With a decrease in approvals and sign-ups for new credit cards in 2020, we are finally seeing a return to normal and seeing an increase in perks from credit card issuers in 2021.
According to WalletHub.com, the average cash back credit card’s initial rewards bonus increased by 3.54% in quarter one of 2021, compared to reward programs last year. The average initial bonus awarded in terms of miles/points increased by almost 8% in quarter one of 2021 relative to the previous quarter, and by more than 14% year-over-year.
Right now, credit card issuers will literally pay you to sign up for their cards. Here are some of the best deals out there in terms of cash back, one-time bonuses, rewards points, travel miles and universal acceptance of the card at most retailers.
Chase Freedom Flex®. This card has a $0 annual fee, 0% APR and boasts a solid rewards program. You can earn $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The downside of this card is that if you don’t have excellent credit, you might get stuck with a high APR. Other attractive features include that you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, travel, restaurants, and wholesale clubs. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. With this card, you can earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $1,000 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That means this is the card for you IF you spend big each month. The purchases must be “qualified transactions” and cash advances don’t count. Chase Sapphire Preferred® also lets you earn up to $50 in statement credit toward grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening. The card carries a $95 annual fee and you need good to excellent credit to be qualified. The variable APR offered is about average for a rewards card.
Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card. Discover is offering 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. Discover will also automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! (restrictions apply) There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. The Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card has a 0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases. Then 11.99% to 22.99% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies.
American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card. This American Express is one of the best cash back cards but it has a hefty $95 annual fee beginning in the 2nd year. You will need a good to excellent credit score to obtain the card and it is best for those who spend often on groceries, travel purchases, gas and streaming services. If you spend $3,000 or more within 6 months of opening the account it triggers a $150 statement credit. Plus, new cardholders earn 20% back on purchases from Amazon.com during the first 6 months (up to $200 back). Great incentive with the holidays coming!
Keep in mind that most of these offers are for first-time cardholders and new accounts, and always read the terms & conditions and fine print.
To make the most of your rewards card – put all your everyday expenses on the card, including monthly bills to score points quickly and then pay off the card, just make sure you can meet the minimum spending required to earn the sign-up bonus.
Learn your options, enjoy all of your perks and spend wisely!