Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses From Our Partners

Make the most out of your new credit card by taking advantage of sign-up bonuses. Bonus offers can come in the form of cash back, miles or points, usually after meeting a minimum spend. Browse cards with the best sign-up bonuses from our partners and kick start your rewards earnings.

See the best credit card sign-up bonuses from our partners below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

7,668 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent, Good
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • New! Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your Venture card at hotels.com/venture; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Apply Now at Capital One's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Credit Needed
Excellent, Good

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

9,179 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49-25.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 14.49%-26.49% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Apply Now at Wells Fargo's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
0% for 12 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR
0% for 12 months
Regular APR
14.49%-26.49% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

14,163 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49-25.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
Apply Now at Citi's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 25.49%* (Variable)
Annual Fee
$95, waived for first 12 months*
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

53 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 22.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply Now at American Express's
secure site
Terms Apply
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
See Rates & Fees

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

1,347 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Named "Best Rewards Card for Small Business Owners" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2017
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 12 months
Regular APR
14.74% - 20.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

2,315 customer reviews

Apply Now Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Named a ‘Best Travel Credit Card for 2017’ by MONEY® Magazine
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
Apply Now at Chase's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$450
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit

Comparing Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses

Updated: April 18, 2018

Sign-up bonuses abound in today’s rewards credit card market. Cash back cards, co-branded travel cards, general-purpose travel cards – the choices can seem limitless.

A sign-up bonus can often be a signal that the card has better ongoing rewards, so they are worth a look. You’ll also want to study the card’s minimum spending requirement and the timeframe in which you need to spend it. We looked at over 350 cards with sign-up bonuses to determine which offers have the highest value. Along with our top picks, you'll find information on some of the factors that went into our analysis, how to maximize your sign-up bonus redemption, and more. Here, we look at:

Whether you want to understand just what are sign-up bonuses or how they differ from cards with no sign-up bonus, we can help.


CreditCards.com's 10 best credit card sign-up bonuses in 2018:

Best For:Credit CardSign-up BonusRequired SpendAnnual FeeCreditCards.com Rating
Flexible travel rewardsChase Sapphire Preferred® Card50,000 Points$4,000 / 3 months$0 intro first year, then $954.3 / 5
Hotel bookingsCapital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card50,000 Miles$3,000 / 3 months$0 intro first year, then $954.4 / 5
Flat-rate cash backChase Freedom Unlimited®$150 Cash Back$500 / 3 months$03.6 / 5
Mobile wallet purchasesWells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card$200 Cash Back$1,000 / 3 months$03.5 / 5
Rotating bonus categoriesChase Freedom®$150 Cash Back$500 / 3 months$03.4 / 5
Free checked bagCiti® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®50,000 Miles$2,500 / 3 months$0 intro first year, then $954.3 / 5
Business spendInk Business PreferredSM Credit Card80,000 Points$5,000 / 3 months$954.2 / 5
Annual travel creditsThe Platinum Card® from American Express60,000 Points$5,000 / 3 months$5502.8 / 5
Everyday business expensesInk Business CashSM Credit Card$500 Cash Back$3,000 / 3 months$03.4 / 5
Airport lounge accessChase Sapphire Reserve®50,000 Points$4,000 / 3 months$4504.8 / 5

