I'm taking a break from my (long overdue) trip reports to provide some links to great credit card sign up bonuses.
100% honesty: If you use these links, the Grosses will be getting some sort of points bonus in return for your signup. What that means, however, is that we hold each of these cards (we even pay the annual fee on one), and have gotten good value out of it. In 2016 we took 2 business class flights and 4 economy flights (all international) and stayed used over three weeks of free hotel nights, in part because of these cards. If you're looking to pick some up, peruse these links.
Fantastic Sign Up Bonuses
Chase Sapphire Preferred (Visa)
This is a card you should get sooner rather than later if you're looking to earn points and miles. The signup bonus is 50,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 in three months. Add an authorized user, get an extra 5,000 points. You'll also earn two points per dollar on travel and dining. If you eat out and or travel a lot, you'll probably have at least 60,000 points when your sign up bonus hits. I like to transfer my Ultimate Reward points to United Mileage Plus (here's their frequent flyer award chart) or Hyatt, where I can often get great hotel rooms for 8,000-12,000 points per night. You can also use these points to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Aaron and I love this card, and will continue to pay the annual fee each year. For new applicants, the fee is waived the first year, so you could always choose to cancel the card or downgrade to a no annual fee Chase card after the first year if you don't want to pay the annual fee.
You will only be approved for this card if you have opened less than 5 new credit card accounts in the last 24 months. To check this, pull your credit report (you can do it for free on Credit Karma) and count the number of new credit card accounts over the last 24 months. Even if a card is closed, or if it's an authorized use of someone else's card, it will count in Chase's 5/24 formula. Less than 5 accounts? Great! Go for this card right now and you'll have enough points to transfer to United for a round-trip flight to Europe from the US!
If you're still under 5/24, it would be smart to also get the United Mileage Plus Explorer card while it has a 50,000 mile bonus. You can combine that bonus with the Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus to have even more miles! I don't hold this card anymore, so I don't have a referral link. Google it and you'll find it. Another good bonus (and card benefits) is available for the Chase Sapphire Reserve (the bonus is double if you apply at a Chase Bank branch before March 12), but make sure you understand the annual fee, which is not waived the first year.
Starwood Preferred Guest (American Express)
For a limited time, there is an increased sign-up bonus on this card: 25,000 SPG points after you spend $3,000 in three months, and another 10,000 SPG points when you spend an additional $2,000 within the first six months. SPG points are great because they're incredibly versatile. Of course, you can use them to book SPG hotels (e.g., Westin, Sheraton) at just a few thousand points per night. Or, you can transfer them to Marriott at a rate or 1:3, making this 35,000 point signup bonus worth 105,000 Marriott points. Or, you can transfer the points to Delta, American, or many other airlines, and get an extra 5,000 points for every 20,000 points transferred. So, the 40,000+ points you'll have after meeting the minimum spend will be worth 50,000 airline miles. (Note: SPG points do not transfer to United.) The annual fee on this card is waived the first year.
I love SPG points because they're so flexible. I'd definitely recommend signing up for the personal card while the bonus is high. If you also happen to have a business (even as a sole proprietor with small side income), you can also sign up for the SPG business card from Amex, which has a slightly higher minimum spend to receive the same bonus.
Low Minimum Spend Requirements
If you're not able to spend $3,000-$4,000 in three months but want to dip your toes into points/miles, consider this card. The minimum spend is $1,000 within three months, and the signup bonus is 75,000 Hilton points. There is no annual fee on this card, ever. 75,000 points should get you a couple nights at a full-service Hilton in mid-size cities (I paid 30,000-40,000 per night in Germany) or up to seven nights at limited service properties in small towns off the interstate, say....on a road trip. In April, Hilton is changing their award program so that family members can share accounts...making this a great card for both you and your significant other (or parents!) to get, so you can pool your points. Here's my link to sign up. We get bonus points if you use it before February 27.
Amex Everyday (American Express)
This is another low minimum spend, no annual fee card. Spend $1,000 in three months and get 15,000 Amex Membership Reward Points. This is another good flexible point currency - it can transfer to Delta, Aeroplan, Hilton, or many other travel partners. You can also redeem points for Amazon gift cards or for AirBNB. If you happen to have an American Express card that earns Membership Reward points that you're looking to cancel (say, because you don't get enough value to pay the annual fee), you can add this card to your wallet and keep your Membership Reward Points balance active. Here's my link to sign up.