True or False: Current Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses Are Boring

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Over the weekend I was reading some threads on Milepoint and came across one about the different credit card sign-up bonuses that are currently available.  The post asserted that 50,000 point sign-up bonuses have gotten “boring” and that made the author of that thread consider sitting on the sidelines unless a monster offer comes along. That post made me wonder if other people are thinking the same thing.

The first rewards credit card I remember getting primarily for the sign-up bonus was a Continental Chase card many years ago.  The sign-up bonus at the time was something like 25,000 miles, and I was so excited that I was able to get a free flight just by getting a credit card.  I was in my early or mid-20’s and living on a very modest budget, so that was a huge deal for me to get 25,000 miles so easily!  I still remember the rush I got when those miles posted to my account.  Like a true miles junkie, of course it just made me want more.  And more.

Fortunately the world of credit card sign-up bonuses has grown since I got that card several years ago, and there are offers that are at least twice as good as that 25,000 mile that I was so excited about a few years ago.  However, the downside of the increase in sign-up bonuses is it seems that some people have become blase about sign-up bonuses that are even in the 50,000 point range.  I would argue that is a pretty dangerous opinion to have if you want to maximize earning miles and points.   Sure, 75,000 and 100,000 mile bonuses are undeniably exciting when they are available, but they are also pretty rare, especially these days.  In 2012 I am only aware of two publicly available 100,000 mile sign-up offers that came and went.  One was for the Chase British Airways card, and the other was for the Capital One Venture card (but this one required you to have earned that many points via another card to qualify).  While those were both good offers, I would not want to miss out on all of the other good offers out there waiting for only those huge limited time offers.

In fact, I think that we are currently seeing some credit card bonuses on the decline, so overlooking current bonuses that are available near the 50,000 point level because they don’t get your heart racing may not be a wise move, as there is no guarantee that the sign-up bonuses will continue at that level through 2013 (though I certainly hope they do).  For example, we saw the Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus at the 50,000 point level for about a year, but then it dropped to 40,000 points in the spring of 2012 and hasn’t increased since. 40,000 Ultimate Reward points is still a very good offer, but obviously 50,000 Ultimate Reward points are better than 40,000 Ultimate Reward points.

I think we are incredibly lucky to have (almost) free travel available as easily as it is.  Heck, just go talk to some outside the US who can’t get these offers and they will tell you how lucky we are!  Here are some of the current available offers that I consider exciting given how valuable they are.  I know they get my “travel wheels” turning when I think about how and where I would want to use the points.  Each of these offers is easily worth $50o – $1,000 depending on how you use the points or free nights.

  • Ink Bold Business Card or Ink Plus Business Card: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in 3 months
  • Citi American Airlines double browser trick: Up to 100,000 miles for the two cards, depending on offers selected
  • Hyatt Credit Card two free nights in any Hyatt world-wide after spending $1,000 in three months (some even get an offer for two free nights + $100 statement credit when making a booking on
  • Up to 80,000 Priority Club points awarded after first purchase
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in three months
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card: Two free weekend nights in a Hilton after spending $2,500 within the first four months
  • AirTran Airways A+ Rewards Credit Card: Two free roundtrip AirTran flights after spending $2,000 in the first three months (expired)

I could go on and on listing offers that currently grab my interest, but that should be a sufficient number of examples of just how lucrative the offers still are – even without any 100,000 point monster offers.  Even just getting a few cards a year will net you thousands of dollars in almost free travel a year.  That will never be boring in my book.  I will be pulling the trigger on my own applications this week, and I get very excited just thinking about it.

So what do you think – do you agree with the poster on Milepoint that the current offers are “boring”, or are they still good enough to get you excited?


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  1. I don’t understand that view–getting the points from 50k card churning is usually easier than getting them from spend churning (Bluebird, etc).

  2. Personally, I’m tired of all the carping. On another blog yesterday someone posted about how they don’t want to bother with the Citi Hilton Reserve card, because the two free nights certificates, valid at most any Hilton worldwide, aren’t as “flexible” as non-expiring points. So what? Wait to apply until you have a use for those nights within the next year, then “earn them and burn them”, as Lucky says.

    What’s all the complaining about? They are giving us virtually free travel that most of us couldn’t afford otherwise. 40k, 80K, 100k, I’m grateful for whatever I can get. And if you can manage the minimum spend for 3 or 4 churns a year, you can acquire an amazing number of points/miles. Gratitude seems the proper attitude here….

  3. My main concern is not being able to churn. If I sign up for a standard offer now, usually I can’t apply for that same card again for 18-24 mos. Case in point is the Delta Amex, signed up for 35k last year and so missed out on the 70k bonus this year. That’s why I only like to apply for a card when the bonus is equal to its historical high, my last card was the BA 100k.

  4. Jon, feel free to skip credit card posts if they aren’t helpful for you. They are the easiest way for most families to earn points.
    Nick, definitely. I love my category bonuses, but getting the large bump initially is the easiest part!
    VG, they aren’t dead – they are just not that common for public offers. I personally haven’t been targeted for 100K in almost two years, but others have more luck!
    Robert, totally. That is why I haven’t applied for the Hyatt card yet. I want those two free nights, but I am timing it so that I can get the most value for the nights to coincide with a trip to Paris. 😉

  5. DBest, there is that risk – especially for cards that have a tendency to have a variety of offers out there. I also like to apply when there are limited time offers that are as high as they have been.

  6. Hi there. Thank u for all your great posts.important question; should i add my amex business starwood card points to my already existing spg # from my personal Starwood account or should I start a new spg point account?

  7. Thanks for a good post. I thought I was the only one with rules I follow on churns. All must be 50,000+ and no spend over $3,000. If it doesn’t meet this I pass on the card. Oh well still lots to get. This year the only exception was I couldn’y pass on Barclay’s nfl card for 40,000 with $1,000 spend and no fee card. No fee cards are the only exceptions I make. lol

  8. Your Chase Hyatt referral link is not the best available offer. The version with the $100 statement credit comes up when you’re booking a room on I saw it yesterday.

  9. Why do all blogs make so little mention of the 55,000 points earned from the United card? It’s the best deal when weighing minimum spend and bonus.

  10. Helene, use your existing number. 😉
    TBB, ha ha. That one isn’t really on my radar.
    Jim, we got that one, too!
    Tim, I tried to get it to come up when writing this post yesterday and I couldn’t despite multiple attempts. Glad to know it is still out there for some – I’ll add a * to that one. Thanks!
    Jeff, it is an awesome offer, but it is not publicly available. I would be writing about it a bunch if it was!

  11. Part of my reason for requiring a high bonus payout is that it is much harder to meet minimum spend requirements on cards now that the required spends tend to be higher and not everyone has access to Walgreen’s and CVS that sell the Vanilla Reload cards to manufacture spend. If the mint deal came back, or some other way to cost free manufacture 5k to 10k of spend then I would go for more cards. But not being able to meet minimum spend is what is making me very selective in what I apply for. I need to make sure I have a plan for a no cost or low cost way to meet the spend to get the bonus.

  12. You point out the most objectionable aspect of large credit card bonuses for global loyalty programs:

    “I think we are incredibly lucky to have (almost) free travel available as easily as it is. Heck, just go talk to some outside the US who can’t get these offers and they will tell you how lucky we are!”

    To my thinking this is not being lucky to have access to all these credit card “free travel” offers.

    Banks flooding the loyalty program books with points and miles creates inflationary pressure on award costs. The price for a flight or hotel room award in miles or points goes up at an increasingly rapid pace due to all the outstanding points and miles generated from credit cards.

    The winners are the subset of financially well-off Americans who credit card churn and pick up easy “free travel”.

    The losers are the rest of the world’s travelers who find less value in loyalty programs when they are paying the inflated award flight and hotel stay costs due to American travelers loaded with points and miles and credit card conferred complimentary elite status.

    The ultimate winners are the American-based banks who know that 25% of the credit card holders will end up paying revolving balance interest on those cards.

    Banksters keep pumping out the bonus offers to feed the addiction of U.S. savvy travelers.

    Would you view this scheme differently if it were exclusive by race rather than nationality, i.e. blacks were not able to access the credit card sign-up bonuses?

    I find it objectionable that global loyalty programs favor the U.S. consumer over other nationalities through U.S. bank credit card schemes.

  13. @mommypoints — the 55K United offer IS publicly available. Walk into your local Chase branch to get it. It was highly available for the past 8 months.

  14. I think people may have to adapt to the new reality, that is the banks aren’t going to be throwing around 100k offers like they were last year. Truthfully I am no longer doing credit card sign ups. We could easily meet the spend, but I prefer to focus our spending on the cards we have so we can achieve meaningful balances in a few accounts rather than small bits across a number of programs. The other benefit is if a mega deal does arise we can jump onto it without fear of refusal due to too many applications.