Details on our top picks for the best credit card sign-up bonus offers

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

This 50,000 point sign-up bonus is worth $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after $4,000 in spend in the first 3 months). Plus, you can earn another 5,000 points for addign an authorized user (who makes a purchase in the first 3 months), and another 5,000 points per approval with their referral program (up to 50,000 points per year). Bottom line - there are a lot of ways to earn bonus points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. These are some of the most valuable points on the market right now and the Ultimate Rewards portal has an abundance of travel and transfer partners available. With the $95 annual fee also waived in the first year, this card is a no brainer for beginner travel and points enthusiasts.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards card has a pretty simple sign-up bonus and rewards rate that is easy to remember. The sign-up bonus is 50,000 miles (with $3,000 in spend in first 3 months) and each mile is worth 1 cent, so it's worth $500 in total. The redemptions work through their "purchase eraser" feature, so once you make a travel purchase, you can use the feature to redeem miles for a simple statement credit. What makes the Venture card so much more valuable is the fairly new partnership with Hotels.com. Venture card holders get 10x miles on bookings at hotels.com/venture, and when you pair that with the Hotels.com rewards program, you essentially get 20% off every booking - easily the best hotel booking deal out there.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with a modest sign-up bonus of $150 that is very easy to hit with just $500 in spend required in the first 3 months. The regular rewards rate is 1.5% cash back on everything, but where the real value in this card lives is pairing it with a Chase Sapphire product like the Preferred or Reserve. If you have a Sapphire product, you can transfer cash back to Ultimate Rewards points, so you can be earning 1.5 points per dollar spent instead. If you spend $10,000 a year on your Chase Freedom Unlimited, that's worth 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points ($315 in value) versus the $150 in cash back that you would get with the normal cash back rate.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

The Wells Fargo Cash Wise is one of the best cash back sign-up bonuses out there (for consumer cards), at $200 with $1,000 in spend in the first 3 months. You can redeem it for a simple statement credit. The regular rewards rate is pretty standard at 1.5% cash back on all purchases. They throw in a kicker in the first 12 months, bumping up the cash back rate to 1.8% on mobile wallet purchases. At no annual fee, this card is an easy choice if you prefer the cash sign-up bonuses for simple statement credits in favor of points and frequent flyer miles.

Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom sign-up bonus mimics its sibling, the Chase Freedom Unlimited: $150 bonus for $500 in spend in the first 3 months. The downside is that this card can't be paired with a Sapphire product to earn valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. However, you can get a really good 5% cash back rate at rotating bonus categories every quarter. If you can stick to the schedule and remember to activate the bonus categories each quarter, this card becomes a lucrative addition to the card rotation in your wallet (and with no annual fee).

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

For regular American Airlines flyers, this card is a must have. The sign-up bonus is very generous at 50,000 AAdvantage miles after $2,500 in spend in the first 3 months. You can also get a 10% rebate on your redeemed miles when you book redemptions with American, up to 10,000 miles a year. In addition to the sign-up bonus and redemption rebate, you get a free checked bag for yourself and up to 4 people on your same reservation, priority boarding (group 5), and 25% off in-flight food and drink purchases. The regular rewards rate is pretty standard for co-branded airline cards, with 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1x miles everywhere else.

Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card

This is one of the biggest sign-up bonuses out there right now, with 80,0000 Ultimate Rewards points at your grasp with $5,000 in spend in the first 3 months. If you redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, the bonus alone is worth $1,000 (not to mention the points you earned on the $5,000 in required spend to get there). For small businesses, this card also has great ongoing rewards categories. You get 3x points on travel, shipping, advertising, and internet/cable/phone services up to $150,000 in purchases each year. In addition, it comes with cell phone insurance (when you use it to pay your employees' cell phone bills) and primary rental car insurance, which definitely comes in handy. If you also hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can up your redemptions and redeem points for 1.5 cents per point through the Chase travel portal.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

For Membership Rewards points, this sign-up bonus is as good as it gets for American Express's consumer cards. You earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points for $5,000 in spend in the first 3 months. Although it comes with a high $550 annual fee, the Platinum Card comes with a number of extra benefits that really cut into that cost and make it worthy of a card you can regularly spend on. You earn 5x points on airfare booked directly through the Amex travel portal and there are over 20 airline and hotel transfer partners available in the portal. You can also get a $200 annual Uber credit, $200 airfare credit, and a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. And last but not least, you also get the highly coveted Centurion Lounge and Priority Pass lounge access.

