Credit Cards With The Best Annual Spending Threshold Bonuses

With all the possibilities to manufacture spending going on these days with things like Visa and MasterCard gift cards and Vanilla Reloads, I decided it was time to take another look at which cards would be the best to put the majority of that manufactured spending on. Even though we are 4 months into the year, there is still plenty of time and creative ways to hit spending thresholds. If you need a way to manufacture some spending to reach a threshold, take a look at the Manufactured Spending category for some ideas.


Obviously, if you have recently done a round of credit card apps you will want to put your spending on those cards until you meet the minimum spending thresholds. But what about on an ongoing basis when you don’t have any minimum spending requirements? There are many travel rewards credit cards that offer additional perks such as bonus points and elite status, among other things, for spending a certain amount on the card during a calendar year. Some of these perks can be very valuable and are certainly worth considering. You may find you would still prefer to just put the points on whichever card whose program you will use the most. Or you might just find a new favorite credit card.


Here’s a look into the many credit cards that offer such annual bonuses. Look them over and see if there is something you want to start working towards. I have listed the annual bonus, the spending requirement, annual fee, and for what it is worth I give my opinion as to whether it is worth it or not for me. Keep in mind that everyone’s valuations vary depending on how you redeem miles/points and what you are looking for. In other words  what may be great for me may be worthless to you, and visa-versa.

You’ll notice I did not mention what the sign up offers are as we are only discussing the benefits of hitting an annual spending threshold. I am not pushing credit cards here either and I don’t get paid for any of the following cards except the couple of Barclay’s cards and wouldn’t be pushing them even if I did. Keep in mind, these are not reviews of whether these cards are worth having or not. This is simply a review of the annual spending bonuses and whether it is worth it to put all your spending on a card for that specific purpose.


Airline Credit Cards:


British Airways Visa Signature Card from Chase: 

Annual Spending Bonus: Travel Together Ticket which allows you to bring a companion on an Award redemption for no additional Avios
Spending Requirement: $30,000 in a calendar year
Annual Fee: $95
Worth it? I will never go out of my way to earn this since it must be used for a flights on BA metal which charges astronomical fuel surcharges. Even though the companion ticket requires no Avios, you are still responsible for the taxes and fee’s. Not Worth It!


Delta Reserve Card from American Express (Personal or Business Version)

Annual Spending Bonus: 30,000 bonus MQM’s and redeemable miles
Spending Requirement: At $30,000 you get the first 15,000 miles and at $60,000 you get the 2nd 15,000 mile bonus.
Annual Fee: $450
Worth it? I am considering getting this card for the MQM’s now that I fly Delta more. For those who fly frequently but not enough to hit top-tier elite, this can be of huge value. For spending $60,000 you earn 60,000 redeemable miles for the regular spending plus 30,000 bonus redeemable miles plus 30,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles. Even without the included SkyClub access, this card is worth it! Plus that doesn’t include the 10,000 bonus MQM sign-up bonus! In my opinion, this is the best card of them all for an annual spending bonus. Worth it!


Delta Reserve Business Card


Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express: (Personal and Business Version)

Annual Spending Bonus: 20,000 MQM’s and 20,000 redeemable miles
Spending Requirement: Receive first 10,000 after spending $25,000 and the second 10,000 after a spending a total of $50,000 in a calendar year
Annual Fee: $150
Worth it? 2nd to the Reserve card, I would consider this the next best airline card for annual spending and with a much easier to swallow annual fee. This is well worth it for those who already have lounge access or don’t need lounge access. Also a great fit for those who don’t need as many MQM’s (due to the amount they fly) to hit the tier they are shooting for. Worth it!


Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard from Citi: 

Annual Spending Bonus: 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles
Spending Requirement: $40,000 in a calendar year
Annual Fee: $450
Worth it? Outside of flying, EQM’s are nearly impossible to get with AA and therefore an extra 10,000 could be a big benefit for some, but I would like to see it offer the possibility for more EQM’s before I would apply. Strictly for the EQM’s this card is not worth the annual fee. However if you tend to have long layovers then the included Admirals Club membership might justify the annual fee. Potentially Worth it to some.


United MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card from Chase: 

Annual Spending Bonus: 10,000 bonus redeemable miles
Spending Requirement: $25,000 in a calendar year
Annual Fee: $95 – Waived the first year
Worth it? You are in essence earning 1.4 miles/dollar if you spend $25,000 in a year. For me it is not worth it, unless you need a lot of United miles and just get the sign-up bonus, hit the calendar spending threshold, and cancel before paying the annual fee. Not worth it.


US Airways Premier World MasterCard: 

Annual Spending Bonus: 10,000 Premier Qualifying Miles
Spending Requirement: $25,000 in a calendar year
Annual Fee: $89
Worth it? If you find yourself falling less than 10,000 PQM’s short of whatever elite level you are chasing, then this might be beneficial. Or if you want to gamble on the timing of US and AA’s programs merging then there is the possibility of them rolling into AA elite miles, but I wouldn’t gamble it.


