CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
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 cash back or travel points and miles right off the bat is with a lucrative credit card sign-up bonus. Accumulating rewards from a sign-up bonus is the best way to put more money in your wallet, or 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 credit card sign-up bonus offers available in May so you can get as many points or miles as possible when you apply. Get a new credit card with the right offer, and you’ll rack up rewards in no time.
The best credit card sign-up bonuses for May 2022
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for flexibility
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for groceries
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for travel perks
- United Quest℠ Card: Best for United flights
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card: Best for Marriott points
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best for IHG stays
- 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 credit card sign-up bonus offers as the best for May? 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 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.
That’s higher than the 60,000 bonus points normally offered on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, making this the best time to apply for it. If you can scoop up those 80,000 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, 80,000 bonus points would be worth $800 in cash or $1,000 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 80,000 points can be worth up to $1,600 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 travel (or 5 total points for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards) and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Plus, through March 2025, 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 Dec. 31, 2024. 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.
Blue Cash Preferred: Best for groceries
If you 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 $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first six months after opening an account.
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 groceries taking up a significant portion of the average household budget, this could mean 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.
American Express Platinum: Best for travel perks
If you expect to be flying the skies often this summer, 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. Frequent flyer website The Points Guy values American Express Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making this offer worth as much as $2,000 in travel.
One of the most popular perks that comes with the card is access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world, including Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta) and Priority Pass Select lounges (enrollment required). You’ll also receive complimentary Marriott Gold and Hilton Gold elite status (enrollment required), which offers special perks such as room upgrades (when available), complimentary breakfast at participating properties, bonus points on paid rates and more.
And, if you rent cars often, you’ll also be bumped up to Avis Preferred status, National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status and Hertz Gold Plus Rewards (enrollment required).
Then there are the annual credits. The Amex Platinum comes with up to $200 in credits each year for airline incidental fees, up to $200 in Uber Cash each year (doled out in $15 monthly portions with $35 in December), up to $240 in annual digital entertainment credits in portions of $20 per month, up to $189 in annual CLEAR® membership credits and up to $100 in credits for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue split into $50 increments for each half of the year (enrollment required before using these credits). Additionally, you’ll get up to $100 in credits toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership every five years you have the card.
The Amex Platinum also comes with cell phone protection, extended warranty protection, purchase protection, trip cancellation and trip insurance, trip delay insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance and no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
United Quest Card: Best for United flights
If you’re looking for United miles, the United Quest Card currently comes with an impressive sign-up bonus. Right now you can earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in the first three months after opening the account. The Points Guy values United miles at 1.21 cents apiece, which would make 70,000 miles worth $847 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 a good chunk of that 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.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Best for Marriott points
If you’re looking for free hotel nights, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card can help you get there. Right now, new card holders can earn 3 free nights when you spend $3,000 on the card within three months of opening the account. Each night can be used at a hotel that normally costs up to 50,000 points per night. Although, Marriott is now allowing members to top off each certificates with up to 15,000 points from their account, which opens up significantly more options when it comes to redeeming the free night certificates.
Plus, in a new feature of the Marriott Boundless, both new and existing card holders can now earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on gas stations, grocery stores, and dining.
The card also earns 6 points for every dollar you spend on eligible Marriott purchases and 2 points per dollar on everything else you buy with it. You also get 15 elite night credits with the Marriott Boundless card, which means you’ll get automatic Marriott Silver elite status every year you have the card, and you can upgrade to Marriott Gold elite status by spending $35,000 on the card each year.
But one of the best features of the Marriott Boundless card starts at the beginning of the second year you have it, when you’ll get a Free Night Award that can be used at any Marriott hotel costing 35,000 points or less. You’ll get one of these each year at your card holder anniversary, and if you redeem this certificate for even a moderately-priced stay, it should easily offset the card’s $95 annual fee. These certificates can also be topped off with the up to 15,000 points from your Marriott Rewards account, again, giving you even more options.
However, if you prefer a welcome offer that earns points as well as a free night certificate, you might instead take a look at the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. Although the card comes with a significantly higher annual fee of $450 (see rates and fees), new card members can earn 100,000 bonus points and a Free Night Award when you spend $5,000 within three months of opening the account. And that Free Night Award that comes as part of the welcome offer on the Marriott Brilliant Amex can be used at any Marriott property that normally costs up to 85,000 points per night.
