no time, putting you one step closer to that much-needed vacation.
The best limited-time credit card bonuses for September 2021
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for flexibility
Citi Premier® Card: Best bonus categories
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for groceries
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Best for Delta miles
United Quest℠ Card: Best for United miles
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best for IHG stays
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best travel credits
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for travel perks
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card: Best business card with no annual fee
American Express® Business Gold Card: Best for small businesses
Why did we choose these limited-time credit card bonus offers as the best for September? Dive into the details of each card with us, and see how they stack up.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Best for flexibility
If you want rewards that are flexible and easily redeemable, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers many options. And right now new applicants can earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.
That’s the highest sign-up offer we’ve ever seen on this card, making this the best time in the past 10 years to apply for it. If you can scoop up those 100,000 bonus points, you can easily get a ton of value from the sign-up bonus alone.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for cash back at 1 cent apiece, or for travel via the Chase travel portal at a rate of 1.25 cents each. At that rate, 100,000 bonus points would be worth $1,000 in cash or $1,250 in travel, which on its own would be an excellent return just for getting one credit card.
But you can also transfer your points to any of Chase’s 14 airline and hotel partners and potentially get even more value for them. That’s why frequent flyer website The Points Guy values Ultimate Rewards points as high as 2 cents apiece, meaning 100,000 points can be worth up to $2,000 in travel.
Aside from the sign-up bonus, you’ll also earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, 2 points per dollar on all travel and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Plus, through March 2022, you’ll also earn 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides, which is a nice extra bonus.
Other money-saving benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred include a complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership for at least 12 months when you sign-up by December 31, 2021, and up to $60 in Peloton membership credits through December 31, 2021. The card also offers many extra insurance benefits, such as purchase protection, extended warranty, trip delay/cancellation protection, trip delay protection, lost baggage protection and primary rental car coverage.
With a relatively low $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the perfect card to dip your toes in the water with travel rewards and start learning how to utilize them to get outsized value.
Citi Premier Card: Best bonus categories
While Citi credit cards don’t typically get as much attention as Chase and American Express cards, don’t overlook the Citi Premier card, especially right now. New card holders can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months after opening the account. That’s the highest bonus we’ve ever seen on the Citi Premier.
And even after you’ve earned the bonus, it’s easy to keep racking up points with the Citi Premier, because the card comes with a slew of bonus categories. You’ll earn 3 points for every dollar you spend at gas stations, at restaurants, at supermarkets, at hotels and on air travel, and 1 point per dollar on all your other purchases.
Once you’ve got all those points, you can redeem them for gift cards or book travel with them through Citi’s travel portal and get 1 cent per point in value. But if you’ve got some time and flexibility, you can do even better by transferring your points to any of Citi’s 16 airline partners, which for a limited time through Nov. 13 even includes American Airlines.
The ability to transfer points to Citi’s airline partners is why The Points Guy values Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents apiece. At that rate, those 80,000 bonus points are worth as much as $1,360 in travel.
Plus, if you get the Citi Premier and like the way it works, you can dive even further into the Citi ThankYou Rewards ecosystem by pairing it with either the Citi® Double Cash Card or the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card — or both. Both cards are marketed as cash back cards, but Citi gives you the option to convert that cash back into ThankYou points and combine them all together in one big pot.
So you can put all the cards in your wallet and use each one where it earns the most rewards — the Citi Premier in its bonus categories, the Citi Custom Cash in the one eligible category each month where you spend the most money and the Citi Double Cash for everything else. It’s a great strategy to quickly rack up a huge balance of travel rewards while paying only one $95 annual fee across all three cards.
Blue Cash Preferred: Best for groceries
Even as travel returns, you might prefer a credit card that puts cash right in your pocket. That’s where the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express comes into play, and right now, new card members can earn a $150 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first six months after opening an account, plus 20% back as a statement credit on Amazon purchases in the first six months of card membership, up to $200 back.
The card also currently comes with a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 per year thereafter (see rates and fees). That means you’re easily coming out ahead in the first year, and the $3,000 minimum spending requirement averages out to just $500 per month.
The Blue Cash Preferred is also one of the best cards to use for groceries, since you’ll earn 6% cash back as a statement credit on up to $6,000 in U.S. supermarket purchases each year (then 1%). With home-cooked meals becoming more popular over the last year, this could result in some serious cash back.
You’ll also earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions with the Blue Cash Preferred, 3% cash back on transit and at U.S. gas stations and 1% on all other purchases. But if you’d prefer a card that never has an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express might be the better choice. It offers less in cash back and has a smaller welcome offer, but it could make sense if you don’t spend that much on groceries each year.
Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express: Best for Delta miles
The Delta family of credit cards currently has increased welcome offers for a limited time through Nov. 10, 2021 — with the best offer on the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card. New card members can earn 90,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months after opening the account. With Delta miles worth 1.1 cents apiece according to The Points Guy, this bonus is worth as much as $990 in travel.
The Delta Platinum Amex offers the same benefits as the less-expensive Delta credit card (more on that card below), but also comes with a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit up to $100 every four years (or 4 1/2 years for TSA PreCheck) and a domestic main cabin round-trip companion certificate each year after you pay your annual fee.
With a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), the Delta Platinum Amex is also the cheapest American Express card that comes with cell phone protection. And when it comes to Delta elite status, you can waive the airline’s Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD) requirement up to Platinum level when you spend $25,000 on the Delta Platinum Amex card in a calendar year. And as an added perk, for this year only, Amex has expanded the card’s Status Boost feature.
