Look forward to bonus points, welcome gifts or waived annual fees when you get a credit card with an introductory offer.
If you want to get a new credit card, introductory offers can help you get more value from the one you choose. Depending on the promotion, you could enjoy more frequent flyer points, cashback or savings on rates and fees. But credit card introductory offers are usually only available to new customers for a limited time and have specific requirements you need to meet to get the offer. So, it’s important to weigh up details of the offer and look at the card’s standard fees, rates and features to decide if it’s worth it for you.
Use this guide to compare current introductory offers and learn about the types of deals available. We also share the key details you need to look at so that you can choose the right introductory offer and card for your needs.
How do credit card introductory offers work?
Most introductory offers are only available to new customers who apply and are approved for a specific credit card during the promotional period. These credit card deals usually offer extra value to you in the form of welcome gifts, waived annual fees or bonus points.
But the benefits of introductory offers only last for a limited time. For example, any fee or interest discounts revert to standard features after the promotional period. Bonus points, on the other hand, only last until you use them or they expire.
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How to qualify for a credit card promotional offer
You usually have to meet specific requirements to be eligible for an introductory offer. These conditions vary but usually include:
- New customers. You must be a new credit card customer, with no existing credit cards issued by the company you’re applying to. For example, if you have a credit card issued by American Express, you may not be eligible for Amex introductory offers.
- Credit card approval. You must apply and be approved for the credit card by a certain date in order to take advantage of the introductory offer.
- Application dates. Some promotional offers may only be available to applicants who apply and are approved by a set date.
- Spend requirements. When there is a bonus points offer available, often you’ll be required to meet a spend requirement by a set date to receive the points.
Before you apply for a card with an introductory offer, make sure you fully understand these terms and conditions to ensure you can get the full value from the offer.
What types of introductory credit card offers can I get?
There are a wide range of different introductory offers available depending on what you want from a credit card. Some of the most popular options include:
Bonus Air Miles promotions
Many credit cards offer bonus Air Miles on sign up. Most cards offer miles for frequent flyer programme Asia Miles, which includes airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Air China, Air Canada and American Airlines. Bonus Air Miles offers are usually only available when you apply by a certain date and meet the spend criteria. This means you may need to spend a certain amount within a specific period (such as HK$10,000 in the first 2 months) to collect the bonus miles.
As long as the spending requirement fits within your budget and you can pay off your balance in full each month, it can be an easy way to boost your Air Miles balance.
Bonus reward points promotions
Similar to bonus Air Miles promotions, many reward credit cards include bonus points when you apply and are approved for the card. Depending on the offer, you could be able to get up to 180,000 bonus points. Again, you’re usually required to spend a minimum amount within a set period to qualify for the bonus points offer.
Make sure you know what these terms and conditions are before you apply so that you can decide if the offer is worth it. It’s also important to look at how many points you’ll usually earn for your spending, as well as any rates, fees and extra features that come with the card.
Cashback credit card offers
This type of introductory offer gives you cashback when you get a new credit card. Like bonus point promotions, you usually need to spend a specific amount of money on the card before you can enjoy the cashback offer. For example, an offer might give you HK$1,500 cash back if you spend HK$15,000 in the first 2 months you have the card.
Some cashback offers also require you to spend the minimum amount in a specific way, such as on travel or with local retailers. Many cards also cap the amount you can earn in cashback. This type of offer can give you extra value if you have planned purchases you want to make on your credit card, but may not be worth it otherwise.
No annual fee offers
This type of introductory offer waives the annual fee of the credit card for a promotional period (usually the first 12 months). Depending on the credit card, no annual fee promotions can save you thousands of dollars. You usually need to apply before a specific date to enjoy a no annual fee introductory offer.
After the introductory period, the standard annual fee will be applied to the account. So, if you plan to use your credit card beyond the promotional period, you should pay attention to the standard annual fee when comparing credit cards.
Ongoing waived annual fee promotions
Instead of cancelling the annual fee for the first year only, some credit cards offer to waive it beyond the promotional period if minimum spending requirements are met.
To qualify for this offer you may be required to apply before a specific date, as well as meeting the spending requirements.
Balance transfer offers
A balance transfer credit card can be a useful tool to consolidate and repay debt while reducing the amount of interest you pay. Balance transfer credit cards usually come with a lower interest rate, such as 6%, for a promotional period of 6 to 12 months. This means you can clear your credit card balance faster because you are paying less interest. Once the promotional offer ends, a standard revert rate applies and any remaining debts will accrue interest at this rate.
Low-interest rate balance transfers are usually only available for a limited time, so you’ll be required to apply and receive approval before the offer end date to take advantage of the promotional interest rate. You can usually request the balance transfer and provide the details of your existing account when you apply.
Many providers will offer you a free gift, such as a rice cooker, camera or luggage set, when you first take out the card. In some cases, you need to meet minimum spending requirements in a set period of time in order to qualify for the gift.
These free gifts can be a great perk if they are something you were planning to buy anyway. But as with other introductory offers, it is important to make sure the spending requirements fit your budget, and that you are able to pay off the debt you have accumulated on your card without incurring interest.
