Shopping for a new credit card? Keep an eye out for credit card bonus offers. Credit card issuers offer huge incentives worth hundreds of dollars to attract new customers, including cash back, travel miles, and bonus points.
Here’s how credit card signup bonuses work:
- Sign-up bonuses are meant to attract new customers, so credit card issuers advertise these perks.
- Credit card bonus offers must be clearly outlined in the credit card agreement you sign to become a cardholder. Make sure you carefully read this document and its fine print.
- The new cardholder meets the sign-up bonus requirements.
- This usually includes spending a certain amount within a given time limit — say $3,000 in the first 90 days.
- If you spend enough and earn the bonus, you’ll be able to use it after the time limit is up.
To take advantage of credit card bonus offers, you often have to spend a certain amount. But don’t be tempted by a bonus to run up credit card debt you can’t afford. With some smart charging, you can meet the spending minimum and get that amazing sign-up bonus – without getting into debt.
Choose wisely from your credit card bonus offers
The most important thing is to choose from your credit card bonus offers carefully. You want to choose one that will give you the best rewards possible. But you also will want to choose a card with a spending requirement you can meet without going into debt.
You probably have an idea of how much you spend each month, and how much you’re planning to spend. Keep this number in mind as you compare credit cards with bonus offers. If any have spending limits that would be a stretch to meet, don’t apply.
Put all expenses on your new card
Maybe you normally use different credit cards to pay for different things. For instance, I usually pay for everyday expenses – groceries and gas – with a debit card and use credit cards for bills I pay online and for non-essentials such as eating out or shopping.
But when you have a minimum spending threshold to meet for a credit card sign-up bonus, you need to go all-out on that one card. Put away your other cards and use that card alone until you meet your spending minimum. Depending on your expenses and the minimum amount, it may be enough to meet the minimum.
Time credit card bonus offers with a major purchase
If you’re thinking of getting a new card, look ahead to the next few months and try to time it with a major purchase. Meeting a credit card bonus offer minimum will be easier when you’re paying for big expenses, including:
- Home improvements or new furniture
- Computer, smartphone or other electronics
- Car repair or new tires
- Moving costs
- Holiday purchases
Don’t use your new card as an excuse to make big, unplanned purchases. You should time your credit card bonus offers with purchases you’ve already planned and saved for. Use your card to cover the expenses, then pay it off right away to avoid interest charges.
Cover the group check
Another smart move is to use other people’s money to meet your credit card minimum. If there’s a group expense – a meal out or a group gift – offer to pay for it.
You can cover the combined check with your credit card. Then your friends or family can pay you back in cash, check, or with a peer payment app, such as Venmo or Square Cash. Just make sure you remind them that they owe you until they repay. And remember to use that cash to pay off your credit card balance.
Charge business expenses and get reimbursed
If your company has an expense reimbursement program, this could be another opportunity to rack up spending without getting into debt. Before you spend anything, double-check your company’s expense policy to make sure you’re following it.
If any qualifying purchases come up, charge them to your new credit card. Make sure you submit an expense report, so you’ll get reimbursed. Then, pay off your credit card as soon as that check hits your bank account.
Prepay your bills
If you don’t usually spend enough to meet the credit card bonus within the time limits, consider paying ahead on your bills. Most utility companies will allow you to prepay on your account. You also might be able to prepay on your cell phone, the internet, or cable bills.
Simply use your credit card’s online bill pay feature to send extra money to your service providers this month. Or you could buy a gift card from your favorite grocery store or gas station to use for next month’s purchases. Then, next month, pay the amount you would have spent on that bill to repay your credit card balance.
Note that if you prepay bills and can’t repay your credit card balance in full by the end of your grace period, it’ll carry over and you’ll get charged interest. This could cut into the savings you’re getting from the credit card bonus. But it might still be worth it if your other option is losing out on the bonus altogether.
Donate to a charity
Charitable giving is an important and healthy part of many people’s finances; many write a check to a charity each month.
Instead of doing this, donate with your credit card; many charitable organizations accept credit card donations. Donate enough to meet your spending requirement — and don’t forget to write it off on your taxes.
Enjoy the perks (responsibly)
Credit card bonus offers can be an awesome perk of a new credit card. But don’t use them to justify overspending or to get into debt. It might qualify you for a bonus but could set your finances back for the next few months.
Instead, carefully choose a card that matches how you already spend. With a little mindfulness and small adjustments to how your charge, meeting credit card spending requirements can be painless, easy, and debt-free.
Interested in a personal loan?Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Rates (APR)||Loan Amount|
|1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|7.39% - 29.99%||$1,000 - $50,000||Visit Upstart|
|5.29% - 14.24%1||$5,000 - $100,000||Visit SoFi|
|8.00% - 25.00%||$5,000 - $35,000||Visit Payoff|
|5.99% - 16.24%2||$5,000 - $50,000||Visit Citizens|
|5.99% - 35.89%||$1,000 - $40,000||Visit LendingClub|
|5.25% - 14.24%||$2,000 - $50,000||Visit Earnest|
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