Quick Look at the Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses:
- Best Overall: Chase Freedom Flex℠
- Best for Generous Cashback: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Best for Instant Reward without Spending: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
- Best Zero-fee Clear-cut Reward Card: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best for Global Travelers: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
- Best for GM Purchase Rewards: My GM Rewards Card™
Used responsibly, credit cards can help make your holidays more affordable, grant you more robust consumer protection, spread your cost for a big purchase and clear your debt. Furthermore, you can earn money on your purchases.
Yes! Most credit cards offer you cashback, reward points, and other freebies whenever you swipe them. While it's vital that you look out for the right card with such juicy offers, the fastest and easiest way to effortlessly chalk up cash backs, reward points, or miles is through a gainful welcome or sign-up bonus.
Let's face it, the near-endless travel opportunities that open up for each extra mile or reward points gained are too good to ignore. Think of that beautiful trip or vacation you've been dreaming or fantasizing about. Maybe a romantic tour of Italy if you like ancient culture, architecture, and fantastic food, or exploring the sandy beaches and rocky shorelines of Barbados if you enjoy tropical summertime in the Caribbean. Either way, accumulating rewards from sign-up or welcome bonuses can improve your chances of going on that dream vacation or stacking up your wallet.
However, like most remarkable things, bonus deals from credit card issuers come and go as fast. So knowing when a mouth-watering sign-up bonus is being offered is central to bagging such prizes. Furthermore, unlike before, most issuers have now restricted the number of times you can get issued a card. Therefore you need to target when a lucrative sign-up bonus is in the offering and apply.
But how do you know which credit card issuers offer the best welcome or sign-up bonus? Benzinga analyzed various credit cards that offer sign-up bonuses and rounded up the best cards that can earn you a generous reward or cash back.
Best Overall: Chase Freedom Flex℠
With a generous cash back policy and robust bonus offerings, Chase Freedom Flex℠ is undoubtedly the best overall credit card for welcome bonuses. New cardholders will earn $200 for the first $500 spent on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That's about 40% cash back at no cost.
The card has a generous intro APR that helps you get started. Plus, you earn rewards like 5% cash back on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories every quarter, 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining, including takeout and drugstores, and 1% on everything else.
Best for Generous Cashback: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
The SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card has a simple yet robust welcome cashback bonus for new cardholders. And these cash back bonuses have low minimum spending requirements. As a new cardholder, you can earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months.
Other cashback rewards include a 3% cash back for purchases made at grocery stores, excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®, 3% on dining and entertainment credit expenses, and 1% on all other purchases. With the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can redeem your cash back rewards any time, regardless of the amount.
The Capital One card affords other juicy benefits like access to exclusive entertainment events (sporting events, concerts, food experiences), travel insurance, and extended warranty protection. And you know the most incredible part? You won't pay a transaction fee for purchases outside of the U.S.
Best for Instant Reward without Spending: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is a Chase-issued credit card. The credit card's welcome bonus is designed to reward cardholders post account approval. Once your application is approved, you'll instantly get a $100 worth of Amazon.com gift card. Plus, there’s no annual fee and rates from 14.99% to 22.99%.
Opening an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card requires an Amazon prime membership. A Prime membership currently costs $119 per annum and $12.99 monthly. The card's underlying prime membership requirement caveat is offset by its zero annual fee costs, no foreign transaction charges, and relatively lower APR.
Furthermore, as an eligible Prime card member, you're qualified for a 5% Amazon.com cashback reward useful for Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases. This is in addition to at least 10% cash back on selected items on Amazon.com. Other cash back rewards include the card's 2% cash back at restaurants, gas, and drug stores and 1% on all other purchases.
Best for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is famous among travelers. The card's travel-focused bonus rewards and robust benefits make it the best fit for those that travel frequently. The card rewards holders using a bonus point system. You can redeem the bonus point in cash.
With an annual fee of $95 and slightly above-average APRs, the card is affordable to carry and clearly has benefits that more than pay for the cost of the car when you use it regularly.