Miles of possiblities US Air MasterCard Screenshot


Virgin Atlantic American Express from B of A: 

Annual Spending Bonus: 15,000 bonus miles and up to 24 tier points
Spending Requirement: Miles awarded after $25,000 in a calendar year and tier points are awarded 1 for every $2,500 spent maxed at 2 tier points per month
Annual Fee: $90
Worth it? The tier points could add $400-$500 value to you if you fly Virgin Atlantic with any consistency as 15 points in a rolling 12-13 months will push you from red to silver or 40 in a rolling 12-13 takes you straight to gold. I never fly Virgin and therefore would get no value out of them.


Virgin America Visa Card from Barclays: 

Annual Spending Bonus: 5,000 status points for no annual fee version – 10,000 status points for annual fee version
Spending Requirement: $25,000 in a calendar year.
Annual Fee: $0 or $49
Worth it? Not for most people.


Southwest Airlines Premier Rapid Rewards Card: (Personal and Business Version)

Annual Spending Bonus: Up to 15,000 tier-qualifying points
Spending Requirement: 1,500 tier-qualifying points per $10,000 in purchases
Annual Fee: $99
Worth it? No benefit to me as Southwest doesn’t even fly out of my airport. But even if it did, I wouldn’t be chasing status on them since their elite program doesn’t offer near the benefits of other airlines.



Hotel Credit Cards:


Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express: 

Annual Spending Bonus: Gold Status or Diamond Status
Spending Requirement: Gold Status after $20,000 and Diamond after $40,000 in a calendar year. (note-card includes complementary Gold for the 1st year)
Annual Fee: $75
Worth it? Gold status is the sweet spot with Hilton kicking in free breakfast and internet. However, Gold can be pretty easy to attain as Hilton seems to give it away pretty often and considering that points redemption’s for Hilton’s top properties are now a complete joke, I wouldn’t be racking up spending to reach Gold or Diamond via this method. Also, considering the HHonors Reserve card comes with complementary Gold for only $20 more per year, I would not be working for Gold status via this card.


Hilton HHonors Reserve Card from Citi: 

Annual Spending Bonus: 1 free weekend night at most any Hilton property
Spending Requirement: $10,000
Annual Fee: $95
Worth it? The 1 free weekend night alone might make it worth it now that it now includes most all of the Waldorf Astoria properties and is easily a $400 value. And if you can’t get Gold status free through a promotion then this card is definitely worth it as it includes Gold status.


Hilton Hhonors Reserve Card


Hyatt Card from Chase: 

Annual Spending Bonus: Up to 5 stay credits & 10 nights credit towards Diamond elite status
Spending Requirement: 2 stays/5 nights after $20,000 + an additional 3 stays/5 nights credit after $40,000 in a calendar year.
Annual Fee: $75
Worth it? Even though Hyatt Diamond status is the best top tier elite level among hotel programs, getting 5 stays/10 nights towards it does not make it worth while to put $40k on the card by itself. However, as Hyatt has a robust program and some of the best hotels, I would definitely say this card is worth the spending for anyone who stays frequently at Hyatt properties.


Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express: 

Annual Spending Bonus: Gold Status
Spending Requirement: $30,000 in a calendar year
Annual Fee: $65 waived the 1st year
Worth it?  While I do like the Starwood program, the Gold Status alone does not justify putting $30,000/ year on the card.


Marriott Rewards Premier Card from Chase: 

Annual Spending Bonus: Unlimited potential elite night credits
Spending Requirement: 1 Elite night earned for every $3,000 spent on the card. No Max.
Annual Fee: $85 waived the 1st year
Worth it? It really depends on how much you stay at Marriott properties. If you find yourself falling short of Platinum by only a few nights, then this could be of huge value to you.



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2 Responses to Credit Cards With The Best Annual Spending Threshold Bonuses

  1. Paul says:

    Disagree with UA Explorer – 1.4 miles per $ is good value for what is probably the best airline program out there. You can get good retention offers to keep the card, so it’s a no brainer for me to put $25K on it.

    SPG is only marginally interesting, if only for the transfer optionability. But there are better options in all categories (hotels/airlines). Can get vastly better redemptions on Hyatt top tier stays. And better redemptions on mid and low tier stays in just about every other hotel chain. And earn better miles per $ on airline cards. As such, SPG is an inefficient card to own if you are a serious churner. Loyalty Lobby just posted his comparison of all major hotel chains and unsurprisingly, SPG trailed by a long margin. But that reality never seems to sink in to the blogging community….

  2. Latvwriter says:

    Just another point of view: I love the BA companion ticket bonus. Yes, the fuel surcharges are ridiculous. But, 150k Avios plus $2400 for two 1st class tickets from Seattle to London each year is pretty awesome! Each ticket goes for around $14k so I think this is a great deal.

Let me know what you are thinking!