An Introduction to Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses
Credit cards and particularly the bonuses they offer can be a minefield. If not navigated correctly it can end in significant damage to your wallet and pride. Although a number of the top offers can be lucrative, it’s crucial to learn how to make the most of these offers without financially hurting yourself.
This guide is aimed at people who pay off their credit card balance in full every month and want to be rewarded for their spending.
Many people refer to the process of maximising credit card sign-up bonuses as ‘card churning’. I’d like to think that this post offers more than this and will help you with your long-term accumulation of reward points whilst protecting your credit rating.
What Are These Sign-Up Bonuses You Talk About?
Although not all the same, most credit card sign-up bonuses have similarities. Here are a couple of things your should know:
- Usually to receive a sign-up bonus, a certain level of minimum spend is required. This can vary from £1 to say £3,000 and have to be completed within a certain time frame.
- Some of the cards recommended on this post will require a minimum spend. Just make sure you always factor this in.
Those Golden Rules
Whilst I don’t want to be a killjoy, to make sure you are benefiting from the full offering of the various credit card deals there are a couple of golden rules everyone should follow:
- Always pay the cards off in full at the end of each month. The cards I discuss in this article have high (most very high!) interest charges. Always set up a direct debit to make sure your card is paid off in full. Most credit cards now have apps that allow you to pay the cards off as and when you spend money on them. I’d strongly recommend doing this.
- Use your card for all normal spending. Make sure you maximise the use of the card for all your day-to-day spending. However you should never use the card to purchase items that you wouldn’t usually buy.
- Credit Rating and financial health. Applying for credit cards will impact on your credit rating. It’s important to monitor this if you are signing up to numerous credit cards in a short period of time. Generally you should have a rating in excess of 700+. Click here for a free Equifax credit report and score. It’s free for the first 30 days and then £14.95 per month afterwards (make sure you cancel in the first 30 days!).
- Consider how meeting a minimum spending requirement will affect your finances. Make sure you stay clear of any that may put your day-to-day finances under any stress.
- Have a strategy. I mainly pursue rewards points that I can use to fly away to distant lands. However this may not suit your individual needs. There are cards available with many rewards ranging from cashback to car rental. Find one that works for you.
- Finally always make sure you factor in the annual fees. The American Express Preferred Rewards Platinum has an annual cost of £450 pa. If you don’t plan on travelling in the next year, do the various benefits such as the free lounge access and worldwide travel insurance make the annual fee appropriate? I’d suggest not.
Thrifty Points Best Credit Card Sign-up Bonus Offers
Whilst being able to find a weighty credit card sign-up bonus is fairly easy if you know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be hard to find the real winners in the 100s of cards being offered on the market. That’s why we’ve summarised our four top cards for 2017 below. These are split between free and annual fees. I’d recommend that for all newbies you go for the free option and with that the American Express Gold Card.
- The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card: By far the most generous of all free cards available. Free for the first 12 months with 10,000 reward points offered when you spend £2,000 in the first 3 months. Note that a higher amount of 12,000 reward points is available if I refer you. Please use this link if you would like a referral. Recent changes to American Express rules now mean that to qualify for the sign up bonus you cannot have held a personal American Express credit card in the last 24 months. There are however 3 exceptions which can be combined for a maximum of 83,000 points – learn more about the sign up bonus restrictions and our suggested strategy here. Click HERE to see my recent article for various other benefits connected with the Amex Gold Card. Note this is a charge card and needs to be repaid in full each month. A great benefit of this card is the 2 free lounge passes offered, making that travel experience even more pleasant.
- The British Airways American Express: 5,000 miles when you spend £1,000 in the first 3 months. No annual fee. Please click HERE for my recent review and the additional benefits offered by the card. An increased sign up of 6,000 miles is available if you use this link and scroll down to the correct card.
- The American Express Preferred Rewards Platinum Card: The standard offer is for 30,000 points when you spend £2,000 in the first 3 months. Similar to the Amex Gold card, if I refer you a bonus amount of 35,000 points is available – please use this link and scroll down to the correct card. The Platinum Amex card has an annual charge of £450 and as such only really makes sense if you are spending large sums on your credit card. Again please click HERE to see my recent, full overview of the Amex Platinum card.
- British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card: 25,000 miles when you spend £3,000 within 3 months. A higher bonus of 26,000 miles is available if I refer you – please use this link and scroll down to the correct card. When you also spend £10,000 within a year on the BA Amex Premium Plus Card you also receive a 2 for 1 BA air miles voucher. This is an extremely valuable perk which I’ve recently used to turn 250,000 air miles into 500,000 air miles. Note that there is a cost of £195 for the card. Click HERE for a review of the card and the further benefits offered.
Thrifty Points Best Credit Cards for Flexible Rewards
Some cards offer hotel-chain or airline points that can only be redeemed with one operator. The cards listed below offer opportunities where the rewards can be redeemed in a far wider variety of products (from alcohol to car hire). Note these can all also be converted to Avios and used to redeem flights.
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card
- American Express Preferred Rewards Platinum Card
- Bonus: 30,000 Membership Rewards points (35,000 if I refer you using this link – just scroll down to the correct card)
- Minimum Spend: £2,000
- Other benefits: 1 point for £1 spent / Priority Pass Card / Gold or Jade membership to various hotel schemes / Travel Insurance / various others
- £450 pa.
- See my review for full details
- British Airways American Express Credit Card
- British Airways American Express Premier Plus Credit Card
Thrifty Points Best Credit Cards for Avios/Air Miles Redemptions
Airline cards offer points that can be used to redeem flights, seat upgrades and other travel perks. If you’re planning a trip soon you could easily earn yourself a return trip with only taxes to pay.
I would highlight that all of the American Express card points mentioned above could be converted to Avios and as such also fall within this category.
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card (see above)
- American Express Preferred Rewards Platinum Card (see above)
- British Airways American Express Credit Card (see above)
- British Airways American Express Premier Plus Credit Card (see above)
Thrifty Points Best Credit Cards for Hotel Rewards
The credits cards mentioned below offer stays and upgrades at various worldwide hotels.
- Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Credit Card
Credit cards can be a very valuable tool if used wisely. If you’re able to follow a set strategy they can be very lucrative indeed. The most important thing to remember is to use the credit cards to your advantage and don’t let them use you. For all that are new to the world of credit card bonuses, I’d strongly recommend the Amex Gold Card which is free of charge and offers a great sign-up bonus of 10,000 reward points (12,000 if I refer you using this link) once £3,000 has been spent. You can see my full review HERE.
I hope you’ve found this overview to credit card sign-up bonuses useful. As always please share this post with friends if you think they would find it interesting. Please do comment if you have any questions, I’m here to help and enjoy hearing your feedback.
Enjoy what you’ve read? Join our mailing list to receive our best articles on luxury worldwide travel and points earning opportunities. No charge. No Spam. Only Inspiration.