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The Best Sign-Up Bonus Credit Cards
One of the best perks of signing up for a credit card is simply the sign-up bonus. As an incentive for opening an account, eligible cardholders can then simply earn a lump sum of cash back, points, or miles after spending a certain amount in a short amount of time. The best sign-up bonuses can then be worth hundreds (or thousands) of dollars with the right redemption option, but to find the right one for you, there is more to consider than the size of the bonus.
What Is A Sign-Up Bonus?
A sign-up bonus, also known as a welcome bonus, intro bonus, or welcome offer, is simply an incentive offered by a credit card issuer to encourage you to sign up for a credit card. A sign-up bonus can simply come in the form of cashback, points, travel miles, or even another perk offered by the credit card issuer. To receive a sign-up bonus, a cardholder will usually have to spend a certain dollar amount on purchases within a specified time period (usually three months, but six months or even a year is not unusual).
- Traditional Bonus Points, Miles, or Cash Back
- Two-stage bonuses
- Reward-matching offers
- Approval bonuses
- Increased reward rates
- Limited-time bonus categories
- Additional perks, credits, and other limited-time offers
The Pros and Cons of Sign-Up Bonus Credit Cards
There is also a good side and a bad side to using a credit card with a sign-up bonus. Before you can good side and a bad side to using a credit card with a sign-up bonus. Before you can apply, take a look at the pros and cons:
- New cardholder incentive: The credit card market is simply highly competitive. This then works in the consumer’s favor, as the card issuers are willing to then offer sign-up bonuses as an incentive to make their credit cards more attractive to applicants.
- Versatile redemptions: Depending on the card, a sign-up bonus can then also be a lump sum of cash back, points, or miles. That means the right card for you can then help pay down balances or simply reduce the cost of future flights or hotel stays.
- Added value: When used responsibly, a credit card can also work for you, helping you to simply build or maintain your all-important credit score and credit history. A sign-up bonus then takes the value of a credit card even further by simply rewarding cash back, points, or miles that can be worth hundreds of dollars.
- Spending requirements: To then earn the sign-up bonus, you will have to use the credit card and also spend a certain amount in a limited amount of time. Make sure that the spending requirement fits your budget before applying for a card.
- Higher interest rates: Typically, rewards credit cards have higher interest rates. If you then carry a balance over from month to month, the interest that you pay will diminish the value of the rewards and even sign-up bonuses you earn.
- It requires good credit: Most credit cards that have sign-up bonuses simply require good or excellent credit. Not there yet? Making on-time payments and also keeping your account balances low are two of the most important ways for you to build credit fast.
Best Credit Card Signup Bonus 2022
Here are some of the best credit card sign-up bonuses below:
Best for the choice of cash back category
- This card is a good fit for flexibility seekers. Users who simply value a customizable rewards structure will find this card offers them plenty of options.
- This card is not a great choice for big spenders. If your budgeted spending simply takes you beyond the $2,500 combined spending cap per quarter on the 2 percent and 3 percent bonus categories, you will then see your rewards rate drop. Cardholders who simply reach this limit receive only 1% until the following quarter.
- What makes this card unique? Cardholders can then select where they earn elevated rewards from six bonus categories and also change their selection up to once per month. What’s more, the categories have uniquely broad merchant coverage. For example, the online shopping category is also one of the most comprehensive available.
- Is the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card worth it? Yes. The sign-up bonus is notable, but the cardholders might then find even more value in the elevated cash back rate earned at grocery stores and also wholesale clubs.
Best for the biggest travel sign-up bonus.
- This card is a good fit for budget travelers. If you are simply seeking great travel rewards value that can then help keep your travel costs in check for a relatively low annual fee, this card is a great choice.
- This card is not a great choice for luxury-seeking travelers. You should then look elsewhere for high-end perks like airport lounge access.
- What makes this card unique? This card can also provide travelers with flexibility that’s unique among travel cards. You can then transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to Chase’s impressive list of airline and hotel partners.
- Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card worth it? Yes. If you can then earn the sign-up bonus, you recoup the cost of the annual fee, plus you will then see a 25 percent boosted rewards value from points redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
best for the rotating of cash back categories.
- This card is a good fit for: variety seekers. People who simply like to then earn boosted cash back in multiple categories will find this card offers the opportunity to then earn rewards in many areas.
- This card is not a great choice for simplicity seekers. Cardholders then have to remember to activate the new bonus categories each quarter, or they will see much less value from the card. The rotating bonus categories are then announced quarterly rather than farther ahead of time, and some cardholders might also prefer a more reliable category roster since they will have to pay close attention to the cash-back calendar in addition to their purchase tracking.
- What makes this card unique? The Chase Freedom Flex simply comes with bonus categories that rotate quarterly. Cardholders will then have the opportunity to earn elevated rewards in a number of categories.
- Is the Chase Freedom Flex card worth it? Yes. The sign-up bonus is also solid despite the relatively low spending requirement — cardholders can even earn a $200 bonus after spending just $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. However, the cashback value is then standard for a no-annual-fee cashback card.
Citi Rewards+ Credit Card
Best for rounding up rewards.
