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Best credit cards with 100,000 bonus points

CNN logo CNN 2/3/2021 By Jennifer Yellin
a woman using a phone © iStock

CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value, but does not review all financial companies or all available financial offers. We may receive compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com, and this compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site.

One of the best aspects of getting a new credit card is earning a big chunk of rewards right at the start from a new customer bonus. These bonus offers alone can often earn you enough points or miles for a round-trip flight or a multi-night stay at the resort of your dreams — all just by being approved for a credit card with a strong offer and meeting the minimum spending requirement.

And if you've been on the cusp of applying for a new credit card, right now there are a number of cards offering lucrative welcome bonuses of 100,000 points or more. Of course, not every credit card is created equal, so a 100k bonus on one card might actually be worth a lot more than another.

But don't worry! We've gone through all of the biggest bonus offers currently available and picked out the best based on the value of the points, the card's benefits and who should get it. So take a look at our list of the best credit cards with 100,000 bonus points or more and see which one is right for you.

a large air plane on a cloudy day: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points for flights on JetBlue with the JetBlue Plus Card. © iStock Earn up to 100,000 bonus points for flights on JetBlue with the JetBlue Plus Card.

The best credit cards with 100,000 bonus points or more

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Best card for Hilton hotels

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best card for IHG hotels

JetBlue Plus Card: Best card for JetBlue

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Best card for Southwest

a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky: Fly with a friend for free (plus taxes and fees) with the Southwest Companion Pass. © iStock Fly with a friend for free (plus taxes and fees) with the Southwest Companion Pass.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Best travel card for businesses

Let's dive into the details of each of these cards and see how they compare and how much each bonus offer is actually worth.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Best card for Hilton hotels

If Hilton is your go-to chain when it comes to hotel stays, the Hilton Honors Aspire Card is absolutely the right credit card for you — especially with this lucrative welcome offer. Right now, new card members can earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months after opening the account.

Based on the point valuations of frequent flyer website The Points Guy, those 150,000 bonus points are worth as much as $900 in travel. Plus, you'll automatically get many other perks with this card that will come in very handy during your next Hilton stay.

Right off the bat, you get automatic Diamond status with the Hilton Aspire Card. This is Hilton's top-tier elite status level that will earn you more points when you stay at a Hilton, lounge access, complimentary breakfast and room upgrades. If you aren't able to earn elite status the hard way — especially this year — this is an easy way to travel like royalty and save money.

The card also comes with a free weekend reward night certificate, which you'll get on every account anniversary (meaning each year on the date you first opened the card). And if this becomes your go-to credit card, you can earn a second weekend night certificate by spending $60,000 on the card within a calendar year.

a row of palm trees next to a swimming pool: Use your annual night certificate at properties like the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba-Beach. © IHG Hotels Use your annual night certificate at properties like the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba-Beach.

Typically, as the name describes, the weekend reward nights are limited to just weekends. But Hilton has made some temporary changes due to the pandemic, so you can redeem certificates expiring anytime through December 31, 2022, on any day of the week. Additionally, certificates typically expire 12 months after they're earned, but right now all certificates issued in 2021 are extended until December 31, 2022.

Now, we aren't going to sugarcoat it — all of these perks come at a steep price. The Hilton Aspire Card has a $450 annual fee. But other money-saving benefits of the card include up to $250 in annual Hilton resort statement credits, and up to $250 in annual airline fee credits. So you're essentially more than covering the cost of the annual fee with these credits if you're able to use them all.

a large tall tower with a clock on the side of a building: You can currently use the free weekend night certificates from the Hilton Aspire Amex card on any day of the week. © iStock You can currently use the free weekend night certificates from the Hilton Aspire Amex card on any day of the week.

But if you still think the $450 annual fee is too steep, or you can't use all the benefits, there are two other Hilton Honors credit cards that are also offering increased welcome bonuses.

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is currently offering 150,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months after opening the account, plus a $150 statement credit after your first purchase on the card within your first three months.

And if you have a small business, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is offering the same 150,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 within the first three months after opening the account, plus the same $150 statement credit after your first purchase on the card within your first three months.

Both cards come with a significantly lower annual fee of just $95, though of course the benefits aren't quite as good. While you'll have the opportunity to earn Hilton Honors Diamond status, you'll have to spend $40,000 on the card within the year to get it, which may not necessarily be worth it. And to earn a free weekend night certificate, you'll have to spend $15,000 on the card within a calendar year.

Not sure which Hilton card to get? We recommend trying to roughly plan out your next year of travel to see if the increased annual fee is in fact worth it. That may be hard to do, given that we don't know much about travel yet in 2021, but if you have an idea of how much you might be on the road, you could be surprised to discover that the premium Hilton card can be worth the cost.

Learn more about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Learn more about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card.

Learn more about the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Best card for IHG hotels

The IHG Rewards Club Premier card is currently offering a record-high 140,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. With a low $89 annual fee that's waived for the first year, this is a credit card that IHG travelers should pay attention to.

Although IHG points aren't worth as much as some other hotel loyalty programs, this sign-up offer is still worth a decent $700 toward travel based on The Points Guy's valuations. But the real reason to have this card — and to keep it year after year — are the benefits.

