The Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses in May, Including an 80,000-Point Whopper From Chase

A photo to accompany a story about the best credit card sign-up bonuses Getty Images

We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a partner website and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money.

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to earn a lot of credit card points quickly is through a card’s sign-up bonus, or welcome offer — and there are a few good ones you can take advantage of in May, including one that can net you a relatively staggering 80,0000-point haul from Chase. Those points will be very useful as travel returns. 

A sign-up bonus simply means that if you spend a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time on a particular credit card, you’ll earn a given amount of bonus points. That’s on top of the points you would earn anyway on that spending. 

While the amount varies from card to card, and not all credit cards offer sign-up bonuses, it’s a great strategy for earning a solid chunk of points in a short time. You’ll get the most value from those points by redeeming them for free travel, either via the card issuer’s travel booking portal or by transferring them to airlines or hotels. 

Although the CDC is still recommending against non-essential travel, now is a good time to increase your stash of points and miles for future travels, when it’s safe to do so — and a credit card sign-up bonus is a great way to get there.

So let’s take a closer look at some of the most lucrative sign-up bonuses on the market in May.

The Best Credit Card Offers in May 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Now is the best time to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It’s currently offering an elevated sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in your first three months of account opening. You’ll also get a $50 statement credit towards grocery store purchases in your first year of membership. Typically, the bonus is 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points with the same spending requirements, so this gives you an opportunity to earn an extra 20,000 points at the same conditions.

Pro Tip

New cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card get up to $50 in statement credits towards groceries. This can be a great way to offset the cost of the $95 annual fee while saving money on your essentials.

You can later redeem these Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel via the Chase Travel Portal or by transferring to partners such as Hyatt, Southwest and United. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card carries a $95 annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Intro bonus:
    80,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

  • Intro bonus:
    100,000 miles
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    17.24% – 24.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

If you’re looking for a more premium travel credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve may be a good fit. While it carries a $550 annual fee, that high number is  offset by perks such as a $300 travel credit, $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck/Global Entry, access to Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide, $60 in DoorDash credits, and up to $120 in Peloton credits. If you can take advantage of all those perks and credits, you can get more value out of the card than its $550 annual fee. 

The card is currently offering a bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. While this is 20,000 points less than its sister card, the Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still popular with frequent travelers looking to have a more luxurious travel experience.

American Express® Gold Card

The Amex Gold Card is another top travel rewards card, with a smaller annual fee than the Chase Sapphire Reserve or its own sibling, the $550 American Express Platinum. It’s currently offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first six months of account opening. While it’s a slightly lower bonus than what you’d find on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it requires spending over a more manageable time, which could be worth considering depending on your budget.

The card is also a prime choice for food lovers since it  offers 4x points per dollar on dining purchases, as well as at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x).

Capital One® Venture® Card

With the Capital One Venture card, you can earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 on purchases in your first 12 months of account opening — or 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. You can redeem your miles to cover  travel purchases on your credit card statement, or transfer them to partners such as JetBlue, Wyndham, and many international airlines that serve the U.S. Depending on your budget, this can prove to be a pretty lucrative bonus.  

The card also earns 2x miles on all purchases, and carries a $95 annual fee.

How Sign-Up Bonuses Work

As mentioned, a sign-up bonus or welcome offer is an opportunity to earn a lot of points in a given timeframe. If you spend a certain amount of money in a set amount of time on that credit card, you’ll earn the bonus.

This is also in addition to the points you might earn from spending on the card, including in categories that earn bonus points. For example, if your card earns bonus points on dining, you’ll earn bonus points on all of your dining purchases in addition to the points you’ll earn from the bonus or welcome offer.

What’s the Catch?

When applying for a new credit card, considering what (if any) the sign-up bonus is can be a solid selling point. It’s important to consider, though, if that bonus aligns with your spending habits. If it’s a high bonus and you don’t think you can meet the minimum spending threshold, it’s worth considering if you will still get value out of the card from the other perks and benefits.

It’s also important to note that you should not spend more than you can afford just to earn the sign-up bonus. If you cannot afford to pay your bills on time and in full every month, it can negate the value of the points you’ll earn due to the high APR you will have to pay on the balance. If you can’t meet the minimum spending threshold to earn the sign-up bonus, there is no penalty or downside; you just would not earn the bonus points. 

Signing Up for Multiple Offers

You can certainly apply for more than one travel rewards credit card. In fact, if you are looking to diversify your points portfolio — as in, earn points from different credit card issuers so you have a range of points currencies to later redeem for travel — this could be a worthwhile strategy.

That said, the same caveat applies: If you cannot afford to spend the minimum amount required to earn the sign-up bonus, it’s not worth it. And with this in mind, you might want to consider staggering signing up for different credit cards to earn high sign-up bonuses.

If earning multiple sign-up bonuses is part of your financial and travel strategy, we recommend signing up for one card at a time, earning the sign-up bonus or welcome offer and then signing up for the next. That way, you won’t be trying to earn multiple bonuses at once, which can put a strain on your finances. 

Keep also in mind that opening many credit card accounts in a short time will have a negative effect on your credit score, so don’t go overboard just because you can.  

Bottom Line

A sign-up bonus or welcome offer can be a lucrative way to earn a good stash of points or miles for future travel, when it’s safe to do so again. They can vary from card to card, so it’s an important perk to factor into your considerations when deciding whether to apply for a card. That said, you shouldn’t spend more than you can afford just to hit the minimum spending threshold to earn the bonus. 

And always do your research before applying for a card. There are plenty of travel rewards cards on the market that offer various types of sign-up bonuses, so devote the time to finding one that fits your budget and your travel goals.