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11 cards with sign-up bonuses worth round-trip flights

[The Points Guy] 11 cards with sign-up bonuses worth round-trip flights: Editor?s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Opening and utilizing the right travel rewards credit cards can be a great way to unlock fantastic redemptions like premium-class flights and luxurious hotel rooms. In many instances, the welcome bonus alone can earn you enough points or miles to book at least one free flight. Today I want to go through my list of the best 11 cards with current offers that can immediately put free flights within your reach.
Before diving into the list, it’s important to note that it isn’t exhaustive by any stretch, as most credit cards claim to offer you free flights. However, certain cards provide a valuable combination of large welcome bonuses and the flexibility to use that bonus in many different ways. The key is knowing how to redeem the points or miles you’ll earn to get the most value.
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To help with organization, I’ll break this list into two separate categories: personal and business credit cards. For each one listed below, I’ll follow a consistent framework for analysis:

Sign-up bonus/welcome offer details
Additional benefits
Annual fee
Examples of free flight(s) you can book

Just note that the final bullet point will not highlight every redemption option but instead focus on some of the best-value flights that would be within reach with the bonus.

So, what are the best cards that provide a bonus worth round-trip flights? Here’s my list:
Personal cards
1. British Airways Visa Signature Card



Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

First-year benefits: Earn a Travel Together (companion) ticket after spending $20,000 in the first year of account opening. Earn five Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases and three Avios per dollar on direct hotel bookings in the first year of account opening.

Additional benefits: Three Avios per dollar spent on British Airways purchases; two Avios per dollar on direct hotel bookings; no foreign transaction fees; Travel Together ticket when you spend a minimum of $30,000 on the card in a calendar year.

Annual fee: $95.

Examples of free flight(s): Thanks to British Airways’ distance-based award chart, you can book economy flights within North America starting at just 7,500 miles each way, meaning the full sign-up bonus could get you three round-trip tickets on American for flights under 650 miles in distance, or five round-trip tickets for flights of 2,000 miles or less.

Related: Here’s why you should care about British Airways Avios
2. The Platinum Card® from American Express



Current welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership. Plus, earn 10x points per dollar at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined eligible purchases, in the first six months of card membership.

Additional benefits: 5x points on airfare booked directly with the airline (up to $500,000 in purchases each calendar year) and on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel; up to $200 annual airline fee credit; up to $200 in Uber Cash each calendar year; lounge access; hotel elite status with Marriott and Hilton; Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts; no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees).

Examples of free flight(s): Thanks to the diverse set of Membership Rewards transfer partners, this welcome offer gives you several options. You can transfer your points to Delta to book at least two round-trip flights using SkyMiles, or you could send them to Singapore’s KrisFlyer program to redeem for two round-trip United flights within North America, both of which should leave you with at least 10,000 points to spare. And you might even be able to make it to Singapore. Booking the distance-based awards through British Airways mentioned above is also an option. Check out my post on the five best ways to use 60,000 Membership Rewards points for other options.

Related: Who should (and who shouldn?t) get the American Express Platinum?
3. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®



Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 AAdvantage miles after you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Additional benefits: 2x miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases, as well as at restaurants and gas stations; $125 flight discount after $20,000 in purchases each year and card renewal; free checked bag on domestic American flights; no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $99 (waived for the first year).

Examples of free flight(s): This bonus alone can get you round-trip economy flights within the U.S. or between the U.S. and Canada, Alaska, the Caribbean or Mexico. You could also book a round-trip business-class flight between the U.S. and northern South America, including Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. And if you can find an off-peak MileSAAver economy award, you can even book a round-trip flight to Europe.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. 
Related: 5 lesser-known benefits of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard
4. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card



Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Additionally, get up to $50 in statement credits for grocery purchases within the first year of account opening. TPG values this offer at $1,650.

Additional benefits: 2x points on dining and travel purchases; primary car rental insurance; no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $95.

Examples of free flight(s): The Ultimate Rewards program has several valuable transfer partners that turn this sign-up bonus into free flights. If you transfer your points to either United or Singapore, you can redeem your points for three round-trip flights within the U.S. on United. You can also transfer to British Airways to utilize the distance-based awards mentioned previously. Finally, transferring to either Air France or KLM allows you to book round-trip economy flights on Delta (if you can find availability).

Related: Why the Sapphire Preferred should still be the first rewards card in your wallet
5. Chase Sapphire Reserve



Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Additional benefits: $300 travel credit; 3x points on dining and travel purchases; lounge access; primary car rental insurance; no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $550.

Examples of free flight(s): With the current bonus, the Sapphire Reserve unlocks similar redemptions listed above for the Sapphire Preferred. However, one enhanced perk on the Reserve gives you some added flexibility: booking directly with Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for flights. While this is lower than TPG’s most recent valuations, it could be a good option if you’re looking to keep cash in your pocket. The sign-up bonus will cover $900 worth of flights in this manner, which could easily be three or four round-trip tickets, depending on the fare, making it a much better option than transferring to partners and booking only two award tickets.

