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Best Credit Card Intro Bonuses of 2021

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Introductory bonuses offered by many rewards credit cards allow cardholders the chance to earn a substantial number of rewards points or cash back for making purchases with their new card. Some of the best credit cards offer lucrative intro bonuses that can help offset the cost of future travel and other purchases. Here are our top picks for the best intro bonuses right now, and why you might want to apply for each.

5 Partner Offers

Our Picks for the Best Card Intro Bonuses
Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

No annual fee

Chase Freedom Unlimited<sup>®</sup>

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

No annual fee

Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

$95 annual fee

Citi Premier<sup>®</sup> Card

Citi Premier® Card

Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months from account opening; 60,000 Points are redeemable for $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com.

$95 annual fee

American Express® Gold Card

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of card membership.

$250 annual fee

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Intro bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Currently, Chase is also offering 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. New cardholders can also take advantage of 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months, then 14.99% to 23.74% variable.

Annual fee: $0

Reasons to get it: This card is a fantastic all-around earner since it accrues cash back at the following rates:

  • 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in designated bonus categories each quarter when you activate
  • 5% when making travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 3% on dining, including purchases at restaurants, takeout and orders from eligible delivery services
  • 3% on purchases from drugstores
  • 1% on other eligible purchases

If you use this card to pay your cellphone bill and your cellphone is stolen or damaged, you can get up to $1,000 in annual coverage ($800 maximum per claim, up to two claims each year, with a $50 deductible per claim).

Drawbacks: Although you can combine the points you earn on this card with transferable Ultimate Rewards points you earn with a more upscale counterpart like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (see below), if you only have the Chase Freedom Flex℠, your rewards are best redeemed as simple cash back.

Read full review
Apply

on Chase's website

Good - Exceptional

APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Rewards

5% cash back on Rotating Categories

5% cash back on Travel

3% cash back on Dining

1% cash back on All Other Purchases

Intro Bonus

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Intro bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Currently, Chase is also offering 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. New cardholders can also take advantage of 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months, which then becomes 14.99% to 23.74% variable.

Annual fee: $0

Reasons to get it: Among this card's major selling points are its earning rates. Here's what you can expect:

  • 5% back when making travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 3% on dining, including purchases at restaurants, takeout and orders from eligible delivery services
  • 3% on purchases from drugstores
  • 1.5% on other eligible purchases


Rather than having to contend with rotating bonus categories, you can relax and earn a solid 1.5% back on most purchases, which makes this card an easy one to maximize.

Drawbacks: The usefulness of your points is limited to cash back unless you have a more premium Chase card you can transfer points to. Unlike the Chase Freedom Flex℠, this one does not offer cellphone protection.

Read full review
Apply

on Chase's website

Good - Exceptional

APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Rewards

5% cash back on Travel

3% cash back on Dining & Drugstores

1.5% cash back on All Other Purchases

Intro Bonus

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Intro bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's worth $1,250 when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Annual fee: $95

Reasons to get it: Put simply, this card's current welcome offer is better than anything it has ever posted before, so now is the time to apply. Other than that, it earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point on everything else (you can also register to earn 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2022). Chase points are useful when redeemed for travel through the Chase portal, and can also be transferred to 10 airlines including Southwest and United, and three hotel points programs including Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt. The card offers some great travel protections including primary auto rental insurance and trip interruption and cancellation coverage.

Drawbacks: Its $95 annual fee is something to consider, and you might not get the most out of the card if travel and dining aren't two of your major expenses. The $4,000 spending requirement for its intro bonus is another major consideration.

Read full review

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply

on Chase's website

Good - Exceptional

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Rewards

2X points on Dining & Travel

1X points on All Other Purchases

Intro Bonus

Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Annual Fee

$95

Card Details
  • Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

Citi Premier® Card

Intro bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou Points with this card from our partner after you spend $4,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.

Annual fee: $95

Reasons to get it: 80,000 ThankYou Points are worth $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com, but you can also transfer them to over a dozen airline frequent-flier programs including JetBlue TrueBlue and British Airways Executive Club. The Citi Premier® Card is also one of the top earners among travel rewards cards since it racks up 3 points per dollar spent on:

  • Restaurants
  • Supermarkets
  • Gas stations
  • Hotels
  • Air travel

Drawbacks: Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, this card's $95 annual fee is something to keep in mind, as is the $4,000 spending requirement to earn its full intro bonus. If you need to carry or transfer a balance, beware its variable APR of 15.99% to 23.99%.

