If you are a points junkie, you’ll notice quickly that there is a plethora of credit card bonus opportunities right now. This post will help you decide when to get a card and when to pass.
1. Is this the best offer for this card?
I’ve been noticing something lately that really eats me up.
People around the web (I won’t name names) have been posting best air mile credit card posts and they ONLY include cards that they promote as affiliates (i.e. they get paid when you sign up for that card).
The most lucrative sign up bonuses typically don’t offer affiliate payments. Here are some examples. If I suggest to you the Continental 50,000 bonus, there is no way for me to get a payment for that. However, if you get the 30,000 bonus and $50 statement credit, I can get paid for that referral.
This has motivated me to start indicating which cards are affiliate cards on my monthly best credit card roundup. I’ll include that on my next roundup.
If you’re not sure if what you’re considering is the best current offer, just send me an email htcheap at gmail dot com, and I’ll be glad to help you out.
2. Is there a current sign up bonus?
This is huge. Most cards only allow a one-time sign up bonus. Let’s say you can get a Continental credit card right now for a 50,000 signup bonus. Typically, you might get 25,000 points. Which is better? Now, during the promotion, of course. I’ve decide that unless there is a pressing reason to get a card, I will only sign up for cards that are offering a bonus. This way I won’t burn a one-time bonus with a standard offer.
3. Can you spend the minimum balance?
Once. I made this mistake once.
I ordered a Starwood card when they had a 25,000 points bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
You know what I did? I forgot! When I finally did remember about the card, the three months had passed, and I didn’t get my 25,000 points bonus.
I’ve heard of some families where all six members will get a card. Sounds great, but if your card has a $4,000 spending requirement (like the American Airlines 75,000 bonus mile promotion), then that means you’d need to spend $24,000 in six months.
4. Can you use the points?
I know that this sounds like a silly question, but there are some programs (Venture Rewards and American Express Rewards) where you need to be an active card holder in order to keep your points. In the end, you might end up paying annual fees just to keep your points alive.
Also, since most airlines require you to have account activity every 18 months, you need to be sure you don’t collect points just to end up losing them due to inactivity.
5. Does it have an annual fee?
With the vast options of no-annual fee credit cards, most annual fee cards are not worth considering.
There are some exceptions (I did pay $59 to get a Southwest credit card), but be sure you know going into the agreement if the card has an annual fee.
6. How’s your credit?
It is possible to play the credit card game and make penny wise, but pound foolish decisions. If you are in the market for a house and you plan to get a mortgage, even a few points off your FICO score could make a several thousand dollar impact over the life of the mortgage.
That’s why I suggest, at a minimum, that people who want points from cards get a free Credit Karma account.
Related to this question, you need to know if you’ve had too many credit card applications in the recent history. If you’ve had 1-3 applications in the last six months, you may consider slowing your pace a little. If you do want to get a bunch of cards, you might consider applying for all of them on one day to be sure you improve the likelihood that you will be approved.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.