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TPG reader Jenna sent me a message on Facebook to ask about referral bonuses:
“I thought all credit cards offered a bonus for getting a friend to apply (with approval), but Citi told me there’s no benefit to current clients for referring someone to the AAdvantage Platinum Select card. Does that sound right? It seems crazy to not get rewarded for referring a new customer.”
Most rewards credit cards offer a sign-up bonus when you first apply, but many also offer referral bonuses as in incentive for existing cardholders to spread the word. These bonuses can add a lot of value to your existing accounts and are a great way for couples (or other award travel partners) to maximize each card application. However, there are fairly specific rules for initiating a referral, and you’ll have to follow them if you want to cash in.
Jenna’s experience is typical, since Citi generally doesn’t offer referral bonuses for AAdvantage credit cards (or any card for that matter). You can earn referral bonuses for certain checking accounts (not the ones that earn rewards), but Citi’s marketing department has apparently decided credit card referrals aren’t worthwhile, even though both Chase and Amex (as well as other card issuers) offer such bonuses regularly.
Chase makes it easy to access referral bonuses through the Refer-A-Friend site. There, you can preview any offers on your account (including what the people you refer will receive for signing up), and send out invitations by email or on social media. For example, you can get 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points by referring the Chase Freedom card, and anyone using your link will still be able to earn a sign-up bonus of $150 (or 15,000 points) after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening.
American Express has a similar site, or you can often see what’s available by just logging in and looking for the small banner that says “Refer a friend. Reward yourself.” Some offers are public (like the one earlier this year for the Starwood Preferred Guest Card), while others may be targeted. Amex referrals are a bit less consistent than the ones from Chase, and they don’t always come with the best available sign-up bonus, so check for other offers to help the person you’re referring maximize his or her rewards.
In any case, you have to issue credit card referrals through an official channel — usually by filling out a form online that will generate a personalized application link. Simply telling a friend about the card or forwarding a generic application link won’t be enough. All the usual application restrictions will still apply, so make sure anyone you refer is actually eligible to earn a bonus.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|Intro APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Credit Rating|
|N/A||16.24%-23.24% Variable||Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95||0%||Excellent Credit|