Credit card issuers are always looking for ways to attract new business. They offer particularly lucrative rewards program or low rates and fees. There is usually some kind of enticing sales pitch to make you apply for and use any one specific credit card.
There are many continuous potential benefits to becoming a cardholder of a certain Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. These include special offers and promotions that you can enjoy just for signing up with those companies.
These enticements are intended to help you make that all-important decision between one card over another. It is one last incentive to push you over the edge on making your selection.
These offers and promotions are typically associated with cards that come with rewards programs. With these programs, you can earn points, airline miles, and cash back on what you spend each month.
Many offer a signup promotion. These cards are eager to gift bonus miles and rewards points to consumers who have applied and been approved. However, in many cases, you do not just receive that gift merely for signing up.
You usually have some work to do in order to receive the promotion. That is because a majority of these cards have expectations. You will need to spend a certain amount of money on the card in a determined time limit to qualify for the bonus.
Almost every signup bonus gives you about 90 days to reach that card issuer’s preset dollar amount. Thus, you can receive your promotional reward.
The amount of your promotional bonus will also vary based on the credit card you have chosen. That is in addition to the type of rewards you would receive through normal use. Let us say your card offers airline miles. In that case, you will typically get a large number of them to start off once you have started spending.
A card that gives you reward points or cash back will provide those as your signup bonus if you meet the requirements. Redeeming those promotional gifts can be done the same as you would with any rewards you have earned throughout the year.
The whole point of a signup bonus is to attract you with a lump sum of rewards up front. This makes it seem as if the redemption of those points or miles is not so far off, once you begin using the card for purchases.
Comparison Shopping for the Best Card
Signup bonus offers and promotions are great. However, before you sign up you should be fully aware of what you are getting into with the card you end up choosing. That is why it is important to do some initial comparison shopping first.
Maybe you are considering a card that has a rewards program. Then, you should explore what you need to do in order to earn rewards. Find out how long it will take you to actually redeem them for something that is worth it. In just about every case, the amount of money you spend determines how much you can earn.
Many credit cards come with rotating categories. These change over the course of the year. Thus, you need to make a majority of your purchases in those categories. Otherwise, you may not benefit as much with that card over another.
Other credit cards do not rotate their categories. They will typically offer increased earnings on expenditures made at certain types of merchants and retailers. Frequent travelers will get more rewards when they make travel purchases with their cards. Similarly, those who like getting cash back will get more when they spend their money at gas stations or grocery stores.
Therefore, take the time to explore the many cards that are available on the market right now. See which ones offer you the most rewards on the things you buy the most often. Your signup bonus will be more valuable to you once you have the card that lets you earn more on routine expenses.
Rewards and signup bonuses are wonderful. Though, they are not the only aspect of your search that needs to be considered. Signup promotions end after a certain period of time. Your rewards earnings will continue on.
Yet, you also want to make sure you are not paying more for the privilege of owning that card. If you are, it has to be worth the money. For instance, there are a number of cards out there that have an annual fee.
Part of the signup bonus offer on these cards is that the fee is waived in your first year, which is great. However, how much are you going to be paying for every year after that? It could be hundreds of dollars, depending on the card.
Interest rates should also be a big part of your decision. The annual percentage rate (APR) on the card will dictate how much you could be paying in interest each month. Obviously, finding a card with the lowest APR is ideal.
There is another component of the signup bonus offers and promotions that the card issuers use. They attract clientele by providing new applicants with an introductory 0% APR.
It can extend for a year or more in some cases. This is certainly an attractive opportunity to apply for a new card. However, be mindful about how much that rate will increase once the introductory period expires.
Rewards programs and bonus offers are good ways to earn more on your money. Conversely, they can also lead to credit card debt. Spending is the primary method of earning those bonuses and rewards. Thus, many consumers tend to spend beyond their means. That can lead to trouble. Use credit cards wisely and do not let your earning potential drive you into debt.
That can have devastating consequences on your finances and your credit score. As you miss payments, the interest will start to accrue. The credit bureaus will start to lower your creditworthiness. Therefore, be careful. Think long and hard about whether you have the financial stability for a rewards card.
Now you know where to look when you are comparing your options for the ideal card. Accordingly, here are the seven credit cards with the best signup offers available right now.
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
As far as signup bonuses go, you will be hard-pressed to find a better one than the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Chase is offering 50,000 rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the initial three months of ownership.
