About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

Surprise Costs Of Building A Brand New Home

Building a home is an exciting adventure.

Like buying a resale home, it is a major purchase that requires serious thought and analysis prior to pulling the trigger.

Some people might be surprised by some of the hidden costs of purchasing or building a brand new home.

My wife and I recently went through the home building process ourselves, so we thought we’d share what we learned both through our research and experience.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Starting At Price Isn’t What You’ll Pay

The first thing we learned when we considered building a new home is that the starting price you see on brochures is not what you’ll pay. You’d think there would be an option to get a house for exactly the starting price, but it’s pretty difficult to come across.

For instance, our builder only allowed a small subset of floor plans to be built on the non-premium lots. Of course, our floor plan wasn’t included.

There were two additional lots you could build any floor plan on, but they were in the worst location possible. In the end, we ended up paying five figures for a lot with a better location. It was a lot of money, but it was totally worth it.

Then comes the customization of your home. The base price comes with base grade everything. That includes carpet in almost the entire home and many finishes you wouldn’t want in your home.

Our builder had only one base level counter top choice, a dark green/brown granite that we hated. Instead, we had to pay a couple thousand dollars to upgrade our counters to something we could live with for as long as we live in our home.

Just to give you an idea, here are just some of the things we paid to upgrade. Some were reasonably priced while others were expensive. However, redoing them after the fact would have been even more expensive.

  • Cabinets,
  • Countertops,
  • Flooring, including laying tile in a pattern,
  • Tray ceilings,
  • Expanded shower,
  • Attic storage,
  • Adding a sliding glass door,
  • Appliances (and the fridge wasn’t included at all),
  • Electrical outlets, switches and extra lights,
  • Plumbing a sink in our laundry room and
  • Door hardware

Closing Costs Aren’t Included

Like buying a resale home, you’ll have to pay closing costs. Sadly, the builder wasn’t willing to pay for all of our closing costs like some sellers do.

So, we had to pay thousands of dollars in closing costs in addition to purchasing our home. Thankfully, we were able to negotiate a few discounted closing costs using our builder’s contractors, such as the survey.

Costs Keep Piling Up After Closing

If you think you’re done spending money after you close on your brand new home, you’re sorely mistaken.

Remember how I said we only paid for upgrades that were reasonably priced or difficult to change after we moved in? That means we saved some upgrades to do ourselves after we moved in. They weren’t always cheap.

In our case, I went ahead and replaced all of our sink faucets to a style we liked. I also changed out the lights in all of the bedrooms to ceiling fans, since we do live in Florida.

Our builder only used bright white CFL bulbs in homes, so we switched all of our lighting out to soft white LED lights as well.

To make things even more expensive, there are some things your new home won’t come with. For us, our home didn’t come with a refrigerator which is one of the more expensive appliances.

Additionally, almost no new home comes with blinds or window coverings. Thankfully, we don’t have a house right behind us so we only had to add window coverings to a few rooms before we moved in.

Depending on where you live, some homes don’t even come with landscaping or grass. In our case, our home was landscaped, but we’ll have to add both a fence and gutters to our home in the coming months.

After you close, you’re going to have to get the utilities transferred to your name. Our builder gave us five days to do so.

You’ll likely have to pay each utility an activation fee and some will require deposits or charge installation fees. We had to turn on our water, sprinkler water, electricity, natural gas, cable and internet.

These costs will easily add thousands of dollars to the cost of moving into a brand new home.

Making Your Home Your Own

After we moved in and unpacked most of our belongings, we realized some of our stuff wouldn’t look right in our new home. Thankfully, all of our furniture fits where we wanted it to go.

That said, we still have many decorations and other items that will need to be changed out.

Additionally, we moved into a bigger home. That means we currently have some rooms that aren’t fully furnished how we’d like them. Those furnishings will cost us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

We’re not in a rush, though, so we have time to find good deals as well as find pieces we really want.

As you can tell, building or buying a brand new home comes with some extra costs that may not come with a resale home. It usually comes with all of the same costs as a resale home, too.

What is important to realize is it takes a significant amount of research to figure out how much your new home will cost you in total once everything is said and done.

