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A great way to establish credit is by getting a new credit card, and occasionally you’ll even get rewarded for it.

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Many credit cards offer a welcome bonus, which means new cardholders earn extra rewards, such as cash back, points or miles, when they use their card. To earn the bonus, you usually have to reach a minimum spending requirement within the first few months of opening your account. The threshold varies, but it can be anywhere from $500 to $5,000.

The best return rates are typically found on cash-back cards, while travel rewards cards typically offer larger bonuses for exceeding higher spending thresholds. Then there are a select few cards, such as the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, that give you a $100 Amazon gift card as a welcome bonus right away. com gift card following account approval; no expenditure is necessary.

Select examines what a credit card sign-up bonus is, how it operates, and how to take advantage of one in the sections below.

On their website or on mail offers you receive at home, card issuers most likely advertise welcome bonuses for their credit cards. They contain language promising “bonus points” or a specific amount of cash back when you apply for and make purchases using a particular credit card. These introductory deals, also known as welcome bonuses, entice you to apply for a credit card and use your card right away.

How do sign-up bonuses work?

The best credit cards offer enticing bonuses that can add hundreds to your wallet, but in order to receive the bonus, you typically need to make a purchase with your card. On the plus side, since you had to spend money to earn the bonus rewards, they are actually non-taxable income when it comes to filing taxes. Bonuses are regarded as a rebate rather than as a source of income.

Welcome bonuses have a minimum spend requirement in addition to a time limit. In order to qualify for most cards, you must spend between $500 and $5,000 within the first three months (or 90 days) of your account opening.

Once you’ve met the minimum spend requirement to earn the welcome bonus, how quickly points or miles are added to your account depends on the card issuer.

For instance, new cardholders of the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card can earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after making $500 in purchases within the first three months of opening their account. Cash back is added to your rewards balance within two billing cycles after you meet the requirements for the bonus.

With a travel rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® that offers 60,000 bonus points after new cardmembers spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening (worth up to $900 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®), the offer details state that “after qualifying, please allow six to eight weeks for bonus points to post to your account

If you are planning on using your welcome bonus to buy a specific purchase or plan a trip somewhere, be sure to take these time requirements into account.

How to benefit from a sign-up bonus

A welcome bonus can be useful if you need to make a significant purchase or are organizing a trip in the near future. It may seem expensive to charge hundreds or thousands of dollars onto your credit card in a short period of time.

For instance, one financial expert we spoke to met the minimum spend on her new credit cards by charging her and her husband’s wedding rings and the cost of a small wedding. The cash back she received from welcome bonuses was then used by the couple to help defray the cost of their honeymoon. Although there may be processing fees involved (some companies charge between 2% and 4% for credit card transactions), if there are none, using this method to finance significant purchases like trips can be very beneficial.

When you do use your credit card to earn a welcome bonus, it’s crucial to pay off any outstanding balances right away to avoid paying interest that would reduce the value.

Here is some math to demonstrate how quickly interest accumulates:

If you were to meet the minimum spending requirement of $4,000 within the first three months on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can earn 60,000 welcome bonus points. This equates to $900 toward travel when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.

However, if you allow that $4,000 balance to remain unpaid for a full year, this value is all but negated. This card’s standard variable APR ranges from 19. 24% – 26. even with an interest rate on the low end of the spectrum at 19.4%. Over the course of a year, a $4,000 balance would earn hundreds of dollars in interest at a rate of 24%. Make sure you can pay off whatever you spend in order to receive the bonus because credit cards charge high interest rates.

Here are some of the top cards of Select’s round-up of the best credit card welcome bonuses.

Consider one of the cards listed above if you want to spend more money while earning more rewards with a new credit card.

