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Building Credit, Credit Cards, Reviews

Discover it® Secured card Review: Rebuild and Establish Credit

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Secured cards are great if you have little to no credit history or have poor credit history. With proper credit behavior they are a great way to build credit. The Discover it® Secured is an excellent secured card that lets you build credit while also earning cash back. There is no annual fee associated with this card, making it easier to put your money where it’s needed.

Discover it® Secured

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Rates & Fees

Discover it® Secured

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular APR
25.24% Variable
Credit required
bad-credit
Poor/New

How the card works

The Discover it® Secured is meant to help you rebuild or establish credit. You need to make a $200 security deposit that will become your credit line. If you want a credit limit that is higher than $200, you will need to put down a larger security deposit.

Discover reviews your account monthly starting at eight months to see if you can be transitioned to an unsecured card. This is a feature that makes the Discover it® Secured unique. If you have responsible credit management, you may benefit from this feature and be transitioned to an unsecured card. If moved to an unsecured card, you will receive your security deposit back. This is hassle free and another reason the Discover it® Secured is a great option.

This card offers 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter and 1% cash back on all other purchases. This is a great bonus, but the main goal of a secured card is not to earn rewards, but to be responsible and build credit. Don’t let the prospect of cash back lead you to overspending. That will only defeat the purpose of this card.

To get the most benefit from your secured card, keep a low utilization rate and pay your statements in full and on time every month. Utilization is the amount of your total credit limit you use. It is calculated by dividing your statement balance by your available credit. A low utilization is not spending more than 20% of your credit limit. So if you have a credit limit of $200, that means don’t spend more than $40.

By following these two practices, you will begin to see your credit score rise. You can even build credit with $10 a month using a secured card.

How to qualify

To qualify for the Discover it® Secured, you need to be at least 18 years old, have a Social Security number, U.S address, and U.S bank account and provide all the required information in the online application. Be sure to have your bank routing number and account number ready when you apply as they will be needed for the $200 security deposit. Don’t worry if your credit history is nonexistent or unfavorable — this card is great for people who are new to credit or are looking to rebuild credit.

What we like about the card

Earn cash back

You will earn 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter and 1% cash back on all other purchases. This is a great added bonus that most secured cards do not offer. Discover will automatically match all of the cash back you earned at the end of your first year as a cardholder.

Automatic monthly reviews after 8 months

Discover takes the guessing out of wondering when you will qualify for an unsecured card by reviewing your account monthly starting at eight months. If you have responsible credit management across all of your credit cards, you may be transitioned to an unsecured card. This is hassle free and another reason the Discover it® Secured is a great option.

Free FICO® Score

It is important to monitor your credit score and each month you will receive your FICO® Score for free. If you practice proper credit behavior, you will see your score increase.

What we don’t like about the card

High APR

This card, like most secured credit cards, has a high APR of 25.24% Variable. If you pay your statement balance in full and on time every month, the APR will not matter (because no interest will be charged). And if you do that every month, your credit score will improve over time — making it cheaper to borrow money (if you need to) in the future.

Who the card is best for

This Discover it® Secured is best for people looking to rebuild or establish credit. In addition to an easy transition to an unsecured card when the time is right, the Discover it® Secured provides a cash back program and has a $0 annual fee. By using this card coupled with proper credit behavior you can see a boost in your credit score.

Alternatives

If you want a smaller security deposit

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

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on Capital One's website

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$49, $99, or $200
Regular Purchase APR
26.99% (Variable)

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is made for people who want to rebuild credit. There are lower security deposit options than the Discover it® Secured, making it a good alternative if you can’t afford a large security deposit. However, it’s important to note that the lower security deposit is not guaranteed. This card also has a $0 annual fee and offers your free credit score; however, there are no rewards. Just remember: A lower security deposit also means a lower credit limit.

An unsecured card from a credit union

Visa® Classic from Georgia's Own Credit Union

Regular Purchase APR
14.24%–19.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0

The Visa® Classic from Georgia's Own Credit Union offers a competitive APR that is lower than Discover. There is a $0 annual fee associated with this card and no rewards, making this card strictly for rebuilding credit. Keep in mind you will need to join the credit union, and the application process is more complicated compared to Discover. This card is a good alternative if you prefer to have an unsecured card and don’t mind working with a credit union.

FAQ

No, your cash back does not expire as long as your account remains open.

