Disclaimer: I am not a licensed financial adviser and the information in this article is not meant to be individualized financial advice. Everyone’s situation is different so if you are unsure about what to do with your funds, please seek an adviser that can consider your own individual case and make recommendations to you. Some of the links in this post are my personal referral links and we will both receive bonuses if you sign up through them.
As I have written about in the past, credit cards can be very lucrative, especially with sign up bonuses. This does not apply to just credit cards though. I have also made a significant amount of money from bank account and brokerage account sign up bonuses which I will be writing about in the next few weeks. Credit card sign up bonuses can be a little more difficult depending on the card because they usually involving having to spend a significant amount of money. If done correctly, these can also be easily accomplished if you do your best to put any planned big purchases on the cards. I’ll discuss each of the different types of sign-up bonuses and then provide links to some that I have completed and had success with.
There are hundreds of credit card sign-up bonuses available but only some are worth the time and effort. Also, some of the bonuses fluctuate throughout the year meaning that depending on when you sign up, you could receive much less bang for your buck. Over the past nine months, I have signed up for 18 new credit cards for the bonuses. Some of these are obviously more lucrative than others, but I have gotten some benefit from all of them. They also have different amounts of spending required in order to receive the bonuses which should be a strong consideration for you. Make sure that you will be able to meet the spending requirement, otherwise you get very little benefit from the card. Currently in my job situation I do not get paid vacation days, so even though some travel cards would have given more value than cashback bonus cards, I don’t have a lot of time for travel, so it makes more sense for me to choose the cashback bonus cards. Here are some cards that I would currently recommend:
Chase freedom: This card offers a $150 bonus after spending $500 in the first 90 days of being a card member. This should be very achievable for most and is a pretty decent cash bonus. This card also offers 5% cashback in rotating categories each quarter and include: gas, groceries, restaurants, etc. This card also does not have an annual fee, so it is worth keeping even after the sign up bonus for the reward categories. I first got this card about six years ago and still use it consistently.
Chase Sapphire: This is a premium card from Chase and has a very big sign-up bonus. 50,000 points after $4,000 spent in the first 90 days. That 50,000 can be worth $500 in cash or $625 in travel booked through Chase. These points can also be transferred to one of Chase’s travel partners for even more value depending on your travel plans. There are many other benefits offered by this card which can be found on the link above. Keep in mind that $3,000 can be difficult to spend in three months, so make sure that you have some big purchases planned or some other method of completing the spending before signing up. This card charges an annual fee, but it is not charged for the first year. If you do not decide to keep the card, simply cancel before the fee is charged in order to avoid it. But, not to worry, if you forget to cancel it before the fee is charged, you can call and cancel the card and have the fee refunded within 30-60 days of the fee being charged (depending on the card issuer, I’m not 100% sure what the date range is for this card).
Barclay Arrival Plus: 40,000 “miles” after $3,000 spent in 90 days is the offer on this card. The “miles” can be cashed in for $460 after meeting the $3,000 requirement due to the fact that this card also earns two “miles” on each dollar spent. Although Barclay refers to their program as miles, for all intents and purposes, it is essentially cashback due to the fact that each mile counts as 1 cent when redeemed for a statement credit. This is a very good card to keep for a year, even after the sign-up bonus is completed, due to the 2% cashback offered on every dollar spent. This card will also charge an annual fee after the first year, but you can easily cancel before that point as stated above.
American Express Blue Cash: This card offers $100 cashback after $1000 in purchases in the first 90 days. In addition, this card has no annual fee, so it is a good one to keep for the long haul. Another big benefit of this card is 3% cashback at grocery stores and 2% cashback at gas stations all year long! Right now they also are offering 10% back on US wireless telephone service providers up to $2,000 spent during 2016. This can be a huge benefit for those with big cell phone bills.
American Express Premier Rewards Gold: The current bonus for this card is 25,000 membership rewards points after $2,000 spend in 90 days. Although this is worth $250 in gift cards, there is often a better offer available. If you are willing to wait for the right time to sign up, this card often offers 50,000 points after $1,000 spent. This is the offer that I signed up for last year, and I would recommend waiting if possible. The annual fee is waived for the first year on this card, but is charged beginning on the second year so be sure to cancel before the second year. American express membership reward points can also be transferred to airline and hotel partners, which can make these points more valuable for some.
Discover It: This card is very similar to Chase Freedom. There is currently no sign-up bonus available for the card, but it is still worth it to sign up for this card in order to use the 5% quarterly categories that are offered. This is especially lucrative right now because Discover is matching all of the cashback that you earn in the first year of being a card member. This actually makes the rotating categories worth 10% instead of just 5%. These categories are often similar to the Chase Freedom, but occasionally will be different meaning that it is possible to be earning 5% in one category from Chase Freedom while earning 10% in another category with Discover It!