Chase IHG Rewards MasterCard
If you wait for a promotion, this card is good for free hotel nights. If you keep it past a year, you get a free night at any of their hotels once a year, which includes their extremely high-end $600+/night hotels.
Sign-on bonus: The 80,000 point sign-on bonus, which appears regularly, is the best. With the 70,000 point sign-on bonus that is currently in offer at the time of this article, it’s still worth it.
Minimum spend: $1,000 in the first three months.
Award redemption: With 70,000-80,000 points, you can get 2-4 nights at a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express or 1-2 nights at a nicer hotel like an InterContinental. Some less popular hotels are even offered for as little as 5,000 points each night.
Annual fee: Waived the first year, $49 each following year.
Alternative: The Chase Ink Plus is also a great option to pair with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, currently offering a promotion for 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard
The sign-on bonus is a little less attractive here, but this is very worthwhile if you can get the promotional offer that’s often floating around.
Sign-on bonus: Usually 30,000 miles. Wait until you find the 50,000 mile offer.
Minimum spend: $1,000 in the first 3 months for 30,000 miles. $3,000 in the first 3 months for 50,000 miles.
Award redemption: 50,000 miles is enough for two domestic round-trip flights.
Annual fee: Waived the first year, $95 each following year.
Alternative: The Delta SkyMiles American Express cards and the United MileagePlus are good options for people loyal to those airlines, and often offer even better bonuses. Citi Prestige is a good alternative Citi card if you can find a 50k, 60k, or sometimes even a 100k sign-on offer.