6. United Club Infinite Card



Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

Additional benefits: United Club membership; priority check-in, security, boarding and baggage handling; first and second bags checked free; enhanced award inventory; no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $525.

Examples of free flight(s): With a haul of 75,000 miles, you could easily snag two round-trip economy tickets within the U.S. on United. If you’re lucky, you might even find a couple of low-mileage awards between the U.S. and the Caribbean or Mexico.

Related: How to unlock additional award availability with United credit cards
Business cards
All of the cards listed above are marketed toward consumers, but if you are a small-business owner interested in earning enough points or miles for a free flight (or two), there are many options for you as well. Remember that you don’t need to have a formal business to be eligible for a business card, as many individual proprietors who sell things on Amazon.com or work side jobs may not have an employer identification number. For complete details, see TPG’s article on the best reasons to get a business credit card.
1. Ink Business Preferred Credit Card



Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening. According to TPG valuations, this sign-up bonus is worth $2,000.

Additional benefits: 3x points on travel, shipping, telecommunications and online advertising (on up to $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year); cellphone protection; no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $95.

Examples of free flight(s): The Ink Business Preferred card is part of the Ultimate Rewards family, so you have the same transfer partners as the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve. However, the higher sign-up bonus means that you’re within the realm of three (or four if you’re lucky) round-trip United flights (booked through either United or Singapore) as well as two or three round-trip domestic Delta flights up to and including Hawaii (booked through Air France/KLM Flying Blue). Those 100,000 points could also get you up to six round-trip flights when you transfer them to British Airways and book using the carrier’s aforementioned distance-based award chart.

Related: 5 reasons to get the Chase Ink Business Preferred
2. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express



Current welcome offer: Earn 85,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn 5x points on eligible U.S. purchases on shipping, wireless telephone services, advertising in select media, office supplies and gas stations, up to 80,000 points per category.

Additional benefits: 5x points on airfare booked directly with the airline and on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel; up to $200 annual airline fee credit; lounge access; hotel elite status with Marriott and Hilton; Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts; no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).

Annual fee: $595 (see rates and fees)

Examples of free flight(s): As a cardholder of the Business Amex Platinum, you’ll have access to the same transfer partners as holders of the personal version. The big difference here is that if you earn the full welcome bonus, you’ll be able to enjoy three or four round-trip flights on United (via Singapore) or Delta. You also have the option of transferring to British Airways for distance-based awards. You could also consider transferring points to JetBlue if you live near one of their hubs.

Related: Why you should consider having both the personal and business Amex Platinum cards
3. CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®



Sign-up bonus: Earn 65,000 AAdvantage miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first four months of account opening.

Additional benefits: Free checked bag on domestic American flights; preferred boarding; 25% discount on inflight purchases, including Wi-Fi; earn a companion certificate after $30,000 in purchases each cardmember year after account renewal (account must remain open for at least 45 days after account anniversary); no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $99 (waived for the first year).

Examples of free flight(s): This bonus opens up the same redemption options listed above for the personal version of the card, including two round-trip economy flights within the U.S. or between the U.S. and Canada, Alaska, the Caribbean or Mexico, as well as one round-trip business-class flight between the U.S. and northern South America.

The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. 
4. United Business Card



Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

Additional benefits: 2x miles per dollar on United purchases, restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores and local transit; free checked bag on United flights (must pay with the card); priority boarding; 5,000 bonus miles each year when you hold both a personal and business United credit card; $100 flight certificate for qualifying purchase activity; two, one-time United Club passes each year; enhanced award inventory; no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $99 (waived the first year).

Examples of free flight(s): This card is almost identical to the personal version listed above, so you’d be able to book two (or three, if you’re lucky) round-trip economy tickets on United within the U.S. if you earn this sign-up bonus.

5. American Express® Business Gold Card



Current welcome offer: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 in eligible purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership.

Additional benefits: 4x points in two categories you spend the most each billing cycle (on airfare purchased directly with airlines, on U.S. advertising in select media, at U.S. gas stations, at U.S. restaurants, on U.S. shipping or U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions), up to your first $150,000 combined each calendar year (then 1x); no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees)

Annual fee: $295 (see rates and fees)

Examples of free flight(s): Since this is another card that earns Membership Rewards points, you’d be looking at similar redemptions already covered, including two round-trip tickets on Delta (transfer to SkyMiles) or United (transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer) as well as British Airways distance-based options discussed previously.

Related: American Express Business Gold Card review
Bottom line
Earning welcome bonuses on top travel rewards credit cards is a great way to boost your account balances quickly, and in the cases of these 11 cards, you can unlock at least one free flight from the bonus alone. While saving up your miles for a splurge on first- or business-class flights can be a great redemption, you can double or even triple the number of free trips you can take by focusing on the above economy redemptions. Hopefully, this post has demonstrated just how far a bonus can go!
Featured photo by PhotoAlto/Ale Ventura via Getty Images.
Additional reporting by Ed Pizzarello.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold card, please click here.
 

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