You are going to be paying an annual fee of $95 a year for the privilege of using the Sapphire Preferred card. Though, it gets waived as part of the card’s signup promotion for new customers.
There is not any 0% introductory APR offer. However, the rate on this credit card is not bad. It is variable, based on your credit. As for the rewards program that comes with this card, you earn a point for each dollar spent on every purchase. There is a bonus of 2X the points on purchases made at restaurants, on airfare, hotels, and rental cars.
- APR: 16.24% – 23.24% Variable, based on your credit.
- Fees: $0 annual fee for the initial year. $95 each year after that.
- Perks: Once you accrue enough points to put toward travel you can use their Ultimate Rewards Booking Tool to make those reservations. You can even get discounts of up to 20% on travel plans booked through the Booking Tool. Plus, in the event you do not have enough points to get that airline ticket or hotel room, you can pay the balance owed in cash.
- Drawbacks: Only applicants with excellent credit need apply. If your score isn’t 700 or higher, you will likely be denied this card.
2. Chase Freedom
This is another credit card from Chase that may be better suited to the average consumer. It offers two signup bonuses. The first of which can get you $150 in cash back. That is after you spend $500 on combined purchases. They must be made within the initial 90 days of opening your credit card account.
They will give you an additional $25 if you add an authorized user to the account within that same span of time. Chase even sweetens the deal. They are giving new customers an introductory 0% APR.
It is good on all purchases and balance transfers for a span of 15 months from the date you open the account. That is a little bit more than the average 12 months you will find on most introductory APR promotions. Plus, the fact that you can enjoy that 0% on purchases and balance transfers make this an appealing card for new clientele.
- APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, it rises to a variable rate of 14.24%, 19.24%, or 23.24%
- Fees: $0 annual fee. 5% balance transfer fee after 15 months. 3% foreign transaction fee.
- Perks: The Freedom card offers customers a generous 5% cash back on purchases. Though, only in the active for a particular quarter. This card has rotating categories. These include most of the common opportunities to earn rewards such as restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and warehouse club stores. All other purchases made outside of the qualifying category for that quarter earn you 1% back. That is pretty standard. Another perk for this card is that you can get one with just average credit.
- Drawbacks: Those consumers who may be put off by the rotating categories will really be annoyed by the fact they need to opt in every time their category changes. If you do not remember to do so, you will not be getting the 5% cash back.
3. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
This card from American Express offers a signup bonus of up to $350. However, you will need to work extra hard to get that maximum amount. You will have to spend $1,000 on purchases over the duration of the standard three months of initial ownership.
Additionally, you will need to make enough purchases with the card company’s wireless cell phone provider partners as well. Doing that can get you 10% cash back at up to $200 during that same initial period. Therefore, if you are in the market for a new cell phone at the same time you are seeking out a credit card, this may be the one to choose.
There is an annual fee of $75 which, in true American Express fashion, is not waived for the first year. Yet, you do get a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.
Perhaps you find yourself making a majority of your purchases each month at the gas station and the grocery store. In that case, you could be earning the most cash back with the Blue Cash Preferred Card.
You will earn 6% cash back on groceries with an annual limit of up to $6,000. If you reach that, the rate drops to 1% for the rest of the year. Your rewards are 3% when you’re filling up. Unfortunately, there is an annual fee for the Blue Cash Preferred. Additionally, the sign-up bonus can yield up to $350. However, there are major caveats.
- APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, then climbs to a variable rate of 13.24% to 23.24% based on your credit score and other factors.
- Fees: $75 annual fee. 3% balance transfer fee. 2.7% foreign transaction fee.
- Perks: There are no rotating categories on this American Express. You earn 6% cash back on all spend at grocery stores and supermarkets with a spending limit of $6,000 each year. The rewards are also quite generous at gas stations too, earning you 3% on those purchases without a spending limit. All other purchases outside of those categories get you 1%. The card also has exceptional return guarantee protection offering to refund the price on any purchase up to $300.
- Drawbacks: You are limited in the number of ways to redeem your rewards. They can only be redeemed as a credit applied to your monthly statement.
This is another American Express credit card that comes branded with the Starwood line of hotel properties. That means you are going to earn the most rewards through booking reservations and making purchases within that particular network.
Needless to say, this card is ideal for frequent travelers who are also loyal customers of the Starwood network of hotels and resorts. There are also bonuses and promotions you can enjoy.
