Best Credit Card Referral Bonuses

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 23, 2022

Quick Look at the Best Credit Card Referral Bonuses:

Most people are aware of the cash back or points bonuses offered by credit cards, but another bonus could put extra money in your pocket: A credit card bonus that comes from referring people to the card. In other words, you can get a referral bonus every time you tell someone about how great your card is and they are approved for one of their own.

Each credit card issuer has different rules and rewards when it comes to the referral bonus they offer, but most pay the referral bonus in cash back, points, or airline miles. Benzinga looked at various credit cards and the associated referral bonuses and found the best of several categories.

Best Overall: American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card

American Express offers one of the most generous referral bonuses. You can earn up to $100 for each referral up to $550 per year. Even if you refer a friend to the American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card and they are not approved but are approved for another card from American Express, you will still receive the referral bonus associated with your card and the person you referred will receive the welcome bonus from the card they were approved for. In addition to the great referral bonus, you will earn hefty cash back statement credits on your everyday purchases with this card. Use it to grocery shop, and you could earn up to $6,000 in cash back for the year.

Best for Cash Bonuses: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you’re looking for cash back, the Quicksilver Rewards Cash Credit Card offers $150 for each referral that you send them that turns into an approved account. The credit card company does cap the yearly referral fees at $500. In addition to the generous referral bonuses, this credit card offers 1.5% percent on everything you spend in addition to 5% cashback on all your hotel and rental car expenses provided that you book them through Capital One Travel. It’s a great all-around card with high cash bonuses for referrals.

Best for Points Bonuses: American Express® Gold Card

  • Regular APR

    *Terms apply ** Be advised that applicants who do not have a credit history in the U.S. but have had credit cards or loans in Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, South Korea, Switzerland or the United Kingdom will need to provide a SSN or ITIN during the application process.

If earning points is your goal, this could be your perfect card. With the intro offer of 75,000 points, you can start off with a bang by spending $4,000 in the first six months. And since you will be getting 4X points on groceries and restaurants, you can use your card for those things to meet the spending requirement. When you refer someone to this card who gets approved, you will earn 30,000 points with a cap of 55,000 points per year. The only downside to this card is the high annual fee, but the generous points may make up for it.

Best for Airline Miles Bonuses: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the perfect card for people who love to travel. With its amazing sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles, you will soon have enough miles to take that vacation you’ve been dreaming about. And the credit card issuers gives you 10,000 miles every year on the anniversary of your card. What’s more, you will receive 25,000 miles for each referral that gets approved, and the credit card issuer put the cap at 100,000 miles. For each approved referral, you get 25,000 bonus miles, up to 100,000 miles per calendar year.

Best for Bonuses for Families: Chase Disney Premier Visa® Card

Disney fans will love this credit card and all the Disney-related bonuses that come with it. You will earn Disney Reward Dollars for everything you spend in addition to discounts at your favorite Disney stores. The 0% intro APR on Disney packages starts when booking the vacation instead of when the card is activated – a major bonus. And when you refer people to the Chase Disney Premier Visa® Card and they are approved, you will earn $100 Disney Rewards Dollars, up to $500 per year.

Features to Look for in Credit Cards with Referral Bonuses  

When looking for the right credit card to earn referral bonuses, you will need to pay attention to the way the credit card issuer pays the bonus. If you want cash back, look for a card that gives it. If you want to earn airline miles or hotel points, search out the credit cards that will pay your referral bonuses with those methods. Here are some features you should look for when researching which credit card is right for you.

1. Annual Fees

While not every credit card charges an annual fee, some do. It’s up to you to determine whether or not you want to pay one. Typically, the credit cards with annual fees provide extras that not all cards do such as airport private lounges and higher cash back percentages.

2. APRs

The higher the APR on your credit card, the more interest you will pay over the life of the credit card. This is especially true if you carry a credit card balance and only make the minimum payments. That’s why it’s smart to look for a credit card that offers the lowest APRs you can get with your credit score. Remember, the better your score, the lower the APR offers will be.

3. Cash Back or Points

If you use the credit card right, you may be able to add money to spend on groceries, airline flights, hotels or gas. That’s because many credit card issuers offer cash back on expenditures or points to apply to airline tickets or hotel stays. Paying attention to what each credit card offers when researching which one is right for you can put money in your pocket when you redeem these rewards.

