Best Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses – March 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 March 1st, 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

Use Credit Card Rewards to Pay for Christmas!

The holidays can be a very expensive time of year.

How much you spend greatly depends on your gift giving tendencies and how much you and your family celebrate the holiday festivities.

Luckily, I’m going to share a unique way to pay for your Christmas this year that is a bit out of the box.

Use Credit Card Rewards

Using credit card rewards to pay for Christmas isn’t something that many people consider but it can be a very effective.

I personally earn cash back rewards all year long and only cash them out when I see a big cash back balance sitting on my credit card statement.

Depending on your cash back balance, you can use those rewards to get some great stocking stuffers or an expensive once-in-a-lifetime present.

Even if you haven’t consciously saved your credit card rewards, your rewards balances could definitely help out if your budget is tight around the holidays.

You can usually use your cash back or rewards points as a direct statement credit to offset some of your Christmas spending.

For rewards programs that don’t allow statement credits, you may be to exchange your rewards or points for gift cards. Some credit cards will actually give you a discount and let you exchange $20 of cash back points for a $25 gift card.

This is a great way to maximize your points if you were going to spend money at a particular retailer or if you want to give a gift card as a present.

How to Prepare for Next Year’s Holiday Season

If you don’t have any rewards or cash back points to spend this year don’t worry. You can always start preparing for next year.

The first and most important thing to do if you want to use credit card rewards to pay for next year’s holiday season is to save up all of your points for the holiday season!

If you’re constantly cashing out small amounts you won’t have enough to cover your holiday spending.

The next thing to do is to make sure you have the best cash back or rewards credit cards for your spending situation.

My favorite easy cash back credit card is the Citi Double Cash card. You can earn 1% cash back on all of your purchases and then an additional 1% cash back on your payments.

If you don’t mind putting in some effort, some credit cards have rotating categories for the highest reward percentages. The Chase Freedom card does this with its 5% quarterly cash back categories.

Whenever you make a purchase make sure you are putting it on the credit card with the highest payout percentage in order to maximize your future holiday dollars.

This Method is Not For Everyone

If you have credit card debt or just plain know that you can’t handle having credit cards I do not suggest you use this method.

In order to actually make money using credit card rewards, you must pay your credit card balance off in full every month and never incur a late fee.

If you do not follow these rules for using your rewards credit cards, they may end up costing you more than the rewards you earned.

Have you ever used credit card rewards to pay for Christmas? Any memorable purchases? Let us know in the comments.

I’m a Victim of Credit Card Fraud… What Do I Do?

what to do if you are a victim of credit card fraudCredit card fraud is one of those things you hear about but never expect to happen to you.

I felt the same exact way and now realize that I was wrong.

I never should have felt I was above credit card fraud to begin with.

While I am careful with where I use my credit cards, there are so many different ways people can steal your credit card information.

It seems it is no longer a question of if you’ll ever be hit with credit card fraud but when you will be hit with credit card fraud.

Related: Best Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses Available This Month

How To Recognize Credit Card Fraud

Recognizing that you’ve been hit with credit card fraud is the first step. If you don’t realize someone else is using your credit card how can you report the fraud?

This is exactly why I monitor my credit card transactions at least monthly and reconcile my receipts to my credit card statement. Sometimes there are honest mistakes but most of the time if something seems out of the ordinary it is fraud.

Just recently I was looking at my transactions through my bank’s online access and saw a charge for what looked like Proactiv Solution… you know… the acne product you see on TV all of the time.

The thing is, I don’t have acne problems and have never once ordered any Proactiv product.

What To Do When You Are a Victim of Credit Card Fraud

Before you go screaming fraud, first make sure the transaction in questions isn’t simply something you forgot. Make sure an authorized user didn’t charge something and simply forget to tell you about it.

Next, if you’re still pretty sure the transactions are fraudulent then you need to take action immediately.

I called my credit card company to make sure that the transaction was what it appeared to be and they were able to give me a phone number for the company that was attached to the transaction. I called the company and, sure enough, it was Proactiv.

It was at that point I knew I was hit with credit card fraud.

I immediately called my credit card company back and told them I had been hit with a fraudulent transaction. They cancelled my current card and overnighted me a new card.

I asked what would happen to the person who committed the fraud and my credit card company told me it goes to their fraud department where they decide whether it is worth looking into or not.

In addition to getting a new credit card issued, you can also file a police report. The main reasons why I didn’t was because it was only one small transaction AND it was an online purchase.

If there were many local fraudulent transactions or a large fraudulent transaction I definitely would have filed a police report. This wasn’t worth my time or effort for a $20 online purchase as the local police wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

What Will Happen to The Scammer?

Since this transaction was only $20 I doubt anyone would look into it because it would cost more than simply refunding my account $20 for the charge.

This is a real bummer because it means people can continue to get away with this petty theft while increasing costs for people who use credit cards, whether it be merchants (transaction fees) or consumers (interest rates).