Make sure you spend that time before you sign the contract to build your new home to make sure you can really afford the journey you’re about to embark on.

We love living in our newly built home. I’m not the type of person that worries if someone lived in a home before I did or not.

What I do love is the fact that all of the major pieces of our home, such as the floor plan, flooring, wall colors and more permanent aspects are all how we want them.

I am willing to do the minor projects I mentioned above, but there are no major home renovations in our future. To me, that’s worth the price of building a brand new home.

Are you considering building a new home? What costs surprised you? Have you built a new home in the past? Share your experiences below so others can avoid forgetting about any major costs I may have missed.

 

Everything About The Debt Snowball Method Of Paying Off Debt

Are you ready to pay off your debt but have no clue where to start? 

Read the first post in my series about paying off your debt, then read through this series until you get to this post, our seventh in the series.

We’re finally ready to discuss one of the potential methods to pay off your debt.

Now that you’ve changed your money mindset and your money habits, you just need to pick the method or combination of methods that will work best for you.

Let’s get started with one of the most popular debt pay off methods, the debt snowball.

What Is The Debt Snowball?

The debt snowball is a term that was popularized by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey. It’s really simple to follow and that’s why so many people have had success with it.

Essentially, you take your list of debts that you owe (you made this list in our very first post in the series) and order it from the debt with the smallest balance owed to largest balance owed. As you always should, you’ll make the minimum payments on every debt you owe.

The key is that any extra money you have left will all be paid toward your debt with the smallest amount owed. This will result in getting rid of some of your debts quickly and give you motivation to continue your debt pay off journey.

Once you pay off your first and smallest debt, you’ll take all of your extra money and the original minimum payment from that loan and use that money toward your debt with the next smallest balance.

Continue rolling these amounts over as you eliminate loans and the amount of the payments you’ll be making will increase. Eventually all of your consumer debt is gone. Then, if you want, you can attack your mortgage, if you have one.

If you haven’t picked up on the metaphor yet, as you pay off each debt the amount of money you’ll apply to the next loan you’re paying off will increase, much like a snowball rolling down a hill.

Pretty cool, huh? While this method is psychologically motivating because you’ll be paying off individual debts quickly in the beginning, it isn’t the mathematically optimal way to pay off your debts.

The mathematically optimal way is called the debt avalanche, which we’ll discuss next week. For now, let’s just focus a bit more on the debt snow ball and the pros and cons of this method.

Debt Snowball Pros

  • This method is really easy to follow. It doesn’t involve making any decisions other than the decision to follow the debt snowball methodology.
  • You’ll pay off your first debt pretty quickly. That will give you motivation to pay off the next debt faster.
  • As you pay off each debt quickly in the beginning, you’ll quickly begin to see the size of the payment on your smallest debt (your debt snowball) grow which is very encouraging.

Debt Snowball Cons

  • The debt snowball is not the mathematically optimal way to pay off your debt. You could end up paying off a 0% car loan before you paid off a 25% credit card loan if the car loan had a smaller balance.
  • The debt snowball can over simplify your debt situation. In reality, there are other factors to take into account when deciding which debt you should pay off first.

As you can see, the debt snowball method has some great benefits but it has its flaws as well. If you’re majorly overwhelmed and just want to see some solid progress, this method might be best for you.

However, if you’re a more logical person who doesn’t need to see a psychological payoff early on in the process, you might want to consider another debt pay off method.

Next week, in our next post in the series, we’ll discuss the debt avalanche. The debt avalanche is an alternative to the debt snowball debt pay off method that makes more sense for logical minded people to follow.

Have you ever used the debt snowball method to pay off debt? Did it work for you, or did you prefer another method? Do you have any questions about this method that I could answer for you?

Is Buying A New Honda Odyssey Cheaper Than Buying Used?

The first car I ever bought myself was a brand new car.

At the time, the car industry was having a rough time and offering substantial discounts on new cars.

Recent model used cars were difficult to find. Even when you did find them, they were barely cheaper than a new car.

I figured this was a fluke and bought a brand new car for what I thought would be the only time in my life.

I was wrong.

