Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses: How I Made $443 in 5 Minutes

I am starting this post off with a warning. Please, please, PLEASE do not sign up for a credit card if you have problems with credit cards and debt. Thanks!

Toward the beginning of my blogging adventures I wrote about how I was in the market and shopping around for a new AC unit. Well I finally took the plunge and bought a unit. They aren’t cheap though so, per usual, I was looking for ways to take advantage of expending a large amount of money. How on earth do you take advantage of spending money? Well there is always a way to earn or save money. You just have to dig deep enough.

Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

So how did I do it? I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This card has a sign up bonus of 40,000 points which is worth $400 cash! The thing with credit card sign up bonuses is they normally require some significant legwork to qualify. You really need to pay attention to make sure you’ll receive the bonus.

How to Qualify for the Sign Up Bonus

In order to get the sign up bonus I first had to apply for the card and get approved. I have an excellent credit score so this wasn’t a problem for me. The next step after I got my card was meeting the spending requirement. In order to get the 40,000 bonus points I had to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months I had the card. This does not include balance transfers, cash advances, or checks that can access the account.

This would be a problem for me under normal circumstance but as I mentioned I was buying a new AC unit. The unit was around $4300 so it blew the minimum out of the water! I was well on my way to getting my $400 sign up bonus.

So Where Did the Other $43 Come From?

Another perk of this card is that I get 1 point for every dollar I spend which equates to 1% cash back. I also get 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining. So when you add up the $400 sign up bonus I’d get plus the effective 1% cash back I made $443 dollars. All it took was the 5 minutes to fill out the application.

The Fine Print

There were some other things to note though. The biggest one is this card carries an annual fee of $95! YIKES! They do waive it the first year which is nice but if you forget to cancel the card you lose a big chunk of your sign up bonus. Make sure to set up a calendar reminder to cancel the card a couple weeks in advance of your first year if you don’t want to pay the fee.

The fine print also says it can take six to eight weeks to get the 40,000 bonus points but I was OK waiting. In reality they credited my account the statement my purchase happened on so that was nice.

*Special Tip* If you ask them to waive the fee they might do it. I don’t have experience with Chase but they may or may not do this. Worst case you have to cancel the card before your first year is up if you don’t want to pay the fee. Never hurts to ask! *Special Tip*

Have you ever applied for a credit card for a sign up bonus? I was not paid for this post and all opinions were 100% my own. I just wanted the sign up bonus and want other responsible readers to be able to make some money as well.

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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.


  1. My husband and I both have a Chase Sapphire Preferred for this exact reason. On my Chase Sapphire, we paid off our yearly gym membership and paid for our winter trip to Aruba…and earned $400. On my husbands, we are putting our monthly expenses for the next 2 1/2 months to get another $400 bonus. I just wrote about this the other day.

    FYI- I have another Chase card- the Chase Freedom card. Chase is very good about putting bonuses on your account right away. They also have a very user friendly online banking system that lets you check your balance, see your statement, etc. at any time. I love it and that’s why I prefer Chase cards personally.

  2. I wrote a review of this card for a client once. It’s the perfect card for the right person (big reward points for travel purchases if I remember correctly). For the average person, the annual fee doesn’t make it worth it.

    • The main reason I got it was the sign up bonus and 2% dining during this first year. I will be cancelling if they don’t waive the annual fee as I don’t spend that much on travel.

  3. That is a pretty sweet deal. We don’t have this card in Canada. Shame.

  4. I haven’t taken advantage of these cards yet but I’m going to here in the very near future. To be frank, I’ve been waiting to hear back from Chase about accepting me as an affiliate.

    Way to take advantage of the system Lance!

  5. I routinely sign up for airline cards that offer miles as a bonus. It helps me build frequent flier miles faster.

  6. Wow, This is a bonus worth signing up for. I usually forego these offers because they seem too complicated for me. I have very few cards and use one almost exclusively for the rewards. But $400 is nothing to sneeze at!

    • Make sure you read all the fine print and understand it before you apply if you do. I decided some of these are too good to pass up.

  7. The Sapphire Preferred is one of my favorite cards. I love the double points on travel & restaurants, and the $95 annual fee is worth it if you travel internationally. I spent our honeymoon in Argentina and used the card to pay for items at places that accept credit cards – it was very convenient.

    • I’m not a huge traveler yet so I plan to cancel before I get hit with the fee. I definitely see how it could be useful though.

  8. This post really made me think about playing the signup bonus game. The only time we’ve let a signup bonus influence us was for a card we were happy to continue using. I’m actually not confident we would put $3,000 on the card in 3 months, though. Since we’ve been shopping at Costco and ALDI we’ve really reduced the amount we charge.

    • If you aren’t sure if you can reach the spending requirement I would pass personally. If you do find out you have a large purchase coming up that you can pay in cash like I did that is the perfect time to take advantage.

  9. Justin @ The Family Finances says:

    While my wife and I purchased furniture for our nursery at BabiesRUs, we signed up for their credit card and got 20% off the purchase, plus something like 4% in rewards. I think that’s the last new card we’ve signed up for. Our normal everyday use card is a Chase Freedom, which has served us well. We regularly earn a couple hundred bucks a year in rewards.

  10. Julie @ Freedom 48 says:

    If I needed to rely on my credit in the near future (i.e to purchase a house), I think I’d be hesitant to sign up for these great credit card deals. You’ll be increasing your available credit (and would then qualify for less on a mortgage).

    But – if you’re not buying a house anytime soon (and you’re fantastic with managing credit cards)… it’s a great idea!

    • I do agree that if you have a big purchase coming up you don’t want to open a bunch of new accounts as that may look risky to a potential lender. I already have a house and car though and won’t be taking more loans out anytime soon so I was comfortable taking advantage. I also manage my cards well and don’t spend more than I budget. I don’t think increasing your available credit would lower your potential mortgage amount but I can’t be certain. In fact having more credit available will decrease your credit usage ratio and make your score higher. You would take a hit though for the inquiry and I’m not sure how that balances out.

      Thanks for the comment!

  11. Kelly@FinancialFreedomNewsletter says:

    Its really easy to fall into traps like these with credit card companies offering such great “add-ons” when you sign up, thats how so many people who are terrible with credit get sucked into signing up for so many different cards. A friend of my signed up for one of these “deals” and ended up using the credit card for stupid purchases, causing her credit report and credit score to be so bad she had a really hard time leasing a car. But if you are smart with your finances and credit, this is a great bonus!

    • I totally agree 100%. I hope people pay attention to my warning at the beginning of the article if they have trouble with these issues. If you’re responsible and know what you’re in for it is definite a great bonus.

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