Ink Business CashSM Credit Card

The Ink Business Cash card recently upped their sign-up bonus to $500 (with $3,000 in spend in the first 3 months) and we are loving it - this is one of the best business card sign-up bonuses out there! Best of all? It has great regular rewards rates and no annual fee, so you can keep it in the regular rotation in your wallet without any worries. You get 5% cash back on the first $25,000 in spend each year at office supply stores and on internet/cable/phone services. And then you get 2% back (with the same stipulations) at gas stations and restaurants. The Ink Cash is also a card that you can transfer your cash back to Ultimate Rewards points if your have another Chase card that already earns Ultimate Rewards. See our above example for how much more that can be worth than just normal cash back rewards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is among the top tier of travel rewards card and has a great sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points for $4,000 in spend in the first 3 months. When you redeem your rewards through their travel portal, your points increase their worth to 1.5 cents per point (a $750 value). With a $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass for lounge access, fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and many other benefits, the $450 annual fee melts away quickly. The regular rewards rate on this card is 3x points on travel and dining purchases and 1x on everything else.

What are sign-up bonuses and how do they work?

A sign-up bonus is an incentive offered by a rewards credit card – often in the form cash back, miles, points or free hotel nights – for opening and using the card.

In order to earn the sign-up bonus, you usually have to meet a spending requirement of some sort – spending a certain amount in a specified amount of time, making a certain number of purchases or making at least one purchase with the card. Depending on the type of card, you can then redeem the bonus for a specified reward (e.g., cash back) or you may have a variety of options for redeeming the bonus -- such as cash back, travel, merchandise or gift cards.

Not all bonuses are created equal. Some are more valuable than others, and some are more flexible and easier to redeem than others. Also, not every new cardholder will qualify for a bonus, so, before you apply, you should read the card’s fine print.

Factors that go into a sign-up bonus

A sign-up offer will usually include the following features:

  • Bonus amount – The amount of the bonus – usually a specific amount of cash or specific number of bonus points. Occasionally, a sign-up bonus doesn’t have a number affixed to it. For example, some hotel cards offer a free night certificate in lieu of bonus points.
  • Spending requirement – The amount that you have to spend to earn the bonus.
  • Time to reach the spending requirement – The amount of time you have to reach the spending requirement – for example, three months to spend $1,500.

What is the typical sign-up bonus and spending threshold?

Sign-up bonuses are a popular tactic for attracting new cardholders to apply for a card and our data indicates that most rewards credit cards offer a sign-up bonus of some sort. Of the 130 rewards cards we have reviewed, only 17 of them don’t offer a sign-up bonus.

Also, the data show that point- and mile-based cards tend to offer larger sign-up bonuses than cash back cards (with larger spending thresholds). The median bonus for points and miles cards in our database is 25,000 miles or points with a median spending threshold of $2,000. In comparison, the median bonus for a cash back card is only $100 with a $500 spending threshold.



In other words, if you want to earn a large sign up bonus, you’ll want to look at point- and mile-based cards, but … you’re going to need to spend a lot to earn the bonus, and you’ll have less flexibility on redeeming the bonus than you would with cash back.

What to consider when choosing a card with a sign-up bonus

Maybe your first impulse is to sign up for the offer with the largest bonus attached to it, but there’s more to it than that. Here is what you consider in trying to find the best sign-up bonus for you.

What kind of bonus do you want?

Are you looking for cash back, points or airline miles/hotel points? Cash back is the simplest option. A points-based bonus will give you a lot of options and flexibility. Airline miles – while often extremely valuable – can be complicated and difficult to redeem. Finally, hotel points are often inflated -- thus making the bonus seem larger than it actually is – but can still be very valuable, if you are OK with using your points strictly for hotel stays within a specific hotel chain.

In other words, you need to decide what you want to do with your bonus, and whether you prefer value or flexibility.

Can you reach the spending threshold?

Before you get carried away by a sign-up bonus with a lot of zeros floating behind, you need to consider whether you can afford to spend enough to reach the spending threshold in time without driving yourself into debt.

Is this the highest bonus you can earn on the card?

Don’t just spring for the first offer that you find – do some research. Depending on the card, the amount of the sign-up bonus can fluctuate over time, so you should check the card’s bonus history to see if the offer is at a high point or if it is likely to increase soon. Also, you should check around to see if you can qualify for a special offer with a larger sign-up bonus.

What is the bonus worth?

The value of a point is not constant. Points from different issuers have different values, and even points from different cards from the same issuer can vary in value. To make it even more complex, points can gain or lose value over time, as issuers add or subtract options. So take a look at what the points/miles are worth and what you can get with the bonus before you apply for it, and then keep an eye out for any announcements from the card’s points program.