Why We’re Shopping For A New Car

My wife’s car is 10 years old and still has plenty of life left in it, but we recently added a new family member which has made us rethink our current vehicles. While both of our cars work great for quick trips around town, we no longer have a great car for road trips.

We could all fit, but it’d be a tight squeeze with all of the baby gear we have to take with us on vacations. If we wanted to bring the dog, we wouldn’t have enough room in our car.

Ultimately, we decided it’s probably time to purchase a minivan. After all, cars are for utility, not for looking cool.

Used Honda Odysseys Are More Expensive Than New Honda Odysseys

Fast forward to today and I’ve come across a very similar issue where new cars are cheaper. While we haven’t pulled the trigger on a car yet, we’re strongly considering the Honda Odyssey.

Based on the preliminary research we’ve done, buying a used Honda Odyssey would actually be more expensive in the long run than buying a brand new Honda Odyssey. Here’s how I calculated the numbers that led me to my conclusion.

How To See If A New Or Used Car Is Cheaper

Assuming you’re calculating the costs of buying a new vs used car of the same exact make and model car, here is an easy way to calculate which is cheaper.

First, find the total cost of buying the new car and the total cost of buying the used car.

Make sure to include all fees, taxes, charges and interest if you’re financing. Next, determine the total expected life of the car for your situation in both years and mileage. Now that you have this information, you can run the numbers.

To calculate the total cost of the new car, take the total new car price and subtract the expected value at the end of the vehicle’s life. In our example, the out the door cost of a 2016 Honda Odyssey EX-L was roughly $35,000.

To get the cost of the vehicle at the end of its life, go to KBB.com and pick your car but subtract the number of years you expect to own it.

For instance, we expect to own a new van for 9 years and 150,000 miles, so we quoted a 2006 Honda Odyssey EX-L with 150,000 miles which sells for $4,826 as a private seller. Then take the new price and subtract the end of life sale price to get the total cost.

The total cost of the new vehicle itself would be $30,174 in this case.

For the used vehicle, I found a 2014 Honda Odyssey EX-L for sale for roughly $29,500 out the door with 35,508 miles. The expected value at the end of life was calculated at $3,814. The total cost of the used vehicle itself would be $25,686 in this case.

Total Dollar Cost Isn’t The Number You Should Use

Clearly, in total cost, the used car is cheaper. However, when you consider the true determining factor, cost per mile, things may be different.

In this instance, we’d get 150,000 miles of life out of the new car for a total cost of 20.116 cents per mile. We’d only get 114,492 miles of life out of the used car for a total cost per mile of 22.434 cents per mile. In this case, the used car is more expensive.

Yes, there are other costs to consider such as fuel mileage, maintenance costs, insurance costs, etc. The list could go on for quite a while. However, in the big scheme of things it seems like buying a new car still might be cheaper in the long term over buying a used car.

Did you think a new car could be cheaper than a used car? Have you ever run the numbers and come to a similar conclusion?

 

A Small Emergency Fund Is Essential To Debt Pay Off Success

Are you ready to pay off your debt but have no clue where to start? 

Read the first post in my series about paying off your debt, then read through this series until you get to this post, our sixth in the series.

I bet you’re excited about the money you’ve been saving by paying attention to the little things.

Now you want to know what you’re supposed to do with it.

Well, today’s your lucky day, because what you need to do with the money you’re saving is to set up a small emergency fund BEFORE you start paying off your debt.

It might seem counter-intuitive to put money in a bank account that earns less than 1% interest when you’re paying even more interest on your debt. However, it makes perfect sense based on the mindset you’ve been adopting throughout this series.

The goal is to completely change your life and pay off your debt for good. Having a small emergency fund gives you a much better chance of making that a reality.

Why You Need A Small Emergency Fund

Our goal is to completely destroy any consumer debt you have while never incurring any additional consumer debt. With that in mind, does it make sense to have no funds available for unexpected emergencies?

If an emergency pops up that you have to pay for immediately and you’ve spent every penny you have paying off your debt, how would you pay for that emergency?

You’d have to incur more debt to pay for your emergency. That’s exactly what we want to never happen again.

