It’s not hard to understand the appeal of rewards credit cards that give cardholders cash back, travel miles, and other perks in return for charging everyday purchases. Credit card bonus offers can stretch those rewards even further for those who know how to take advantage of them.
When it comes to capitalizing on credit card promotions, it’s helpful to know how credit card bonus offers work and how to determine what limited-time credit card offers are available to you. From there, you can decide which promotional credit card offer makes the most sense for you to snag.
Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card
How Do Credit Card Bonus Offers Work?
To understand how credit card bonus offers work, it’s helpful to first understand the basics of reward credit cards. Whether it’s a cash back card, travel credit card, or some other type of rewards card, these credit cards allow cardholders to earn back a small percentage of the value of their purchases. Account holders may get their rewards in the form of cash back, credit card points, or airline miles.
With credit card bonus offers, credit card issuers layer limited-time offers atop the regular benefits. Some common types of credit card promotions follow.
Designed to help make a specific credit card more appealing, welcome bonuses can fuel returns in the first weeks or months after signing up for a new card. How welcome bonuses work varies from card to card, but they generally provide increased reward earnings either up to a certain expenditure limit or for hitting a minimum spend.
The rewards may come in the form of flat-rate cash back or points, a better rewards rate, or another limited-time perk, depending on the type of credit card. For example, a card might provide a bonus for cardholders who charge at least $1,000 within the first three months of receiving their credit card. Another offer might double the rewards rate for a set time period, up to a maximum rewards dollar value. In some cases, cardholders might receive a welcome bonus simply for signing up.
The annual percentage rate, or APR, is the rate of interest that is applied to credit card balances and transactions like cash advances. Some credit card promotions offer a lower — or even 0% — APR for a limited time.
These promotional periods may last anywhere from six months to 21 months. After that point, your APR will return to your standard rate, which is determined based on factors like creditworthiness and the type of credit card.
Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card
Other Limited-Time Offers
While welcome bonuses are nice, credit card promotions don’t always dry up after the introductory period. Some credit cards may offer additional periodic promotions, such as increased credit card rewards earnings during a specific time period or offers for spending at a particular retailer or partner.
Look out for promotional emails or notifications on your statement or online account to stay aware of such offers.
What Offers are Available to Me?
If you’re not sure what new credit card bonus offers are currently available to you, it’s easy to check. Simply log onto your credit card account and click over to the rewards portal. That should give you a view of the credit card promotions currently on offer, though you’ll want to log on frequently to see the latest offerings.
You might also be able to opt in to communications from your credit card company about current promotional offers. Check your settings on your communication preferences to ensure you’re not missing out on these emails if you’d like to receive them.
Which Limited-Time Offer Should You Choose?
Any credit card promotion that keeps more money in the cardholder’s wallet is likely an attractive one. But some offers are better suited to certain financial situations.
If You Have a Big Purchase Coming Up
Whether it’s booking a big vacation, paying for a wedding or new appliances, or covering some other big-ticket outlay, timing a big purchase with a credit card promotion period can be beneficial.
It might be a stretch for some individuals to max out a welcome offer that requires $4,000 or more in spending within the first few months. But if a big planned expense is on the horizon, it could be a good time to take advantage of a welcome offer that requires a little more spending than usual. (Just make sure to pay off the balance to avoid interest charges and/or reward penalties.)
Recommended: What is a Charge Card
If You’re Carrying a Balance With a High APR
Although the best strategy to avoid paying interest on credit card charges is to pay off purchases in full by the statement date, that may not always be possible. For those who are trying to pay down a balance, taking advantage of a 0% APR offer (or switching to a balance transfer credit card) may reduce or eliminate interest costs and help with paying down credit card debt.
Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly
If You Want To Optimize Everyday Purchases
The best type of credit card promotion for getting the most back from everyday purchases really depends on both the spender and the card. For instance, a credit card that provides a welcome bonus of 30,000 airline miles might be a great deal — but only for individuals who travel.
As such, finding the best credit card promotion for regular, everyday spending means taking the time to look at your usual spending habits. Then, compare limited-time credit card offers to find the best personal fit, whether that’s credit card miles or cash-back rewards, or another form of credit card bonus.
Tips for Taking Advantage of Bonus Offers
If you’re hoping to cash in on credit cards bonus offers, here are some key tips to keep in mind.
Do Your Homework
There can be many credit card promotions to choose from, with more limited-time offers popping up all the time. Before choosing a new credit card, it’s always a good idea to do some comparison shopping, considering factors such as annual fees, the APR, and the specifics of any rewards programs.
For those who track their spending, these records can be helpful for gauging actual expenditures across categories in order to estimate the potential benefits of various cards.
Keep Track of Expiration Dates
The important thing to remember about limited-time offers? They expire.
You may want to set up reminders for when offers will end. That way, you’ll remember to meet any minimum spending requirements or get in last-minute purchases before bonus rates end.
Avoid Carrying a Balance
Most credit card purchases don’t incur interest — if the cardholder pays off the full balance by the statement due date. Carrying a balance means interest charges, which are usually applied going back to the date of purchase. This can quickly add up and potentially outweigh the benefits of any credit card promotions.
Furthermore, before only paying the minimum, it’s a good idea to check the terms and conditions, which will tell you specifics of how a credit card works. That way, you can ensure the promotion still applies for those who carry a balance.
Think Before Canceling a Card After an Offer Expires
With so many attractive credit card offers on the market, it might seem like a good idea to open and close accounts in order to keep claiming new promotions. However, this may not be the best strategy for those concerned about their credit score.
For starters, each new credit card application results in a hard inquiry to check the applicant’s credit score. Each time a lender conducts such a check, it results in a slight reduction in credit score — which can last up to a year (and will remain on one’s credit report for up to two years). Applying for many cards to claim multiple offers can add up.
Furthermore, as much as 30% of your credit score is informed by your overall credit utilization rate, or how much you owe on all your revolving accounts, such as credit cards, compared with your total available credit. Canceling cards reduces the total amount of credit you have available — and if it’s a card with a big credit limit, cancellation can have a significant impact on your credit utilization ratio.
Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit
Will I Get Approved Immediately?
Even if you find the perfect promotional credit card offer, remember that there’s no guarantee that you’re going to get approved for it. Particularly if reaping the bonus credit bonus offer requires applying for a new card, know that there’s never a guarantee of approval.
Rewards credit cards generally require at least a good credit score (meaning 670+) to qualify for. If your score is too low, or there are any credit report concerns, that could impact your approval odds.
Application-related issues could interfere with how fast you’re approved, too. For instance, if there’s an issue verifying your income or you’ve inadvertently turned in an incomplete application, it might take a bit longer for the credit card company to make a decision.
Whether it’s a welcome bonus, a low APR introductory rate, or a periodic promotion, credit card bonus offers can amplify rewards for those who know how to take advantage of them. To choose the right credit card promotion for your financial situation, it’s important to know the options and how they work. For instance, you might opt for a welcome bonus if you know a big purchase is coming up, whereas a 0% APR promo might be better if you’re working to pay down a credit card balance.
Always keep your eyes peeled for new credit card bonus offers to crop up, too. For instance, those who get a SoFi Credit Card temporarily have the chance to earn a higher rate of cash-back rewards.
The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1
When you elect to redeem rewards points as cash deposited into your SoFi Checking and Savings account, as a statement credit to a SoFi Credit Card account, as fractional shares into your SoFi Invest account, or as a payment toward your SoFi Personal Loan or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .