There’s no shortage of attractive credit card welcome bonuses at the moment.
With the boom in online shopping during the pandemic, credit card issuers have adapted their credit card rewards programs to meet new consumer lifestyle needs. Sign-up cashback offers abound, as are annual fee waivers and long 0% intro APR periods.
Deciding which welcome bonus is best for you requires a good understanding of what you want to use the bonus for. A welcome bonus is only worth it if it can immediately help you achieve a financial or lifestyle goal, such as paying off an expensive car repair or getting free flight tickets for your upcoming vacation.
In this article, we take a look at what welcome bonuses are and how you can choose the best credit card welcome bonuses available in 2021 for yourself.
Why they’re popular
Among all the credit card rewards available, welcome bonuses are the fastest way to collect cash rewards and boost your points collection.
With the right credit card, you could earn a massive welcome bonus offer of up to 100,000 points, or hundreds of dollars in cashback rewards.
Each welcome bonus is unique, so it’s important to understand what it helps you achieve before getting it. Some welcome bonuses can be redeemed for free flights or hotel stays. Others help you collect cashback which can be converted to statement credits later. The credits can be put towards an expensive purchase such as a wedding ceremony or furniture for a new home.
Welcome bonuses – what are they?
Welcome bonuses are used by credit card companies to persuade people to apply for new credit cards. Most bonuses are offered as additional points or cashback, though some include additional perks such as reduced annual fees and merchandise.
To receive a welcome bonus offer, customers must meet a certain spending threshold usually within 3 to 6 months of opening their account. This makes welcome bonuses ideal for people who’ve already decided what large purchases they want to make. If you’re unable to reach the spending threshold, the welcome bonus cannot be claimed.
Types of welcome bonuses
Welcome bonuses come in all shapes and sizes to meet different customer lifestyles.
As a credit card owner, you’ve probably come across cashback and bonus point welcome offers, which are the two most common types of welcome bonuses.
You’ll often earn these bonuses at once after meeting the spending threshold, though some credit card issuers may split large signup bonuses into tiers (with different eligibility requirements) to help make the rewards easier to collect.
Other credit cards offer welcome bonus discounts on current or future purchases. These are more common with co-branded retail credit cards that want to encourage you to make purchases at their store. The discounts are given as statement credits, immediate discounts, coupons, or discount codes.
Many rewards credit cards charge hefty annual fees to cover the welcome bonuses they offer. Sometimes the fees for the first year are waived as part of a welcome bonus.
What to keep in mind about welcome bonuses
Like all credit card offers, welcome bonuses come with conditions. Before signing up for a credit card with an enticing welcome bonus, you should be aware of any eligibility requirements and terms for redeeming the bonus.
Some credit cards will award a welcome bonus after you open your account or make your first purchase. Usually, the value of a welcome bonus offered upon account opening is small and given by smaller banks and credit unions.
Higher-value welcome bonuses valued at $1,000 or more will often require you to make at least $3,000 in purchases to be eligible. You’ll usually be given a date to use the bonus by, which in most cases is before the end of the first 12 billing cycles.
Also, some welcome bonuses, especially from co-branded retailer credit cards, will require you to make purchases at a specific merchant to earn them.
The best credit card welcome bonuses
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is widely considered by credit card experts to be the best value rewards card with an annual fee below $100.
Customers receive 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points – worth about $1,250 – after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. The points have a value of around 1 cent per point and can be redeemed for travel perks, gift cards, Amazon purchases, and Apple purchases.
For example, you could buy a $25 gift card for a specific retailer using 2,500 points or Apple merchandise worth $50 for 5,000 points.
The points need to be redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which sometimes has additional value rewards for redeemed points. As of August 2021, customers who redeem their points for travel perks receive 25% more bonus points on top of the points they already have.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
If a quick cash bonus offer is what you’re looking for, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit card could be a good match for you.
The card offers a one-time $200 cash bonus after you’ve made $500 in purchases within 3 months of opening your account.
The cashback can be applied to cover future purchases or even a part of the initial $500 you spent to get the bonus. Capital One also allows you to trade the cashback for gift cards that you can use at your favorite retailers. To redeem your cashback, you simply have to sign in to your Capital One online account or use their mobile banking app.
This credit comes with no annual fee, which means you’ll get the full value of your $200 cash bonus. You’ll also receive the benefit of a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months and 1.5% cashback on every purchase, every day.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Another credit card that offers a good welcome cash bonus is the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.
You’re eligible to earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months after account opening. There’s also an opportunity to earn up to $200 back on Amazon.com purchases made on the card within the same time period.
The card does come with a $95 annual fee, but as part of its welcome package, American Express waives it for the first year for all new account holders. A 0% intro APR is also offered on all purchases for the first 12 months.
Ink Business Cash Credit Card
The Ink Business Cash credit card has one of the most generous cashback reward offers on the market.
Designed with small business owners in mind, it offers 5% cashback on office supplies, phone, cable, and internet plus a generous $750 in bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months.
The card is ideal for business owners who are looking to purchase equipment for a new office. The bonus cash back can be quickly redeemed as statement credits for new purchases. And with a $0 annual fee, you can take advantage of all the business-related benefits this card has to offer without having to worry about extra charges.
Citi Premier Card
For those who like to travel, the Citi Premier credit card’s welcome bonus could earn you free flights for your next vacation.
It’s currently offering a sign-up bonus of 80,000 ThankYou rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. These points have a value of about $1,360 that can be transferred to more than 15 airline partners.
With these points, you could redeem several round-trip domestic United Flights or a flight to Europe with Lufthansa. ThankYou points can also be used with airline partner programs such as Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer and Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club.
There is a caveat to earning these points though. If you’ve opened or closed a Citi Rewards+, Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi Premier, or Citi Prestige in the 24 months before getting your new Citi Premier card, you won’t be eligible for earning the welcome bonus.
Alternative credit card options
Environmentally-friendly welcome bonuses
While welcome bonuses can be a great way for you to benefit from your credit card use, they can sometimes cause more harm than good.
Most credit cards release their welcome bonuses only after you’ve reached the spending threshold and paid the annual fee. The combined cost of these two items could be upwards of $3,000, which is not a small amount. If you are unable to pay your bill in full each month, the balance could accrue interest, which could reduce or entirely cancel out the welcome bonus amount you receive.
Additionally, many credit cards with enticing welcome bonus offers are issued by banks that invest heavily in fossil fuels. Chase, Citi, and Capital One are among dozens of banks that make millions of investments per year in oil and gas exploration companies. Collecting welcome bonuses from these banks could make you complicit in the environmental destruction of our planet.
Aspiration’s environmentally-friendly bonus is the best
The Aspiration Zero’s carbon offsetting bonus can help you make the most of your credit card without damaging the environment.
Issued by the sustainable neobank Aspiration, the Aspiration Zero carbon credit card offsets the carbon emissions of your purchases.
For every purchase you make, this credit card plants a carbon offset tree on your behalf. It tracks the amount of carbon emissions you help eliminate and rewards you with a 1% cashback on all purchases when you’ve planted 60 or more trees with your spending in a month.
To apply for the Aspiration Zero, visit our website and get on the waitlist today.