The Best Tip To Earn Sign Up Bonuses – I Got $200!

This month I was able to earn an extra $200 with almost no effort at all. The only thing I had to do different than any other month was remember to use the right credit card when making my purchases. As you know, I love credit card sign up bonuses and this month I was able to take advantage of two of the easier sign up bonuses.

Sign Up Bonus #1 – $100

The first sign up bonus required me to spend only $500 in the first three months to earn it. Spending the $500 in three months would be super easy so I was excited about this easy win. However, that wasn’t the only reason I signed up for this card.

The card offers an overall 1.5% cash back on all purchases. This will now be my default card for all purchases that aren’t in a bonus cash back category on my other credit cards.

Sign Up Bonus #2 – $100

The second sign up bonus was a bit more difficult to obtain, since I had to spend $1,000 in the first three months to earn my $100. I applied for both cards at the same time, so in reality I had to spend $1,500 in the next 3 months in order to obtain both bonuses.

There was another reason I signed up for this card other than the $100 sign up bonus. The second credit card offers bonus 5% cash back categories that rotate every quarter, much like my Chase Freedom card. However, this card will likely have different categories which will expand my bonus cash back percentage categories.

Why I Didn’t Go for a Larger Sign Up Bonus Card

You may be wondering why I only tried for $200 in sign up bonuses when some of the best sign up bonus credit cards have $500+ bonuses available right now. The main reason I chose the the smaller bonuses was because these were cards I wanted anyway and would be keeping both of them after I receive the bonus. These are cards that will help my cash back strategy in the future.

No Large Purchases in the Near Future

Another reason I didn’t go for a larger sign up bonus was due to the fact I didn’t have any larger purchases in the near future. While we’re busy paying off my fiancee’s student loan debt, we won’t be spending a ton of money on other things. We had already made the large purchases for renovating our townhouse, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to hit $5,000 in purchases I could put on credit cards.

Keep in mind, not all purchases can be put on credit cards. We can’t pay our mortgage with credit cards unless we go through a complicated process with prepaid cards which I may try in the future. I can’t pay my utility bills with credit cards either, because they’ll charge me a fee in excess of any rewards I would earn.

The Most Important Tip to Succeed With Sign Up Bonuses

Plan. Plan which purchases will put you over the spending threshold. Plan whether or not the sign up bonus (and other benefits of the card) are worth any impact on your credit score. If you’re planning to get a loan in the future, you might not want to chase sign up bonuses. Take a look at the whole situation and plan what is best for you right now!

What Happens If You Don’t Plan

If you don’t plan, everything can blow up in your face. If you don’t meet the minimum spend requirements, you’ll lose any sign up bonus you had the potential to earn. If you don’t pay off your credit card in full every month, you’ll pay more in interest than any sign up bonus you could try to earn. Play smart. Plan, plan and plan some more!

If you’re interested, you can compare awesome rewards cards (some with sign up bonuses) here. Or, you can check out my post about some of the best credit cards with sign up bonuses to get started. Finally, if you’d rather chase 0% balance transfer cards, you can check out the best here.

Have you ever gotten a sign up bonus from a credit card? How much did you get? Are you planning to sign up for any cards in the near future? If so, which one(s)?

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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. Love us some sign up bonuses. We just finished a huge churn and ordered a new card this weekend!

  2. Greg@Thriftgenuity says:

    Good call on strategizing the sign up bonuses. As you mention with the potential larger ones. If you don’t have plans to spend what it takes to get the bonus, don’t do it. Won’t really save if you’re buying things you don’t need.

  3. I received 50,000 miles every time I sign up for a n airline card which equals $500. Over the 20 years, I have had about 4 cards and dropped 3 of them when I had to pay the annual fee.

  4. Do you struggle with balancing what you’re spending on which card for the best benefits? Do you make a list (i.e. buy groceries with card A, gas with card B etc)? We only have one card that we use for the cash back, but I always wonder if we’re losing out by not doing our research to see what card we should use for different types of purchases. Not that getting 1.5% back and not needing to think about the rest would is that bad…

    • I generally can keep track of the different offers on my cards mentally, but if I have a problem I’ll default to my main cash back card or look it up on my smartphone real quick. If it is a small purchase I won’t waste my time, but if I’m buying something over $100 it is sometimes worth checking.

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