Credit card sign-up bonuses are definitely an enticing perk to get consumers to use a company's credit card. These sign-up bonuses can come in the form of cash back, statement credit, points, miles, and other rewards. The bonuses available from different credit card companies vary depending on the type of card you're signing up for.
Most sign-up bonuses are only earned after you've spent a certain amount on purchases with the card. Purchases are often defined by what they're not. Things like buying traveler's checks, purchasing or reloading prepaid cards and gift cards, person-to-person payments, or other purchases that are essentially cash equivalents do not count towards the minimum purchases to receive any of the sign-up offers. Interest charges and fees also don't count as purchases towards fulfilling the minimums for sign-up bonuses.
If you're looking for credit card sign-up bonuses that can be used for air travel, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, the Citi Premier℠ Card, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® are good options. The sign-up bonus points earned with Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Citi Premier℠ Card can be redeemed towards travel and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 50,000 miles if you spend a certain amount within the first three months of signing up for the card.
Statement credit works a little differently than cash back, adding a credit to your card balance. The end result is basically the same as receiving cash in hand - if you'd decided to use your cash back to pay some of your credit card bill. The American Express Cash Magnet™ Card offers statement credit at two different tiers after signing up and although it may not be as initially exciting as cash back, the minimum purchase level to receive the bonus is on the lower end of most credit card sign-up bonus offers.
Cash back rewards are more straightforward. Depending on the credit card company, the credited amount can be deducted from your statement balance or redeemed for gift cards. Many credit cards that offer cash back rewards for signing up also offer ongoing cash back bonuses on qualified purchases.
If you are trying to decide which credit card cash back sign-up bonus is the best, it can be important to compare the amount of cash back against the purchase minimum to qualify and if there are limits on where you can use the cash back. The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card has a qualifying purchase minimum of only $1,000, but they also only offer a $200 cash back bonus. The $500 purchase minimum of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card is lower, but the $200 cash back bonus is limited to online use.
Total bonus amount, what the form the bonus is, how it can be used, and what minimum amount of purchases you need to meet before you qualify for the reward are all part of deciding what the best credit card sign-up bonus is. Which sign-up offer is the best? Here are the best credit card sign-up bonuses for individuals from companies including Discover, Citi, Chase, and American Express. Branded credit cards, from hotels and airlines, offer their own range of sign up bonuses specific to those brands and are not included in this.
Bonus offer: Discover will automatically match all Cash Back earned over the first year, automatically. There is no limit to how much Cash Back is matched.
Annual fee: $0
Regular APR: 13.99% - 24.99% Variable
Bonus offer: Earn a $150 cash back bonus for spending at least $500 on purchases with the card in the first three months
Annual fee: $0
Regular APR: 17.24%–25.99% variable
Bonus offer: Earn a $150 online cash reward bonus for spending at least $500 on purchases with the card in the first three months.
Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%.
Annual fee: $0
Regular APR: 0% APR first 12 months; 6.24% to 26.24% variable
Bonus offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points, redeemable for $750 toward travel, after you spend at least $4,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months.
Annual fee: $450 ($300 rebate in travel)
Regular APR: 19.24% to 26.24% variable