Q: What are some of the premier credit card sign up bonuses being offered right now? I’m occasionally in the market for a new credit card but given the enticements out there I certainly won’t sign up unless I get a truly sweet bonus for doing so
A: I’m can certainly identify with that feeling… if you’re going to signup for a new rewards credit card you might as well choose one that gives you something upfront, because otherwise you’re leaving money (or points or miles on the table)!
There are three main types of signup bonuses that credit cards offer. There is no right answer – it’s really just a matter of preference. See which type appeals the most to you:
Cash – This is a cash back bonus which will show up on your account shortly after applying. Usually it can be redeemed in the form of a statement credit or a check. Cash that you can spend on anything you want is the best credit card signup bonus in my personal opinion.
Points – Most reward cards these days operate on a points system. If you apply for a sign up bonus credit card that gives you points, you will probably be able to redeem the points for gift cards, travel, merchandise, and maybe even a statement credit.
Miles – Many travel rewards credit cards will give you a sign up bonus for airline miles. Some of these offers are quite lucrative, but one drawback is that good travel cards usually have annual fees. So weigh the cost of the card’s sign up bonus against the annual fee.
The best offers for Q1 2014
Here is our sponsored listing of the best sign up offers you can get. This list is constantly updated.
This offer from Barclays is the most valuable choice because you can cash out your points for statement credits to offset almost any travel purchase. For example, you could convert 40,000 points to become a $400 statement credit to offset the purchase of a $400 plane ticket.
If you want to earn cash back, this is your best bet:
For the next offer below, the spending requirement to earn the bonus is quite reasonable. Do the math and I think you will agree, this offer is crazy lucrative!
With the Christmas season upon us, the months of November and December are actually the best time of the year to open up new cards since most of us have a lot of spending to do for the holidays, anyway. You might as well earn a bonus while you’re paying for those expenses, right?!
Is there a limit to how many bonus offers I can get?
If you are applying for different cards from different banks, they are completely separate offers so you can take advantage of all of them. If you already have the specific card (for example, the Chase Sapphire card) and you want to apply for a second Chase Sapphire to get the bonus, that’s not going to work.
That being said, years ago I did have success signing up for three of the same card and getting the promotional points on all of them. But to play it safe, you should probably choose different cards if you want to take advantage of multiple credit card sign up bonuses.
Some caveats to be aware of…
- For the airline miles, as you probably know these aren’t always easy to use. You may encounter blackout dates and an unexpectedly higher number of miles being needed for the flights you want. For this reason, if you want free travel, I would recommend the credit cards that aren’t affiliated with a specific airline.
- For the point-based programs, be careful with how your spend them. With some reward programs (like Bank of America’s WorldPoints) you can get screwed big time depending on how you use the points – i.e. gift cards might convert on a 1 point = 1 cent basis, but for a statement credit it might be 2 points = 1 cent.
- Don’t overspend just to meet the bonus requirement. If you do that, you’re wasting money and not saving it. Instead I have a better idea to fulfill the spending requirement; use your new credit card to buy gift cards at the grocery store. Buy gift cards for everyday places like gas stations, drugstores, supermarkets, etc. Then in the coming months, you can spend those gift cards. All the meanwhile, by “pre-paying” those expenses in advance, it allows you to fulfill the spending requirement.
You can view more cash back offers here (if you add them all up, they’re worth over a $1,000!)
This post was written or last updated January 24, 2014