Have you ever been a victim of credit card fraud? What happened and what did you do after finding out about it?

P.S. – Things got interesting… it sounds like things have gone from credit card fraud to full blown identity theft. Here are the details of what happened next.

Photo by: Images of Money Text added by: Lance Cothern

How To Get A Totally Free 7 Day Cruise Using Credit Cards

Want totally free vacations? Believe it or not, it's possible to get a cruise completely for free using credit cards. In fact, we've gotten two cruises basically for free! Check out our idea about exactly how to get a free vacation. This is one free vacation tip you don't want to miss out on.Last month my wife and I took a 7 day cruise completely for free.

We even spent two nights in the home port, Galveston, Texas, and visited the Pleasure Pier for free, too.

How did we do all of this?

The amazing power of credit card rewards.

How Much Our Cruise Cost Before Applying Credit Card Rewards

We got a great deal on this cruise before you even factor in credit cards.

Our 7 day Carnival Magic cruise came to a total of $1009.40 for the cruise fare, port fees, taxes and prepaid gratuities.

As part of the sale when we bought our cruise, we received $50 back in on-board credit to spend on the ship.

Of course, the cruise fare isn’t the only thing you pay for on a cruise. In addition to the fare, we spent:

  • $65 on parking,
  • $50 on miscellaneous supplies,
  • $175 on gas and dining out (not on the ship),
  • $58.43 for two all day passes to Galveston’s Pleasure Pier,
  • $3 on souvenirs in Mexico,
  • $2 in tips to the people who took our luggage,
  • $95 each ($190 total) on a behind the scenes tour of the cruise ship,
  • $78.88 in other on-board spending which came to $28.88 after our $50 on-board credit and
  • $350 estimated value of 2 nights in a hotel (free with points).

If you add all of that up, this vacation would have cost us a total of $1,931.71. Here’s how we got all of that for absolutely free.

Paying For Our Carnival Cruise Line Spending

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardWe both applied for and were approved for the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card.

After spending $3,000 on each card within three months of approval of the card, we both earned 40,000 bonus points each and 6,000 points for our purchases.

When redeemed for travel, such as a Carnival cruise purchase, these points are worth $0.01 each. This card reduced our bill by $920 and left us with $1,011.71 to go.

citi thankyou premierNext, my wife signed up for the Citi Thank You Premier credit card. Currently, you can earn 50,000 ThankYou points for spending $3,000 in the first three months after approval.

We used 30,000 points to get $300 in Carnival gift cards which covered all but $8.28 of our cruise ship spending.

We also have 20,000 ThankYou points left over which can get us another $200 in gift cards to places like WalMart, Home Depot, Lowe’s or more Carnival gift cards for a future cruise.

In total, we still had $711.71 of spending to cover with other credit card rewards.

Paying For Our Hotel

Next, we used 14,000 points to pay for our two night stay at the Sheraton Four Points on Galveston Island.

This hotel was in a prime location, right across from the seawall on the Gulf of Mexico. We could see both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pleasure Pier from our room which was pretty sweet.

SPG_Card_ArtFor this, we signed up for the Starwood Guest Preferred card by American Express. Currently, this credit card offers 25,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 within the first 3 months after approval.

After the spending, you’ll have at least 28,000 points which would have paid for our room twice over.

The estimated cost to book the room for the weekend would have been about $350, so now we only have $361.71 left to pay for with credit card rewards.

Paying For Miscellaneous Costs

chase_sapphire_preferred_credit_card_sign_up_bonusFinally, my wife signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card to pay for our miscellaneous expenses that we couldn’t get gift cards for or didn’t qualify as travel spending.

Currently, you can earn 40,000 Ultimate Reward points by spending $4,000 in the first three months after approval. Ultimate Reward points can be cashed out at $0.01 a piece which more than covered our remaining $361.71 in expenses.

We could have used these rewards in a more optimal way, but we didn’t have any other plans so we just cashed them out.

A Summary Of The Credit Cards We Signed Up For

In total, we signed up for 5 credit cards over about a year to pay for our free cruise.

Based on the credit card sign up bonus offers as they stand today, we would have had to spend $16,000 on these credit cards to earn enough rewards.

Honestly, that’s not too difficult for us over the period of a year when you consider everyday spending (car insurance, cable bills, and groceries among others) along with any projects you may have done over the last year.

Additionally, we could have used our cruise spending to go toward some of these spending requirements for our bonuses, or toward our next bonuses.

A Summary Of Our Credit Card Rewards We Earned

These credit cards covered every penny of our $1,931.71 vacation and we had the following rewards left over:

  • 14,000 Starwood points (redeemable for multiple free hotel nights),
  • 20,000 ThankYou points worth at least $200 in free gift cards and
  • 7,829 Ultimate Rewards points worth at least $78.29 in cash.

You Could Spend More On Your Cruise

Your cruise may very well cost more than ours did, but luckily there are plenty of other credit card sign up bonuses you could earn to offset those costs.