- This card is a good fit for everyday shoppers. Cardholders can also earn respectable travel rewards through their everyday spending.
- This card is not a great choice for travel rewards seekers. This card can only earn “basic” ThankYou points, which cannot be transferred to travel partners.
- What makes this card unique? The compilation features cardholders who will then see points rounded up for every purchase to the nearest 10 points. So, a $3 coffee earns 10 ThankYou points.
- Is the Citi Rewards+ Card worth it? Yes. The card also has a doable spend requirement — $1,500 within the first three months of account ownership — for 20,000 points. With no annual fee and a 15-month intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (then 14.99 percent to 24.99 percent variable; transfers must be made within the first four months and incur a 3 percent balance transfer fee, $5 minimum), you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with this card.
Best for business sign-up bonuses.
- This card is also a good fit for new small-business owners who are looking for an easy-to-use flat-rate credit card that does not charge an annual fee.
- This card is not a great choice for business owners that are looking to earn high rewards in specific bonus categories. A card with a simple tiered rewards structure, like the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, would then serve you better.
- What makes this card unique? A sign-up bonus as simple as the Ink Business Unlimited is usually reserved for credit cards with an annual fee. It also includes a 12-month introductory 0% APR offer on purchases (after which a variable rate of 14.74 percent to 20.74 percent applies).
- Is the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card worth it? It depends. The card has a simple rewards structure and also valuable perks, but the spending requirement might be high for some business owners.
Best for airline sign-up bonus
- This card is a good fit for frequent Southwest flyers. This card simply offers a fair rewards rate on Southwest purchases and even has the lowest annual fee among Southwest credit cards.
- This card is not a great choice for someone who might not always fly with Southwest Airlines. You will not see as much value from the card, as rewards redeemed for travel outside of Southwest are not even as lucrative.
- What makes this card unique? As a frequent Southwest flyer, you will then see a ton of benefits, like lost luggage being reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger and also delayed luggage is insured up to $100 per day for three days automatically. Plus, you can then check your bag for free (size and weight limits apply).
- Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card worth it? Yes. For frequent Southwest flyers looking for an inexpensive, no-hassle card, the low annual fee (only $69) and the lucrative rewards structure pack this card with a lot of value.
How to Choose the Best Sign-Up Bonus
When you consider a credit card with a sign-up bonus, be especially mindful of the spending requirement and also how it will impact your budget. If you are then looking to snag a welcome offer, there are some questions that you should keep top of mind:
- Can you meet the spending requirement? If a sign-up bonus then requires you to spend more than you usually would, it might be wise to think twice before applying. Overspending on a credit card to then meet a welcome offer requirement can simply lead to debt and even consequently make the card’s sign-up bonus far less valuable to you by accruing interest payments.
- Does the card fit into your overall goals? Knowing what type of rewards you simply want to earn is essential when choosing a card for its sign-up bonus. If you also want to earn free nights at a particular hotel or reduced prices on flights with a specific airline, then you should simply sign up for cards that align with those goals over cards that offer a generous sign-up bonus but only earn cash back rewards.
Is the bonus worth it? If you earn a cash back bonus, what you get is fairly straightforward; however, if you earn points, miles, or some other type of offer (such as a cash back match, airline companion certificate, or even a limited-time bonus rewards category), it’s critical to put them on a level playing field by simply calculating the likely value you will receive from each.
For example, if two cards offer a 60,000-point sign-up bonus but Card A’s points are worth 1 cent each and Card B’s points are worth 1.5 cents—but only toward an airline transfer partner you are not likely to use—then Card A’s bonus might be a better fit for you.
- What can you redeem the bonus for? While sign-up bonuses are especially handy for helping to cover the cost of an annual fee, it’s very important for you to then consider how you will be able to use the points, miles, or statement credit you then receive. You will then want to evaluate their list of transfer partners to try to extract maximum value when redeeming your bonus. With others, it might then be more worthwhile to use the proceeds to cover an existing balance.
When Do You Get A Sign-Up Bonus?
After you have simply met the issuer’s spending requirements within the specified time limit, you will then receive your sign-up bonus. You can also expect to see your sign-up bonus reflected in your account within six to 12 weeks, depending on your particular issuer. If you have then met the requirements, waited that amount of time, and still have not yet received your sign-up bonus, contact your issuer.
Can You Open Multiple Cards At Once To Get More Sign-Up Bonuses?
You could even try to open several cards at once to get the sign-up bonuses, but this could then be seen as “card churning” and could also have negative consequences. Some card issuers have strict eligibility rules for welcome offers, and even in the process, you could temporarily damage your credit with multiple credit applications.
What Is a Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus?
Many credit cards simply offer a welcome bonus, which simply means new cardholders earn extra rewards, such as cashback, points, or miles when they simply make use of their card. To earn the bonus, you usually simply have to meet a minimum spending requirement within the first few months of opening your account.
How Do I Get the Sign-Up Bonus?
You earn sign-up bonuses by simply spending a minimum amount within a certain period, usually the first three months, after you have been issued the card. Some cards can then offer an extra sign-up bonus for spending even more in the first six months or year.