Pondering limited time credit card signup offers

The big news this week, of course, is the increased sign-up bonus for the Chase Ink cards.  The following bonuses are available June 16-22 for National Small Business Week:

  • Extra 5K points for Ink Cash® and Ink® Classic signups (bringing the total signup bonus for these cards to 25K each)
  • Extra 10K points for Ink Plus® and Ink Bold® signups (bringing the total signup bonus for these cards to 60K each)

I’ve updated my Best Credit Card Offers page with the appropriate sign-up links.

The Chase Ink cards aren’t the only limited time offers, though.  There is also the 50K offer for the Lufthansa card.  That offer will apparently end by June 30th.  Then there are the 4 Southwest Rapid Rewards cards all with 50K signup offers.  Those offers seem to come and go every few months so I’d be surprised if we don’t see that pattern happen again.

Don’t jump

When you read about exciting offers like these, and how great they are, and how valuable the points are, it’s hard not to get carried away and jump in.  Don’t do it.  If you’re not ready to sign up for new cards or for these particular cards, then don’t feel bad about saying no and missing the opportunity.  If history is any guide, there will be many more great opportunities in the future.  Bide your time until you are ready, and the opportunities will come.

Here are my thoughts about each of the offers…

Chase Ink cards

I’ve said many times that the Chase Ink cards are flat-out my favorite rewards cards.  No other cards have that perfect mix of high sign-up bonuses, high earnings for spend (5X for office supplies, phone, internet, and cable!), and valuable rewards (Ultimate Rewards!).  If you’re ready to sign up for one of these cards, then of course you should jump on it this week while the signup bonus is higher (see How to sign up for the Ink Bold (or Ink Plus)).  If you’re not ready, then wait.  The regular every day sign-up bonuses for these cards are still awesome. 

Lufthansa card

Lufthansa miles are, ironically, the best currency for flying domestic first class on United Airlines (see “Best options for domestic First Class“).  51,000 Lufthansa miles are enough for 3 one-way domestic first class (or business class) domestic flights on United.  That’s really great if you’ll use the miles that way.  Will you?  Or, will they sit in your account unused for years – perhaps until Lufthansa devalues their program?  Just some thoughts to consider before jumping in.

Southwest cards

The Southwest 50K offers are terrific.  As I learned recently, Southwest points are generally worth about 1.9 cents each towards Wanna Getaway fares (see “More value from Southwest points“).  That means that 50K points are worth about $950 in travel.  Sweet.  The best use of these sign-up offers, though, is to go for the Southwest Companion Pass.  If you rack up 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year on Southwest (by flying or from credit card spend or from partners), you’ll earn a companion pass that is valid for an unlimited number of flights for the rest of that year and all of the next year!  The easiest way to qualify for this is to signup for two 50K offers at once (there are 4 different Southwest cards, after all) and make up the difference towards 110K through credit card spend or other means.  That’s an amazing deal, but for most people this is the wrong time of year to go for it.  The best time to go for 110K points is at the beginning of a calendar year.  That way, you can qualify for the companion pass early in the year and have almost two full years to use it.  Personally, I’d wait to see if a similar deal appears in December.  Sign up for two cards then, but don’t put any spend on them until January so that all of your points post as early in the new year as possible.  Of course, if you have lots of opportunity for Southwest Airlines travel (with a companion) towards the end of this year, it could still be worth it to go for it now.  Just keep in mind that it can take time for points to post so expect to go a couple of months, at least, before getting the companion pass.

Bottom Line

Overall, each of the limited time offers discussed above really are terrific offers.  On the other hand, none of the offers are so radically different from the norm that you should drop everything and sign up.  If the cards are right for you, great, you’ll find the offers here.  If not, don’t sweat it.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Regarding the Southwest card, could you sign up now and wait till Jan to spend? I know you’d be “wasting” 6 months but you’d ensure a companion pass for the next two years.

    • Max: As others have answered, you can’t signup now for the Southwest cards and wait until Jan to spend because you need to spend $2K in 3 months (from approval) on each card in order to get the signup bonus.

      MilesAbound: Thanks. I think it depends on how often people are likely to use the companion pass. If the answer is “a lot” then yes it is a big risk to wait until December. Otherwise, waiting for the optimal time to signup can make sense since it would give the person more chances to use the pass.

  2. Wow a breath of fresh air in a sea of prostitution. I am now Google Reader is ending July 1st because I won’t need to go through purging myself!

    One comment re: the Southwest cards though. The 50k offers come and go, but it’s brash of us all to assume they will keep coming back. Personally I recommend to any of my friends that if they want that companion pass, wait for the next 50k round (i.e. now) and jump on it. Trying to stretch the full two years out of it is a bit like trying to maximize cents per point on other redemptions – it can cause you to miss the forest because of the trees

  3. Greg, thanks for a refreshing view on things.

    As an aside on the Chase 60k… I happened to go through my screenshots, and saw a similar offer from June of 2012. Might be a trend for Small Business Week.

    • Tevor: I can’t remember a 60K offer from June of 2012 (but I do remember one in April 2012), nor can I find any blog posts about it. Can you send me the screenshot via email?

      Jonathan: I can’t speak for your situation, but I applied for both the Club Carlson personal and business cards at once about 4 months after an app-o-rama and I was approved for both without having to go through reconsideration.

  4. Thanks for the perspective, its hard not to be a points glutten when these deals come out! Question for you. I really want the club carlson cards but my first churn was a little over 3 months ago. I was thinking of waiting 5 months because I’ve heard they are very strict about recent credit inquiries but these new offers are tempting me to try my next churn (including going for CC) this week. Thoughts? Do you think waiting an extra 2 months would make the difference between approval or not?

