By JULIE RAINS
Big rewards are here. According to an October CNBC report, credit card companies are offering huge signup bonuses because consumer spending is up and card delinquency rates are down.
These incentives may come in the form of cash back or rewards points for travel or other goodies.
To be eligible for the bonuses, you typically must spend a certain amount or take a specific action using the new card generally within a few months of opening an account. The offers can be appealing -- especially if you're planning to make a large purchase or book travel anyway.
Before applying for a card, though, think about whether you can afford to meet spending requirements to qualify for points or whether you might overspend in order to do so.
Here are five cards with some of the biggest signup bonuses.
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Signup bonus: 50,000 points
Right now you can receive 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred® account. In addition, you can snag 5,000 additional points by adding an authorized user and making one purchase in this time period.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® points are easy to redeem and don't require spending on travel to receive the value of this signup bonus. Still, you can get a 20 percent discount when you book travel with points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, or transfer points to travel partners such as Marriott Rewards® and United MileagePlus®. Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders can also redeem points for cash and gift cards.
If you meet spending requirements and add an authorized user, the signup bonus could be worth $687.50 in travel or $550 in cash back.
Watch out for: After the first year, you'll pay a $95 annual fee. Prices for travel services offered through the Ultimate Rewards® portal may be different than those booked through other sales channels.
2. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Signup bonus: 40,000 points
You can pick up 40,000 points for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® program today by spending $1,000 in the first three months of receiving the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.
Points can be redeemed through the Rapid Rewards® program offered by Southwest Airlines. Use the Destination Finder to estimate points required for airline travel.
You can also spend points on international flights, hotel stays, gift cards and merchandise through More Rewards, which is tied to the Rapid Rewards® program.
Watch out for: You'll pay an annual fee of $99. Southwest Airlines has fewer destinations than many of its competitors, so you may have difficulty finding a flight that meets your preferences. Points aren't worth as much in the More Rewards program compared to their value in Rapid Rewards®.
3. British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Signup bonus: 50,000 Avios (points)
You'll receive 50,000 Avios when you spend $3,000 in the first three months right now using the British Airways Visa Signature® card.
Avios points are transferred automatically to your British Airways account for use within its Executive Club. You can book rewards flights using Avios points on British Airways and oneworld partners, such as American Airlines and airberlin. In addition, points can purchase hotel stays and other travel services.
Watch out for: This card carries an annual fee of $95. You'll need to pay extra for taxes, fees and carrier charges in addition to using Avios points to book British Airways flights. Points expire within 36 months unless you collect, spend, purchase or share at least one Avios during this time period.
4. Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card
Signup bonus: 50,000 points
Get 50,000 points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ card when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening the account.
Points are worth $.01 when redeemed for cash and gift cards. When applied to travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, points are worth $.015 or 50 percent more than their cash value.
You can also transfer points to certain airline and hotel loyalty programs, such as Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® and United MileagePlus®.
This signup bonus is worth up to $500 in cash or $750 in travel services.
Card perks include the opportunity to receive a $300 statement credit for travel purchases each year and access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide when you activate your free Priority Pass™ Select membership.
Watch out for: The annual fee is a hefty $450. Additional cards for authorized users are $75 per year. The cost of travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards may be different than prices available through other sales channels. Purchases for certain travel services, such as sightseeing activities and vacation rentals from real estate agencies, may not qualify for travel statement credits.
5. Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Signup bonus: 80,000 points
You can earn 80,000 points under the Marriott Rewards® program's current offer when you spend $3,000 in the first three months with the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card. You can earn an additional 7,500 points if you add an authorized user and you make your first purchase within the first three months.
Points are transferred to your Marriott Rewards® account automatically. Use them to pay for overnight stays, room upgrades or other amenities at more than 4,000 Marriott properties. You can also convert points to airline loyalty programs or use points to book travel services.
Other card benefits include a free night's stay at certain Marriott hotels on your account anniversary.
Watch out for: There's an annual fee of $85. And while 80,000 points may sound like a lot, staying at a Marriott hotel can be costly in points, requiring you to redeem as many as 45,000 points per night. Points required are based on the hotel's category; you can find the category of a desired hotel next to its description on the Marriott website.
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