Free First Class Next Month 4.0: Best Current Credit Card Offers for Beginners


Some links in the post below have been removed because the offer is expired. Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

This is the ninth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Best Practices for Your Rewards Card Applications.

Credit cards are the way you will earn the majority of your miles. Credit cards are a free way to get the miles necessary to be able to travel anywhere you want for just the cost of the taxes of an award ticket.

But applying for a credit card requires careful consideration.

Make sure you’ve read all of Free First Class Next Month up to this point before jumping on these offers. Definitely read:

Best Practices for Your Rewards Card Applications

Why I Open Business Credit Cards

And absolutely positively don’t apply for credit cards if they cause you to spend beyond your means, if you can’t pay them in full each month, or you are applying for a major loan in the near future.

Your credit is very valuable and your responsibility. Read the terms and conditions of the offers carefully, and consult a financial professional if necessary. Most people in this hobby are using credit to their advantage to take extra and more luxurious trips. But if you don’t stay on top of your cards and balances, they will stay on top of you.

The Best Two Cards

I recommend beginners start with two cards that are very different: the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard and the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is awesome because its sign up bonus is worth $400on any flights on ay airline any time without blackouts. And the card earns 2.22% in travel rewards on all purchases without limit that can also be used on any flight, any time.

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Chip card technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, currently 16.24% or 20.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score access for Barclaycard Arrival cardmembers

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is awesome because it comes with 40,000 Ultimate Rewards as a sign up bonus. Ultimate Rewards are a very valuable transferable point that can be transferred 1:1 to United, British Airways, Korean, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.  If there’s award space out there, you can usually get it with a smart Ultimate Rewards transfer. Plus the card earns Ultimate Rewards on all purchases and double Ultimate Rewards on travel and dining.

Application Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred

These two cards allow beginners to earn two very different types of points. They allow beginners to establish relationships with Chase and Barclay’s, to work on multiple minimum spending requirements at once, and to dip their toes into the rewards waters to see whether rewards cards are right for them.

Other Cards

There are a ton of other great cards. I just don’t recommend beginners bite off more than they can chew on their first applications. Click here to see a bigger list of the Best Current Card Offers.


If you have one of the cards listed here and want a substitute recommendation or you have a specific trip in mind and want a suggestion for the right card for the trip, I offer Free Credit Card Consultations.

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

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  1. If a friend asked me this question, I would recommend one of the Club Carlson cards over the Barclaycard. Especially if they are planning a trip to Europe. Why? After you get the card and do teh spend requirement, you basically have 100K points, which can easily be worth 4 nights in a super luxurious hotel in Europe. Or it can be worth up to about a dizen nights in cheaper hotels in the states.

    How come that’s not better than $400 in cash? Or, as you stretch it, $444?

    • $444 is not a stretch, that’s what it’s worth. Actually $444.444444444 repeating. I agree that the Club Carlson card is awesome. There are a lot of great cards and choosing two was tough. I went for broad value, and flights are more broadly valuable that hotels, since not everyone needs hotels (stay with friends, hostels, couchsurfing, airbnb, vrbo, etc). I definitely don’t think you steered your friend wrong though.

  2. In a post with the title “free first class [anything],” I have to question recommending the Arrival card which is one of the most inefficient ways imaginable to fly first class.

    • Yes, the Arrival card is really bad for trying to get first class. It’s really good for free travel and really, really good for beginners, and this is simply my beginners’ series. If you are confused by this suggestion, you will be far more confused later when I talk about buying economy class tickets and using couchsurfing for lodging. Not all posts are about first class in this series.

  3. I agree with the comment on the Club Carlson card. I don’t have it yet but plan on getting it before I go to Europe again next year. I went to Europe for 9 nights in March & had about 170k in Club Carlson points due to their great promos. Also had points from the SPG card signup. I was able to stay in 4-5 star hotels for next to nothing due to these points. I only wish I had the CC card to get the extra free nights. Raddison Blu’s in Europe are amazing. Bottom line is the CC points ended up being way more valuable than the $444

  4. I was planning on applying for both the Barclays arrival mastercard and the USairways mastercard using your links and was wondering if I was likely to get approved for 2 cards at the same time from Barclays? I have very good credit. Or should I apply for one or the other to play it safe? I don’t think I currently have any Barclays cards although I have had the USairways mastercard in the past.

    • If they are your first Barclay’s cards, I would apply for them six months apart. If you’ve had a Barclay’s card for at least six months, I would apply for them at the same time.

  5. Do you mean if I currently have a Barclay’s card for six months or in the past? I don’t think I currently have one, but I’ve definitely had one in the past; a couple of times and for over six months.

    • I don’t know what I would do in your situation then. Your guess about the right course is as good as mine.


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