Do you want to pay annual fee?

You shouldn’t automatically nix a card with an annual fee. If you do the math, you’ll often find that annual fee cards – due to larger sign-up bonuses and higher rewards values – offer the best value, even with a fee. But you need to be sure you can afford to pay a fee and that you’ll redeem the rewards in a timely enough manner to make the fee worth it.

Issuer sign-up bonus policies

Before you apply for a card hoping to snag a giant bonus, you should take a look at the card’s terms and conditions to make sure you qualify to earn a sign-up bonus. Many issuers will not award a bonus if you’ve previously owned the card. And some issuers – including Chase with its “5/24” rule – won’t give you a bonus if you’ve signed up for too many cards recently. Here’s a summary of sign-up bonus policies:

American ExpressYou can only earn the bonus for a particular card once in a lifetime (includes personal and small business cards).
ChaseYou can reapply for the same bonus 24 months after earning the bonus and closing the card. You are not eligible for a sign-up bonus if you’ve opened more than five accounts in the past 24 months (including authorized user accounts but not including business card accounts).
CitiYou can only earn one sign-up bonus per card brand every 24 months (e.g., Citi ThankYou Preferred, Premier and Prestige cards).
BarclaycardAccording to terms and conditions for most cards, only first-time cardholders qualify for a bonus (however, you may be able to earn the bonus more than once).
Bank of AmericaNo restrictions on earning a sign-up bonus more than once.
DiscoverNo restrictions on earning a sign-up bonus more than once.
U.S. BankAccording to terms and conditions, cardholders who have previously had an account for the same type of card won’t qualify for a bonus.

How to maximize sign-up bonuses

Signing up for the right bonus at the right time and taking care in how you reach the minimum spending threshold can help you take your bonus the extra mile. Here are some tips to squeeze more value out of your sign-up bonus:

1. Sign up when the bonus is at its highest point

Credit card issuers frequently adjust the bonus amounts on many of the credit cards. You should look at the history of the bonus for that card, to see if it changes frequently, and if it’s likely to increase any time in the near future.

2. Look for special offers

Sometimes issuers offer sign-up bonuses to targeted groups of cardholders that are larger than the offers advertised on their sites. Visit the issuer’s site often, check your mail or call the issuer directly to find out if you qualify for a special offer.

3. Keep an eye on the bonus after you sign up

Some issuers will award you the larger bonus amount if the offer increases after you sign up for the card. If the bonus goes up before the introductory period expires, call your issuer to see if you can qualify for the larger bonus.

4. Sign your spouse up for the same card

Many issuers will allow you and your spouse to sign up for the same card separately – yes, even if your spouse is already an authorized user on your account -- which means you can earn twice the number of bonus points if you and your spouse both sign up for the same card.

5. Time your applications carefully

You’ll need to keep issuers policies – such as Chase’s 5/24 rule and American Express’s once-in-a-lifetime limit on sign-up bonuses – in mind when deciding which cards to apply for. For instance, if you know that an issuer puts a limit on the number of new accounts you can have in a certain time frame, you might want to apply for those cards first, in case you cancel them and want to reapply to earn the bonus later down the line.

6. Watch out for hidden convenience fees

Avoid using your card to pay for products or services that charge a fee to use credit cards. For example, some utility companies and providers such as contractors or plumbers may charge you a convenience fee of 2, 3 or 4 percent fee to pay by card. See if you can meet the minimum spending requirement without paying fees.

7. Know what counts toward minimum spend

If you read the sign-up bonus terms and conditions, you’ll likely find that the annual fee, balance transfers made to the card, and the purchase of travelers checks or other "cash-like" items, don’t count toward your minimum spending total.

8. Be careful about returning items

If you return an item that you purchased with your card, be sure to subtract the amount from your total spending. Otherwise, you could accidentally fall short of the spending threshold and miss out on your card’s bonus.

