How to Snag a Good Credit Card Welcome Bonus
Earn a lump sum of rewards by opening a new credit card. Learn how to find and qualify for the best credit card welcome bonus.
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Welcome bonuses have become a standard benefit of rewards credit cards, but not all bonuses deliver the same value. The most attractive bonuses may be harder to earn thanks to eligibility and spend requirements. Still, earning the bonus isn't as tedious as it sounds, but considering the work you put in, you'll want to get the best bonus possible. Here we'll detail some tips for landing a generous welcome bonus.
Shop around and compare.
Before you commit to any single welcome bonus offer, check to see whether other card issuers have more appealing offers available. Make sure to use the card issuer's pre-qualification tool if one is available. This way, you can see whether you're likely to be qualified for the card you're interested in without adding an inquiry to your credit report.
Also, check your FICO® Score to get a feel for what you might qualify for. Generally, the more lucrative offers are available for people with the highest scores.
Make sure you can spend enough.
For many cards, there's one big condition you'll have to meet to earn the bonus— spend a specific amount on purchases within a certain timeframe, usually either three or six months after opening your card. Generally speaking, the higher the bonus, the more you'll have to spend to earn it.
Review your typical credit card spending to see whether you can reasonably meet the deadline. Meeting the spend requirement may be a breeze if you have some big expenses coming up. Keep in mind that balance transfers, cash advances, returns, and fees don't count toward the spending requirement. This goes for cash-equivalent transactions too, which often includes ATM withdrawals, peer-to-peer transfers, and loading prepaid cards.
Read the eligibility requirements.
Aside from meeting the minimum spend requirement, some card issuers limit who's eligible for a welcome bonus. For instance, some card issuers only allow you to earn one welcome bonus on any of their cards in a certain timeframe, like 24 or 48 months. The restrictions can help you determine whether you want to apply for a certain rewards card now or to hold out for a more lucrative welcome offer later.
Follow the application instructions.
Read the offer details carefully for any specific directions to follow to earn the bonus. For example, if a personalized offer mailed to you may include a unique code, expiration date, or specific URL to take advantage of the offer. The advertised bonus may not be available if you skip this step.
Don't let a good deal disappear.
The highest bonus offers may only be available for a limited time. If you spot a rare deal and you're in a position to qualify, don't wait long to apply. The offer could be different the next time you visit the website.
Conclusion: Make the Most of Your Bonus Rewards
If you plan to keep the card for a while, be sure to look at the features and benefits beyond the welcome bonus. After you've scored the offer, make sure to pay your full balance each month. Otherwise, you'll end up paying finance charges that eat into the value of your bonus. Keep your account in good standing, otherwise, you could forfeit the bonus.
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