Here’s some unorthodox financial advice: Go apply for a new credit card.
When I was in college a million years ago, all it took me or anyone else to apply for a credit card was a kiosk that gave away a t-shirt or squirt bottle. Times sure have changed, and now banks have resorted to outright bribery in order to hitch an easy-money leash to you in hopes of making big interest off you via purchases you have no business making.
Though many years have passed, I have not quit signing up for credit cards — no, not to pile on debt and live beyond my means — but to collect the freebies banks offer for getting a new card. These days, though, it takes more than a cheap trinket to turn my head.
While I DO NOT recommend applying for new credit if you’re digging out of debt or trying to sharpen your credit score. You might take part, however, if you:
- Pay your current credit card balances in full
- Have a FICO of around 700 or more (check your score now)
Best credit card early spend bonuses
Up to $625 in travel
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (No fee 1st year, then $95 annual fee)
“Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.”
Up to $350 in travel
Gold Delta Skymiles Card from American Express (No fee 1st year, then $95 annual fee)
“Earn 35,000 Bonus Miles after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months† and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.”
Up to $250 in travel
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (No fee 1st year, then $95 annual fee)
“Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.”
$200 in travel
Capital One® VentureOne® Credit Card (No fee)
“Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $200 in travel”
Chase Freedom® (No fee)
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Also Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card (No fee)
One-time $100 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months.
$100 in travel
Blue Sky from American Express (No fee)
Every 7,500 points that you earn is enough for a $100 statement credit towards travel on airlines, hotels, car rentals, or cruises.
$150 statement credit
American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card (No fee)
Get $150 back after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. You will receive the $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
$50 towards games
Playstation® Card from Capital One®
Another gamer-centric, no-annual-fee card, with this card you are eligible to earn 5,000 Sony Rewards points after making your first purchase within the first 90 days after you are approved for the card. You you can trade that in for a $50 PlayStation Network credit. That’s just $10 short of covering a new release on a PS4 and will leave you with $10 left over if you opt for a new PlayStation Vita game.
$15 towards games
GameStop Power Up Rewards Credit Card
By signing up you get 15,000 PowerUp Rewards points, which you can redeem for a coupon good for $15 off anything in the store. Couple that with some trade-ins and that big video game you didn’t think you could afford becomes that much more attainable. There’s no annual fee, so you can get the card, cancel it right away, pocket your coupon and wait until you can apply again.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card
While the $99 annual fee is a bummer, it’s mitigated by the 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points you get once you’ve spent $2,000 in the first three months. While technically not a sign-up reward, you should have no trouble racking up that amount if you use the card as your daily driver. There are no blackout dates on the points, and if you take advantage of one of the airline’s sales you can snag several flights for free. Just be sure to cancel before you’ve had the card for a year so you avoid getting stung with a second annual fee.
10 percent off when you apply, 5 percent off thereafter
We’ve sung the praises of this one before. Not only will you make a cashier’s day by signing up at the register, you’ll score 10 percent off your initial purchase with the card. Time your application to a big-sticker holiday shopping visit for maximum results. The card also gives you 5 percent off future purchases, as well as free shipping with online orders, and allows you 30 extra days to return merchandise you’re having second thoughts about. If you do any amount of shopping at Target, you’re missing out by not using the no-annual-fee card.
Up to $100 off at Ceasars restaurants and attractions
Total Rewards Visa
A solid card for frequent travelers to Las Vegas, the no-annual-fee card lets you beat the house at hotels owned by Caesars Entertainment. Spend $750 in the first 90 days and you’ll receive 10,000 credits, which you can cash in for $100 off at restaurants and attractions. To top that off, you get two tickets to the High Roller. You also get an insta-boost to Platinum Total Rewards status, which waives resort fees at Caesars hotels and lets you cut in lines during check-in and at buffets.