[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners if available here — Gold Delta SkyMiles card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Recently, Chase began offering its Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards with a 50,000 points sign-up bonus, instead of the previous 25,000 points. And as fantastic as this offer is, it wasn’t a huge surprise. That is because I have seen Chase and Southwest repeat this offer a number of times during the past few years. Like a department store that frequently holds big sales, this card is one of several cards that regularly feature an increased sign-up bonus.
The Cycle of Sign-Up Bonuses
A certain percentage of credit card users will apply for a card that offers a nice sign-up bonus, even if it isn’t as generous as previous offers. Therefore, it makes makes sense that banks can minimize the expense of offering their most exceptional bonuses by only doing so only during part of the year. At the same time, the more savvy credit card users will wait until the best offers are available before completing an application.
Here are some other cards that, from my observation over the years, have offered increased credit card sign-up bonuses from time to time.
Gold Delta SkyMiles Card From American Express
This card currently offers 30,000 Delta SkyMiles as a sign-up bonus offer, but I have seen it frequently offer as much as 50,000 miles.
British Airways Card From Chase
The standard sign-up bonus for this card is 50,000 Avios points in the British Airways Executive Club program. Nevertheless, this card has been offered with a 100,000 point bonus at least three times in the past.
Starwood Preferred Guest Card From American Express
The standard offer for this card promises 25,000 points in the Starwood Hotels preferred guest program. But be patient, this card typically features 30,000 point offers at least once a year.
Citi AAdvantage Visa Card
This card currently offers 30,000 AAdvantage miles with American Airlines, yet from time to time, offers appear online for 50,000 miles.
How to Receive the Largest Sign-Up Bonus Possible
First, it takes a little research. Perform a search on the card that you are considering, and see if you find reports of larger sign-up bonuses being offered in the past. If so, you can choose to wait and see if a similar offer returns, although there is no guarantee.
For those with less patience, another option is to apply for the card with the lower offer. Then, if a higher offer appears, you can request that the bank match the new offer retroactively. In fact, banks have been known to do so, especially when the new offer appears within a few months of the cardholder’s account being opened.
If you have received a rewards credit card with sign-up bonus, and a larger one has been offered, try contacting the credit card issuer. Let them know that you were excited to receive the card, but you are disappointed that you didn’t get the best offer. Ask them if they could apply the new offer to your account, which is often referred to as an “offer code”. Even if your request is initially denied, try calling back again or making the request in writing through the bank’s secure online messaging center.
Banks love to play the game of changing the amount of a card’s sign-up bonus throughout the year, but you can play along as well. By waiting for the best sign-up bonus, or requesting it retroactively, you can earn the most credit card rewards available.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
At publishing time, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.