Select has independently gathered data regarding the TD Cash Credit Card, Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card; none of this data has been reviewed or supplied by the card’s issuer in advance of publication. We might get paid a commission if you make a purchase using the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card’s select links.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

The majority of credit card welcome bonuses are designed so that you can only access a specific amount of cash back, points, or miles after spending a certain amount of money on the card within the first few months of receiving it. Some credit cards are more valuable than others and not all credit cards offer welcome bonuses. It’s critical to keep in mind that welcome bonuses are temporary; once the window to claim them has passed, there will be no more opportunities. The market’s easiest and highest-yielding welcome bonuses are listed below.

Intro OfferEarn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. APR17. 24% – 25. 99% VariableIntro Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 monthsRecommended Credit Excellent, Good

  1. 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  2. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  3. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 monthsBalance Transfer APR17. 24% – 25. 99% VariableBalance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Foreign Transaction Fees 3% of each transaction in U. dollarsPenalty APR Up to 29. 99%

Our Take

Chase Freedom Flex has the easiest and most accessible welcome bonus. You get a $200 cash bonus by spending $500 within the first three months of opening an account. There are a few credit cards with no annual fee that offer a $200 welcome bonus, but they often require you to spend $750 or $1,000 to earn it. Similarly, other credit cards may offer nominally higher welcome bonuses, but may require you to spend several thousand dollars over several months. In terms of the ratio of spending threshold to bonus, the Chase Freedom Flex is a great welcome bonus.

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Intro OfferIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300. APR14. 99% – 25. 99% VariableIntro Purchase APR0% for 15 monthsRecommended Credit Good/Excellent

  1. Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  2. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 15 monthsBalance Transfer APR14. 99% – 25. 99% VariableBalance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $41. Foreign Transaction Fees None

The Discover it® Cash Back* card has a special deal: the first year the account is open, the sign-up bonus is an unlimited cash-back match. In addition to earning 5% cash back on recurring quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases after activation, Discover will match all of the cash you’ve earned back in the first year, dollar for dollar. Depending on your spending, you may be able to earn more cash back with this promotion than you could with other credit cards because there is no cap or limit on it. This welcome bonus is available on some of Discover’s credit cards.

Intro Offer25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases. Intro Purchase APRSee TermsRecommended Credit Excellent/Good

Intro Balance Transfer APRSee TermsBalance Transfer APRSee TermsBalance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater. Late Payment Fee See termsForeign Transaction Fees NonePenalty APR up to 29. 99% APR

This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

A sizable welcome bonus that can be redeemed for statement credits toward travel or dining expenses is available with the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. To qualify for this bonus, which will be posted to your account as 25,000 online bonus points, you must spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening your account. Although premium travel cards can offer higher welcome bonuses, they typically also have a high annual fee. This is the best card to use to maximize the value of your welcome bonus if you’re a budget traveler.

Intro OfferFor a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account openingAPR18. 99% – 26. 99% (Variable)Intro Purchase APRN/ARecommended Credit Excellent, Good

  1. Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  2. Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  3. Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Balance Transfer APR18. 99% – 26. 99% (Variable)Balance Transfer Fee Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. Late Payment Fee Up to $41Foreign Transaction Fees 0%Penalty APR Up to 29. 99% (Variable)

In terms of annual fee, point value, and spending requirement, the Citi Premier® Card offers the best value for the sign-up bonus. When you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account, the sign-on bonus gives you 80,000 ThankYou® points, which can be exchanged for travel benefits or $800 in Thankyou gift cards. com. As an alternative, these points are also worth 1 cent each for statement credits, making them equivalent in value to “cash back.” Despite being marketed as a travel credit card, the Citi Premier offers competitive rewards rates on a variety of common everyday spending categories, including dining out, gas, and shopping.