You might want to argue that it doesn’t matter if you incur just a little bit more debt for the emergency because in the end, you’ll still pay less in interest by not having an emergency fund.

That may be true for the most dedicated debt destroyers, but for the majority of people you’d probably be wrong. Why? Because paying for your emergency with more debt breaks all of the good habits you’ve practiced since swearing off consumer debt for good.

Once you break out the credit card just one time to pay for your emergency, you remember how it feels to swipe the card and not have to immediately pay for the purchase you just made.

This is dangerous territory for anyone who has gotten into serious debt. You don’t want to take any chance of relapsing into your old consumer debt incurring ways.

The small emergency fund will allow you to pay for most emergencies with cash. This will keep you from breaking out the credit cards and it will prevent you from taking the chance of relapsing into debt incurring bad habits.

What happens when you use some of the emergency money? Simply pause your extra debt payments and rebuild the emergency fund to your desired amount. Which brings up a great question. How big should your small emergency fund be?

How Much Is A Small Emergency Fund?

The amount of your emergency fund should be specific to your personal situation. Some people with very few expenses could probably get by with an emergency fund as small as $500.

If you have a more average budget, I’d probably go for about $1,000 to $1,500 on the high end. Of course, if you’re seriously worried about debt relapse, the absolute most I’d recommend is one month’s worth of expenses.

The key when deciding on the amount of your emergency fund lies in how expensive some of unexpected items would be for you.

If you got into a car accident, what is your auto insurance deductible? If you had a medical emergency, what is your health insurance deductible? If you have a car that’s slowly biting the dust, how much do you think it’d cost to get your car running again?

Try to think of the possible emergencies that would prevent you from your goal of never going into more consumer debt again. Then, choose an appropriate sized emergency fund.

Just remember, only choose a number big enough to get by. You don’t want a ton of money sitting in cash only earning 1% or less when you have credit card debt interest racking up at 20% or more.

You don’t need to have an emergency fund large enough to cover big emergencies like job loss yet, because if something that large happened you’d have much bigger problems than trying to pay off your debt as fast as possible.

Once you’ve paid off your consumer debt you can work on building your emergency fund to a larger level to cover these types of emergencies.

Don’t Use Your Emergency Fund For Fake Emergencies

One last note about the small emergency fund you’ll be building. Don’t use it for fake emergencies. Doing so is just as bad as incurring more consumer debt. Finding a great deal on a vacation or an item you’ve been wanting forever is not an emergency.

An emergency is only something that threatens your life, your health, or your wealth. A broken down car that can’t get you to your job threatens your wealth. A car with a broken air conditioning system doesn’t.

Know the difference and don’t use your emergency fund on fake emergencies.

The next step in your debt pay off journey is to learn about the different debt pay off methods. We’ll start with the debt snowball method next week.

Are you already on your way to completing your E-fund? How much will you keep in it? Have you ever had to use your emergency money? I want to know all about you and your adventures on building your cash stash. Leave a comment down below!

Best Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses – February 2017

best credit card bonuses this monthSign up bonuses are one of my favorite ways to earn credit card rewards.

There are currently some great credit card sign up bonus offers, of over $1,000 or more, and I have used many of them myself.

Basically you sign up for a credit card with a bonus and meet the various requirements within a time limit to get the bonus.

Sign up bonuses are normally awarded in some form of credit card reward points which you can use for either a statement credit, travel, gift cards or other reward based on each program.

Each program values points differently so it is important to know your options before you cash out your sign up bonus.

This can greatly alter the value of the credit card sign up bonus reward points so make sure you know what you’ll use your points for before you sign up for a particular sign up bonus credit card to get the best deal.

Travel Credit Cards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardMy wife and I recently used two of these credit cards to completely pay for a 7 day Carnival Cruise! Essentially, you’ll earn 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

You can then use the 40,000 bonus miles plus 6,000 earned miles on purchases to redeem your miles against $460 of travel purchases charged on your Venture credit card.

You’ll earn two miles for every dollar in purchases you make no matter what category you make your purchases in, which essentially is 2% cash back when you redeem your miles for travel purchases. Your miles will never expire and there is no limit to how many reward miles you can earn with the card.