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 a great time to do it. New card applicants can currently earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening the account.
While 140,000 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 140,000 points are worth about $700 toward IHG hotel stays, which is still a pretty sizable haul for a low-priced credit card.
Also, starting with the second year you have the card and every year thereafter, you’ll receive a reward night certificate that can be used at any IHG property costing up to 40,000 points, which can now also be augmented with points to use at nearly any IHG hotel in the world — which includes Holiday Inn, InterContinental and Kimpton Hotels — making it an incredibly flexible perk. Just using this certificate each year can easily offset the card’s $99 annual fee.
Plus, 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.
Ink Business Unlimited: Best business card with no annual fee
Chase currently has some unbelievable sign-up offers on its no-annual-fee business credit cards, including the Ink Business Unlimited. Right now, new card holders can earn $750 in bonus cash back after spending $7,500 on purchases in the first three months. You’ll be hard pressed to find an offer this high on any other credit card with no annual fee.
This card is very straightforward, as you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no bonus categories to worry about or track. And if you prefer travel rewards to cash back, the Ink Business Unlimited offers potential flexibility on that front as well.
If you have a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, the rewards you earn with the Ink Business Unlimited can be transferred to your premium card, and from there, redeemed for travel at a higher rate, or even transferred to one of Chase’s partner loyalty programs for potentially even more value.
Even though it’s a no-annual-fee card, you’ll still find many valuable benefits on the Ink Business Unlimited, such as purchase protection, extended warranty protection and primary car rental coverage when you rent a car for business purposes. But you’ll want to steer clear of using this card internationally, as you’ll be charged a 3% foreign transaction fee on overseas purchases.
And this isn’t the only Chase business card currently offering a top-of-the line sign-up bonus. The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card also earns $750 in bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 within the first three months after opening the account. The main difference between the two cards are the number of points you’ll earn on your everyday purchases, as the Ink Business Cash has several bonus categories.
Finally, the Ink Business Preferred is also offering an incredibly rich credit card sign-up bonus — 100,000 bonus points when you spend $15,000 in the first three months after opening the account. This card comes with a $95 annual fee, but additional point-earning opportunities and even more benefits.
Click here to earn 75,000 bonus points when you apply for the Ink Business Unlimited.
Click here to earn 75,000 bonus points when you apply for the Ink Business Cash.
Click here to earn 100,000 bonus points when you apply for the Ink Business Preferred.
American Express Business Gold: Best for small businesses
The American Express Business Gold Card is an intriguing card for small businesses who don’t have expenses the fall into easy-to-predict categories each month, and the card currently comes with a rich welcome offer of 70,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months after opening the account.
With the Amex Business Gold, you’ll earn 4 points per dollar on the two select categories where your business spends the most each month, and those categories will automatically change each month to match where you’ve spent the most. There’s a $150,000 annual cap for earning bonus points in these select categories, but you’ll still earn 1 point per dollar even after you reach the cap.
The select categories eligible to earn bonus points are:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. gas stations
- U.S. restaurants (including take out and delivery)
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. purchases for online, TV and radio advertising.
- U.S. purchases of computer hardware, software and cloud systems from select technology providers
The Amex Business Gold card does have a $295 annual fee (see rates and fees), but when you use your points to book flights through American Express Travel, you’ll get 25% of your points back (up to 250,000 points per calendar year) for flights booked with one airline that you choose annually, or on any airline when you book business or first class flights.
Click here for rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred card.
Click here for rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday card.
Click here for rates and fees of the American Express Platinum card.
Click here for rates and fees of the American Express Business Gold card.
Click here for rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card.
Click here for rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Gold card.
American Express cell phone protection, extended warranty, purchase protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay insurance, and car rental loss and damage insurance eligibility and benefit levels vary by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Purchase protection, extended warranty and car rental loss and damage coverage underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Trip delay, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and cell phone protection underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. Car rental loss and damage coverage offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
Need help getting rid of credit card debt? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best balance transfer credit cards available right now.