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)
A few of my personal favorite credit card signup bonuses
$50 towards games
Playstation® Card from Capital One®
Another gamer-centric, no-annual-fee card, the Sony product pumps up your Sony Rewards account with 5,000 points, which you can trade 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. Sony’s game here is to get you hooked on using the card on its own ecosystem by giving you bonus rewards for using it to purchase PSN games. Avoid spending money on things you wouldn’t otherwise buy to avoid the trap.
$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. Let’s just hope the company doesn’t allow any future data breaches to occur.
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.
Other high-value credit card signup bonuses
$400 in travel
Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases ($89 annual fee)
Earn 40,000 bonus miles if you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next trip!
$200 in travel
Capital One® VentureOne® Credit Card (No fee)
“One-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $200 in travel.”
40,000 travel points
The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® ($89 annual fee)
“Earn 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee*”
$200 in travel
Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® – Earn 1x on All Purchases (No fee)
Start by earning 20,000 bonus miles if you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 20,000 bonus miles equates to $200 off your next trip!
Up to $300 in travel
Gold Delta Skymiles Card from American Express ($95 annual fee)
“Earn 30K bonus miles after you make $1K in purchases on your new Card within your 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 ($65 annual fee)
“Starpoints® bonus: earn up to 25,000 bonus points: 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Cardmembership.”
$75 in travel points
Blue Sky from American Express (No fee)
Earn 7,500 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
$50 statement credit
American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card (No fee)
Get 50 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $50 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
$25 statement credit
Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® – Average Credit (No fee)
Earn 2,500 points, equal to a $25 statement credit, after your first purchase or balance transfer