Friday, June 11, 2010

Credit Cards With Great Signup Bonuses

Originally posted July 2nd 2008

Part nine in a series on Credit Card Education.

Part 1: General Credit Card Information
Part 2: Credit Reports and Scores Explained
Part 3: Building Your Credit - Your First Credit Card
Part 4: Fixing Your Credit – Tips And Tricks
Part 5: Where To Check Your Credit Reports And Scores
Part 6: Amex Financial Review
Part 7: Store Credit Cards
Part 8: Churning Credit Cards - Tips and Tricks

Part 9: Credit Cards With Great Signup Bonuses

Here are some of the best credit card signup bonuses available online. Read chapter eight for tips on on how to keep on opening cards without harming your credit.

In general, applying for a few cards every few months is a good balance between collecting lots of miles, and keeping a good credit score. If you want to earn lots of points and yet want to keep the process as simple as possible, then apply for 2-3 cards every six months, and when you apply for new cards six months later, cancel any of the previous cards that you don't want to keep anymore. You should also keep your eyes out for those amazing limited time offer signup bonuses, like the 100,000 BA miles offer.

If yo use an excel spreadsheet, keeping track of the cards, and seeing which cards you need to cancel and which ones have an annual fee coming up, can be a real simple and painless process.

This list of cards is not necessarily the best for long term use, see this post for a list of cards to use on a long term basis.

Before deciding which card to open, ask yourself:
1) Do I want to collect miles with a specific airline?
If you don't know what airline you want, consider getting a Amex Starwood, they're less points, but you can use them in any airline. Alternatively, get the Amex charge card. I like to collect miles with many different airlines, like that I have more options when it comes to redeeming.
2) How much money will I spend on each new card?
Many cards, you have to first spend a certain amount on the card in order to get the signup bonus. If you don't want to spend much on your credit cards, get the ones which give you miles after first purchase without a minimum spend. Read this post for lots of 'free' ways to spend money...

Some points to keep in mind when applying for cards at different banks:

Chase has been having some really good offers lately, but you can't open too many chase accounts. The general rule seems top be one application every six months, but it's definitely not strictly enforced, as I managed to get more than one within a six month period.
Citi is no longer allowing churning AA cards. If you once got a specific card, it's unlikely that they will approve you for the card a second time. If a long time has passed since you had the card last, you can try again.
I used to stick mainly to Citi AA cards, as they let you open them again and again, and even have more then one of the same exact card at the same time... but now that they basically stopped the churning, I moved on to other cards.
American Express: I wouldn't open too many Amex cards, as that can trigger a financial review. One or two a year should be fine though. A real nice thing about Amex cards is that every new personal card you open gets reported to credit bureaus as if it was opened the year your first Amex card was opened. This really helps lengthening your credit history!


Amex Business Gold - Special Offer
- 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 by December 31st 2010.
- First year is free, after that it's $125/yr.
- Every year that you spend $50,000, you get 25,000 bonus points.
- This is a great offer if you can do the spending.

Amex Premier Rewards
- 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000.
- Lots of people reported actually getting 30,000 signup bonus.
- Every year that you spend $50,000 on the card, you get a 25,000 point bonus.
- First year free. After that it's $175/yr.

- There was a limited time offer of 25,000 for this card (although the 30,000 seems to be a better deal...)

Gold Charge Card
10,000 points after first purchase. (Redeemable for $100 gift card)

Amex Delta
35,000 Miles. Personal and Business. $95/yr. First year free.
Try this link to see if you can get a better offer.

If you got a Amex Delta card in the past, try applying without entering your Delta SkyMiles number. I've read that if you do that, they will just make you a new Delta SkyMiles account and give you the miles. After you get the miles, you can call Delta and ask them to combine the accounts. There's no guarantee that it will work, but worth a try.