Get 60,000 points if an individual spends $4,000 within the first three months. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
Using the credit card to book travel gets you 5X bonus points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You get another 3X bonus points for dining (takeout or home delivery), 3X bonus points on online grocery purchases, and 2X bonus points for all other travel purchases. Redeeming Bonus points through Chase Ultimate Rewards® increases the dollar equivalent of the reward by a quarter of the original value (a 25% bonus increase).
Other advantages to enjoy with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card include a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, no foreign transaction charges, and travel insurance (baggage and trip delay insurance).
Best Zero-Fees Clear-Cut Reward Card: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- securely through Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card's websiteRegular APR
19.99% – 29.99% based on credit worthiness | 29.99% (variable) for cash advancesRating:
Suppose you are looking for a credit card that doesn't charge annual fees and offers a generous reward bonus. In that case, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is your likely bet. New cardholders can earn a one-time $200 cash bonus for the first $500 spent on purchases in the first three months from account opening—a lavish 40% cash back return.
The credit card's reward system is straightforward. For every purchase you make with the card, you are eligible to earn 1.5% cash back. Cardholders can redeem their rewards at any time, regardless of the amount (greater than $0.00). The card doesn't charge annual fees, offers no foreign transaction charges, and provides coverage for travel insurance.
Other pecks include extended warranty protection, 24-hour travel assistance, and access to culinary, sports, and entertainment events.
Best for Global Travelers: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card targets those that enjoy free hotel nights. These may include international business people on the go, international celebrities or performing artists, and even revelers. Regardless of your net worth, sometimes getting exquisite free service in a top-notch hotel can be rewarding. That's what the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card offers you.
Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening. The Bonvoy credit card has a high reward rate. For every $1 you spend in any of the 7,000 hotels participating in Marriot Bonvoy®, you can earn up to 6X Bonvoy points. Combined with 10X points for being a member and 1X points for the Silver Elite Status, this adds up to 17 points. In addition, you get 15 elite night credits that automatically qualify you for the Marriot Silver elite status each year. And when you spend up to $35,000 each year, you can upgrade to the Gold elite status.
However, the best feature comes at the beginning of your second year as a cardholder. That's when you get a Free Night Award which you can use at any Marriott hotel costing at most $35,000. Subsequently, you get this each year during your account anniversary. And by redeeming the award certificate for a moderately-priced stay, you can offset the $95 annual fees. Other pecks are lost luggage insurance, purchase protection, trip delay reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, and more. You can also check out the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card for more great features at a higher cost.
Best for GM Purchase Rewards: My GM Rewards Card™
When you use the My GM Rewards Card™, you get a robust welcome bonus and collect points on your purchases that can go toward the lease or purchase of a GM vehicle. There’s no annual fee, and you can even use the card overseas with no foreign transaction fee.
Yes, there is a 0% intro APR that expires based on the issuer’s current guidelines, but it gives you time to earn rewards without paying interest. Plus, you can start your rewards journey faster with a strong welcome bonus.
This is the sort of card you use when you want to put your rewards towards your biggest goals in life. It can also help you if you’re planning on buying vehicles for your children or shuffling vehicles in your family and shopping with GM. Business owners might also do the same to earn rewards towards their business fleet vehicle purchases.
Features to Look for in Best Credit Cards for Sign-up Bonuses
With hundreds of credit cards available, making an informed choice can be challenging, especially if you're a first-timer. Nevertheless, you're guaranteed to make a great choice by knowing the specific features to look out for. Here's a checklist of the key features worth considering when choosing a credit card.
Annual percentage rate (APR)
The annual percentage rate (APR) refers to the cost of borrowing money on your credit card. Regardless of your intent for getting a credit card (paying bills, online purchases, and more), in the long run, it boils down to whether you're capable of paying what you owe monthly.
If you can pay fully on time, then you needn't bother much about APR. But let's face it, unforeseen emergencies may sometimes impact your ability to pay. You'll have to pay interest if you can't pay or default on payment.
The APR is the interest rate the credit card company charges you monthly for unpaid credit card balances. APR is applied monthly, even though it's an annualized rate. For instance, say you owe $1000, and the current APR on your card is 19.99%. To calculate the monthly interest rate, you divide the current APR by 12, which gives 1.6658%. Then multiplying by what you owe gives 1.665% * 1000, which equals approximately $16.66 monthly interest.
