A credit card sign-up bonus can be an amazing thing. What other business is going to give you hundreds of dollars worth of free stuff, or even cash, just for giving them the opportunity to earn your business? The credit card industry is so competitive, that both card issuers and their customers have grown accustomed to these offers of points, miles or cash back for new applicants.
Is There a Catch?
There are some credit card users who examine these offers with the skepticism typically reserved for get-rich-quick schemes or unsolicited emails from overseas offering untold riches. The truth is that these offers are legitimate, but there are a few drawbacks that applicants should be aware of. First, credit cards that have generous sign-up bonuses will typically be rewards cards with higher interest rates and fees than the more competitive cards with no sign-up bonus or rewards. In addition, these cards will typically require a minimum amount to be spent within a certain amount of time, typically three months from account opening. Finally, those who would use another line of credit to overspend or carry a balance will be better off ignoring these offers.
At the same time, some people mistakenly believe that signing up for a credit card will do massive credit score damage. They’re half right. Actually, adding an additional account will lower your debt to credit ratio and can help you build credit. So long as you pay your bills on time, and do not incur too much debt, one or two additional accounts will have a positive effect on your credit score. That said, applying for several new accounts within a limited period of time can cause your credit score to fall, albeit temporarily, due to the hard inquiries that occur when you apply. However, it’s best to have an idea of the credit score the card requires before applying. Otherwise, you could get the small ding to your credit score without actually getting the card. (If you don’t know where your credit stands, you can get two of your credit scores for free, updated every 30 days, at Credit.com.)
Now, onto the best sign-up bonuses on the market this month.
1. American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum MasterCard From Citi
This card is currently offering new applicants 75,000 points after they spend $7,500 within three months of account opening. These miles are enough for three domestic round-trip, economy class tickets, or two round-trip economy class tickets to Mexico or the Caribbean. Further, this card offers substantial benefits including a free checked bag, access to the Admirals Club lounges, and priority check-in, security, and boarding privileges. There is a $450 annual fee for this card.
2. Marriott Rewards Premier Card From Chase
Chase and Marriott are offering new applicants 80,000 points after new applicants spend just $3,000 within three months of account opening. Cardholders also receive five points for every dollar spent at Marriott properties including The Ritz-Carlton, two points for every dollar spent on airline tickets and car rentals, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Other benefits include 15 nights’ credit towards elite status and an additional night of credit for every $3,000 spent. There is an $85 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees. The card requires good to excellent credit. (If you have good credit, here are some credit card shopping tips.)
3. Wyndham Rewards Credit Card From Barclaycard
New cardholders earn 30,000 bonus points after first purchase, and an additional 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. You also earn five points per dollar spent at Wyndham properties and double points on all other purchases. With Wyndham’s newly revamped rewards program, all properties cost 15,000 points, so this sign-up bonus is worth three free nights at any of their properties. In addition, cardholders also earn 15,000 bonus points each year on their account anniversary, good for yet another free night. There is a $69 annual fee for this card.
4. Citi ThankYou Premier
This card is offering new cardholders 50,000 ThankYou points after making $3,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. These points can be worth 1.25 cents each when used to book travel through Citi’s travel service, or transferred to to 10 different airline partners or the Hilton HHonors program. Cardholders earn three points per dollar spent on travel and gas, and double points for restaurant and entertainment purchases. There is a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees. This card requires excellent credit. Excellent credit means you have the pick of the litter when it comes to credit cards — here’s how to pick the best one for you.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
- The Best Cash Rewards Credit Cards
- How to Shop for a Rewards Credit Card
- Chase Freedom Review: 5% Cash Back for Cardholders
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.
This article by Jason Steele was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.