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When Is Your Card Payment Considered Late?

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.

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Knowing when a credit card payment is considered late is tricky.

Really, what it comes down to is how late in the day you can submit a payment online and have that payment register with your credit card issuer. Each credit card issuer requires payments to be submitted by a certain time of day in order for that payment to hit your account the same day.

This can be confusing to keep track of, especially if you have multiple credit cards. And, yet, it’s crucial to be sure you’re submitting payments on time each month.

Paying past the cutoff time may cause you to be late on a payment, and risk late fees and penalty rates. Not only that, but late payments can hurt your credit score, too.

It’s also important to be aware that payment cutoff times may be listed in a different time zone than where you reside. In the table below, all times are Eastern, except for American Express payments which are Mountain. For example, if your payment is due at 7:59 p.m. MT and you live in California, you will actually need to submit your payment by 6:59 p.m. PT. Then, if you live in New York, you will need to submit your payment by 9:59 p.m. EST. If you are ever unsure what time your payment is due, simply look up the time conversion by searching “7:59pm mt to et” or similar terms.

Here are the cutoff times for payments to be credited same-day from the major credit card issuers as well as where to mail payments:

 

Online

Phone

Mail


American Express

7:59 p.m. MT

7:59 p.m. MT

American Express
P.O. Box 650448
Dallas, TX 75265-0448

Express mail*:
American Express
Attn: Express Mail Remittance Processing
20500 Belshaw Ave.
Carson, CA 90746


Bank of America

11:59 p.m. EST

11:59 p.m. EST

Bank of America
P.O. Box 15019
Wilmington, DE 19850-5019

Overnight address*:
Bank of America
Attn: Payment Processing
DE5-023-03-02
900 Samoset Drive
Newark, DE 19713

Barclaycard

6:59 p.m. EST

6:59 p.m. EST

Card Services
P.O. Box 60517
City of Industry, CA 91716-0517

Card Services
P.O. Box 13337
Philadelphia, PA 19101-3337


Overnight addresses*:
Remitco
Card Services
Lock Box 60517
2525 Corporate Park, Suite 250
Monterey Park, CA 91754



Card Services
400 White Clay Center Drive
Newark, DE 19711


Capital One

7:59 p.m. EST,
Monday-Saturday

7:59 p.m. EST,
Monday-Saturday

Capital One
Attn: Payment Processing
PO Box 71083
Charlotte, NC 28272-1083

Overnight address*:
Capital One
Attn: Payment Processing
6125 Lakeview Rd
Suite 800
Charlotte, NC 28269


Chase

11:59 p.m. EST

11:59 p.m. EST

Cardmember Services
P.O. Box 6294
Carol Stream, IL 60197-6294

Citibank

11:59 p.m. EST

11:59 p.m. EST

Citibank / Choice P.O. BOX 9001037
Louisville KY, 402904-1037

Overnight address*:
Citibank Express Payments 6716 Grade Lane Building 9, Suite 910 Louisville, KY 40213

Discover

11:59 p.m. EST; except for payments made on your due date — those must be made by 4:59 p.m. EST

11:59 p.m. EST; except for payments made on your due date — those must be made by 4:59 p.m. EST

Discover Financial Services
P.O. Box 6103
Carol Stream, IL 60197-6103

HSBC

12:59 p.m. EST

12:59 p.m. EST

HSBC Bank USA, NA
PO Box 4657
Carol Stream, IL
60197-4657

Wells Fargo

11:59 p.m. PST

11:59 p.m. PST

Wells Fargo Card Services
P.O. Box 51193
Los Angeles, CA 90051-5493

Express mail*:
Lockbox Services 51193
Attn: WF Consumer Credit Card
3440 Flair Drive
El Monte, CA 91731


*Overnight or express payments need to be sent with express mail services such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL to ensure quick delivery.

Other ways to pay your credit card bill

The best (and easiest) way to make sure your payments are on time is to complete a payment online. You can also pay over the phone by dialing the number on the back of your card or via mail. For mail payments, you need to include any applicable payment slips that came with your bill as well as your account number on the front of your check. And then you’ve got to factor in several days for your letter to arrive at the credit issuer, too. Allow a minimum of seven days for the payment to be processed.

What happens if my bill is due on a weekend or holiday?

If your bill happens to be due on a weekend or holiday, stick with paying your bill electronically and not mailing it, since mailed payments might not be received in time. Mailed payments will only be credited as on-time for weekend or holiday due dates if received the next business day by the cut-off time and the bank does not accept any other form of payment on the due date.

That means if your payment is due Sunday, April 15th and the bank does not accept any payments that day — including electronic and telephone — then your mailed payment will be considered on-time as long as it’s received by Monday, April 16th by the cut-off time. On the other hand, if the bank accepts electronic or telephone payments on your payment due date (Sunday, April 15th), a mailed payment received on Monday, April 16th by the cut-off time will be considered late.

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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on American Express’s secure website

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

APPLY NOW Secured

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.

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]