The bigger the APR, the more interest. A credit card with an excellent welcome bonus but a high APR is counterproductive. So look out for credit cards with a lower APR.
If you cannot pay off your credit card's balance for a particular month, you'll be required to pay a minimum amount. This minimum amount is the minimum repayment. An excellent credit card should have a low minimum repayment. Most issuers usually charge 3% of the balance due or $5 flat —whichever is higher. Do your due diligence. After all, nobody wants to spend their hard-earned money servicing budget-breaking minimum repayment fees.
Other than the welcome bonuses, another feature to look out for is your credit card's reward program. Different credit card companies offer varying rewards. Some give cash back prizes, while others provide certain types of insurance. Research how and where you can use the rewards and how easily you can claim them. You can then choose accordingly.
Annual fees and other charges
Some issues charge small annual fees for using the card. If you default, you also have to pay interest on it. You can avoid cards that charge annual usage fees. Furthermore, review the credit card agreement to know what other charges apply. Usually, you’ll pay for exceeding your credit limit or using the card overseas.
How to Get Approved for a Credit Card
Now you've known the best credit cards available and essential features that should inform your choice. But do you know your credit card application can get rejected? Credit card vendors have criteria that applicants must meet for a successful application. If you don't meet those criteria, your application will be unsuccessful. Here are some tips that will help increase your chances of getting approved.
A good credit history (credit score)
Your credit score paints a picture of how well or poorly you repay your credits. The better your credit score, the higher your chances of approval. Therefore, always try to review your credit score. Chances are it'll be the determinant of your credit card application success or failure.
Good spending habits
While this might not be directly related to the success or failure of your credit card application approval, it affects several direct determinants. Good spending habits mean that you are financially able to pay your debts on time, which is equivalent to a good credit score and stellar credit history.
When you prioritize disciplined spending habits, it signals to your potential issuer that you'll prioritize settling your credits over getting expensive clothes and accessories.
Save up a Security Deposit
After repeated failed attempts, getting a security deposit card might be a great idea. Security credit cards will require you to deposit a security deposit to back your credit limit. If your credit limit is $500, you'll have to deposit $500 to support it. After a year of timely payments, chances are you'll qualify for an unsecured credit card.
How You Can Improve Your Credit Score
A good credit score is key to unlocking financial opportunities all around you. Here are a few tips that will help boost your credit score going forward.
Pay your debts
Your credit score is tallied using your debts and income as crucial inputs. Higher income and lower debt equal high credit scores. The income factor is primarily constant, and you have no real power over that.
In contrast, the debt factor is right in your backyard. It is up to you to increase or decrease this factor—naturally, the lower your debt, the higher your credit score. Paying the monthly minimum won't lower your debt. It would be best if you tried as much as possible to settle your debts when they are due.
Set up automatic bill payment
Your monthly bills and payables are also a type of debt that can negatively impact your credit score. Paying your bills late or defaulting altogether are bad antecedents for your credit score. An intelligent way to avoid this will be to put your bill payments on autopilot.
When you set up an automatic bill payment, your bills will be deducted directly from your paycheck. You won't have to worry about late payments or defaults.
Check your credit reports regularly and dispute report errors
Your credit report contains all the information helpful in calculating your credit score. It is good practice to check one's credit report regularly. For instance, you can find an error in your credit report that can drag down your credit score. An error you'll otherwise miss if you don't check your credit report regularly.
Once you identify such an error, you have a right to dispute the report. Informing the requisite authority about an erroneous credit report can help correct it and boost your credit. You can request your credit report and get it for free.
Frequently Answered Questions
What is a credit card signup bonus?
A signup bonus is a reward given by a credit card issuer to entice you to apply for a credit card and start using their credit card services.
Are credit card rewards taxable?
No, credit cards are not taxable. The IRS categorizes credit card rewards as discounts or rebates, not income.
What are the most accessible credit card bonuses to get?
The best sign-up bonuses are those from credit cards that require minimal spending to receive the reward. Some credit cards grant a bonus after the first purchase, while others might need a cardholder to spend up to $500 for quality.