With the lucrative sign-up bonuses offered by some credit cards, consumers can rack up $500 in bonus points if they do some looking around. That might seem like a lofty goal, but it’s completely doable.
Sign-up bonuses are often capped at one per customer, and that’s a lifetime limit. So, if consumers think they can reap huge sign-up bonuses, spend those points, cancel their cards, and do it all over again a year or two later, it doesn’t work like that. That’s why it’s important to be selective about when to make the leap with a sign-up bonus. There can potentially be a lot of money at stake.
What to Look for in a Credit Card Offering a Sign-Up Bonus
Because consumers will only be able to get a card’s sign-up bonus once, they should wait for a great deal. Avoid signing up for a card that’s only offering a normal bonus amount at the time. Hold out for a special offer—many credit cards, such as American Express credit cards, will occasionally give a short-term offer that increases how many sign-up rewards points they would normally give.
Before signing up at all, do the homework necessary to determine if an offer on a particular card is a good one or if it would be worth waiting a few more months to see if a better one comes along.
When looking for a card that offers a sign-up bonus, consumers may want to double check that the card has no annual fees or determine that the card offers enough benefits to offset the cost of the annual fee. If the card has great travel rewards and it only carries a small annual fee, it could be worth it. Some fees can run hundreds of dollars per year, which might not be worth it unless a person is prepared to do a lot of spending on their card.
Consumers should also keep in mind that the cards with the most valuable sign-up bonuses tend to carry the highest annual fees. It’s important to carefully weigh whether or not it’s worth it.
Watch Those Spending Requirements
Many sign-up bonuses are contingent upon spending requirements. That means a consumer would only get that bonus if they spend the required amount within a certain amount of time.
A good example of this is the American Express Hilton Honors Ascend Card, which for a limited time in 2018 offered 100,000 sign-up bonus points if the cardholder spent $3,000 in purchases during their first three months of being a member.
That’s a great deal for cardholders—if they don’t mind the $95 annual fee attached to the card and if they would spend that money anyway. If they put their ordinary everyday purchases, like gas and food, on the card and pay it all off at the end of the month, it’s worth it for them. But if they spend more than they typically would just to meet the spending requirements, the value of the card isn’t as great.
How to Land a $500 Credit Card Bonus and More
Those who are interested in credit cards with the best sign-up bonuses will need to watch their credit scores and try to improve them if they dip down. The cards that offer great sign-up bonuses often require higher credit scores than other cards do.
American Express, for example, is known for having some of the best reward perks, but it can also be tricky to qualify. The lower-end American Express cards can be obtained with a credit score in the 600 range. But the most exclusive credit cards may require 700 or above.
That’s just one more reason consumers should work on protecting and improving their credit scores—so they can score the best credit card bonus rewards.
Author: Shannon Serpette
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