Best Credit Cards with Signup Bonuses: Cash Back, Miles, Points etc.
There’s a lot of different credit cards on the market today. One of the most common features among new credit cards are signup bonuses. However, credit card signup bonuses can be complex and confusing.
That’s why we put together this handy guide. We’ll help you understand what a signup bonus is, and we’ll go through the different types of signup bonuses that credit cards offer. Finally, we’ll help you understand how to pick the best signup bonus for your particular needs.
Use this information to make smart choices about different credit card products. After all, you’re going to be generating a decent profit for the credit card company. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that you get the most out of the credit card you choose.
What are Signup Bonuses?
Signup bonuses are special offers credit card companies offer to get consumers to enroll with their product. These bonuses frequently have limited timeframes. They also change all the time. Therefore, we’re not going to spend a lot of time listing specific credit cards and their bonuses. Instead, we’ll focus on helping you understand what different bonuses mean and how you use them.
List of Best Credit Cards with Signup Bonuses
- Free Points Signup Bonus
- Free Miles Signup Bonus
- Double Perk Signup Bonus
- Balance Transfer Signup Bonus
- Cash Back Signup Bonus
- No Annual Fee Signup Bonus
Using Different Signup Bonuses on Credit Cards
Limits on Signup Bonuses
No matter what the particular bonus is, you’ll want to ensure that the card you pick works for you. That’s because nearly every signup bonus has an expiration date. You don’t want to choose a card only because of its signup bonus and then find out that the card itself doesn’t fit your needs.
That means one of the most important considerations when picking a signup bonus is how long the bonus lasts. Make sure you keep that in mind when you’re comparing different cards. After all, you’ll get more value out of a card that offers 1.5 times points for a year than a card that offers double points for six months.
How You’ll Use the Card
Another thing to keep in mind is what you intend to use the card for. If you’re going to get a card for emergencies only, then that will affect what kind of signup bonuses will benefit you most. The same goes if you’re getting the card to make one specific large purchase. Additionally, a credit card that you plan to use for every-day spending will benefit more from some signup bonuses than others.
What are the Best Signup Bonuses?
This section covers all of the different signup bonuses that cards offer. We’ll explain each one and help you understand how you can use each bonus to your advantage. We’ll also help you understand which signup bonus is best depending on how you intend to use the credit card.
Free Points Signup Bonus
A lot of credit cards offer points for your purchases. Usually these points translate to $1 spent on the card = 1 point. However, there are lots of companies that offer you a pile of free points just for signing up for the card.
Consumers can use points to get discounts on various products. They can also use points to lower the balance on their card. Every company has different rules regarding their points. Therefore, make sure you understand what you can use points for before you agree to a points card.
The free points bonus is best for people that intend to use the credit card for emergencies only. That’s because you get the free bonus points regardless of how much you use the card. If you’re getting the card for emergencies only, then signup bonuses like double points might expire before your use the card to reap the benefits. That means you’ll either have to use the card in ways other than you intended or miss out on your signup bonus.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a good example of this type of signup bonus. The card offers points when you sign up. It also gives you bonus rewards for money you spend on travel and restaurants.
Free Miles Signup Bonus
The free miles signup bonus is similar to the free points signup bonus. However, instead of representing your rewards as points, they’re represented as miles. Each company has their own formula for translating miles into rewards. They also have their own formula for determining how many miles you earn on a purchase.
Some companies offer bonus miles when you use your card at certain places, like grocery stores and gas stations. Sometimes these bonus mile locations are fixed. Other times they shift from month to month.
The free miles signup bonus is a good choice for people that want to use their card for emergencies and also like to travel. That’s because the best credit cards for travel that use miles generally have more travel-related perks than cards that use points. Emergency-only cardholders benefit from the free miles because they’ll get them no matter how much they use the card. Take a look at the best credit cards for travel rewards.
The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card is a good example of this signup bonus. You get 10,000 miles when you sign up. There’s also no annual fee. Consumers also earn double miles for spending at grocery stores and American Airlines purchases. They earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on any other kind of purchase.
Double Perk Signup Bonus
One of the most common credit card signup bonuses is to give double points or miles on purchases. This offer is usually limited, so make sure you understand how long you can get your perk. You can use points and miles in exchange for various rewards from the card company. The rewards can include discounts on travel and hotels, discounts on products or events, or other kinds of discounts. Each company has its own specific offers.
The double perk signup bonus is best for consumers that are looking for an everyday card. That’s because they’ll get the most benefit out of the double perk period. It can also be a good choice for consumers that are taking out a card to make a single large purchase. The single large purchase will generate a substantial number of points if you use it during the bonus period.
The Discover it Cash Back card is a prime example of this kind of card. It’s also one of the best options for double bonuses. Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. The company does this automatically. That’s great because you don’t need to remember to fill out any forms or apply for the program. There’s also no limit to how much cashback you can earn.
