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The signup bonus — one of the most valuable and coveted credit card features, with the potential to put a huge dent in your spending or help you score free flights and hotel stays. Many rewards cards come with signup bonuses, also known as introductory bonuses or welcome bonuses. These bonus offers can provide a surprising amount of value, with returns on spending ranging from around 20% on average to more than 50% in some cases.
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The information related to Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, Capital One Spark Miles for Business, Capital One Spark Cash for Business, and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.
Signup bonuses are pretty easy to evaluate. Spend some money, get some rewards. But not all bonuses are created equal.
What kind of rewards are being offered? The most common bonus reward types are cash back, points, and statement credits:
Cash back is usually just what it seems to be, although there may be several redemption options like statement credits, direct bank deposits, gift cards, etc.
Points may have different values depending on how you redeem them, and they can be the most valuable reward type if you’re willing to put in the effort to find good deals.
Statement credits are the easiest to grok, because their values are simply deducted from your card balance.
Can I make good use of the rewards? Cash back and statement credit bonuses are simple, basically like big discounts on your spending, and these may be perfect for some people. But if you care more about maximizing rewards, particularly for travel, you may want bonus points that you can transfer for frequent flyer miles or hotel points (look at Chase, Amex, Capital One, and Citi for that).
What’s the return on spend? Calculate how much value you get for the required spending (we’ve done this for you in many cases). Is the spending requirement reasonable? 75,000 points may sound like a lot, for example, but if they take $7,500 in purchases to get, you might not be getting a lot for your spending.
Will I have enough time to meet the spending requirement? Most card issuers give you three months or 90 days to reach a spending requirement (“three months” translates to about 90 days in most cases, too). You may see 4-, 6-, or even 12-month offers. Some rare cards might only give two months. Be sure to keep track of how much time you have, starting as soon as your card account was approved and opened.
Does it make sense for me to have this credit card? Consider all the card features except the intro bonus. Would you use the card without the bonus? Does it fit into your spending habits, or have benefits you’ll find useful over time? Don’t let a great bonus blind you to an otherwise lackluster credit card.
Signup bonuses can make any card offer look more attractive, but there’s more to credit cards than bonuses. See our favorite cards for a variety of categories in the Best Credit Cards.
Is a Signup Bonus Card Right for You?
Do you like money for free? If so, a signup bonus credit card might be right for you.
It’s not really free money, because you need to spend with credit cards in the first place, and if you’re not responsible you could wind up with fees. But it’s about as close to free money (or travel) as you can get.
A signup bonus is a reward that usually takes the form of bonus points or cash back, which you receive for reaching a certain spending threshold in a certain amount of time — think 40,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in 3 months, for example.
You should never spend money just to get a signup bonus, of course. You should only use credit cards to buy things you would normally buy. Pay off the statement balance by the due date or you’ll be charged interest, cutting into your rewards (unless you have a 0% intro APR). And we don’t recommend opening new cards purely for the bonuses.
But if a card fits in with your spending habits and offers a great bonus too, why not go for it? Follow the simple rules above and credit card bonuses can be effectively free. You won’t need excellent credit scores to nab a sweet bonus, but cards for better credit tend to have better bonuses.
Here are some situations where welcome bonuses can make big differences.
Everyday spending: Many cards with bonus categories for everyday purchases, like groceries and gas, have intro bonus offers; you may be able to hit spending requirements with nothing more than a few months of your usual errands.
Travel: If you’re going on a trip you could use a bonus to get a flight or two for free, or stay an extra night at a nice hotel. Planning ahead will be crucial here to make sure you have the card you need in time.
Large expenses on the horizon: When you know there’s a big purchase or two coming up, like furniture, a TV, or even a car, you could use a credit card bonus to help lighten the load on your bank account. Or you could use that as an opportunity to bank points for a vacation.
Rent: Rent is a fairly large monthly expense, making it a good target for intro bonus spending — if you can pay with a credit card, that is. If your landlord doesn’t accept credit card payments, you can look into a payment service like Plastiq or RadPad.
Tax season: Depending on how much you owe, you may be able to reach spending requirements by paying your taxes. There’s a fee to pay by credit card, but the bonus should offset that by far.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ (Review) pairs a great intro bonus with even greater rewards. You’ll get a surprising number of high-value cash back categories, including a set of rotating 5% categories that covers a lot of ground each year.
Introductory Bonus Offer
$200 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
5% cash back in rotating categories (up to $1,500 spent per quarter, then 1%)
Amex Offers: Find significant discounts at a changing selection of merchants and websites, like (at the time of publication) Best Buy, Pandora, and select meal kits.
ShopRunner membership:ShopRunner provides free two-day shipping and returns at participating online retailers.
Entertainment Access: Get exclusive discounts to concerts, sporting events, and more.
Lowest Hotel Rates Guarantee: If you book an eligible prepaid hotel room through American Express Travel and then find the same room being advertised online for a lower price, you can be refunded for the difference.
Shopping protections: Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection, and Return Protection
Travel protections: Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance and Global Assist Hotline
Purchase APR: 0% for 12 months, then 13.99% - 23.99% Variable
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees)
You can use the American Express® Gold Card (Review) to earn quite a few Amex Membership Rewards points quickly, with a fairly low spending requirement that most people should have no trouble reaching.
There’s a sizable annual fee with this card, however, so only get it if you’ll make good use of the rewards (focused on food and airfare) and benefits (focused on food and travel).
