Is it Ever Worth Getting a New Credit Card with No Signup Bonus? TravelSort reader Christine writes “I recently tried to apply for an American Express Gold card, but in the process of applying, I got a message that based on my history with American Express welcome offers or the number of cards opened and closed, I'm not eligible to receive the bonus. I've never had this card, so I was disappointed. Is it ever worth signing up for a credit card without the signup bonus?”
This reader isn't alone–a number of applicants who have never had the AMEX card in question have been warned during the application that, if they proceed, they won't earn a signup bonus. This can occur even if you've never had the AMEX card that you're applying for.
Other Examples of AMEX Denying a Signup Bonus for Applicants Who Haven't Had the Card Before
“I'm getting the pop-up saying I am ineligible for a bonus on Hilton cards based on my past history with Amex. I've never held an Amex Hilton card, and my last application for an Amex card was Blue Business Plus more than a year ago. I've only attempted a Hilton Honors 75k app, and have not attempted an app for any other card product. I have three cards open currently: Old Blue Cash, Amex Everyday, and BlueBiz Plus.” (Flyertalker Klcarus)
“Wife got the pop up when applying for an Ascend card, she's only had one AMEX card, an AMEX Platinum that we use mostly for the benefits and AMEX Offers….” (Flyertalker patriots68)
“My wife is 7/24 with 2 Chase Business cards. She applied for the 60K Delta AMEX business card tonight and before they ran her credit they came back with a message saying she would not be eligible for the bonus…she has one open AMEX card, a NAF Hilton that she opened about 3 years ago and only one other AMEX card in her life, a SPG from 2014” (Flyertalker flyer4512)
The above examples are all from AMEX, which will allow you to apply for a card even if you're not eligible for the signup bonus. Chase, on the other hand, will outright deny you and prevent you from getting a new Chase credit card if you've applied 5 or more times for credit (not just with Chase, and not just credit cards) with the exception of certain business credit cards (the Chase 5/24 rule). It can, however, be possible to product change an existing card to a different Chase card, although you won't earn any signup bonus in the case of product changes.
When It Can Be Worth Getting a Credit Card with No Signup Bonus
There are several cases when it can make sense to get a credit card, even without any sign-up bonus at all; they usually fall into one or more of these categories:
- Credit cards with lucrative benefits
- Credit cards with great category bonuses
- Product change to a no annual fee card
- A new no annual fee card to avoid losing transferable points
Credit Cards with Lucrative Benefits
While not everyone will agree on which benefits are most lucrative, examples of cards that some would put in this category include:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: $300 travel statement credit per member year, Insurance for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay, Primary Auto Rental CDW coverage.
- AMEX Platinum: Access to AMEX Centurion Lounges, $250 airline incidental fee credit, Fine Hotels & Resorts program
- Hilton Aspire: Diamond elite status, $250 airline incidental fee credit, $250 resort statement credit, annual free weekend night reward
Credit Cards with Great Category Bonuses
- Chase Freedom with 5X bonus on categories that change each quarter
- Ink Cash: 5X (transferable to Ultimate Rewards partners if you have an Ultimate Rewards-linked card; otherwise 5% cash back) for spend at office supply stores and for Internet, cable and phone spend on the first $25,000 combined purchases per member year
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3X Ultimate Rewards points on all travel and dining spend
- Ink Business Preferred: 3X Ultimate Rewards points for spend on travel, for shipping, on ad purchases with social media sites and search engines, at office supply stores and for Internet, cable and phone spend on the first $150,000 combined purchases per member year
- AMEX Blue Business Plus: 2X Membership Rewards points on all spend, up to $50,000 per calendar year
A Product Change to a No Annual Fee Card
Rather than closing a card with an annual fee, it can be worth product changing the card to a no annual fee card if that's an option, to help with your average age of accounts, one of several metrics used to calculate your credit score. Even better if you can change to a no fee credit card that also offers a great category bonus, such as the Chase Freedom, Ink Cash, or AMEX Blue Business Plus.
This is also why my husband and I each have two Chase Freedom cards: the 5X bonus is limited to $1500 spend per quarter per card, so for attractive 5X categories, we can each spend up to $3000 ($1500 on each card) to earn $15,000 points per person, instead of 7500 points each.
A New No Annual Fee Card to Protect Transferable Points
Another scenario is when you're closing a high annual fee card, such as the AMEX Business Platinum, yet still have Membership Rewards linked to the card. Rather than having to transfer all your Membership Rewards points to a travel partner, you can instead open a no annual fee card such as the AMEX Blue Business Plus to keep your Membership Rewards points alive.
It can be worth getting a card even if you won't earn a signup bonus, whether because AMEX is denying you a bonus due to previously having the card or for other factors, or because you're product changing to a card and hence won't earn bonus miles or points. It depends on how much you value the a) card benefits; b) card category bonuses and/or c) the no fee or lower annual fee aspect of the card.
Have you ever gotten a credit card without the signup bonus? What was worth it to you to get the card even without a bonus?
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