Balance Transfer Signup Bonus
Balance transfers are a popular way for people to get their credit card debt under control. The process works by transferring the balance from one credit card to another. The new credit card will have special balance transfer signup bonuses on it.
There are a couple different ways that a balance transfer signup bonus can work. The most common, and most effective to eliminate credit card debt, is to offer no interest on balance transfers for a certain period of time. As a result, consumers can rapidly pay down the debt they transfer without incurring additional interest charges. This lets them save a lot of money over the course of repayment. It also lets them pay down their debt faster.
The other type of balance transfer signup bonus is credit cards with no balance transfer fee. This can also save consumers a lot of money. Nearly any card will let you transfer a balance. However, most of them charge a fee to do so. The fee is expressed as a minimum amount or a certain percentage of the balance transferred, whichever is greater.
That means if you transfer a $10,000 balance to a new card, but pay a 5% fee, your new balance will be $10,500. This can seriously impact your plans to pay off your credit card debt. As a result, a window where you can transfer a balance without a fee is a huge help for people looking to get out of credit card debt.
Balance transfer signup bonuses are most useful for people that are trying to pay off credit card debt. They don’t provide much value to people who plan to use the card in emergencies. They also don’t offer value for people looking for a card for every-day purchases.
The Citi Diamond Preferred Card offers 0% APR for all transfers for 21 months from the date of the first transfer. This offer is only available for the first 4 months that you own the card. After that, there’s a variable APR of 14.99-24.99% on balance transfers.
Cash Back Signup Bonus
A lot of cards offer cash back rewards. These are similar to miles and points. The difference is that a cash back reward just takes the form of money that you can apply to your balance, donate, or send to your checking account.
Most cash back bonus signup offers give you extra cash back than you’d normally get with the card. For example, some cards may offer a standard cash back bonus of 1%. However, you’ll get a signup bonus for 3% cash back.
You need to pay close attention to how long the bonus lasts. You should also make note of any restrictions on the extra cash back. Some cards only offer extra cash back for certain purchases like restaurants or gas stations.
Cash back signup bonuses are best for people that are looking to make a large purchase with their card and those that are looking for a card to use for everyday purchases. These uses will allow you to take the most advantage of the signup bonus, lowering the cost of using the card.
The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card lets you earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1,000 on the card I the first 3 months. After that you earn 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases. You also get 1.8% cash rewards when you make a mobile wallet purchase through Google Pay or Apple Pay for the first 12 months you have the card.
No Annual Fee Signup Bonus
Many people only think about interest rates when they are considering how much it costs to use a credit card. Interest rates are an important cost of a credit card, but they aren’t the only one. Many cards also charge an annual fee to have the card. This fee can range from $25 to a couple hundred dollars. Most credit card companies will wave the annual fee if you spend a certain amount of money on the card every year. However, that’s not always the case.
The no annual fee signup bonus gets you a credit card and the company waives the annual fee. They might do this permanently, or they might do it for a number of years. As a result, this bonus makes it cheaper to have the credit card account.
This option is one of the best bonuses for people that are looking to use their credit card in emergencies only. That’s because, ideally, you won’t be using the card at all. As a result, you’re more likely to incur annual fees. As a result, a no annual fee signup bonus lets you have the card available as backup when you need it without paying any money for the privilege.
The Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express normally has a $95 annual fee. However, that’s waived for the first year. You earn double miles on every dollar spent with Delta and 1 mile for every $1 on other purchases. You also get 30,000 miles as an additional intro bonus.
Which Signup Bonus is Best for You?
Now that you understand the basic set up of most credit card signup bonus offers, you need to figure out which card is right for you. The best way to do that is by considering how you’ll use the card and how much value you’ll get from the bonus.
For example, if you are looking for a card for everyday spending, then you’ll benefit most from miles, points, or cash back. However, those three options are all a bit different. If you don’t mind doing the work, then you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to discounts on products and trips through points and miles.
However, if that seems like it’s more complicated than you want to deal with, the cashback rewards are an excellent choice for your credit card signup bonus. It makes it cheaper to use the card. Just ensure that there aren’t any limitations on where you get the cashback bonus. If there are, be sure that you’ll use your card at those kinds of locations often enough to make it worth it.
If you’re planning on using the card for emergencies, then the upfront bonus points, miles, or cash options are the best choice for you. That’s because you’ll get the bonus whether you use the card or not, and if the card is intended for emergency uses, then ideally you won’t be using it.
As you can see, Credit card signup bonuses can seem confusing. However, if you pay attention to restrictions and carefully consider how you plan on using the card, you can use them to add tremendous value to your credit card transactions.
Financial Advisor - Best.CreditCard
David is our in-house financial advisor with years of experience in the credit card industry. He became interested in credit cards after working for several years at a major bank. He holds a Masters Degree in Finance.