Amex Starwood
Personal and Business:10,000 points after first purchase
With the personal card, get an additional 15,000 points if you spend $15,000 during the first 6 months. Some people were able to get the 15,000 points with the Business card as well.
First year free. After that it's $45/yr.
The personal Starwood is a great card to keep. It's one of my two everyday spending cards, together with my 2% Schwab card. (See here for more on the Schwab card)

Amex Hilton
Up to 52,500 points, with spending $1,500 and adding an additional user. If you stay at their hotels you can earn an additional 10,000.
No annual fee.


As above, Chase might decline your application if you applied for a Chase card within the past six months, so choose wisely.

Chase Sapphire:
25,000 points for spending $3,000 during the first three months. First year free, after that it's $85/yr. When first year is over, downgrade to free card.
- Use 25,000 points for one of the following: redeem for a flight worth up to $312.50 (and earn miles on that flight), get $250 statement credit, or transfer into 25,000 Continental miles

Chase Marriott -
50,000 points plus free hotel night, annual fee is $65, even for first year. I'm not sure as to the value of their points, but it looks like a nice offer. You also get a free hotel night every year you renew.

Chase Continental - 32,500
25,000 after first purchase, and 5,000 for adding an authorized user.
No social needed for the additional cardmember, so it won't hurt anyone's credit.
Plus, get at least 2,500 from the Mileathon promotion. Even more if you get more points.
First year is free, $85 from second year.

Chase United

Personal Card: 30,000 after spending $250. First year free. After that $60.
Business Card: 30,000 after spending $250. $75/yr.
Limited Time Offer - 50,000 miles signup bonus for United Visa. $60/yr. First year free.

Chase Amtrak - 36,000 points
Transfer to Continental once you spend $200 on Amtrak.
Hint: If you buy a fully refundable train ticket, it can be canceled and refunded even months later.
More at ViewFromTheWing

Chase SouthWest
16 Credits (free flight) after first purchase.
Personal and Business are $59/yr.

Citi used to allow you to open the same cards again and again, and earn the signup bonus each time. That changed since Citi stopped churning.

Citi AA Cards
35,000 miles after spending $750. Officially only for first time applicant . Very few people have reported getting the signup bonus a second time after the crackdown.

Here is a link for a Citi AA Business card that doesn't say that it's for first time cardmembers only. So if you cancel your old Citi Business cards you might be able to get this one. The thing the first year isn't free, it's $85.

-AA is the only airline I know of that considers mileage earned from credit cards towards their million miles program.
-Citi AA cards have no preset spending limit, which could slightly negatively affect your score.
If you pay your bill before the statement closes, then it shouldn't be a problem.

Still unsure which card to get? Send me an email, I'll try to help.

Targeted promotions:
There are often better promotions that are sent out to specific people (Targeted). Make sure to look at the credit card offers in the mail, as there are some great offers among all the junk. One of the more common targeted offers that I've heard of: Amex Gold Charge Card with 50,000 MR points after spending $500

Important Tip:
Most credit cards will check your report and score at only one of the three CRA’s.
So, if you see that you have lots of inquiries with one CRA, you might want your next card to be one where they check a different CRA. Also, if you have a higher score at one of the CRA's you might want to try to get your next card and inquiry at that CRA. From my experience, each bank will usually check the same credit report for all people within a geographic area.

My reports here in NY were generally pulled from the following CRA's
Amex – Experian
Citi – Transunion (From mid 2008, they started checking Equifax)
Chase - Experian

Expired Offers

I will move some of the expired offers down here.

Chase United
United Airlines Personal and Business 20,000 miles after first purchase
United Airlines
Personal and Business 25,000 miles after spending $25o
United Airlines
Personal 30,000 miles after spending $250, but first year is not free.
American Express

Amex Delta
Personal and Businesss: 25,000 miles after first purchase and adding two additional cardmembers. Plus get $50 off your next Delta trip.


Mordy said...

Does the citi 35.000 miles offer expire anytime soon? said...

The current offer expires August 31 2010. Chances are that there will be another offer after this one expires, but nothing is certain.

Menachem said...

What about the Citi AA Business card that doesn't say that it's for first time cardmembers only?
When does that offer expire?
And would I get the bonus if I currently have a CitiBusiness MC, or do I have to close that account before applying?

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