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Introductory credit card offers

Earn bonus points, 0% interest rates or reduced 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 out of the one you choose. Depending on the promotion, you could earn more frequent flyer points, cash back or savings on rates and fees. 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. It’s important to understand the details of the offer and look at the card’s standard fees, rates and features to decide if it’s worth it for you.

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 low or 0% interest rates, waived annual fees or bonus points.

The benefits of introductory offers only last for a limited time. For example, any promotional interest rates or fee discounts will revert to standard features after the promotional period. Bonus points, on the other hand, may only last until you use them or they expire.

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How do I 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 only. You must be a new credit card customer, with no existing credit cards issued by the provider, or even banking group, you’re applying with.
  • Application dates. Some promotional offers may only be available to applicants who apply and are approved by a set date.
  • 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. This is likely to involve a credit check. As with many other credit cards, the interest rate offered at this stage can change depending on the card issuer’s assessment of your financial situation. If you’re approved for a credit card, check the fine print carefully before accepting.
  • Spending requirements. Bonus point offers typically come with spend requirements, which means you’ll need to spend a certain amount by a set date to receive the points.
  • Never missing a repayment. Missing a repayment is bad news as it will lead to extra fees and interest, and affect your credit score. But a missed repayment can also invalidate an introductory offer.
  • Redemption terms. Having a bumper points balance is good but make sure you’re aware of any restrictions or requirements when it comes to redeeming them. You don’t want to risk losing your hard-earned points.

Before you apply for a card with an introductory offer, make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions to ensure you can get the full value from the offer.

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Types of introductory offers

There is a wide range of different introductory offers available depending on what you want from a credit card. For example, if you want to save on card debt, you could look at balance transfer offers that give you a low or 0% introductory interest rate. Or, if you want rewards for your spending then you can compare cards that offer introductory bonus points. With so many different introductory credit card deals out there, we’ve summarised some of the most popular options you can compare.

As well as the major introductory offers outlined above, some credit card companies may offer other more unique deals for new customers including gift cards or discounted purchases at specific retailers.

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 a 0% balance transfer rate could also have a discounted annual fee for the first year, while a card with bonus points may also offer 0% interest on purchases during the first 3 months.

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How do I compare introductory credit card offers?

While introductory offers can sweeten the deal when you sign up for a credit card, you should also look at the standard and 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.

  • The promotional interest rate. Depending on the card, the promotional offer may have a low or 0% 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 any 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 purchase rate or 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 eat away at 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 or 0% purchase or balance transfer deal, the standard interest rates will apply to 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 when the promotion does come to an end.
  • Standard annual fees. If you get a reduced or 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 cancel 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 balance transfer fees, cash advance fees, foreign transaction fees and late payment charges. You can use the reviews on Finder Ireland to browse a full list of rates and fees associated with a product to understand 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 spend requirement fits within your budget, otherwise the interest costs could easily outweigh the value of the points or bonus offer.
  • 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 €100 or as much as €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 international travel insurance, extended warranties and concierge services can bring more value to the card that you choose. However they can also attribute to higher annual fees, so make sure these are features are actually perks that you’d take advantage of before you apply.

    What mistakes should I 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 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 introductory 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 for 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.
    • Ignoring the standard 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 will still be worth it for you.
    • Ignoring 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.

    Bottom line

    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 considering both the introductory offer and the ongoing card features means you can choose a card that offers you value now and in the future.

    Frequently asked questions

    Pictures: Shutterstock

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