12 Best Credit Card Promotions (2017): Offers, Deals & Bonuses

12 Best Credit Card Promotions (2017)

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Posted: May 25, 2017
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

Several years ago, a good friend took a trip to Las Vegas for a weekend of R&R. Upon his return, I asked how the trip went; his response was a mournful sigh, a sour expression, and the all-too-common sentiment, “The house always wins in Vegas.”

As with the world of gambling, the credit card world may often feel as though the house — or the banks, in this metaphor — always wins. Between annual fees, maintenance fees, and interest fees, it can seem difficult to come out ahead. That is, unless you take advantage of the top credit card rewards program promotions.

A possible win-win prospect, credit card promotions can be good for both consumers and issuers. Not only do consumers get to save a little on their bottom line as they buy, but issuers get to charge each merchant for the pleasure of processing the purchases.

Signup Bonus | Cash Back | Points | Miles

Best “Signup Bonus” Promotions

One of the most potentially profitable promotions put out by credit card issuers is the signup bonus. In addition to the slower buildup of rewards over time you can earn with a cash back or travel card, credit card signup bonuses offer the ability to earn a lucrative lump-sum reward for using a particular card.

Of course, there is a bit of a catch: you need to meet the minimum spending requirement to earn the signup bonus. The minimum spending requirement typically ranges from $500 to $5,000, and will generally be proportional to the size of the bonus, with larger bonuses requiring more significant spending amounts.

Additionally, most signup bonuses will include a time limit during which the spending requirement must be met. On average, new cardholders will have 90 days from when they open their account to meet the spending requirement to remain eligible for the signup bonus.

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99% - 23.99% Variable
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Excellent Credit
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 13.99%-25.99% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
13.99%-25.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

Regardless of how tempting the bonus, never spend more than you can repay in a timely manner merely to obtain a signup bonus. That lump-sum reward may seem like a sweet deal at the start, but it can quickly turn into an expensive mistake if you are stuck paying interest fees on a balance you ran up to meet the spending requirement.

Chart of Potential Interest Over Time

A $200 spending bonus can disappear in just seven months of paying interest on a $2,000 balance.

For example, consider a $200 signup bonus with a $2,000 minimum spending requirement. If your interest rate is around the national average, say 16.5%, you can expect to pay about $330 a year in interest. As the graph shows, carrying that $2,000 for about seven months will eat away your entire signup bonus.

Best “Cash Back” Promotions

Although lump-sum signup bonuses can be a great incentive to pick one card over another, it’s often the everyday rewards that will dictate your go-to credit card. And for those who want a no-nonsense rewards program, cash back rewards may be the way to go.

Discover it® - Cashback Match™ Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Our Take: "One of our favorite cards, with long 0% intro APRs, low ongoing APRs, awesome cash back rewards, and lots more.
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate quarterly, up to $1,500 per quarter when you sign up for the quarterly bonus
  • 1% cash back on all your other purchases
  • With Cashback Match you could turn $200 into $400, as the card matches the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year (only for new cardmembers)
  • No limit to the amount of cash back that can be matched"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 13.99%-25.99% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
13.99%-25.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

The average cash back program works on a simple flat-rate system, in which you can receive a percentage of your purchases back from the issuer, generally as statement credits in predetermined increments. The best flat-rate programs will offer a solid rate and unlimited cash back on every purchase.

Graph of Potential Cash Back Rewards

A 1.5% cash back percentage can add up over time, but it will never outpace any interest fees.

Some cash back rewards programs are based on common spending categories, such as groceries and gas, offering larger cash back amounts for spending in those categories, but a smaller cash back amount for other types of spending. If the bulk of your purchases fall into these categories, you may actually earn more rewards with one of these programs.

Best “Points” Promotions

Another popular way to earn rewards for everyday spending is a points program. With a variety of redemption options, including cash back, gift cards, and retail goods, points are by far the most flexible of the rewards programs.

Similar to how category-based cash back programs work, cardholders earn rewards points at a specific rate depending on the location of their purchase. For instance, some cards offer one point per dollar on all purchases, but double points for purchases made in restaurants or hotels.

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99% - 23.99% Variable
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Excellent Credit
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 3X points at U.S. gas stations, 2X points at U.S. restaurants, 1X point on other purchases
  • Redeem points for travel, gift cards, cash redemption options or merchandise through Go Far® Rewards
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
  • Earn an annual relationship bonus of 10% on non-bonus rewards points if you maintain a qualifying Wells Fargo account
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 13.99%-25.99% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
13.99%-25.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR on purchases for 15 months from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer*
  • Points are redeemable for gift cards to popular retailers, restaurants and department and home stores. 2,500 ThankYou® Points can be redeemed for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com
  • Earn 2X Points on dining out and entertainment
  • Earn 1X Points on all other purchases
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No annual fee*
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent

In many cases, the value of your points will vary based on the specific program and the method of redemption. Some programs may offer more value when points are redeemed for cash, while others offer increased rewards for redeeming points for travel.

Best “Airline Miles” Promotions

Any frequent travelers who want maximum value out of their credit card rewards might consider a card offering airline miles. And don’t be fooled by its name; most miles programs will also allow cardholders to redeem their miles for a variety of travel-related expenses, including hotels.

While many airline-branded cards will restrict where, when, and with whom you can fly, the best miles programs will offer flexibility in your booking options. Many miles credit cards will also provide other travel-centric perks, such as charging no foreign transaction fees, which can come with worthwhile savings.

Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Our Take: "If you're looking for a card that gives you air miles, your search is over. This card helps you earn free flights with multiple airlines, awards very generous bonuses, and offers a low APR to boot.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar spent
  • Cover travel costs by redeeming the miles in any amount for a statement credit
  • Fly any airline, any time
  • No blackout dates
  • At the end of your first year, the card automatically matches the miles you've earned (only for new cardmembers)"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® Review

at Barclaycard'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.4/5.0
  • Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable
$89 - Waived first year
Excellent

Be prepared for any extra expenses when redeeming your miles for travel, as taxes and some airport fees, such as fuel charges, are usually not covered by your airline miles. You will also be responsible for any in-flight purchases you make while traveling.

Save While You Spend with the Right Deals & Bonuses

Whether you like cash back, flexible points, or travel-tastic airline miles, credit card rewards and signup bonuses can be excellent ways to get a little added value from your everyday spending. And by encouraging cardholders to use their cards more, the rewards programs are certainly good for issuers, making them as close to a win-win as you can get in the credit world.

Of course, while finding the right credit card promotion can be a big score, it can turn into a big problem if you don’t use it responsibly. The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to credit card rewards is that no matter how great the rewards program, you’ll never out-earn your card’s interest rate.

In addition to interest fees eating into your rewards, you should also keep in mind any applicable annual fees that may take a chunk out of your bottom line. A $50 annual fee can make that $10 in cash back you earned less of a great deal.