If you pay your balance in full and close your credit card account, your security deposit will be refunded. This can take up to two billing cycles plus 10 days. Also, during Discover’s monthly automatic reviews of your credit card account starting at eight months, they will see if they can return your security deposit while you continue to enjoy your card benefits.

The maximum credit limit is $2,500. This will be determined by your income and ability to pay. Keep in mind your security deposit must equal your credit limit, so you will have to deposit $2,500 if approved for this credit limit.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at [email protected]

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Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

The information related to the Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

If you want to join the ranks of Marriott Bonvoy cardholders — where you can redeem rewards points for a future Marriott hotel stay — but aren’t interested in paying an annual fee, check out the new Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card.

As of July 2019, four Marriott Bonvoy cards are open for applications, two issued by Chase and two from American Express. The Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card is the only one of those cards that doesn’t charge an annual fee, and its APR is 18.24% - 25.24% variable.

Read: What are miles and points worth?

Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card benefits

Earn 3X points for every $1 spent at over 6,900 participating Marriott Bonvoy™ hotels and 2X points for every $1 you spend on other travel purchases. Plus, earn 1X point for every $1 you spend on all other purchases and your points don't expire as long as you make purchases on your credit card every 24 months.

15 elite night credits per calendar year, qualifying you for Silver Elite status. Perks that come with Silver Elite status include priority late checkout and earning 10% bonus points on stays.

50,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card account. Marriott hotel categories range from 1 (7,500 points) through 8 (85,000 points) — so if you’re looking at a Category 2 hotel, 50,000 points can get you four free nights, but if you’re looking at a Category 6 hotel, that’ll buy you only one night. Take a look at the “how many points you need for a hotel room” section of this article for the full list.

It’s important to note that you won’t be eligible for the signup bonus if you meet any of the following criteria as outlined by Chase (click on the “offer details” link).

What we like about the Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card

No annual fee. If you don’t travel enough to justify carrying a card with an annual fee, but you want to start earning hotel rewards points to redeem for free room nights, the Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card will give you a chance to test the waters.

No foreign transaction fee. If you plan to travel abroad, you probably want a credit card that charges a $0 foreign transaction fee.

Travel and purchase perks, including:

  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Purchase protection
  • Visa Concierge

What we don’t like about the Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card

Half the rewards rate. This card basically earns half the points that you’d get using the Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card, which allows cardholders to earn 6x points for every $1 spent at over 6,700 participating marriott bonvoy hotels and 2x points everywhere else.  However, the Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card also charges a $95 annual fee.

No free night. With the annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card, you get a credit for a free one-night hotel stay each year, valid for a stay at a property with a redemption value of 35,000 points or less; you don’t get that with the Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card.

The information related to the Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

How many points do you need to book a hotel room?

If you’re hoping to cover the cost of a hotel room entirely with points, you should know that Marriott breaks its participating hotels into eight categories. Here’s how many points you need in order to cover one night at a room in each category:

  • Category 1: 7,500 points
  • Category 2: 12,500 points
  • Category 3: 17,500 points
  • Category 4: 25,000 points
  • Category 5: 35,000 points
  • Category 6: 50,000 points
  • Category 7: 60,000 points
  • Category 8: 85,000 points

Alternatives to the Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card

If you want to stick with a hotel card, but Marriott’s not your preferred chain, the Hilton Honors American Express Card is a competitive choice with a $0 annual fee. Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

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Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
Regular Purchase APR
17.74%-26.74% Variable
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The signup bonus is 90,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. You also get complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with this card — and if you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year, you get the chance to upgrade to Gold through the next calendar year. As for foreign transaction fees, there are None.

However, if a general purpose travel card with no annual fee is more to your liking, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is worth considering. It offers an unlimited 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and, through January 2020, 10X miles per $1 spent when you book a hotel through hotels.com. There’s also a One-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, equal to $200 in travel for this card, plus no foreign transaction fee.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s website

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Regular Purchase APR
14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The bottom line

The Marriott Bonvoy BoldTM credit card is a decent option if you want to test out a hotel rewards card without committing to an annual fee. It offers a chance for folks who wouldn’t otherwise apply for a Marriott Bonvoy card to see if the program is worth their time.

However, if you’re not set on a Marriott Bonvoy card, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Card are two very competitive no-fee cards worth considering. If you’re committed to the Marriott rewards program, for $95 a year, the Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card offers more robust earnings than its no-fee sibling.

Still undecided? Take a look at our list of best travel credit cards and see what additional options are available.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Glen Luke Flanagan
Glen Luke Flanagan |

Glen Luke Flanagan is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Glen Luke here

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Credit Cards

Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus For August 2019

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Lured into applying for a new rewards credit card with a generous sign-up bonus? Make sure you’re making the right choice.