Our favorite benefit by far is the annual night certificate you'll get starting at the second year you have the card. With this certificate, you can stay for free at any IHG property costing 40,000 points or less. This benefit alone can be worth hundreds if you use it at a hotel when the cash price is high, which can very quickly make up for the annual fee.

On top of that, when you have the IHG Premier card, you'll get your fourth night free when you use your points to redeem for a free stay. If you find yourself staying at hotels for more than a few nights at a time, this perk can be invaluable. And don't forget about the complimentary Platinum elite status and cell phone protection that you get with the card — two additional benefits that are the icing on the cake.

Now, if you prefer not to pay an annual fee, you can consider IHG's lower-tier credit card, the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card. This card offers a 60,000-point bonus after you spend $2,000 on the card within the first three months, and you'll still get your fourth night free when redeeming points, plus cell phone protection (although you'll only be reimbursed for up to $600 per claim versus $800 per claim with the IHG Premier). But you won't get the rest of the more expensive card's benefits.

Learn more about the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

Learn more about the IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card.

JetBlue Plus Card

Best card for JetBlue

For the first time ever, JetBlue has increased its sign-up bonus offer on the JetBlue Plus Card to a whopping 100,000 bonus points — 50,000 points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days, plus an additional 50,000 points after spending a total of $6,000 within the first 12 months. While there are two spending tiers to meet to earn the full bonus, you have an entire year to do it.

If you live in a JetBlue hub, this is a must-have credit card — especially right now since the current offer is worth $1,300 in travel based on The Points Guy's valuations. Plus, one of the best perks of the card is that you get 10% back on all point redemptions, so the bonus offer alone will yield you an extra 10,000 points as you eventually redeem them all.

Another nice perk of the JetBlue Plus Card is that if you're able to spend $50,000 on the card in a calendar year, you'll get automatic JetBlue Mosaic elite status. While this status won't get you a spot at the front of the plane, it allows you to change and cancel most flights for no fee — a perk that's used quite often in my own household.

And while the card charges a $99 annual fee, you'll receive 5,000 bonus points on every account anniversary, worth $65 based on The Points Guy's valuations. While this doesn't fully make up for the annual fee, it reduces it significantly.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

Best card for Southwest

A great sign-up offer might be one reason to get this card, but the value goes even deeper. First, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card currently offers up to 100,000 bonus points — 70,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months after opening the account, and an additional 30,000 bonus points after spending $25,000 in the first six months.

You can usually redeem Southwest points for "Wanna Get Away" fares at 1.5 cents each, so on the surface, this bonus is worth a solid $1,500 toward Southwest travel. But you can get even more value than that. That's because if you earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, you'll earn the coveted Southwest Companion Pass.

The Companion Pass allows a friend or family member to fly with you for free — plus minimal taxes and fees — for the rest of the year it's earned, plus the entire following year. Best of all, points earned from this credit card sign-up offer and spending on the card count toward earning the pass!

So if you apply for the Southwest Performance card now and meet both spending thresholds, you can be on your way to earning the Southwest Companion Pass for most of 2021 and all of 2022. That's because you'll earn 100,000 points for both tiers of the sign-up bonus, and you'll also have earned 25,000 points from spending $25,000 on the card to get those bonuses. This gives you a total of 125,000 qualifying points — the exact amount required to earn the pass.

This card also offers many benefits that outweigh its $199 annual fee. You'll get up to a $100 credit toward the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, four upgraded boarding passes per year and 365 Wi-Fi credits per year. That's all on top of the 9,000 bonus points you receive after each account anniversary year, which itself is worth $135 toward a Southwest flight.

Ink Business Preferred

Best travel card for businesses

If you're in the market for a flexible business travel credit card, look no further than the Ink Business Preferred. With the card's current sign-up offer of 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first three months after you open the account, you could be looking at $2,000 in travel value based on The Points Guy's valuations — the highest bonus on our list.

The Ink Business Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points — similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve — and you can use these points in a few different ways. You can redeem them for cash back at 1 cent apiece, or redeem them for travel through Chase's travel portal at 1.25 cents apiece.

But to get the most value for them, you'd want to do some homework and learn about Chase's 13 airline and hotel travel partners, since you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to any of these partners at a 1-to-1 ratio. Transferring points is the best way to get premium redemptions like first or business class flights, but it does take some time and effort to find the best awards.

Another perk of the Ink Business Preferred — and possibly the best reason to be a card holder — is its cell phone protection benefit. When you pay your cell phone bill with the card, you and all your employees on your phone plan are covered if a phone is stolen or damaged. This can potentially save your business a lot of money, all while earning 3 points for every dollar you spend on your phone bill.

Other desirable perks of the card include purchase protection, trip insurance, trip delay protection and primary car rental insurance. But the one downside to this offer is its high minimum spend — $15,000 in the first three months after you open the account. However, for many businesses, putting $5,000 per month in business expenses on a credit card may not be very challenging.

Check out CNN Underscored's list of the best credit cards of 2021.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.

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