The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Friday, September 25, 2020

12 Best Credit Card Promotions (2020): Offers, Deals & Bonuses

Credit Card Promotions

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: September 16, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

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. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite credit card promotions out there today, including ones with appealing sign-up bonuses, cash back offers, points, and miles.

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.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

3. Discover it® Cash Back

This card is currently not available.

Cash Back Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

An important thing to note is that only net new purchases will typically count toward the signup bonus spending requirement. Other transaction types, such as balance transfers and cash advances, won’t qualify as eligible spending.

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.

4. Discover it® Cash Back

This card is currently not available.

Cash Back Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

6. Discover it® Cash Back

This card is currently not available.

Cash Back Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

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 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

8. Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card is currently not available.

Points & Gifts Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • The Citi Rewards+℠ Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee — either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
$0
Good/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.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—from vacation rentals to car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

11. Discover it® Miles

This card is currently not available.

Air Miles Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

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.

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