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There haven’t been many opportunities to describe anything as “perfect” in 2020, but there is one silver lining to this incredibly turbulent year: credit cards have never been more rewarding.
This might sound surprising. If you’ve been paying attention to the credit card landscape, you’ve probably heard that banks are increasing requirements for approval and slashing credit limits on existing cards. While banks are indeed tightening restrictions to avoid riskier customers, they are always looking to attract low-risk, high-earning customers. And right now, they are using some very tempting offers to catch attention, including some that are only available for a limited time.
Here are three reasons why you should consider taking advantage of these offers sooner than later, followed by a look at some of the best welcome bonuses available now.
If you act now, your holiday shopping will give you a gift, too
What feels better than putting a smile on someone’s face when they unwrap your gift? Putting a smile on your face at the same time with a bunch of reward points or cash back. What did you spend on gifts for your family, friends and colleagues last year? Take a look back at that spending activity from last year, and think about what you have in store for shopping this year. By opening a new rewards card, you can put every holiday purchase on it to fast-track your way to one of these impressive bonus opportunities.
When you can think about taking a trip, you just might feel happier
2020 has included plenty of reasons to feel sad, and if you’re still working from home, you may worry that you’ll be stuck in a pixelated Zoom window forever.
Fear not — travel will return. As you start earning points, you can start thinking about where you’ll use those points to go for free. According to all the scientific studies listed in this National Geographic piece, the act of simply planning a trip is enough to make a positive impact on your mental health. And let’s face it: We can all use something to smile about right now.
A new card can help your credit score — if you’re responsible
Earning sign-up bonuses and putting trip itineraries on your horizon are short-term benefits. What will applying for a new rewards card for you now do in the long run?
As long as you pay your balance in full each month, a new credit card can have a big impact on your credit score. A higher credit limit across all cards can improve your credit utilization ratio, which is a key factor in determining your overall financial health. So, when you’re applying for a bigger life-changing financial product like a mortgage or a car loan, the additional credit from your new rewards card may be able to help you in securing another reward: a lower interest rate.
Several credit cards are offering their highest-ever welcome bonus
If your credit score is excellent, take a look at some of the huge credit card sign-up bonus opportunities that are available right now. A welcome bonus is the quickest and easiest way to earn more points, miles, or cash back, so they’re a key element to any award traveler’s strategy.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been my go-to credit card for the past few years. The annual fee comes in at a reasonable $95, and the 2x Ultimate Rewards points for travel and dining have been especially valuable during the times when I’ve been on the road a lot.
When I signed up, though, the bonus opportunity was 60,000 points after meeting a $4,000 minimum spending requirement in the first three months from account opening. The current 80,000-point bonus is the highest this card has ever offered. With a 25% increase in value when used for booking travel, this bonus is worth $1,000 in travel — and it may be worth even more if you transfer those points to one of Chase’s travel partners for something super awesome, like a business-class seat.
17.24% to 24.49% variable
Good to Excellent
50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Capital One Venture: Earn up to 100,000 total bonus miles
Those “What’s in your wallet?” Capital One commercials feel especially relevant now that the bank’s Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is offering a sign-up bonus that can yield 100,000 bonus miles.
You’ll earn 50,000 Capital One miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months from account opening, and another.50,000 miles after you spend $20,000 in the first year. You don’t have to meet both tiers of the bonus, but if you can make the Venture card your primary credit card to meet the $20,000 spending requirement, you’ll be rewarded handsomely.
Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Venture has an annual fee of $95, but it also comes with an application fee credit of up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The card also rewards you with 2 miles for every dollar you spend. So, if you hit the $20,000 threshold, you’re looking at 100,000 bonus miles and 40,000 miles for the 2x spend. If you’ve been ordering from Uber Eats while steering clear of indoor dining due to COVID, you’re in for another treat: 5x miles for those purchases through the end of January.
Check American Express offers, too
In addition to these publicly available offers, you might be able to stumble on some targeted welcome bonuses from American Express.
For example, I received a special offer to apply for the American Express® Gold Card with a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first six months from account opening. That’s a sizable jump from the typical welcome offer of 35,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, but this is a targeted offer available to select people who visit the American Express website, so you may not see it yourself.
A smaller spend can still rack up a sizable bonus now
If you’re aiming to avoid annual fees or you’re worried about having to spend a big chunk of money to meet a minimum spending requirement, you can still cash in on the uptick in rewards activity with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
Both cards have a sign-up bonus of $200 with an easy-to-reach spending requirement of $500 in the first three months from account opening. You can make that bonus significantly bigger by using either card as your grocery store payment method, too. Each offers a 5% cash back incentive on up to $12,000 of grocery store purchases within the first 12 months.
So while you may be planning a smaller Thanksgiving celebration this year, you may as well make every plate pay you back. The only caveat: The grocery bonus is not available for shopping at Target or Walmart.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.
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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.