12 Best Credit Card Promotions (2018): Offers, Deals & Bonuses

12 Best Credit Card Promotions (2018): Offers, Deals & Bonuses

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Posted: August 15, 2018
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.

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • 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
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% 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®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 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
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0 Intro for 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 14.74%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
14.74%-26.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

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.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • 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
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% 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 14.74%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
14.74%-26.74% (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®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 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
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0 Intro for 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
  • New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
14.24%-26.74% (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
15.24% - 25.24% (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.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/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.