Just to clarify, Capital One considers the following as travel purchases: airlines, hotels, railroad tickets, cruise lines, taxi cabs, car rentals, limo services, bus lines, travel agents and time shares.

As an added benefit, you won’t have to pay foreign transaction fees and Capital One will provide you with your credit score monthly.

There is no annual fee for the first year, but you’ll pay a $59 annual fee for each year after the first.

Apply for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card today.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

barclay arrival plusYou can earn 50,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of having an account. When you redeem your miles for travel you’ll earn a bonus of 5% of the miles you redeemed.

This card offers an awesome 2 miles per dollar on all purchases you make, which will equate to 2.1% value if you redeem your rewards for travel after the 5% miles redemption bonus.

Bonus miles can be redeemed for a statement credit on travel purchases at $0.01 per mile and redeemed for a regular statement credit at a value of $0.005 per mile. Barclaycard considers the following as travel categories as defined by their merchant category codes:

  • Airlines
  • Travel Agencies & Discount Travel Sites
  • Hotels, Motels & Resorts
  • Timeshares
  • Campgrounds
  • Cruise Lines
  • Trains, Buses, Limos, Ferries and
  • Car Rental Agencies

After meeting the minimum spend amount for the sign up bonus, you’ll essentially have earned $588 in cash back if you redeem it all for travel. That’s pretty sweet! This card also has a EMV chip for overseas travel!

Keep in mind that while this card waives the $89 annual fee for the first year, you will have to pay it in the following years.

Apply for the Barlcaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard today!

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

ventureone sign up bonusThe Capital One VentureOne rewards credit card is a great option for those looking for a great sign up bonus and rewards card with no annual fee.

This credit card will reward you with 20,000 miles, redeemable for $200 in travel credits, for spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.

You’ll earn 1.25 miles for each dollar in purchases so you’ll actually have 21,250 points after completing the minimum spend required for the bonus on this card and your points don’t expire.

This Capital One credit card has no foreign transaction fees, so it is a great card to take when you’re travelling abroad.

As I mentioned above, there is no annual free for this credit card so it is great for people just getting started with credit card rewards.

If you’re looking for a great no annual fee sign up bonus credit card, this is it.

Click here to apply for the Capital One VentureOne rewards credit card today!

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Bank AmeriCard Travel Rewards Credit Card

bankamericard-travel-rewards-credit-card-tiltedThe Bank AmeriCard Travel Rewards credit card is a great basic rewards credit card with no annual fee.

Simply spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of card membership and you’ll earn 20,000 points worth $200 in travel credits.

You’ll also earn 1.5 points per dollar in purchases so you’ll have 21,500 points after you complete your sign up bonus spending.

You can use your points for the following travel purchase categories: airfare, car rentals, hotels, airline baggage fees, campgrounds, cruise lines, tourist attractions, zoos, amusement parks and exhibits.

You won’t have to pay any foreign transaction fees on this card and the points that you earn never expire.

If you have a Bank of America checking or savings account, you’ll even get a bonus 10% extra points. If you’re a preferred rewards customer, you could even earn a points bonus of 25% all the way up to 75%.

Points must be redeemed in 2,500 point increments for a $25 statement credit against travel costs.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Hotel Credit Cards

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

starwood preferred guest credit card from american expressRight now, this card is offering a limited time special offer, matching the best offer I’ve ever seen on this card. It runs until April 5th, 2017 so make sure to get it soon if you’re considering it.

The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card is often cited as one of the best hotel credit cards you can get. Currently, the card offers 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.

You can then earn an extra 10,000 Starpoints after spending an additional $2,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership. That’s a total of 35,000 Starpoints for spending $5,000 which is pretty awesome in my book.

You’ll have over 1,200 hotels and resorts to choose from when you’re booking your stay. Nights start at just 2,000 points for a category 1 weekend stay all the way up to 35,000 points for their swankiest hotels. There are some great values available and there are no blackout dates.

You can earn up to 5 Starpoints for each dollar of purchases at qualifying SPG hotels depending on your SPG status. Additionally, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees on this card.

As a cardholder, you will get free in-room, premium internet access.