American Express is offering new customers a total of 25,000 Starwood points. They get them after spending $3,000 in purchases in the requisite 90-day initial period. There is no 0% introductory APR. However, they will waive your annual fee for the first year. After that, you will pay $95 to keep this card in your wallet.
- APR: 15.49% to 19.49% Variable, based on your credit.
- Fees: $0 annual fee for the initial year. $95 each year after that.
- Perks: Earning free nights is pretty easy on this card. You will not have any blackout dates to contend with either when trying to redeem your points. If you do not want to apply those points to a hotel reservation, you can use them to get airline tickets on most of the major carriers. Additional perks include free unlimited Wi-Fi at over a million Boingo hotspots throughout the world.
- Drawbacks: If you are a frequent Starwood customer then this card can reward you well, if not, then you may not find much value in owning this American Express.
5. British Airways Visa Signature Card
Some credit cards offer you points or miles. The British Airways Visa Signature card offers Avios. They work in the same manner as your typical points program. You can earn 50,000 of them after spending $3,000 on purchases. They must be made over the course of the initial three months on an open account.
There is no introductory APR. Plus, they will not waive your annual fee either. Yet, if you fly on British Airways with any frequency, you can clean up on those Avios. The card will give you an additional 25,000 after spending $15,000 during the first year you own the card.
Let us say you make more than $30,000 in purchases within the first year. Thusly, you can get a free airline ticket outside of the Avios you may have earned. That means points and a free ticket after a considerable initial spend.
- APR: 16.24% – 23.24% Variable, based on your credit.
- Fees: $95 annual fee.
- Perks: Maybe you have not spent enough money in the first year to get that free ticket. You still have a lot of Avios you can apply them toward a free ticket without having the necessary amount in your possession. They will let you pay the balance of that ticket’s cost in cash after you apply your Avios.
- Drawbacks: There is a big drawback, particularly with so many other cards competing for your business. The Avios you earn will expire if you do not use them after a certain period of time. You are also limited in where you can use them. They are only applicable to domestic travel on American, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines.
6. Discover IT
Discover’s card has gained some popularity through an aggressive marketing campaign. They tout a plentiful rewards program. It offers customers cash back based on their purchases. They do not require the spending limits that other cards impose on cardholders.
Discover has also provided a very attractive signup bonus for new customers. The company will match all of your cash back for the first twelve months of ownership. That basically gives you the opportunity to get double the cash back on your purchases for the initial year.
Even better, the IT card has a 0% introductory APR offer on purchases and balance transfers for one year. There is no annual fee here either.
- APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for one year then it rises to an 11.24% to 23.24% variable based on your credit score.
- Fees: $0 annual fee. $0 foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment only. 3% balance transfer fee after 12 months.
- Perks: You get 1% cash back on every purchase. Additionally, you can earn up to 5% on purchases made in active categories for each quarter. Thus, you will have to deal with rotating categories with the IT card. You won’t have to worry about fraudulent activity, however. That’s because the card has a freezing feature. It lets you deactivate and reactivate the card at will should you lose it or realize it has been stolen. Discover also gives you access to credit monitoring services.
- Drawbacks: Discover is not as widely accepted by merchants and retailers. So you may have some trouble using the card to pay for purchases.
This Visa credit card offers reward points on purchases without rotating categories or annual fees. Signup for this card and you can earn 20,000 points up front. It is applied after you spend just $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening the account.
The cash value of those points equals $200. This can be applied to your next airline ticket or hotel room reservation. You will also get a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for one year.
- APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for one year, then increases to a variable 15.24% to 23.24%
- Fees: No annual fee or foreign transaction fees.
- Perks: BankAmericard offers you 1.5 points for every dollar you spend. The card comes with all of the perks of the Visa Signature concierge service. That means you get 24/7 travel and roadside assistance, reservations booking, upgrades at hotels, and lost luggage protection.
- Drawbacks: That 0% introductory APR is great for transferring a balance from another card with a high APR. However, you will have to pay a balance transfer fee of 3% on that amount.
Our Final Thoughts
These are some of the best offers on the market right now. Yet, if these do not suit your needs there are many other credit cards with similar incentives. You should keep one thing to keep in mind. You will not typically find these kinds of offers on credit cards for bad credit.
They might require a security deposit up front. Some of these cards also will not offer to reverse credit card fees. However, the many perks that come with them might make them worth owning.