4X Membership Rewards points per dollar at:
U.S. Supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X)
$120 annual dining credit: Earn up to $10 in statement credits per month for purchases at eligible restaurants and food delivery services.
Point transfer: To airline and hotel loyalty programs, like JetBlue, Southwest, Marriott, and Hyatt
Up to $120 in Uber Cash: Add the Gold Card to the Uber App to get up to $10 in Uber Cash per month; U.S. Eats orders and rides only.
Uber Eats Pass: Get unlimited $0 delivery fees and 5% off orders at eligible restaurants for 12 months; must enroll by 12/31/21. Taxes and service fees may apply and do not count toward the order minimum. Eats Pass will start auto-billing 12 months from enrollment, at then-current monthly rate. Learn more.
The Hotel Collection: Provides up to $100 in credits for every eligible hotel stay of two nights or more, along with other perks.
Amex Offers: Find discounts and extra point opportunities at a changing selection of merchants (offers are limited; enrollment required).
ShopRunner membership: ShopRunner provides free two-day shipping and returns at participating online retailers.
Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too.
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
$120 Uber Cash: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
$120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
No Foreign Transaction Fees.
Annual Fee is $250.
American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.
75,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months; up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first 6 months
6X Marriott Bonvoy Bonus pointsperdollar for eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
3X Marriott Bonvoy points for:
Flights booked directly with airlines
2X Marriott Bonvoy points on all other purchases
Perks: $300 annual Marriott Bonvoy credit; annual Free Night Award; Gold Elite hotel status; Priority Pass Select membership; Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit; 15 Elite Night Credits; $100 Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis property credit
No foreign transaction fee
Annual fee: $450
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees)
The AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® has (in our view) the best credit card intro offer for an airline, with bonus miles along with a companion fare credit — all for simply paying the annual fee and making a purchase, with no spending requirement.
That could cost you as little as $99.01! (But let’s call it $100 for simplicity here.) Most intro bonuses return a portion of what you spend, but in this case you can actually get many times more out of it than you put in.
Introductory Bonus Offer
60,000 AAdvantage bonus miles and a Companion Certificate for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after making a purchase in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee
7X AAdvantage miles per dollar for American Airlines purchases
2X AAdvantage miles per dollar from the card
5X AAdvantage miles per dollar from AA member status
1X AAdvantage mile per dollar spent everywhere else
The Companion Certificate is good for one guest at $99, plus taxes and fees. That’s hard to beat; you’ll find a similar offer for Alaska Airlines, which has a spending requirement but is still a great deal.
The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (Review) has perhaps the best welcome bonus currently available when it comes to cards that aren’t co-branded with airlines and hotels. It’s made all the better because you can transfer those points to airline and hotel loyalty programs, where they could be worth 2 cents each or more.
Introductory Bonus Offer
100,000 bonus points for spending $15,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent per year in combined purchases on:
Internet, cable, and phone services
Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
The downside is a fairly high spending requirement, but many businesses probably won’t have too much trouble reaching it.
You could also opt for a more modest redemption bonus of 25%, for 1.25 cents per point, by redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
For the two Chase Ink cards without annual fees, if you have another Chase card that allows point transfers (like the Ink Business Preferred) you can move your rewards to the card with the better redemption options to get more value. A $500 bonus could be worth $1,000 or more with a savvy point transfer.
$750 cash bonus for spending $7,500 in the first 3 months after account opening
5% cash back on Lyft rides
1.5% cash back for every other purchase
Perks: Chase Offers; Shop through Chase
Shopping and travel protections: Purchase Protection; Extended Warranty; Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver; Baggage Delay Insurance
The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review): 75,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 6 months; 10X points on eligible purchases at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, in the first 6 months
A signup bonus, often known as an introductory bonus, an intro bonus, or a welcome bonus, is a special offer created to spur credit card spending.
Signup bonuses are usually awarded in the form of points, cash back, or a statement credit after the cardholder spends a set amount of money within a given timeframe after the account is opened. The intro bonus for a given card may change quite frequently.
Here’s an example of a typical signup bonus: Spend $1,000 in the first three months to earn $250 in cash back.
Less commonly, credit card issuers will change it up. Other types of signup bonuses include travel rewards like free hotel stays, or offers like Discover’s Cashback Match, which doubles the cash back earned during your first year as a cardholder.
All spending to secure your signup bonus must be done within the allotted time, and in most cases only purchases count — your annual fee won’t help you earn a welcome bonus, nor will balances transferred from another account.
How Long Do I Have to Earn the Signup Bonus?
In most cases, you’ll get either three months or 90 days to meet the spending requirement to earn the bonus. The countdown begins the moment you’re approved for your credit card and the account is opened — not when you get the card in the mail or activate it.
Some offers are different, however. You may only get two months in some cases, while other introductory bonuses give you six months or even a year.
Be sure to take note of your specific offer when you apply for a card — signup bonus offers change fairly often, so if you check the issuer’s website later on, you may see a different offer. If you lost track of your offer details, contact your card issuer to ask.
Private offers are typically better than public, perhaps offering $250 or $300 cash back instead of $200. The spending requirement may remain the same or it could change.
You may get private credit card offers online, by email, or by postal mail. Consider checking if you’re pre-approved for any credit cards, which may show you private offers that you’re eligible for (although it won’t always show you every available private offer).
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.
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