7 Welcome Bonuses Worth Hundreds Of Dollars: From $276 To $706 (January 2021)

We recently talked about the great deals on new cards in January. But given how there are so many amazing welcome bonuses currently available for all travelers, I wanted to simply highlight and summarize the 7 best that will be optimal for the vast majority of travelers and help you choose.

You should read about why you should regularly apply for cards to increase your credit score and easily earn a lot of free travel or you can always check out our ranking of the best credit cards in Canada to see the month’s best offers for travelers (and the page design will be revamped and improved soon).

(By the way, we are offering a very useful free checklist for when you get a new card, with important pro tips to avoid costly mistakes… like the way-too-common one of canceling/closing old cards.)

So here we go.

 

Overview of the best offers for January 2021

As a reminder, out of the 7 best offers right now, only 2 have minimum income requirements:

  • the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* requires $60,000 in income
  • the BMO World Elite™* Mastercard®* requires $80,000 in income
  • the 5 others do not have minimum income requirements

And to simplify, for those who want this in a very curated way, here’s who should choose which card now based on their situation:

As always, feel free to ask any questions in the comments below; I’ll be glad to help. I have many of these among the 9 cards currently in my wallet and I know the others very well too!

 

Card for those who spend a lot: American Express Cobalt Card

  • Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $706 for Welcome Bonus (with extra $3k spend, ≈ $528 without)
  • Minimum spend amount: $500 every month for 12 months + $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Minimum income required: $0
  • Best for: those who can spend a lot (for Marriott points or easy-to-use credit)
  • Learn more: card details
  • Apply now: secure Amex application link

The American Express Cobalt Card is amazing, but especially if you can spend a bit more on a card—or if you don’t want to maximize your rewards and plan on just getting one card per year.

That’s because it has an excellent earn rate and the welcome bonus is different than all the others: instead of having a minimum spend amount in the first 3 months, you need to spend $500 per month the first year to maximize it (with a special increased offer giving you an even bigger bonus if you spend an extra $1,500 in the first 3 months).

That gives you a ton of points though, especially if you spend a lot at the grocery store (for groceries… or for gift cards to other retailers), because it earns an incredible 5 Amex Select points per dollar (easy-to-use travel credit)!!! But it’s actually with the American Express Cobalt Card that I earn a vast majority of my many Marriott points for free hotels (5 Amex Select points = 6 Marriott points), as these are a lot more valuable.

There is currently the first improved welcome bonus offer since the card launched and it’s the best time to get it: you can’t go wrong with the best offer ever seen on this card (and a card that was already among the best in Canada).

 

Very valuable 2-for-1 Air Canada Buddy Pass: American Express Aeroplan Card

  • Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $433 for Welcome Bonus
  • Minimum spend amount: $1,500 in 3 months
  • Minimum income required: $0
  • Best for: travelers who want a 2-for-1 deal to North America
  • Learn more: card details
  • Apply now: secure Amex application link

The American Express Aeroplan Card is a great new option for travelers of all income levels, especially if you are planning a North American trip (if your income is between $60,000 and $80,000, you also have the TD and CIBC versions, but…)

The 2-for-1 Buddy Pass can provide outsized value, particularly if you travel during peak periods.

It gives you a free ticket to anywhere in North America (Hawaii and Mexico included) on Air Canada if you buy one in cash. The base fare will be $0 with no surcharges, just the mandatory taxes ($100 roundtrip to many destinations, or sometimes $200 for Canadian destinations).

Despite the taxes, it’s always the net value that matters when you know how to math! And the amount you save will likely be easily over the $350 valuation we gave the pass for many travelers. You also get some Aeroplan points for free flights on Air Canada (more options) or its 38 airline partners (more potential value).

As a cardholder, you’ll get a free checked bag on Air Canada, as well as preferred pricing for Aeroplan reward flights on Air Canada.

If you already have the Marriott Bonvoy Card, this is likely the best offer for those who earn under $60,000 in income.

 

Brand-new card for easy-to-use fixed-value points: BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card

  • Flytrippers Valuation of $342 for Welcome Bonus
  • Minimum spend amount: $3,000 in 3 months
  • Minimum income required: $60,000
  • Best for: travelers who want simple easy-to-use points
  • Learn more: card details
  • Apply now: secure BMO application link

The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card is an all-new option, perfect for those who can spend a little bit more on a card in the first 3 months. And also perfect for those who don’t want to deal with more valuable but more complicated variable-value points.