Apply

on Citi Credit Cards's website

Good - Exceptional

APR

15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)

Intro APR

N/A

Rewards

3X points on Restaurants & Supermarkets

3X points on Gas Stations & Air Travel

3X points on Hotels

1X points on All Other Purchases

Intro Bonus

Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Card Details
  • Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

Rates and Fees

American Express® Gold Card

Intro bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of card membership.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Reasons to get it: This card earns bonus points in many bonus categories:

  • 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, including takeout and delivery
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year (1 point per dollar after that)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases


Cardholders can add the Gold Card to their Uber account to receive $10 automatically each month (up to $120 per year) in Uber Cash toward Uber Eats orders or rides in the U.S. They'll also receive up to $120 in dining credits when using the card to pay at Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed and other participating partners. Amex Membership Rewards points are most useful when transferred to one of the program's many airline or hotel partners including Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Hilton or Marriott.

Drawbacks: This card charges a hefty annual fee (see rates and fees), so you've got to ensure you're maximizing its other benefits year after year to make carrying it worthwhile.

You may be matched with this and other cards at Experian CreditMatch

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How to Earn an Intro Bonus

Earning an intro bonus is straightforward.

  1. Apply for a new credit card. The first thing you'll need to do is find a new credit card that meets your needs and for which you qualify. Then make sure it's offering a decent introductory bonus, or you might want to hold off since intro bonuses often change.
  2. Use your card to make purchases. Most intro bonuses carry spending requirements. Verify the terms of any new cards you open so that you hit any dollar thresholds needed to earn the intro bonus. The easiest way of doing this is by using your new card for all of your purchases until you meet that spending requirement.
  3. Watch the clock. Those spending requirements often come with time limits, such as three or six months. Keep an eye on the calendar and make sure you complete all the spending necessary within the prescribed window.

Credit Card Bonus Caveats

There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to earn an intro bonus.

  1. Don't overspend in pursuit of an intro bonus. No matter how big or attractive an intro bonus is, it's not worth overspending and carrying long-term debt. Doing so will rack up interest charges that negate the value of any rewards you earn.
  2. Double-check eligibility requirements. Credit cards often publish eligibility requirements. These sometimes have to do with whether you've previously carried the same card that you're applying for now, or even if you've had another card from the same issuer recently. Go over the rules before applying.
  3. Only purchases count toward spending requirements. Some credit cards require you to pay their annual fee as soon as you open the card, and it might seem logical to think the fee counts toward the intro bonus spending requirement. However, only purchases (not annual fees or balance transfers) count toward that dollar minimum.

Best Ways to Redeem Bonus Rewards

Before you even apply for a new credit card, you should think about the ways you might want to redeem the rewards from its intro bonus.

Based on which card you apply for, you might earn cash back, transferable points, airline miles or hotel points. So how you redeem them will depend on the specific card you carry.

Maximize Your Value

The best ways to redeem various rewards points are usually right in their name.

  • Cash back: One of the best things about cash back rewards is how easy they are to earn and redeem. Each point is usually worth 1 cent apiece, and then you can typically redeem them directly for credits toward purchases on your monthly statement. This makes it simple to ensure you're getting a good rate of return on everyday spending.
  • Travel rewards: Although you can redeem some types of travel rewards, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One Miles, for non-travel options, in general, you should save these points for travel bookings. You tend to get more value from them this way. Make sure that each point you redeem from a travel rewards program is getting you at least 1 cent in value. If you're not hitting that mark, it might be worth waiting until another option (or a future trip where you can use rewards) arises.

Avoid Low-Value Redemptions

If you earn rewards such as American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards, stick to travel redemptions and stay away from the following.

  • Merchandise: Forget the online malls that some rewards programs field; you won't get the best value from cashing in your points this way.
  • Statement credits: Although cash back rewards are great for statement credits toward purchases, with travel rewards, you often get a lower rate of return on travel rewards redeemed this way, so steer clear.
  • Pay with points: You can also use some types of credit card points to pay for new purchases, such as using Amex points at checkout with certain merchants or via PayPal. Like the other options here, though, this tends to be a poor value.


Earning a new credit card's intro bonus is a fast way to rake in hundreds or even thousands of dollars in travel or other rewards. While you do have to be approved, and then meet any spending requirements necessary, doing so is often easy and well worth it. Before you apply, though, make sure that you will not be stretching yourself financially, and that you have some clear ideas for how to use the rewards you'll earn. That way, you can ensure you get the most value possible from your intro bonus. Take a look at current credit card offers and find products personalized to your profile via Experian CreditMatch™.