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Credit cards with 100,000-point intro bonuses used to be a rarity. These days, though, they are almost commonplace as issuers try to outdo one another with flashy offers to attract new customers. While credit card intro bonuses of 100,000 points may sound enticing, they might not be worth all that much.
No matter how high its welcome offer, there are a few factors you should consider before you apply for any new credit card, including the value you will eventually get from those points, the spending requirements to earn its bonus and whether you can afford the card's annual fee. Here's how to know whether a 100,000-point intro bonus is worth it.
What Are 100,000 Points Worth?
At first glance, 100,000 points might sound like a lot. However, what 100,000 points are worth can vary dramatically depending on the type of points and even the specific credit card you carry.
- Some points have fixed values. Some credit card rewards have a fixed value, meaning each point is worth a set amount. For instance, Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase. So you'd get $1,250 worth of travel through Chase with 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
- The value of points can depend on how you redeem them. Even with points that are redeemable at fixed rates, including Capital One miles and Chase Ultimate Rewards points, those fixed values can change based on how you redeem them. You can transfer both Capital One miles and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to various airline and hotel partners. You can also opt for statement credits toward non-travel purchases and your value will vary.
- Airline miles should be worth about 1 cent each. Although airline frequent-flier miles can be worth vastly different dollar amounts depending on how you redeem them, you should aim to get around 1 cent per mile in value. A credit card intro bonus of 100,000 miles, such as the one sometimes available with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card (earn 100,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening), should net you something like $1,000 in value.
- Hotel points are generally worth less than 1 cent each. Hotel credit cards extend intro bonuses of 100,000 or more points more frequently than other types of rewards cards. Unfortunately, hotel points also tend to be worth less than 1 cent apiece these days. To take a quick example, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is currently offering 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. That's more points than this card has ever offered before. But considering Hilton Honors points are typically worth around half a cent each toward award nights, 130,000 of them would only be worth around $650. Terms apply to American Express offers.
- Take advantage of limited-time offers. Many 100,000-point credit card intro bonuses are only available for a limited time, so you should apply while you can if there's one you find appealing. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has previously offered new cardholders 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. However, its intro bonus is currently 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months—and those additional 40,000 points would be worth an extra $500 toward travel. For its part, the Platinum Card® from American Express previously offered 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. For a limited time, though, new cardmembers can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first 6 months (terms apply). Not only do you have twice as long to complete just a little more spending, but you could earn a full 40,000 more points than usual, which Amex's points calculator values anywhere from $200 to $400.
Earning 100,000 points as part of a credit card intro bonus can be a great way to boost your rewards. But just how much value you can get from those 100,000 points will depend on the card you apply for and how you redeem those rewards.
What to Consider Before Opening a New Card for an Intro Bonus
It might be tempting to fill out an online form and hit that "Apply" button when there are 100,000 points potentially waiting in the wings. It's key, however, to first look at the bigger picture and think beyond the welcome offer. Be sure to consider a card's fees, spending requirements and financing terms before opening a new card with the intention of earning an intro bonus.
- Can you afford the annual fee? Credit cards with the best intro bonuses tend to be premium products that charge annual fees. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, has a $95 annual fee, while The Platinum Card® from American Express has a $695 annual fee. Before you think about opening a credit card, make sure you can afford its annual fee and that you will get enough value out of the card to justify paying the fee year after year.
- How much do you need to spend to earn the bonus? Although some rewards credit cards offer introductory bonuses just for signing up and making a single purchase (and paying the annual fee), most require you to spend a certain amount of money within a specific time frame. It's unwise to spend just for the sake of earning a bonus, so make sure you can meet its requirements without changing your spending habits and are able to pay your balances off on time and in full each month before opening any new card.
- What interest rates will apply to your purchases? Introductory 0% APR offers are available on some cards, but the types of cards that field 100,000-point welcome offers typically have a variable APR right off the bat. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card's APR is a variable 15.99% to 22.99%, for instance. If you wind up carrying a balance from month to month, you'll incur interest charges on your purchases, which can easily negate the value of any reward points you earn.
- At what rate will you earn rewards? Beyond a card's intro bonus, it's important to maximize its ongoing earnings. Many credit cards earn bonus rewards in specific categories, such as dining or gas. Look at your month-to-month expenses and pick a credit card that earns the most points on the things you typically spend money on.
- How much are the points worth? Think about how you will use your bonus points and make sure that you are getting a good value from them. If your card's intro bonus is 100,000 points, aim for around $1,000 in value.
Should You Try to Earn A 100,000-Point Bonus?
Even if you know you want to earn a 100,000-point credit card intro bonus, you should make sure it's worth the effort and within your means. A 100,000-point bonus might be good for you if:
- You can qualify. Credit cards that offer 100,000-point intro bonuses tend to be highly selective about the applicants they approve. In general, you'll need good to excellent credit and a healthy financial profile to be considered.
- You don't have to overspend to earn a bonus. The cardinal rule of applying for a new credit card is that you should be able to meet its spending requirements without stretching your finances. If the annual fee is too high, or the minimum spending conditions will be difficult for you to fulfill, wait until your circumstances have improved. Otherwise, you might wind up damaging your credit with late payments and high balances.
- You will use the rewards and perks. Finally, make sure you'll be able to redeem those 100,000 bonus points for something you want. After all, it doesn't help to earn airline miles if what you really want are hotel points for free stays. Or maybe you'd get more use out of cash back rewards than hotel points. Just make sure you're earning the type of rewards you need and will use.
When a credit card you want posts a 100,000-point intro bonus, it can be tempting to apply immediately. But before you do, take the time to think about the types of points you want, whether you can meet the spending requirements and how a new card will fit into your financial outlook. You can find current credit card offers and personalized options through Experian CreditMatch™.
The information related to the British Airways Visa Signature® Card has been collected by Experian and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card.