Signing bonus: 4 top credit card deals
August 10, 2011
By: Curtis Arnold
The best credit card signup bonuses have become lenders' weapons of choice in the battle for consumers with high FICO scores. Having recapitalized after 2008's financial crisis, banks now face pressure to lend that cash to borrowers with good or excellent credit scores.
Banks especially like recruiting "high churn" accounts: customers who pay down balances often, keeping lenders' cash in circulation without increasing their risk. That's why 1 in 4 new credit card offers carries a short-term cash incentive, according to researchers at Mintel Comperemedia.
You can get even bigger rewards if you're willing to trade cash for food or flights, as we learn from four of this year's best credit card signup offers:
Chase puts $100 cash back in your pocket
Over the past few years, Chase got a lot of mileage from its airline credit card portfolio, offering limited-time perks such as frequent flier miles on British Airways, rewards for flights on Southwest, and other airfare bonuses on the newly merged United Airlines. With Chase's current best credit card signup offer you can receive $100 cash back for new cardholders after after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months of Card membership with your Chase Freedom® Visa, along with an everyday 1 percent cash rebate and with quarterly enrollment you can earn up to 5 percent cash back subject to quarterly maximums in categories that change every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants and more. And no annual fee.
Capital One sends you packing with miles
Even the marauders in Capital One's TV ads know a great deal when they see it, showcasing how they get around with Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. New cardholders can receive 10,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months with the card. Use them on Capital One's online redemption system toward airfare, hotels, other qualifying travel expenses, or cash.
Citi offers $100 cash plus up to 5 percent cash back
The Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card - $100 Cash Back card offers $100 cash back after $500 in purchases charged to the card within your first 3 months of account opening. On top of that, enroll to earn 5 percent cash back from Citi on eligible purchases in popular categories that change each quarter, 1 percent cash back on all other purchases subject to annual maximum. And no annual fee.
American Express offers reward points and up to $200 Airline Fee credit
The The Platinum Card® from American Express got a facelift this year, saying goodbye to foreign currency fees and adding complimentary access to over 600 participating airport lounges worldwide when you enroll with Priority Pass Select and bypass airport arrival lines with Global Entry. Take advantage of the 24/7 concierge service for assistance with reservations, travel, gifts and more.
New card members can receive a bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards bonus points after enrolling in the Membership Rewards First® program and spending $2,000 in the first three months of Card membership. This charge card carries a $450 annual fee, but you can save at least that much money each year if you know how to take advantage of the card's bonus offers and benefits.
Get the most from your card
Remember that today's signup bonuses usually come at a price. Credit card issuers don't believe in "loss leaders." Each of the deals above comes with either an annual fee or an annual percentage rate much higher than those offered for "no frills" credit cards. Use your new card extensively, and your lender pays for your bonus rewards with interchange fees passed along to merchants. Pay your balance in full every month to make the most of your money-saving rewards.
About the Author
Curtis Arnold, a nationally recognized consumer educator and advocate, has been educating consumers about credit cards since 1998. New! Curtis is the author of 'How You Can Profit from Credit Cards: Using Credit to Improve Your Financial Life and Bottom Line' (FT Press, 2008). He is also the co-author of the upcoming Complete Idiot's Guide to Person-to-Person Lending (Alpha Books/Pengiun Group USA, April 2009), a contribitor to The Ultimate Allowance (InnerWealth Publishing, 2008) and is extensively featured in 42 RulesTM for Driving Success With Books (Super Star Press, January 2009).