Intro OfferUp to a $150 Amazon gift card instantly upon approvalAPR16. 49% – 24. 49% VariableIntro Purchase APRN/ARecommended Credit Excellent/Good

  1. 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership*
  2. 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores*
  3. 1% back on all other purchases*

Balance Transfer APR16. 49% – 24. 49% VariableBalance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Late Payment Fee Up to $39Foreign Transaction Fees None

There is no minimum spending requirement to receive the bonus with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card*, which makes it special. If your application is accepted, you’ll get a $100 or $150 Amazon gift card without ever using it. The drawback is that, unlike many other rewards cards, this welcome bonus cannot be redeemed for travel or statement credits. It is merely an Amazon gift card.com. com. To obtain this credit card, keep in mind that you must have an Amazon Prime membership ($139 annually).

See more details in our full review of the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card.

What is a sign-on bonus/welcome bonus?

It’s a risky and time-consuming venture that can negatively affect your credit. While the welcome bonus is worth considering, we recommend taking a comprehensive look at the overall value of a credit card and choosing one that suits your spending habits and your financial situation.

What is considered a ‘good’ welcome bonus?

In our opinion, a good welcome bonus is one that doesn’t require you to change your spending habits and offers a return greater than the annual card fee. Many rewards credit cards offer a $200 welcome bonus, so anything above that amount is worth mentioning.

We also favor bonus credit cards with additional benefits or multiple reward tiers, which extend the card’s utility beyond the bonus.

Our methodology

For each major category of credit card, including cash-back, welcome bonuses, travel rewards, and balance transfer credit cards, CNET compares all of the available options in-depth. We consider both the intended use of a card as well as the typical spending habits of a variety of consumer profiles, keeping in mind that each person’s financial situation is unique.

For cash-back credit cards, the annual fee, the “welcome bonus,” and the cash-back rate (or rates, if they vary by spending category) are important considerations. We determine and evaluate the net monetary value of each card’s specific benefits for rewards and mileage cards. And when it comes to balance transfer credit cards, we consider details like the length of the introductory 0% APR period and the balance transfer fee while also taking into account ancillary elements like the standard APR and how long you have to make a transfer after opening the account.

* CNET independently gathered all of the data regarding the Discover it Cash Back and Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card; the issuer did not review any of it.

The editorial content on this page is not influenced by advertising or partnerships and is solely the result of our writers’ unbiased, independent evaluations. It was not commissioned or supplied by a third party. However, if you click on links to goods or services provided by our partners, we might get paid.

Editor’s Note: Forbes Advisor partner links generate revenue for us. The opinions and assessments of our editors are unaffected by commissions.

Although credit card bonuses are increasing, there is always a catch. You should be ready to meet significant spending requirements if you want a sizable welcome bonus. Only if you’ll be a long-term customer who will be profitable enough to justify the initial rewards will card issuers offer incentives to win your business.

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Fortunately, the conditions for receiving a welcome bonus are made clear in the advertising. Sadly, some cards won’t be accessible given your circumstances. Some people might be on the cusp. These tips on how to meet credit card minimum spending requirements will help you make sure you can keep your bonus rewards in those circumstances.

What To Consider Before You Apply

The size of welcome bonuses on credit cards varies greatly; some offer cash up front while others promise new cardholders 100,000 miles or more. Even when the numbers appear to be the same, bonuses are not all created equal. Different rewards can be purchased with one program’s miles than another. It’s critical to find the ideal fit for your particular requirements.

Selecting a credit card that you are likely to use to meet the spending requirements is more crucial if you want to receive the bonus that initially caught your attention. You should postpone applying if the requirements are out of your reach until a different period of your life.

There are no half-measures when it comes to the official requirements. It only takes one day late or one dollar short to completely forfeit the bonus.

Set a Plan to Track Your Progress

You need a strategy to keep track of your spending unless meeting a spending requirement is so simple that you know you’ll do it without thinking – there are a few uncommon cards that still offer modest bonuses after a single purchase.

Not all cards have account tools to quickly display your total spending, but some do. For simple accounting, you might want to export transactions into a spreadsheet. Alternatively, you could do it the old-fashioned way by adding up all of your transactions and taking returns or other credits out.