  5. Thank God there’s at least one blogger who isn’t a credit card pimp. Unfortunately I’m not signing up for any of these cards but if I did I would support your site.

  6. @FM – thanks for the refreshing post. I did sign up for the southwest and Lufthansa card, but it was my regular time for doing a churn, and I think that I can get a lot of value out of the companion pass yet his year. The perspective from you about how unique of these deals actually are helps people make an informed decision.

  7. Thank you! I can’t believe only 1 blogger is out there saying this. The amount of porn over 10K extra miles has been vomit-inducing.

    I don’t think I will be applying for the upped Chase bonuses, but if and when I do, I will absolutely be giving my referral click here.

  8. @Max Careful waiting to spend on the Southwest cards, the terms say you would get the bonus 50K only if you make the spend in the first 3 months.

  9. FM, I am moving to the UK in August for at least one year for grad school and want to apply for an Ultimate Awards card prior to moving. Should I pull the trigger on the Ink Plus or should I go with the lower bonus Sapphire Preferred? I have been eying the SP for a while now, but we also do have a small business, so I don’t think we’d have an issue getting approved. Also, with all the expenses I have coming up, the minimum spend shouldn’t be an issue.

    • Rob H: If I were you I’d consider applying for both cards. Here’s why:
      1) While you’re in the UK and traveling back and forth you’re bound to have lots of travel and dining expenses (2X with Sapphire Preferred)
      2) I’d guess you’ll also have large cell phone expenses? If so, you’ll get 5X with the Ink
      3) Obviously, you’d get a fantastic combined bonus of 100K (60K Ink Plus + 40K Sapphire Preferred)!

      If you want just one, its a tough call. My guess is you’re more likely to take advantage of the Sapphire Preferred’s 2X categories, but it’s unlikely that you’ll spend so much in those categories to make up for the lower signup bonus.

  10. @Trevor THANK YOU! I’m not really wanting to sign up for another CC right now but was going to bite the bullet so I don’t miss the extra points.

    Based on your information I’ll wait till next year’s small business week and hope they up the bonus again. If they don’t, oh well, but I’ll be better suited to sign up for a card at that time.

  11. @Max, that wouldn’t work because you only have 3 months to reach the minimum spend to get the 50K SWA points. If you wait til January, you will have to spend 110,000 SWA points.

  12. @FM: Thanks for the wonderful post.
    I have 110K points in my ultimate rewards account and if I transfer all of them to my southwest rapid rewards account would I be eligible for companion pass?

  13. Nice perspective.
    Something to think about when in to the app-o-rama game. Instead of simply applying for sets of cards on a clock, reduce your churn and simply wait for the bumps in offers.

  14. This post is the only one worth reading in a sea of ridiculous blogger shill posts for Chase. The Ink offers are better than the standard offers…by 20%. That doesn’t make anything a ‘PHENOMENAL’ deal.

    If I were in the market for Ink cards, yours would be the only affiliate links I’d ever consider using for the 60k offer.

  15. George sent me.
    Used your link for the Chase Ink application.

    Hate the hype. I don’t do the app game and agree with SJCRussell – Keep up the good work.

  16. Another thought on using a business card (not just the latest deals) is that spending doesn’t count against your credit utilization and therefore helps your credit score.As far as the SW cards go,I agree with getting it at the end of the year (Dec) so the spending is counted in the new year. I will have the CP for 23 months…….

  17. Not to be contrary, but I think its an offer that is hype worthy. I agree its the best card on the market (bonus, earn, burn). I have been jumping on limited offers all year (Amex Plat 100K, Amex BRG 75K/5K spend, now Ink 60K). As the banks adjust to bonus harvesters (like me/us), its a great way to keep the inquiries/new lines down with the points up.

  18. Thanks for your honest opinion. I sometimes disagree with you but can surely say, you are the best travel blogger out there, hands down!

  19. @FM, idk if you have tried the OM $200 GC deal, but its working as of today. Most stores are out of $100/$200 Visa cards, but MC work fine. If you don’t see them in the usual place, ask someone working to open up the GC rack, there are usually bundles of unused cards in there (aka the secret stash).

  20. Just got the Ink plus…actually I applied last week – few days ago before this offer started, but called them and they agreed to extend the offer…one question though – when i first use my card in office supply stores, will the purchase earn me 5X additional points or it will just count towards the first $5000 spend? In other words, will I earn any additional points until the $5000 spend requirement is fulfilled?

    • arnab: Your spend will qualify for 5X right away. For example, if you spent all $5K at office supply stores, you would get 25K points for that spend + 60K points for the signup bonus for a total of 85K points.

  21. Ok, it seems that the last response is a couple of days old…but has anybody else tried calling in on the reconsideration line and getting “call back next week because of high call volume?” apparently the CSR’s aren’t able to approve anything over the phone right now…I also wonder what this means for when one gets approved and it’s back down to 50k bonus instead of 60k…

  22. Gabriel: I’ve heard from others that Chase is telling people that they’re not expediting applications right now. I think that the best option is to simply wait to see if you are approved or not. Call recon only if you’re not approved. Yes, you’ll still get the 60K bonus (once approved) as long as you applied this week (and you meet the spend requirements).

  23. I intended to apply for the Ink Bold in the Fall. My last AOR was mid-April. Was approved for the 5 personal cards I had applied for.

    Since I am short of the 91 days and will all these recent inquiries, should I wait or apply now?

    I did not apply for any Chase cards during my last AOR. The biz is under my name and using my SSN.

    • Alex: That’s a tough call. You still have a good chance of getting approved now, but since this isn’t a huge increase over the usual 50K offer it might make more sense for you to wait.

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