4. Extras

Another way you use your credit card to your benefit is to look for one that offers the extras you need. For instance, you may find a credit card that offers travel insurance, rental car insurance, fraud protection and even special early notifications about events coming to your area.

How to Get Approved For a Credit Card

Applying for a credit card is a simple process, but you need to have some information at hand before starting the process. Here is a rundown of how to improve your chances of getting approved for a credit card that offers referral bonuses.

1. Know Your Credit Cards

If you want a credit card bonus in the form of referral bonuses, you need to do your research to determine which cards offer referrals because not all of them do. Start with the list above and see if any of those options suit your needs. If they don’t, chances are that the credit card issuers above have other credit cards with referral bonuses that are better suited for you.

2. Understand Your Credit Score

Each credit card issuer has certain criteria they use to approve – or disapprove – applicants. And their credit score is one of the key deciding factors. That’s why it’s so important that you know your score before applying for a credit card. The reason? Because the more times that you apply, the lower your score will go. But when you know your score, you can research the cards to determine which ones accept applicants with a score like yours.

3. Build Your Credit

If your score isn’t high enough to get the credit card you want, it’s time to begin taking the necessary steps to build it. Most lenders and credit card issuers consider a 660 FICO score to be good credit, so you should make that your goal. Some of the factors that will help raise your credit score are the length of your open accounts, the percentage of credit that you use from your open accounts (the lower the better) and whether or not you make your payments on time.

4. Start With a Secured Credit Card

If you can’t qualify for the credit card you want just yet, think about getting a secured credit card. These cards extend you credit after you put up a deposit to the credit card issuer to hold as collateral. For instance, if you give the issuer a $500 deposit, they may issue you $500 in credit on the card. Making timely payments on a secured credit card will help build your credit score and bridge the gap between a secured and an unsecured credit card.

How you can Improve Your Credit Score

Improving your credit score is the key to getting a good credit card that offers referral bonuses. And luckily, improving your score isn’t difficult. Here are some simple steps you can take to improve yours. 

1. Know Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

You probably know how much money you pay in bills every month and chances are that you are very familiar with your monthly income, but what you may not understand is your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. This number is an important factor when thinking about improving your credit score. The short of the formula is this: the bigger the gap between your income and outgoing bills, the better your ratio. To get yours, divide your monthly bills by your income. Strive for a 30% DTI, but know that some high-risk lenders will accept DTIs up to 50% (for less-than-optimal terms).

2 Ensure Your Payments are Made on Time

Making your payments on time – every month – is a large part of improving your credit score. Every time you make a late payment, that creditor reports it to the credit reporting agencies and your credit score takes a hit. But guess what? The same is true when you make on-time payments, and all those good payments eventually add up to a better credit score. Setting up automatic payments is a way to ensure that you will never miss a payment deadline again.

3. Get Rid of Your Debt

The debt that you carry not only contributes to a bad DTI but also reduces the amount of disposable income that you have. If you can reduce your debt by one bill at a time, you’ll soon find yourself debt-free. Start with either the debt that has the highest interest rate or the smallest debt. Both methods work, but you will need to see which one motivates you the most.

4. Don’t Close Old Accounts

When trying to improve your credit score, you might be tempted to close some old accounts to take away the temptation of using them. Don’t. Those old accounts add points to your credit score, and if you close them, your score may go down. One aspect of a credit score is how long you’ve had the accounts that you do. If you think you can’t avoid the temptation of using them, cut up the cards but leave the account open. That way you’ll get the benefit of the open account without the risk of abusing it.

Frequently Asked Questions 


What is a referral bonus on a credit card?


A referral bonus on a credit card is a payment in cash or points to a card member that refers the credit card issuer to another person. Some credit card issuers grant bonuses when the referral applies for a credit card while others only grant the bonus when the referral is approved for the credit card.


Can I refer someone for a credit card?


Talk to your credit card company to determine if they have a referral program. If they do and you refer someone who applies and is approved for a credit card, you can earn a referral bonus. These bonuses come in cash back, airline miles, points or specialized points like those for travel to Disney locations.


Do referrals help credit card approval?


Unfortunately, getting a referral to a credit card does not increase your chances of approval. Instead, the referrals are designed to get new people to apply for the cards, but they will still have to apply for a credit card and receive approval with a good credit score and proven income.