Typical sign-up bonuses require you to spend a given amount (usually ranging from $500 – $5,000) within the first few months of account opening (on average the first three months) before you can reap your reward. The type of bonus you earn can differ by credit card and may come in the form of points, miles or cash back.

In this post, we list the best sign-up bonuses you can earn, organized by credit cards for personal or business use and by category (travel, airline, cash back and more).

Personal

Best travel rewards sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The information related to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide

The bonus offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening..

What the points are really worth: 1 point is worth 1 cent, and when you redeem for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards, 1 point is worth 1.25 cents.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • 25% more in redemption value: When you redeem points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, your points get 25% more value. For example, 60,000 points are typically worth $600. However, when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards, those same points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer: Points can be transferred at a 1:1 rate to participating frequent travel programs currently including: Aer Lingus AerClub, British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue Air France KLM, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt.

Bottom Line: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a good fit for people who frequently travel and would like a 25% boost when they redeem their points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Best airline credit card sign-up bonus: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 26.24%* (Variable)
Annual fee
$99, waived for first 12 months*
Rewards Rate
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*

The bonus offer: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*.

What the points are really worth: The value of AAdvantage® miles varies by redemption method, and there is no set monetary value.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • Preferred boarding: You can board the plane faster when flying with American Airlines*.
  • First checked bag free: On domestic American Airlines flights, your first checked bag is free for you and up to four companions.
  • 25% inflight savings: Receive 25% in savings on eligible inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*.

Bottom Line: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is a great choice for American Airlines flyers who want to enjoy extra perks on their flights such as preferred boarding and inflight savings.

Best cash back sign-up bonus: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Rate
4% Cash Back on dining; 4% Cash Back on entertainment; 2% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • Good rewards: 4% Cash Back on dining; 4% Cash Back on entertainment; 2% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • Broad category definitions. Dining includes restaurants, cafes, bars, lounges, fast-food chains and bakeries. Entertainment covers tickets for movies, plays, concerts, sporting events, tourist attractions, theme parks, aquariums, zoos, dance clubs, pool halls and bowling alleys. It also covers purchases at record and video rental stores.
  • No rotating cashback bonuses: No quarterly sign-ups are required to earn cash rewards. Cash back won’t expire as long as the card remains active and there are no limits on how much cash back you can earn.
  • Fair perks. The card comes with travel assistance services, a concierge, extended warranty, price protection and a monthly membership to the Postmates delivery service through December 2019. The foreign transaction fee is None.

Bottom Line: This card is best for those who want to earn more cash back on dining, groceries and entertainment purchases. Plus, you won’t be responsible for paying an annual fee the first year (the annual fee is $0 intro for first year; $95 after that). Just keep in mind that the entertainment category does not include digital streaming or membership services.

Outside of that, there are other cashback cards that offer better rewards in top spending categories, such as gas, home improvement stores and travel.

Best luxury card sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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The information related to Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Regular Purchase APR
19.24% - 26.24% Variable
Annual fee
$450
Rewards Rate
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.

The bonus offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

What the points are really worth: 1 point is worth 1 cent, and when you redeem for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 1 point is worth 1.5 cents.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • 50% more in redemption: Points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards earn 50% more in redemption value. For example, 50,000 points are typically worth $500. However, when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they are worth $750.
  • $300 annual travel credit: Automatically receive up to $300 in statement credits as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each anniversary year.
  • 1:1 point transfer: Easily transfer points at a 1:1 rate to participating frequent travel programs currently including: Aer Lingus AerClub, British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue Air France KLM, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit: Receive a credit of up to $100 for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application every four years.
  • Airport lounge access: You can access over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide with a complimentary, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select.

Bottom Line: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a fantastic sign-up bonus that can benefit from the 50% boost in rewards value when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Business

Best cash back sign-up bonus for businesses: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

The information related to Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
15.49% - 21.49% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.

The bonus offer: Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • 0% Intro period: This card offers an introductory rate of 0% for 12 Months on purchases allowing your business time to pay off any large purchases made during this period. After the intro period ends, a 15.49% - 21.49% Variable APR applies.
  • Higher rewards rate for select business purchases: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn..
  • Free employee cards: You can add employee credit cards at no additional charge.

Bottom Line: The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is great for business owners who want to earn a generous rewards rate in the spending categories of their choosing.

Best travel points sign-up bonus for businesses: Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

The information related to Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn.

