Travel may not be back to normal, but credit card companies are starting to offer new flight, hotel, and points perks — and everyone stands to gain

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  • Credit card companies shifted away from travel benefits at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but these perks are starting to creep back.
  • American Express recently unveiled a suite of travel features for its cardholders, including discounts on eligible hotel stays and airfare.
  • Chase and Capital One also launched record-high welcome bonuses on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.
  • Keep an eye out for more enticing sign-up bonuses like these, because banks still need to entice low-risk, high-spending customers. 
  • See Business Insider's list of the best travel rewards credit cards »

This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on the page are from our partners like Citi and American Express, but our coverage is always independent. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

When the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic started to set in this year — travel bans, 14-day quarantines, and canceled business trips — one big question loomed over both the financial industry and points and miles lovers: Would the shutdown also shutter the rewarding world of travel credit cards?

At first, it seemed like the answer could be yes, as lucrative credit card sign-up bonuses dwindled and companies rushed to add non-travel options for using credit card points. But as 2020 winds down, record-high welcome bonuses on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, plus a new announcement from American Express, are offering a sense of reassurance.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardAmerican Express The Platinum Card® from American Express

 We're already seeing some record-setting activity with the 80,000-point sign-up bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and that kind of offer leads Brett Holzhauer, a reporter at Forbes Advisor, to declare that "right now is the time to sign up for cards to earn sign-up bonuses."

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardCiti Citi® Double Cash CardChase Chase Sapphire Reserve®

"Sign-up bonuses are in an interesting predicament right now," Miller says. "On one hand, banks want to conserve cash as folks get laid off [or] default on loans. On the other hand, it's a great method to captivate an audience that may want to apply for a new credit card, for any number of reasons."

Miller says that if he was a consumer looking at the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, he wouldn't wait to apply (it doesn't seem likely to see a sign-up bonus even bigger than the 80,000 mark). However, he highlights that the waiting game can be a winning game as well. 

"Don't be surprised to see even better offers come to the market because travel confidence is going to take a long time to restore to pre-pandemic levels," Miller says. "The issuers need to make up for lost time this year and bring on new customers during these tough times."

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Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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