  15. Jack, def have to keep min spends in mind. I don’t play any creative games with spending, so i hear ya there.
    Ric, I hear where you are coming from, but the reality is that these opportunities are available to those in the US. I think some countries have much better access to other things than we do, but we happen to have access to almost free travel. Sure you have to manage your credit and finances accordingly to make it “free”, but everything has its catch. The world isn’t fair across the board. Do what you can to make it fair in the areas that really matter, and in the meantime enjoy the almost free travel that is available to you. And no, I don’t think this is comparable in any way to racial discrimination.
    @AK, good to know. I haven’t ever been into a Chase bank, but maybe I should. 😉
    @Vicky, focusing on a few programs can be a really good strategy!
    @Ronnie, 😉

  16. I’m not bored. I’m getting good value from credit cards even at “only” 50K of points. Life costs money, and it’s not hard to shuffle spending to make the minimum spend.

    As for the United 55K offer (or 50K if you are me and don’t have someone to add to the card) I wonder how strict Chase is with the “offer applies to people who’ve never had an explorer card before”? I know that I applied for a Continental card & explorer card on the same week and got both. The explorer I replaced with a United Club card as I got that for a year free. I’m not likely to pay for it when it comes due, though, and will probably go back to an Explorer card…

  17. @Helen: I inadvertantly signed up for a second Starwood Account: first was with the CC, second their savings program. Starwood canceled my second account and voided my on line sign up for the first one. I’ve been trying to get my one account signed up on line every since, with a variety of problems. I don’t know if this happens with everyone, but my advice, don’t open a second account.:-p

  18. For the $100 statement credit offer, search for the Grand Hyatt Kauai, mid July, choose anything Daily Rate. Checked two other random US properties too (Carmel/Monterey), and it worked. What were you searching?

    Contrary to your *, you definitely do not need to make a booking to get the offer, and it’s not targeted to individuals, just your search parameters. I’ve tried this with different IPs/devices/browsers, logged-in/incognito.

  19. @AK: By “not publicly available”, I think she meant that her pocketbook gets no kickback for pumping that card, so she will instead pump the CC’s that give her an affiliate link kickback, like the majority of the CCs that she listed. Despite her NYU degree in social work, it’s all about the $$$$$$. 😉 She’s gotta pay those loans back somehow.

  20. GG, it’s no secret you despise bloggers, however those offers represent the best offers out there whether they are mine or not. Several of them are not affiliate links, and if there was a way to link to a 55k United offer that everyone could apply for I can guarantee it would have been included.

  21. Mommy, I like the way you stand up to the Grinchs in this world you write about.
    I have to admit to getting a bit bored but I’ve been gathering and not using enough. Finding it difficult to get rooms with the Hilton, Marriott, Carlson Hyatt and Priority (IHG)at a reasonable number of point. esp. in the Miami area where I’m going 12/2 and spending $350 for 3 nights in a flea bag hotel before flying to Lima. I’ll have to try harder. For the future I subscribe to Jim M’s view of low spend and I’m gonna get the nfl card soon. Thanks Mommy

  22. Regarding the Hyatt card, while the terms state that you get “two free nights in any Hyatt world-wide”, I learned the hward way that these “free nights” are subject to tight availability/blackouts and you may not be able to use them when/where you want. I went to London recently thinking that if London Hyatt Regency had free rooms showing online, then I could book them as part of my 2 night free benefit. Well, this was not the case and Hyatt gave me some excuse about fine print and them subject to availability according to the hotel’s availability standards – or something to that effect. Basically, a Hyatt hotel can block them from use with the 2 free night program – I am sure because they make more money selling the rooms.

    Just think people should be aware.

    • Shari, if there is standard rooms availability on points then you should be able to use the certificates. That is reliant on standard room availability though. I would get ahold of the Hyatt Rep on Flyertalk on Milepoint if you are having trouble.

  23. I am a big fan of Mommypoints. The posts you list are generally very relevant to me. I am amazed at the amount of posting you (and many bloggers) put out there. There must be a lot of time going into this. I don’t expect you to do this for free and click on your affiliate links if I am getting a card. To the people crying about you or other bloggers listing affiliate links I say, Really that’s what you have to complain about? Things must be really easy for you if you have time to complain about a link you don’t want to click. I would refer those complainers to the SNL skit about people complaining about the Iphone 5

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