Now, if a $250 annual fee is more than you’d like to pay for a credit card, you might want to consider the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card instead. The limited-time welcome offer is smaller — now through Nov. 10, 2021, you can earn 70,000 bonus miles after making $2,000 in purchases in the first three months after opening the account — but the card has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99 thereafter (see rates and fees).
United Quest Card: Best for United Airlines
The United Quest Card is a relatively new card that was introduced with an impressive sign-up bonus. Right now you can earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months after opening the account. Frequent flyer website The Points Guy values United miles at 1.3 cents apiece, which would make 80,000 miles worth $1,040 in United travel.
The United Quest Card does come with a $250 annual fee, but there are a number of benefits that can help offset the fee a good chunk of the cost, including up to $125 in statement credits for United purchases charged to your card. This is a yearly benefit — available every 12 months from the date you first open the card — and if you can use all $125 in credits each year, you’re effectively knocking off half of the $250 annual fee.
Also, starting at your first anniversary as a card holder — meaning one year after you were approved for the card — and each year thereafter, you’ll get 5,000 United miles back when you redeem your miles for a United- or United Express-operated flight, regardless of the number of miles redeemed. You can even earn this mileage rebate twice per year.
For those chasing United elite status, the United Quest Card earns 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) for every $12,000 you spend on the card, up to 3,000 PQP per year. While this won’t earn you elite status on its own, if you aren’t flying as much this year as you typically might, it can help push you over the threshold.
Other benefits of the United Quest Card include 3 points for every dollar you spend on United purchases (after your $125 in annual credits), 2 miles per dollar on travel, dining and select streaming services, up to $100 in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credits, free first and second checked bags for you and a companion traveling on the same reservation, priority boarding, 25% back on United in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Card: Best for IHG stays
If you’ve been contemplating getting the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card at some point, now’s not a bad time to do it. New card applicants can currently earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening the account.
While 150,000 points sounds like an earth-shattering amount, remember that not all travel points are created equal. The Points Guy values IHG points at 0.5 cents apiece, so 150,000 points are worth about $750 toward IHG hotel stays.
Fortunately, the sign-up offer isn’t the only reason to apply for the IHG Premier. If you stay regularly at IHG properties, which includes Holiday Inn, InterContinental and Kimpton Hotels, the benefits can be quite phenomenal for a card that only has an $89 annual fee after the first year.
For starters, all IHG Premier card holders receive complimentary IHG Platinum elite status and their fourth night free when using points to book an award stay. So if you’re booking a four-night stay at a property that costs 40,000 points a night, you’ll only have to redeem 120,000 points for it.
Another great benefit is that, starting with the second year you have the card and every year thereafter, you’ll receive a reward night that can be used at any IHG property costing up to 40,000 points. Just using this certificate each year can easily offset the card’s annual fee.
Finally, the IHG Premier is also one of the least expensive cards that comes with cell phone protection. When you pay your monthly cell bill with your IHG Premier, if your cell phone is damaged or stolen, you’ll be reimbursed for the repair or replacement, up to $800 per claim with a $50 deductible and up to two claims every 12 months with an overall $1,000 maximum.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best travel credits
The Chase Sapphire Reserve might look expensive on paper with a $550 annual fee, but once you take into account all the statement credits the card offers, the cost can actually be relatively reasonable. And right now might be a great time to jump on the card while it’s offering new card holders 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.
First off, the card comes with a $300 annual travel credit, which can be applied toward anything you pay for with your Sapphire Reserve that codes as “travel.” This includes not just airfare, hotels and car rentals, but also trains, taxis, ride-shares, parking and much more. Plus, through the end of 2021, you can also use the credit for gas and grocery store purchases, along with the usual eligible travel charges.
The travel credit alone effectively brings the card’s annual fee down to a more reasonable $250 a year. But in 2021, Chase Sapphire Reserve card holders also get up to $60 in DoorDash credits, and up to $120 in credits toward Peloton All-Access or Digital Memberships. If you’re able to take advantage of all these statement credits, that’s another $180, effectively dropping your annual fee to just $70 for 2021.
The Sapphire Reserve earns 3 points for every dollar spent on travel, and 5 total points per dollar on air travel or 10 total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase them through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after the $300 annual credit). You’ll also get 3 points per dollar on dining, 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2022, 10 points per dollar on Peloton bike, tread and accessory purchases over $1,800 through March 2022 with a maximum of 50,000 points, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
On the redemption side, you can transfer any points earned with the Chase Sapphire Reserve to the same 14 airline and hotels partners as the Chase Sapphire Preferred. But, if you prefer to redeem your points through the Chase travel portal, your points are worth even more than the Sapphire Preferred at 1.5 cents apiece.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers the same travel and purchase protection benefits as the Sapphire Preferred, but goes one step further when it comes to trip delay protection. With the Sapphire Reserve, your coverage kicks in if your trip is delayed by six hours or more (or requires an overnight stay), while you can’t file a claim with the Sapphire Preferred until your delay has hit the 12-hour mark.
American Express Platinum: Best for travel perks
If you’re a road warrior — or will be back in the skies often as the pandemic wanes — The Platinum Card from American Express provides many elite VIP benefits when you travel…and a few even when you aren’t.
Right now, new card members can earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership, plus a whopping 10 points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. for the first six months after you open the account, up to $25,000 in combined purchases.
The Points Guy values American Express Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making this offer worth as much as $2,000, plus any additional points you earn from the limited-time 10x bonus categories.