[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
With the rise of the gig economy, it seems like there are more ways than ever to earn an extra buck. But to benefit from these additional sources of income you have to, um, work. As in put forth effort. That’s just — boring. And tiring. Extra money without having to do more work? That’s the dream.
Of course, there are lots of ways to stretch a dollar — coupons, rebates, sale shopping, investments, and so on — but few are as passive as the credit card signup bonus. By opening a new credit card, you can easily earn an extra $100 in a few months, without having to do anything special. Here are some questions to ask yourself before diving into this credit card strategy.
1. Do You Need a Credit Card?
Credit cards aren’t for everyone, especially credit cards with rewards or signup bonuses. You can see why: They incentivize spending, which can be problematic for people who have trouble sticking to a budget or are in debt. But if you’re in the market for a new credit card, you may want to consider signup bonuses when deciding what card to apply for.
2. How Do Credit Card Signup Bonuses Work?
Many credit card issuers will credit your account with or send you a check for a bonus if you reach a specific spending threshold within a certain number of days of opening the card. For example, if you open a Chase Freedom credit card and spend $500 within the first three months, you earn a $150 bonus. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card has a similar signup bonus: $150 if you spend $500 within three months of opening a card.
3. How Is That ‘Doing Nothing’?
For many people, credit cards with lower bonus thresholds can be reached making everyday purchases. Think about it: Do you buy $500 of groceries over the course of three months? Do you have bills you can pay with a credit card without incurring a processing fee? You had to buy the kids winter clothes anyway, so why not use a credit card at checkout? As long as you’re not going out of your way to reach the spending goal, you’re effortlessly earning that bonus.
4. What Credit Cards Have a $100 Welcome Offers?
Several credit cards have a welcome offer close to $150 — we’ve already mentioned two — and many of them also have no annual fee (including the Chase Freedom and Capital One Quicksilver). But before you start looking at these credit cards, it’s important to know that whether or not you can get them heavily depends on your credit standing. Rewards credit cards and credit cards with signup bonuses often require applicants to have good or excellent credit. (You can see where your credit stands by getting two of your credit scores for free every 14 days on Credit.com.)
Here are some other credit cards with signup bonuses near $100 and no annual fee.
PenFed Promise Visa Card: $100 bonus for spending $1,500 in the first 3 months.
BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card: $100 bonus for spending $500 in 90 days.
NFL Extra Points Credit Card: 10,000 bonus points (equal to $100 cash back) for spending $500 in the first 90 days.
M&T Visa: 10,000 bonus points (equal to $100 cash back) for spending $500 in the first 90 days.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of signup bonuses — there are many more larger bonuses, though those tend to require a lot more initial spend and maybe an annual fee. Whenever you’re thinking about applying for new credit, make sure you look at the product holistically. The signup bonus may be attractive, but if the card’s regular terms or rewards don’t make sense for you (e.g. a high annual fee you can’t out-earn with rewards or credit requirements you don’t meet), then it’s probably not a good idea to apply for it. Remember, each time you apply for a credit card (or any other kind of credit), your credit score will drop a bit, and too many credit inquiries in a short period of time can scare off would-be creditors.
At publishing time, the Chase Freedom, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards, PenFed Promise, Amex EveryDay and NFL Extra Points cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
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.