9. Don’t get sucked into debt

What good is a few hundred dollars’ worth of bonus points if you also end up thousands of dollars in debt? Before you spring for a sign-up bonus, make sure you can afford the spending threshold.

Sign-up bonus vs. no sign-up bonus

There aren’t a lot of downsides to getting a card with a sign-up bonus – a bonus is basically cream on top of your regular card rewards. However, there are a few reasons you might choose a card with no sign-up bonus. Here’s a summary of the advantages of each:

Advantages of a card with a sign-up bonus

  • Overall rewards value tends to be much higher, especially in the first year
  • Likely has ongoing rewards
  • Can fund a large award more quickly

Advantages of a card with no sign-up bonus

  • No temptation to overspend in order to meet a spending threshold
  • Often no annual fee
  • Long-term value may be higher (though, not always the case)

As an example, let’s compare the Capital One VentureOne card to the Citi Double Cash card. Both are no-annual-fee cards. The VentureOne card offers a 1.25 miles per dollar rewards rate and a 20,000-mile sign-up bonus (once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening), with points that are worth 1 cent when you redeem them for travel. The Citi Double Cash card offers a higher rewards rate of 2 percent cash back on all your purchases – 1 percent when you make a purchase and 1 percent when you pay your bill on time – but no sign-up bonus.

In the first year, the value of the VentureOne card is much higher, due to its sign-up bonus. Here’s what you would earn with each card based on $15,900 spend in the first year:

Rewards value in the first year ($15,900 spend)


Capital One VentureOne

Citi Double Cash
($15,900 x 1.25%) + (20,000-mile bonus x 1 cent) = $398.75$15,900 x 2% = $318

But, over a five-year period, the value of the Citi Double Cash card is better, due to its higher rewards rate:

Rewards value over five years ($15,900 spend)


Capital One VentureOne

Citi Double Cash
(5 years x ($15,900 x 1.25%)) + (20,000-mile bonus x 1 cent) = $1,193.755 years x $15,900 x 2% = $1,590

So, if you plan to hold the card for a long period, a card with a 2 percent rewards rate and no sign-up bonus may be the better way to go. You’ll need to do some math to figure out which is the better option.

Is a sign-up bonus worthwhile?

A sign-up bonus can be a good way to earn a lot of rewards in a short amount of time. Earning a bonus is almost always worth it, if you can outmatch the card’s annual fee (which is usually the case), and if you redeem the bonus in a timely manner.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers 50,000 points to new cardholders who spend $4,000 in the first three months. Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal for a 25 percent bonus, so 50,000 bonus points are worth $625 of Ultimate Rewards travel. The Preferred card charges a $95 fee, but it’s waived the first year, so, if you can meet the spending threshold and use the bonus before the annual fee comes around, you can get more than $600 in value out of the card in its first year.

Chase Sapphire Preferred redemption options

RedemptionPoint ValueValue of 50,000-Point Sign-up Bonus
Ultimate Rewards travel portal (25% redemption bonus)1.25 cents$625
Statement credit1 cent$500
Direct deposit1 cent$500
Gift cards1 cent$500
Anazon.com purchases0.8 cents$400
Chase Pay purchases0.8 cents$400

However, if you don’t redeem the bonus in the first year and continue to hold the card without using it, your rewards value drops nearly a $100 each year, due to the card’s annual fee. And if you don’t redeem the bonus at all, the value of your bonus amounts to $0, because credit card points have no value outside of the rewards that you redeem them for.

It may seem obvious that you need to use your points to get value out of them, but cardholders do sometimes sign on to a card for its sign-up bonus, only to squander the bonus because they aren’t able to use it in time. Before you apply for a card to earn a sign-up bonus, it’s best to study the card’s rewards program and have a plan for redeeming the bonus.

Related Rewards Card Categories:

In Review: Best Credit Card Sign-up Bonus Offers of 2018

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, we ask that you do not disclose confidential or personal information such as your bank account number, phone number, or email address. Keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by the card issuers or advertisers. Additionally, the card issuer or advertiser does not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.

See the online credit card applications for details about the terms and conditions of an offer. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's web site.

* For additional rates, fees and costs see issuer's website for detailed pricing and terms.