BMO Rewards points are a simple travel credit and you also get lifestyle credits that apply to literally any expense. That is the very lucrative welcome bonus, and the card has the best earn rate in Canada on some purchase categories.

Detailed card review coming soon.

 

The card every traveler should have: Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

  • Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $357 for Welcome Bonus
  • Minimum spend amount: $1,500 in 3 months
  • Minimum income required: $0
  • Best for: every traveler in Canada
  • Learn more: card details
  • Apply now: secure Amex application link

The Marriott Bonvoy Card is one that every traveler should have, with its welcome bonus of up to 8 completely free hotel nights in many countries (that doesn’t expire as long as you use your card once per year). And with the current increased earn rates until January, it’s a great time to get it.

It’s also great for beginners specifically, because with the annual free night certificate in luxurious hotels all around the world, it’s a card you should never cancel. That will build up the length of credit history component of your credit score.

And even if you don’t want to stay in Marriott hotels, as an alternative, the Welcome Bonus alone is almost enough to be transferred to 25,000 Aeroplan points. That would still make this Welcome Bonus worth ≈ $211 based on our Flytrippers Valuation and give you the amazing free night certificate going forward.

 

A Mastercard option for a simple credit and lounge access: BMO World Elite™* Mastercard®*

  • Flytrippers Valuation of $327 for Welcome Bonus
  • Minimum spend amount: $3,000 in 3 months
  • Minimum income required: $80,000
  • Best for: those who don’t spend enough for the Cobalt or want a Mastercard or want lounge access
  • Learn more: card details
  • Apply now: secure link for BMO application

The BMO World Elite™* Mastercard®* gives you very straightforward points that will give you a travel credit worth $327. It’s a good option if you don’t spend enough to maximize the Cobalt Card or if you spend a lot at Costco, as they only accept Mastercards.

But most importantly, this card comes with 4 annual airport lounge passes for those who want a luxurious experience.

 

Increased AIR MILES offer: American Express AIR MILES Platinum

  • Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $276 for Welcome Bonus
  • Minimum spend amount: $1,500 in 3 months
  • Minimum income required: $0
  • Best for: everyone who uses AIR MILES for travel or wants less valuable cashback
  • Learn more: card details
  • Apply now: secure Amex application link

The American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card is not a premium card, despite its name. It’s a card accessible to all and it is the best one to earn many AIR MILES miles that are best used for short-haul flights and car rentals, not as cashback-type rewards. You can easily get 20% (or more) in additional value that way.

But even as cash-back, this is the best welcome bonus available for those who earn under $60,000 (unless you can spend $4,000 in 4 months on the SimplyCash Preferred Card).

With the current offer that is a 50% increase, after unlocking the Welcome Bonus with $1,500 spent, you’ll have 3,300 AIR MILES miles. That’s worth ≈ $396, but by deducting the $120 fee, that’s a net of ≈ $276 in free travel or a minimum of $227 as Cash Rewards if you prefer simplicity over value.

Detailed card review coming in early January.

 

Cashback offer: American Express SimplyCash Preferred

  • Flytrippers Valuation of $301 for Welcome Bonus
  • Minimum spend amount: $0 (but $4,000 in 4 months to maximize bonus)
  • Minimum income required: $0
  • Best for: everyone who wants less valuable cashback but can spend a bit more
  • Apply now: secure Amex application link

We don’t often recommend cashback cards (as they rarely have welcome bonuses and welcome bonuses are the key) but the SimplyCash Preferred Card has the benefit of offering an interesting bonus.

The offer is that you get 10% back on your first $4,000 spent in 4 months, so $400. There’s a fee of $99, so that’s a net of $301 in free travel, which is really not bad at all. But $4,000 is quite a lot and could be used to unlock 2 welcome bonuses instead of just one.

If you really insist on having cashback but can’t spend $4,000, there is another option but only for those who earn over $60,000: the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite* gives you $200 cashback if you spend $2,000 (same for the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®* if you earn $80,000).

Detailed card review coming very soon.

 

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Summary

There are currently many great offers in the world of travel rewards! Taking advantage of them now is a great way to be ready for when travel resumes: you’ll have some free travel accumulated during the forced travel break!

Do you have any questions about these deals? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Explore awesome destinations: travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks: travel tips

Discover free travel: travel rewards

 

Featured image: Preikestolen, Norway (photo credit: Alexey Topolyanskiy)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 62/193 Countries, 46/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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