If you want to transfer points, there is a very long list of airlines you can transfer your points to, mostly on a 1 Starpoint to 1 airline point ratio.

Unfortunately, some hotels may have mandatory service or resort charges, but that’s the case with almost all brands these days for their higher end or big city hotels.

The annual fee is waived the first year and will be $95 in subsequent years.

Apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express today!

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

marriott rewards premier credit cardThe Marriott Rewards Premier credit card currently offers 80,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of opening your account.

If you want even more points, you can earn 7,500 bonus points for adding an authorized user and making a purchase on that card in the first three months of opening your account.

Additionally, each year on your card account anniversary, you’ll earn 1 free night stay at a Category 1 through Category 5 hotel.

You can earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points with no maximum limits. You’ll earn 5 points for every dollar you spend at Marriott locations, which also include any stays at The Ritz-Carlton hotels.

You earn 2 points per dollar spent on airline tickets purchased directly from airlines, at car rental agencies and at restaurants. For every other purchase, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar.

As long as you make a purchase on your credit card once every 2 years, your points will never expire, which is pretty sweet.

There is an $85 annual fee for this credit card.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card

citi-hilton-hhonors-reserve-credit-card-sign-up-bonusIf you like fancy hotels then the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card might be worth checking out. You can earn two weekend night certificates, each good for one weekend night in a standard room with double occupancy at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio.

To receive this sign up bonus you must spend $2,500 in eligible purchases within the first four months of card membership.

In addition to the sign up bonus, you will earn 10 bonus points for every dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio, 5 bonus points for every dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases and 3 bonus points for every dollar spent on all other purchases. These are in addition to the HHonors base points you may earn for your stays.

You can earn an anniversary bonus of one weekend night at select hotels and resorts if you spend $10,000 or more on eligible purchases in each card membership year.

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card features no foreign transaction fees and a Citi chip to assist in making global travel easier.

Finally, you will be rewarded complimentary HHonors gold status as long as you’re a Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve cardmember and can earn an upgrade to HHonors Diamond status by making $40,000 or more in eligible purchases during each calendar year.

Like many of these stellar sign up bonus cards, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card has a $95 annual fee.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Business Credit Cards

Many people think they don’t qualify for business credit cards. However, if you run any type of business, such as selling things on eBay, rent out a property or freelance write on the internet, you can try to apply for a business credit card.

If you don’t have a business structured, chances are you would be classified as a sole proprietorship and would use your social security number in place of an employer identification or taxpayer identification number.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Credit Card

capital one spark cash for business credit cardThe Capital One Spark Cash for Business credit card offers a hefty $500 sign up bonus after spending $4,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.

This card also offers a great 2% cash back on every purchase you make.

Your rewards will never expire. There are no category limits and your cash back is unlimited. This card is really simple and offers great rewards for a business credit card.

Additionally, this card has no foreign transaction fees. You can even get free employee cards if you wish!

There is no annual fee the first year, but an annual fee of $59 per year kicks in after the first year.

Apply for the Capital One Spark Cash for Business credit card today.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Rewards Credit Card

spark miles for business sign up bonusThe Capital One Spark Miles or Business credit card offers 50,000 bonus miles, worth $500 in travel credits, if you spend $4,500 in purchases in the first 3 months of card membership.

This card is very similar to the Spark Cash card except it awards miles instead of points and miles can be redeem for travel purchases at a penny per point.

You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar spent in purchases on all of your purchases regardless of what spending category they would fall in.

There are no foreign transactions fees on this card, your points never expire and you can get free employee cards which are all super convenient benefits for business owners.

The annual fee of $59 is waived the first year, but you’ll have to pay it each year after that.

Apply for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business rewards credit card today.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

The Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card offers one of the largest sign up bonuses I’m aware of at 80,000 sign up bonus points but it comes with a large spending requirement of $5,000 in the first 3 months from opening your account.