The bonus offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

What the points are really worth: 1 point is worth 1 cent, and when you redeem for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 1 point is worth 1.25 cents.

Other reasons to like this card:

  • 25% more in redemption: When you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, they are worth 25% more. For example, 80,000 points are normally worth $800. However, when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel, they are worth $1,000.
  • 1:1 point transfer: If you’re a part of participating frequent travel programs, you can transfer points at a 1:1 rate. Partners currently include: Aer Lingus AerClub, British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue Air France KLM, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt.
  • Higher rewards rate for select business purchases: Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn. This is a great way for you to earn bonus points on purchases your business makes the most.
  • Free employee cards: You can add employee credit cards at no additional charge.

Bottom Line: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card is a great option for business owners who travel frequently and who want to maximize their rewards earning potential. Along with receiving 25% more value when you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can also choose which categories you want to earn bonus points in.

Learn More

How to maximize your sign-up bonus

Below we list some tips to help you choose the best sign-up bonus for you, including how to make sure you actually earn the bonus. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Understand how the minimum spend requirement and time period works. Nearly all sign-up bonuses require a minimum spend for you to earn the bonus. Take, for example, a card may require you to spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening to earn 5,000 bonus points. If you open your account on January 1, you’ll have until March 30 to spend $1,000. Each sign-up bonus differs, so make sure to check the terms and conditions.
  • What qualifies as spending on purchases? Sign-up bonuses have clear terms that require you to spend a specific amount on certain purchases in order to receive the bonus. That means that certain transactions don’t count toward the spending requirement. Transactions that aren’t eligible often include: balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers, interest and fees of any kind.
  • Make a large purchase upfront to secure the bonus. If you plan on making a large purchase, such as a laptop or television, try to make it as early as possible in order to meet the required spend threshold for the bonus. But only do this if it’s feasible to pay it off soon after. If you make a large purchase upfront and are unable to pay it off before your statement is due, you will be stuck paying interest — unless your card has a 0% intro APR period. Still, you don’t want to fall into debt just to get the sign-up bonus.
  • Check other terms and conditions. A good rule of thumb is to look at the terms and conditions before you apply for any card. This allows you to see if and when the points, miles or cash back expire, as well as how they can be redeemed. You can also find out which purchases qualify towards earning the bonus.
  • Don’t be too greedy. To thwart people from nabbing sign-up bonuses and closing cards repeatedly, issuers may have rules that prevent customers from signing up for several cards from the same issuer over the course of a specific time period.
  • Take note: offers are time sensitive. Sign-up bonuses can change at any time, meaning an offer you click on may not be there later if you refresh or close the window.

How we picked the best sign-up bonus offers

We formulated this list by looking at cards from all major issuers as well as some credit unions. From there, we divided cards into two categories — travel rewards and cash back rewards. When comparing cards in the travel category, we considered the rewards value, spending requirements and rewards bonuses. For cash back cards, we simply looked at the amount of the bonus and spending requirements. If there were cards with similar sign-up bonuses, we considered other features, such as introductory APR periods, APRs and annual fees.

Let’s take, for example, where two rewards cards that require you to spend $3,000 in the first three months of card membership to earn the bonus:

  • Card A offers 50,000 bonus points
  • Card B offers 60,000 bonus points

Now, someone may only look at the sign-up bonus for Card B and think, “Wow, I can earn 10,000 more points compared to Card A. I want Card B.”

But a closer look at the terms and conditions reveal that the point values differ for each card:

  • Card A’s points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed through the issuer’s portal
  • Card B’s points are worth 1 cent each

Here’s the monetary value of the sign-up bonus for each card:

  • Card A: $625
  • Card B: $600

So the sign-up bonus for Card A is better when considering rewards value and redemption methods. Therefore, it’s always important to look at various aspects of a card, and not solely the sign-up bonus.

Now let’s look at a cash back example:

  • Card A requires you to spend $1,000 in the first three months of card opening to earn $150 cash back
  • Card B requires you to spend $500 in the first three months of card opening to earn $150 cash back
  • Card C matches your cash back at the end of 12 months, and doesn’t require a minimum spending amount

It’s pretty clear that Card A is the worst value. Card B is better since you have to spend half the amount to earn the same sign-up bonus as Card A. However, if you spend over $15,000 in the first 12 months of card opening, Card C is the best option with unlimited cash back matching and no required spend.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Benét J. Wilson
Benét J. Wilson |

Benét J. Wilson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Benét J. at [email protected]