From a lump sum of points to an elevated cashback earn rate, compare rewards credit cards with sign-up incentives to find one that suits your needs.
There are some generous intro offers available with new credit cards at the moment, and it can be hard to pin down what’s actually a good deal. Some offers come with specific requirements in order to qualify, and some are offset by a card’s ongoing rewards, rates and fees, which can be less appetising.
If you don’t expect to clear your balance in full each month, then generally what you’ll end up paying in interest will outweigh the potential earnings. But if you expect to use your card a fair bit and to clear your balance in full each month (don’t forget you can set up a direct debit to do this), then this guide can help you to capitalise on reward points, cashback or air miles to make your money go a bit further.
Crucially, don’t forget that when it comes to credit cards, there’s a good chance that the best deal for you right now probably won’t be the best deal in a couple of years’ time.
Verdict: With no annual fee, provided you don't carry a balance from month to month, this card offers the chance to earn cashback at a respectable rate. If you do expect to carry a balance, you'll likely spend more on interest than you'll earn in cashback, however. For big-spenders, Amex also offers a second platinum cashback card with a better earn rate offset by a small annual fee.
Comparison of intro bonuses and ongoing rewards
In this table we’ve gathered up the “earn rates” of different cards. Earning 1p or 1 point per pound spent makes for a 1% earn rate, but it’s crucial to note that how much a point is worth will depend on the card issuer, programme and potentially even how you’re redeeming the points.
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 a lump sum of reward points or an elevated points/cashback/air miles earn rate for a limited period.
The biggest rewards usually come in return for an annual fee. This puts some people off straightaway, but it’s simply a question of doing the maths – if you’ll earn enough rewards to justify it, then the fee can be worth paying. Cards with an annual fee will often come with other perks too, like complimentary travel insurance or airport lounge access.
As you’d expect, the benefits of introductory offers only last for a limited time. You’re generally not tied-in to these deals, so there’s nothing stopping you from just using them while the going’s good. However, some card issuers will try to retain customers by offering anniversary bonuses or by negotiating with customers who request to cancel their card. American Express frequently offers an enhanced earn rate once your spending amount on the card has reached a specified threshold.
How can I get a promotional credit card offer?
You usually have to meet specific requirements to get your hands on an introductory offer on a credit card. These conditions vary but usually include the following:
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 intro rewards deals are out there?
- Lump sum of points/cashback. Get a lump sum either on sign-up or after a specified period. A minimum spend requirement will usually apply.
- Enhanced earn rate. Earn points, air miles or cashback at a better rate for a limited period. A minimum spend requirement may apply.
- Gift cards. Enjoy complimentary gift cards for an affiliated store or brand. You’ll rarely need to meet any minimum spend requirements in these cases.
- Discounted purchases. Enjoy a discount on specific transactions. For example, a frequent flyer credit card could offer 10% off flight bookings made with the affiliated airline during the promotional period.
- Waived or reduced fees. Enjoy a discount on account fees for a specified period. You’ll rarely need to meet any minimum spend requirements in these cases.
Some common 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 costs don’t outweigh the offer’s benefits. 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 your application is approved, rather than when you make the transfer or your first purchase.
- Not looking at the card’s ongoing features. 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 using the card enough. To get the most out of your card, you’ll usually need to spend big, but clear your balance monthly. Consider what regular payments you could put through the new card to maximise your rewards.
- Carrying a balance from month to month. If you don’t clear your balance each month, you’ll probably pay more in interest than you earn in rewards.
- Not using the card correctly 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.
The 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 this card’s benefits only last for a set amount of time before reverting to the standard features. 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.