Two finer details to keep in mind as you’re tracking your expenses:

  1. The clock starts ticking the day your card application is approved—even if you don’t get a physical card in the mail for another week or so. Some card issuers will overnight ship your card and/or provide a digital account number for online purchases for immediate use.
  2. Annual fees, balance transfers, interest charges and any fees other than spending transactions won’t count toward your quota.

How To Meet Your Minimum Spending Requirements

Time Your Applications to Coincide With Large Expenses

Your new applications should ideally be submitted when you anticipate having significant upcoming expenses. You can easily meet your spending requirements quickly by purchasing new furniture, appliances, or an engagement ring. In some circumstances, you might even be able to use a credit card to pay for tuition or a down payment on a car (but check ahead of time before assuming that since these could come with additional fees).

If you applied without considering the timing, you might not have the benefit of blatantly high costs. However, if you have money on hand, now might be a good time to finish tasks that have been on your to-do list for a while. DIY home improvements and car repairs are two more things you can do to increase your spending if you have the money to do so.

Prepay Expenses

Not everyone will find prepaying expenses to be an effective strategy. If you won’t be able to pay off the balance on your credit card by the due date, charging extra expenses will be counterproductive because interest fees will reduce any rewards you might otherwise receive. Prepaying expenses is a practical way to increase your spending while receiving a welcome bonus, though, if you can afford the additional upfront costs.

Some services, such as insurance policies, may offer you a discount for paying in full in advance, making it a particularly attractive strategy. Paying for travel in advance can also save money, as hotel and car reservations are secure. Compare that with the trade-off of flexibility. Prepaid reservations are often non-refundable.

Prepaying recurring bills like your cable or phone bill will help you meet your minimum spend even if there isn’t a discount. Although buying in bulk for physical goods or services isn’t always practical, you can effectively prepay those costs by purchasing gift cards for shops you frequently visit.

Foot the Bill for Someone Else

You might be able to benefit from friends’ and family members’ expenses if your personal expenses fall short of meeting your minimum spending requirements. Offer to pay the entire tab on your new card the next time you go out with a group and request payment in cash or via a service like Venmo or Zelle.

You may be able to finagle some business expenses, too. If you have upcoming work expenses but don’t have a corporate card, offer to make the purchase on your new credit card and submit an expense report for reimbursement. Again, you’ll need to have funds to float the purchase in case you aren’t refunded before your due date, but this can be a good way to increase your spending without technically spending a dime.

Pay Rent and Other Bills

The biggest monthly expenses for the majority of us are frequently those that cannot be paid directly with a credit card. In most cases, you have to withdraw money from your checking account to pay your mortgage, rent, taxes, or student loans.

However, services like Plastiq, PayUSAtax, and ACI Payments will process payments to thousands of billers after charging your credit card for a convenience fee (typically 2% to 3%). This should be a last resort since those additional fees can add up quickly. Consider splitting payments between your card and a check if you’re on the verge of reaching your spending limits so that you can avoid having to pay a surcharge on the entire amount.

Bottom Line

You might not be out of luck if a welcome bonus initially seems a little out of reach due to the card’s initial spending requirements. Rearranging your regular spending during the offer period can significantly improve your financial situation and enable you to earn rewards on a new card.