We got a steal of a deal on the cruise fare itself. We only paid for an inside cabin, so if you want an ocean view, balcony or suite room, you’ll have to pay more.

We didn’t spend a ton of money on excursions in our ports and mainly just hung out around the ship, because we have an amazing beach at home. We didn’t spend hundreds of dollars on $10 drinks and we ate in the free dining rooms which are great by our standards.

Finally, we didn’t gamble more than $20 during the whole cruise in the casino. So, if you want to spend more on your cruise, you can do the following to earn even more credit card rewards.

Other Credit Card Rewards You Can Use For Cruises

Other cards can help you pay for a cruise. Here are a couple other my other favorites.

barclay arrival plusThe Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard sign up bonus of 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in 90 days after approval can be redeemed for $400 in travel expenses, including cruises.

When you count the points earned from $3,000 in spending, you’ll have $460 in travel credit. If your spouses or significant other hasn’t signed up for the card yet, either, you can add another $920 toward your cruise.

bankamericard-travel-rewards-credit-card-tiltedAn easier card to earn points for is the BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card. You can earn a bonus of 20,000 points worth $200 in travel for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after approval.

This can be doubled to $400 with two applicants. Plus there is no annual fee with this card so you never have to cancel it.

Overall, there are a ton of different ways you can earn a free cruise using credit card sign up bonuses. However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to just cruises. Many of these credit cards can be used for other vacations, too.

Will you be using your credit card rewards for a free cruise in the future? What about another type of vacation? If you are already earning rewards, what’s the best free vacation you’ve taken so far? Let me know in the comments below.

Disclaimers: Don’t use credit cards for rewards unless you’re really on top of your game. You’ll need to make sure you never charge more than you can afford to pay off, you never make late payments and you never pay a penny in interest to make these credit cards worth it.

Additionally, many of these cards carry an annual fee that is waived the first year. Make sure you reevaluate every card to make sure they provide enough value to pay for the annual fee past the first year of the card.

Photo by: Kabacchi Text added by: Lance Cothern

Your Credit Card Could Replace Your Broken Cell Phone For Free

Broken cell phone screen? A shattered phone screen can be devastating. Even if you just cracked your phone screen, it is still super annoying. Luckily, you may be able to use your credit card to get your broken phone screen fixed for free. Find out how.Sadly my wife dropped her cell phone at the beginning of our last vacation and shattered the screen into a spiderweb of glass.

That wasn’t the way anyone wants to start their vacation.

However, we had hope that we could get her phone fixed or replaced for free thanks to our credit card.

In specific, there were two programs we called our credit card company about to see if they would fix or replace our broken cell phone for free.

How To Get Your Credit Card To Fix Or Replace Your Phone For Free

Before you can get your credit card to help you fix your cell phone problem, you must have done one thing. You must have bought your cell phone on your credit card or else none of these protections will apply to you.

If you bought your cell phone on a credit card, then you need to call that credit card company to see if you have the following benefits.

Damage & Theft Purchase Protection

Damage and theft protection is an awesome benefit for your electronics. While the benefits vary from company to company, most credit cards that offer this protection will replace or fix your phone if it is damaged or stolen within the first 90 to 120 days from purchase.

Sadly, this benefit doesn’t last for a long period of time. However, if you accidentally drop your phone and it breaks in the covered time period, you could very well get your phone either repaired or replaced for free. Of course, there are limitations in total dollar value you can claim per year in most cases.

You’ll likely have to deal with a company that your credit card company outsources their protection insurance to, but that is a small price to pay to get a $600 or more cell phone fixed for free.

Personally, we bought our cell phone over a year ago, so we didn’t qualify for this protection plan.

Automatic Extended Warranties

Another great benefit many credit cards offer is the automatic extended warranty. Again, terms differ depending on your credit card company, but most will extend your warranty for up to an additional year on products with warranties that last up to five years.

You will also be limited by the total dollar value per claim made or per year.

The warranty extension is normally the same exact warranty the manufacturer offers. Those warranties normally only cover things such as manufacturing defects and don’t cover things like damage from misuse or accidents.

Sadly, this meant that my wife’s cracked phone screen wouldn’t be covered, because we damaged the phone and it wasn’t a manufacturer’s defect.

These Protections Aren’t Just For Cell Phones

While cell phones are often broken and can qualify for these benefits, many other purchases you make on your credit cards qualify for these protections. If you ever have something break that you bought on a credit card, find your receipt and see if your broken item may qualify for some form of protection.

While we didn’t fit into the programs offered, you could. Call your credit card company and talk to them about the benefits that you have. You might be surprised and get your phone or other item fixed or replaced for free.

It doesn’t hurt to call and ask. The worst your credit card company will say is no.

Just don’t lie to get a benefit that doesn’t match your true circumstances. You could end up in big trouble.

Have you ever used your credit card benefits to fix a problem such a broken cell phone? Did you even know these benefits existed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo by: bellemarematt Text added by: Lance Cothern