Which $500 Sign Up Bonus Should You Get?

Posted by Madison on August 2, 2011

We were hit with a landslide of huge credit card sign up bonuses lately. And while I think it’s fun to apply for all of them at the same time, I realize some readers want to pick just one: the best one. But which one is the best?

Obviously, picking the card with the largest net sign up bonus (after subtracting the annual fee) is the biggest consideration. But it’s important to look a little further and evaluate the spending requirements and redemption options. In addition, I like to look at the long term point earning opportunities, including the anniversary bonus.

Current $500 Credit Card Bonus Offers

Let’s see how the current $500 bonus cards stack up:

Credit Card Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card Citi Thank You Premier Card Chase Sapphire Preferred card
Bonus Points 50,000 50,000 50,000
Spending Requirement One purchase $2,000 $3,000
Travel Reward Option 2 Free Roundtrip flights $665 in airfare 2 flights of $312.50 each
Gift Card Reward Option $500 in gift cards $500 in gift cards $500 in gift cards
Cash Reward Option None $312.50 (Each 8,000 points redeemable for $50) $500 statement credit
Annual Fee $99 $125 First year $0, then $95
Foreign Transaction Fee 3% None None
Bonus Offer Details Southwest $500 Sign Up Bonus Citi Thank You Premier $500 Sign Up Bonus Chase Sapphire $500 Sign Up Bonus
Earning Purchase Points 2 points for each $1 made with Southwest, including gift cards, vacation packages & their partners (hotel & rental cars). 1 point per $1 everywhere else. 1.2 points per $1 spent when you use your card at gas stations, supermarkets, drugstores, commuter transportation and parking merchants. 1 point per $1 everywhere else. 2 points for each $1 of eligible airfare net purchases made online through the program booking tool. 1 point per $1 everywhere else.
Yearly Points Bonus 6,000 points 1% – 5% based on year 7%
Card Issuer Chase Citi Chase
Sign Up Southwest card Citi Thank You Premier Card Chase Sapphire Card

It was fun to see each card roll out a hefty sign up bonus this summer, then change it immediately after seeing the bigger bonuses from the other cards. Coincidence?

If you’re playing the credit card sign up bonus game this summer, which card did you pick?

If you're looking for a new credit card, be sure to check out our credit card directory!

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Comments to Which $500 Sign Up Bonus Should You Get?

  1. I have received practically the same offers! Haven’t decided which one I want to open yet, and for what purpose. I feel travel in our future….:)

    Amanda L Grossman

    • Nothing like being forced to take a vacation!


  2. I spoke with Sapphire this morning and they gave me the heads up that the rewards will be updated effective Mid-July but they haven’t been announced. Regular Sapphire holders will earn 2points on Dining (instead of 1). Sapphire Preferred holders will earn the same, plus 2 points on Travel and 3 points on travel if booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website. Just thought I’d throw that out there if it affects any of your decisions!

    Jake T.

    • Great news. Thanks for the update Jake!


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