You can use those 80,000 points for $1,000 in travel rewards when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

This credit card offers 3 points per dollar spent on the first $150,000 in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, telecommunications purchases (internet, cable and phone), and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. You earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

It also offers no foreign transaction fees. There is an annual fee of $95.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Airline Credit Cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus and Premier Credit Cards from Chase

If you fly on Southwest these cards offer some tremendous sign up bonus values! Both credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus and Premier, are currently offering a higher 50,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months of opening an account, but you have to do some good Google searching to find these offers.

Those 50,000 points can be redeemed for over $700 in Wanna Get Away?® fares which can be redeemed for a round trip flight.

In addition to the sign up bonus you earn 2 points for every dollar spent on Southwest Airlines® when you book directly with the airlines and 2 points for every dollar you spend on Southwest Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar spent.

Both versions of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card have anniversary bonuses. The Plus credit card has a 3,000 point anniversary bonus and the Premier credit card has a 6,000 point anniversary bonus.

The Premier version boasts no foreign transaction fees which can save you a ton of money if you commonly use credit cards in foreign countries.

Unfortunately, both credit cards have annual fees. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus annual fee is $69 and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier annual fee is $99.

If you use all of your points each year, the extra $30 for 3,000 extra anniversary bonus points is actually worth $40+ in Wanna Get Away?® fares so it might be worth it to splurge for the Premier card.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

General Rewards Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

sapphire reserve sign up bonusThe Chase Sapphire Reserve is currently offering 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points for spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Those points can be redeemed for $750 in travel credit through Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

In addition to the sign up bonus, you get $300 in travel credit for purchases such as hotels and airfare each calendar year you own the card.

For your regular spending, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Additionally, there are no foreign transaction fees with this card.

Unfortunately, with all of these great benefits there is a massive annual fee of $450 per year. You’ll definitely earn that back with all of the benefits this card offers in the first year, though.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

chase_sapphire_preferred_credit_card_sign_up_bonus I personally signed up for this card a couple years ago. The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card has a 50,000 point sign up bonus after you spend $4,000 within 3 months of opening your card.

You can also earn 5,000 points by adding your first authorized user and having them make a purchase within the first 3 months.

The 50,000 points can be applied as a statement credit or direct deposited into your bank account for $500 with each point being worth a penny.

If you use the rewards through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program you can get $625 worth of value. However, there are some even better ways to use your 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Advanced card users will likely transfer their points to another rewards program at a 1 point to 1 point value to some of these amazing rewards programs: Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®,  Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM, British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer,  Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Hyatt Gold Passport®, IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.

I transferred my points to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® program because each Chase Ultimate Rewards point is equal to 1 Rapid Rewards point. I can exchange 100 Rapid Rewards points for roughly $1.42 in Wanna Get Away?® fares which essentially increases the value of my points by roughly 42%! Not shabby.

You also earn points for your purchases. You earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

A couple of the other great benefits include no foreign transaction fees and the card has a chip for when you’re traveling internationally.

They even have a customer service number answered directly by real humans! You don’t have to go through any computer automated prompts and that is pretty awesome if you ask me.

There is an annual fee but Chase will waive the $95 annual fee on the Sapphire Preferred card for the first year. You’ll have to pay the fee each year after that.

P.S. This card is pretty cool because it is made of metal and heavier than normal credit cards.

As with any card, please read all of the fine print and details on the application before you sign up. You need to completely understand the details to ensure you get your rewards!

Keep These Thoughts In Mind When Considering a Credit Card

Credit cards can be great tools and make you a ton of money, if, and only if you play the game correctly. I ALWAYS pay my credit card off in full every month and you should too. If you can’t do this I would suggest against getting credit cards.

If you have a problem with debt and/or credit cards I would suggest you not sign up for new cards. The cash back benefits do not outweigh the interest charges you will pay.

Credit card interest rates are normally higher than most other loans and the interest can add up fast. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

What sign up bonus credit cards have you used in the past? Are there any other offers I should be aware of or add to my list? I’d love to hear your input below in the comments!

The information in the article is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of February 16th, 2017. It will be periodically updated as offers change. As with any offer, make sure to read all of the details on the application site as those are the terms and conditions that will govern any credit card you sign up for. What you have read here is simply a summary and does not contain all terms and conditions.

Picture by: 401kcalculator.org Text added by: Lance Cothern