We all know that credit card bonuses are the absolute best. If you have a good credit score, you can reward yourself with a load of bonus miles or points in return for using a bank’s credit card. Turn those into flights, hotel stays, and you have yourself a nice little paid vacation. And while many of these cards offer huge welcome bonuses, some have some nice perks too. The trick is finding the right cards. One factor that can turn you off to this is that many of the best card offers also have an annual fee. They may give you 100,000 miles but then tack on a $95 or $295 annual fee. If you like the card or you use their partner a lot, as can be the case with airlines or hotels, then keeping the card can make a lot of sense. Maybe the card gives you a higher status with the airline or hotel. Maybe it just gets you to the front of the line at check-in. But what if you’re simply anti-annual fee? I know a lot of people who are against paying a fee out of principle. I get that 100%. Well, if you’re looking for a credit card with a great bonus and no annual fee, this is the list you want to see:Table of ContentsNOTE: The cards at the beginning of this list do not charge an annual fee. Some of the cards near the end of the list (with asterisks in the heading) offer no annual fee for the first year but do charge one afterwards. I wanted to include them on the list because the offers are strong but I put them towards the end because only the first year is without a fee. Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card – 60,000 Bonus PointsThe Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card has a great bonus of after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You also get bonus categories where you earn more than the standard 1X – earn up to 14X total points for every $1 spent at 7,000+ hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy and 2X points on other travel purchases. Best of all, the annual fee is $0. It’s rare to see a travel card that doesn’t offer a promotional annual fee that gets upped in year 2. Great offer. Hilton Honors American Express Card – 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus PointsIf you stay at Hiltons (or associated properties), then you’ll want to check out the Hilton Honors American Express Card. You can earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases Terms Apply. The annual fee is $0 and the card gives you complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status. If you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on the card in a calendar year, you get Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next year. (See Rates and Fees)This is on top of this cashback schedule – Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio. Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U. restaurants, at U. supermarkets, and at U. gas stations. Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature Card – 20,000 bonus points (worth $200)The U. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature Card has a welcome bonus of 20,000 bonus points (worth $200) spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. You also get 4X points on dining, takeout, and restaurant delivery; 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services, gas stations and EV charging stations; plus 1X on all other eligible purchases. Finally, there’s even a $15 credit for annual streaming service purchases (Netflix, Apple TV+, Spotify, etc. Not bad for a card with a $0 annual fee. 🙂Chase Freedom Flex – $200The Chase Freedom Flex card is offering $200 after $500 in purchases in the first 3 months. This is on top of a generous cashback schedule – you earn 1% on all other purchases. Also, you get 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter (must be activated), and 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstores. All this is available to you with $0 annual fee. Can’t beat that price. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card has a $200 Cash Back after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. If you’re wondering if this card is one you’ll keep using after the bonus – the answer is probably yes. As you’d expect, $0 annual fee. TD Bank Cash Card – $150 cash backThe TD Bank Cash Card offers $150 cash back when you spend $500 within 90 days of opening the account. It’s rare that you get such a large bonus when you spend only $500. It has a $0 annual fee. Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards – $200 Cash BackThe Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards is meant for people who enjoy dining out so the cashback schedule favors that type of spending. But first, you can get $200 Cash Back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months. In terms of cash back, you can earn an unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores. You earn an unlimited 1% on everything else – nothing to activate too, you get this all year. This is a card that has a $0 annual fee to boot!Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express – $200The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is a $0 annual fee card that offers $200 after you spend $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Also, you earn a generous cashback of 3% at U. supermarkets (up to $6,000/year, then 1%), 3% on U. online retail purchases (up to $6,000/year, then 1%), 3% at U. gas stations (up to $6,000/year, then 1%) then 1% on other purchases. You earn the cash back as “Reward Dollars” that can be redeemed for statement credits. Terms Apply. The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express has a great offer – earn $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months. There is a $95. That’s why such a good offer is listed near the end. (See Rates and Fees)

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On Citibank’s request

Best travel card overall

Chase Freedom Soundsm

Best for $200 cash back

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Best for $200 cash rewards bonus

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

Best for No-annual-fee travel points

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Best for Capital One Miles

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best for Chase Ultimate Rewards® points

Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

Citi® Double Cash Card

Credit card from Bank of America® with Customized Cash Rewards

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

on American Express’ website

Best for $350 statement credit

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Best for Hotel card

American Express® Gold Card

Best for American Express Membership Rewards

Best for Cash back match

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Annual fee of $0 for the first year, $95 for subsequent years.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Best for Airline card

First year is free; second year is $99

Credit Card for World of Hyatt

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

United Club℠ Infinite Card

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