Other introductory credit card offers
As well as the major introductory offers outlined above, some credit card companies may offer other deals for new customers. These introductory offers could include:
- Shopping vouchers. Similar to cashback deals, some credit cards offer shopping vouchers to new customers, usually for an affiliated store or brand. To be eligible, you usually have to apply during the promotional period, and spend a specific amount in a set period of time.
- Discount offers. Some credit cards may offer you a discount on specific transactions. For example, you may be entitled to 20% off at designated shops or restaurants, or qualify for 2-for-1 dining offers during the promotional period.
Depending on the credit card, you may be able to take advantage of more than one of these offers at a time. For example, a card that offers an introductory Air Miles bonus could also waive the annual fee for the first year, while a card with bonus points may also offer shopping vouchers.
How to compare credit card introductory offers
While introductory offers can sweeten the deal when you sign up for a credit card, you should also look at the ongoing features of the card. Thinking about the following factors will help you find an introductory offer that suits your needs in the short-term and a credit card that fits your circumstances in the long-term..
- Standard annual fees. If you get a waived annual fee offer, make sure you check the standard annual fee so that you know how much you will have to pay after the first 12 months. If you only intend to use the card while the waived annual fee is in place, make sure you know when the standard annual fee will apply and close your card before then to avoid paying extra.
- Other fees and charges. As well as the annual fee, the card may come with other rates and fees such as foreign transaction fees and late payment costs. It is important you understand these additional charges, so that you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay when you use the card.
- Interest charges. If you have to meet a minimum spend to earn bonus points or redeem your introductory offer, remember that these purchases will collect interest. This is why it’s important to ensure that the spending requirement fits within your budget, otherwise the interest costs could easily outweigh the value of the points or bonus offer.
Rewards and extras
- Spending requirements. Some cashback and bonus point offers require you to spend a minimum amount in an introductory period of a few months. It could be as little as HK$100 or as much as HK$10,000 depending on the card, so it’s important to check before you apply to make sure you can afford to take advantage of the offer.
- Standard rewards points. As well as the bonus points, make sure the regular rewards program (including the earn rate and how you can redeem your rewards) suits your spending behaviours and rewards goals.
- Complimentary extras. Additional, ongoing perks such as access to airport lounges, ongoing shopping discounts and concierge services can bring more value to the card that you choose. However, they can also lead to higher annual fees, so make sure these are features you’d take advantage of before you apply.
- The promotional interest rate. Depending on the card, the promotional offer may have a low interest rate. Usually, the lower the interest rate, the more savings you’ll make. However, you should also weigh up the promotional interest rate with the annual fee and the length of the promotional offer to determine which card offers the most savings.
- The length of the introductory period. With low balance transfer rate offers, it’s important that you calculate how much you’ll need to pay each month to repay the entire balance before the promotional period ends. Otherwise, any remaining balance will collect the standard interest and begin to counteract your savings.
- The promotional offer end date. These offers are only available for a limited time, so you will need to apply before the end date to take advantage of them. Check the terms and conditions to make sure any offers you want are still available before you apply.
- The standard interest rates. If you have a card with a low balance transfer deal, the standard interest rates will apply to any new spending and any balances remaining at the end of the introductory period. These rates are generally much higher than those of the introductory offer, so considering them before you apply will help you avoid any nasty surprises.
Mistakes to avoid with credit card offers
While credit card introductory offers can help you get more value from your card, there are some mistakes to avoid to ensure the card’s costs don’t outweigh the benefits of the offer. Here are some of the common mistakes cardholders make and how you can avoid them:
- Ignoring the offer terms and conditions. Introductory offers have specific eligibility requirements you have to meet, so make sure you understand the fine print before you apply.
- Wasting the promotional offer time period. With a balance transfer or purchase rate offer, the promotional period (such as 12 months) will begin as soon as you apply for the card, rather than when you make the transfer or your first purchase. To avoid wasting the valuable offer, make sure you start consolidating your debt or paying off your purchases as soon as possible to take advantage of the full offer.
- Not looking at the ongoing features of the card. While introductory offers can give you short-term benefits, the standard features of a credit card determine its ongoing value. Always check these features before you apply for a credit card to decide if it’s worth it for you.
- Not checking the end date of the offer. To get a specific credit card offer, you must apply before the end of the promotional period. Regularly comparing credit cards can help you stay up-to-date with all the offers available when you’re considering a new card.
- Not using the card after the introductory period. If you decide you don’t want the card you applied for after getting an introductory offer, you could end up paying more credit card fees and adding to your debt. Make sure you consider this before you apply, choose an appropriate card, or cancel the account if you no longer want to use it.
Introductory offers have the potential to provide you with more value when you get a new credit card. While almost anyone can benefit from these deals, the value they provide really depends on your individual circumstances.
It’s also important to remember that these benefits only last for a set amount of time before reverting to the standard features of the card. So being aware of how credit card offers work and consider both the introductory offer and the ongoing card features to help you choose a card that offers you value now and in the future.
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