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Building Credit, Credit Cards, Reviews

OpenSky Secured Visa Review: No Checking Account Required

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The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card can be helpful for those who have bad or No/Limited credit history. This card is designed for consumers who want to rebuild or create a credit history. OpenSky does not require a checking account or credit check when you apply, which makes the application process simple. Take note that this card does come with an annual fee, unlike other secured cards. With responsible use, you could see an increase in your credit score and move to an unsecured card.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card from Capital Bank N.A.

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OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card from Capital Bank N.A.

Annual fee
$35
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular Purchase APR
19.64%
Credit required
bad-credit
No/Limited

How the card works

Since this is a secured card you will have to make a security deposit. This money will become your line of credit and must remain in your account while your card is open. There are four options to make your security deposit and fund your account. The first is using a debit card. Simply provide your debit card information on your application, and OpenSky will process your transaction right away. You can also complete a wire transfer to Capital Bank. If you don’t have a checking account, you can use Western Union or mail a check or money order. An email with instructions on how to fund your security deposit will be sent after your application has been approved. Note that, depending on the method of payment that you choose, it may take up to five business days for your security deposit to clear.

If you’re looking to improve your credit score, the best way to take advantage of this card is to start off with a low credit limit and find a recurring expense you can put on the card. For example, you can put your utility bills on the card. Make sure that you pay this on time and in full every month. To ensure it’s paid on time, you can enroll in their auto pay program, which will guarantee you never miss a payment. Once you enroll in auto pay, the credit card company will make a scheduled monthly payment automatically on the day you choose. This way, you will have a purchase every month that OpenSky can report to all three major bureaus.

How to qualify

To quality for this credit card you do not need to have credit history, but you do need a job. By having a job you will show a stable source of income, which shows credit lenders you are responsible and can pay your bills. In addition you will need a security deposit. That means if you want a $1,000 credit limit, you’ll need to have $1,000 deposited at account opening. The online application is four simple steps that can be completed in 10 minutes. They request basic personal and financial information, have you choose the starting credit limit you prefer, and fund your security deposit. Your requested credit limit is subject to approval based on your creditworthiness.

What we like about the card

No credit check

OpenSky does not check your credit history during the application process. This is great if you lack a credit history or have poor credit, therefore improving your approval odds.

Simple application process

The application process takes place solely online, making it easy to apply at your convenience. It only takes 10 minutes according to OpenSky to complete the application. There are four easy steps: provide your personal and financial information, customize and fund your card, review your information, and accept the terms and conditions.

No checking account needed

OpenSky does not require you to have a checking account to apply for this card. This is great for those who want to establish credit but don’t have a bank account. The majority of credit cards require bank accounts, so this is a good option if you don’t have a bank account.

What we don’t like about the card

Annual fee

OpenSky charges cardholders a $35 annual fee. Be sure to review your credit options, because you can find other secured cards that do not charge an annual fee. However, note that those cards may require a checking account, so make sure to review your options.

Foreign transaction fee

Make sure this card remains at home when you travel abroad since there is a high 3% of each Transaction in U.S. dollars. This will increase your bill if you make purchases abroad, so it’s best left at home.

No option for an unsecured card

If you’re ready to move onto an unsecured card, there is no option with OpenSky. That means you’ll have to look to another company, which could be a hassle because of the process of applying for the card, getting a credit check, and closing your current card.

Who the card is best for

If you’ve struggled with being approved for credit cards in the past due to bad or nonexistent credit history, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card may be right for you. With no credit check during the application process, you have good approval odds. This card is also for those who do not have a checking account but want to build credit, as you won’t find many credit cards that are offered to people without checking accounts. However, the annual fee and lack of transition to an unsecured card can make you think twice about this card. You can find MagnifyMoney’s ranking of the best secured credit cards here.

Alternatives

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

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Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

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

This credit card doesn’t require that you have your security deposit equal your credit limit. You can make a deposit as low as $49, unlike the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, which is $200. However, this card will check your credit history and will determine your deposit requirement based on your creditworthiness. There is a $0 annual fee associated with this card, unlike OpenSky.

Discover it® Secured

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Discover it® Secured

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular APR
25.24% Variable

This card has no annual fee, unlike OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card. It also features 2% cash back on up to $1,000 per quarter on gas and restaurant purchases and 1% on other spending. In addition, after eight months you may be eligible for an unsecured credit card, which you can’t do with OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card. These are great benefits that make the Discover it® Secured a good alternative.

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

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on Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)’s secure website

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$500
Regular Purchase APR
13.75% Variable

There is also no annual fee for this card, as well as no cash advance or balance transfer fees. The APR is lower than OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, which is beneficial if you think you might carry a balance month to month. According to a DCU representative, the maximum credit limit is $2,000. However, it is determined by your overall creditworthiness. Also, you’ll need to be a member of Digital Federal Credit Union, which may be difficult to get into. You can learn about eligibility requirements here.

FAQ

No, OpenSky does not check your credit history. So any bad history you may have will not affect your approval odds.

A security deposit is the amount of money you deposit into your account and acts as collateral. It also becomes your line of credit. That means if you make a $1,000 security deposit, you’ll have a $1,000 credit line.

There are four options to make your security deposit.

  1. Debit card- Simply provide your debit card information on your application, and OpenSky will process your transaction right away.
  2. Wire transfer to Capital Bank

If you don’t have a checking account:

  1. Western Union
  2. Mail a check or money order

An email with instructions on how to fund your security deposit will be sent after your application has been approved. Note that, depending on the method of payment that you choose, it may take up to five business days for your security deposit to clear.

Additional reporting by Alexandria White

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.

Sarah Li Cain
Sarah Li Cain |

Sarah Li Cain is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Sarah Li here

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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 Memberhsip. 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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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
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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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on Capital One’s website

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.

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Benét J. Wilson
Benét J. Wilson |

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