Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses Compared: Are Any Of Them Worthwhile?

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Cash back, gift cards and wads of bonus rewards points – credit card providers are pulling out some of their biggest deals to date to get credit cards into the hands of new customers in the lead up to Christmas.

But do these sign up bonuses really deliver bang for your buck? The answer is yes, but only if you’re the right type of customer.

Citi’s Prestige Credit card offers the highest sign on special totalling 400,000 bonus points over the first 20 months. The catch? The card has the highest annual fee on the market at $700 which you’ll need to pay twice before you get all your points. You must also have an annual income of at least $150,000 to even qualify for this credit card.

The highest sweetener from a big bank is the ANZ Frequent Flyer Black, offering 120,000 Qantas points to new customers, and $150 cash back. However, this credit cards also comes with a hefty annual fee of $425.

American Express, which overhauled its credit cards rewards system this month, has doubled the bonus points on its Amex Explorer to 100,000. It comes with an annual fee of $395 but you’ll also get a travel voucher of a similar amount each year.

Cards offering some of the biggest sign up bonuses

Credit Card Sign up bonus Annual fee Rate Fine print Voucher Value
Citi Prestige credit card up to 400,000 $700 20.99% 20,000 points every month for 20 months. Must have an annual income of $150K + $1920 Coles voucher
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black 120,000 Qantas points + $150 cashback $425 19.99% Spend $7,500+ on eligible purchases in the first 3 months $610 Woolworths voucher
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black 100,000 rewards points $395 20.74% Spend $3,000 in the first 3 months $740 Coles voucher


Source: RateCity.com.au

RateCity.com.au research director Sally Tindall says you’re likely to end up ahead in the first year on these cards, if you redeem your points and don’t accrue any interest, however credit cards have a habit of tripping customers up in the long term.

"While these types of specials are tempting, it’s important to think about the longer-term implications: the majority of rewards cards have high fees and high interest rates.

"If you are someone who doesn’t clear their card in full every month then it’s probably better to opt for a low rate, low fee card," she said.

In fact, there are a few rewards cards on the market with no and low fees that still offer sign up bonuses.

RateCity picks – low fee rewards cards

Credit Card Sign up bonus Annual fee Rate
CUA Brisbane Heat Platinum 25,000 rewards points $0 19.99%
Coles No annual fee Mastercard None $0 19.99%
Amex Essentials None $0 14.99%
Everyday Platinum Woolworths $50 gift card and no fee in 1st year $49 19.99%


Source: RateCity.com.au

CUA’s Brisbane Heat Platinum credit card offers new customers 25,000 rewards points, which will get you a $100 Coles supermarket voucher, but what customer don’t get is a huge annual fee, in fact, it’s $0.

However, with recent research from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) showing that one in six Australians is struggling to replay their credit card debt, consumers need to be careful before signing up to any new credit card.

ASIC research also shows that consumers could have saved $621 million a year if they had switched their current credit cards to a low rate and low thrills credit card.

"Rewards credit cards can be great but only if you’re a relatively big spender, you clear your debt in full every month and you get more back than you spend in annual fees. If this isn’t you, you may want to consider signing up for a low-fees and low rate credit card," Sally Tindall said.

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