Can you get a higher sign-up bonus if it goes up after you already applied?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
A common topic of discussion in our TPG Lounge Facebook group is whether you can get a higher sign-up bonus after you’ve already been approved for a credit card and opened the account. New cardholders are often frustrated when they apply for a credit card, only to see a better bonus offer announced the following week or month. This means potentially missing out on hundreds of dollars in value.
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Sign-up bonuses come and go. There are some great elevated welcome bonuses right now. However, if you recently applied for a credit card before the bonus offer increased, let's look at what you can do when your application preceded the better offer by a couple of weeks (or maybe even days). We'll also highlight which banks are more likely to match you to the better offer, coupled with some prior experiences from TPG staff.
How to request the higher bonus
It happens — sometimes you get approved for a credit card, then the publicly available offer increases by thousands of points just a few days later. When this happens, contact the issuer directly. There are multiple ways to contact the issuer, so it can be worth a shot to try each method to find a representative who can assist you with your request.
You can typically find the issuer’s customer service phone number on the back of your new card. Some issuers, such as American Express and Citi, offer a live chat function on your account that can help you reach a representative more quickly.
Explain that you would like the issuer to consider the difference in points, citing the exact time frame it has been since you applied and when the new welcome offer was released. While we can’t guarantee this will work, it may be worth discussing with multiple people before you give up entirely. If the chat team seems unhelpful, try calling to see if your luck improves.
A final note is that some issuers are more flexible than others. If you have a long-standing relationship with the bank, you may have better luck making a case for yourself as a customer.
When requesting a higher sign-up bonus does and doesn't work
Each bank will be different, and each bank may not always give the same answer to the question, "Can I be matched to a higher bonus offer?" What the bank says to you might be different than what it said to someone else you know. However, we have compiled our experiences over time and recent data points to provide a picture of what is typical with each bank.
Amex rarely matches increased welcome offers, though it can happen on occasion. This tends to be the exception, however. When Amex does offer something, it tends to be courtesy credits in the form of Membership Rewards points. These can be up to the full value of the difference between the bonus you applied for and the new (higher) bonus.
Bank of America
Matching to a higher welcome bonus with Bank of America is possible, but it may be dependent on your banking relationship. The longer you've been a customer and the higher your Preferred Rewards tier, the better your chances may be.
Barclays may match an offer within 30 days of your application date, so keep an eye on any Barclays card you apply for. After those 30 days, it's extremely unlikely that the bank will match you to a higher bonus offer.
This bank historically has not matched elevated sign-up bonuses. The lone exception seems to be on the Capital One Spark Cash Plus, which is a business card. There are data points for small-business owners being matched to the higher sign-up bonus that was available earlier.
Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chase reliably matched elevated sign-up bonus offers. However, that changed in 2020. We hope Chase will start matching elevated bonus offers again.
This issuer typically matches offers within 90 days of your application date. Thus, keep an eye on the publicly available offers for any card within three months of applying. If the offer goes up, you should be able to match to the higher bonus.
Many Discover cards don't come with welcome bonuses. When a bonus is available, reports are scattered on whether you can match to this elevated bonus. Requesting to escalate your case to a supervisor may help your chances. The end result may be a courtesy credit on your account.
It's uncommon, but some customers have been matched to increased bonus offers. These usually came when asking for a supervisor to reconsider the request.
The bank will not match increased sign-up bonuses after you've already submitted an application for a credit card.
Our experiences requesting matches to higher bonuses
No luck with Chase
Alex Maben, senior product designer, applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card last year when the sign-up bonus offered 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points. In the following months, the bonus jumped to 80,000 and then 100,000 points. When she called Chase, the bank would not match her to the elevated sign-up bonus.
A TPG Lounge member, Jackie, also applied for the Sapphire Preferred with its original 60,000-point bonus. When the bonus climbed to 100,000 points, Jackie asked Chase about obtaining the higher offer. Chase responded that matching to the increased sign-up bonus was not possible.
Mixed results with Amex
Ryan Cribb, staff engineer, applied for the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card in 2019 when the bonus offer included 75,000 SkyMiles. While he was still working on his minimum spending requirement, the welcome bonus increased to 90,000 SkyMiles. He called Amex but could not get matched to the higher bonus offer.
However, last year, I applied for the American Express® Gold Card with a welcome offer of 70,000 Membership Rewards points. Less than a month later, a 90,000-point bonus became available. I chatted with Amex to ask if I could be matched to this offer. The chat agent said it likely wasn't possible but advised that I complete the increased spending requirement and then try another chat to ask for the extra points by pointing out that I had done the work required for the higher bonus. After completing my spending requirements, a new chat agent awarded me 10,000 bonus points as a goodwill gesture.
Success with Citi
In 2020, I was able to match to a higher welcome offer on the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® when its welcome offer increased from 65,000 AAdvantage miles to 75,000 miles less than two months after I'd applied for the card. I requested this over the phone and was approved. I didn't receive anything in writing to confirm my new offer and was worried I wouldn't receive the extra miles. However, the bonus miles posted once I completed the minimum spending requirements.
Learn from your mistakes
We all make mistakes when it comes to credit cards. At some point, everyone is a rookie at the points and miles game.
Sometimes, you forget that some cards charge foreign transaction fees when traveling internationally. Other times, you mess up the dates or spending requirements on your new card, missing out on a sign-up bonus or failing to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.
It happens to the best of us, so sometimes you can take this as a lesson for next time. Here at TPG, we have hundreds of card reviews and stories analyzing the latest offers, so it’s worth checking our site before blindly applying for a card.
Related: I got my spending requirement wrong — reader mistake story
Plus, you can use the CardMatch tool to check out all of the targeted offers available to you. These offers are subject to change at any time. However, users of this tool have reported finding higher offers from time to time, so check all of your options next time to make sure you’re getting the best deal available.
Related: How to use the CardMatch tool to get better credit card welcome offers
There’s no hard-and-fast rule regarding whether you can get an elevated bonus after you’ve already applied. Many factors will be decided on a case-by-case basis and at the card issuer’s discretion.
At the end of the day, while the sign-up bonus is motivating to get someone to apply, you’ll also want to consider the long-term value of your card and how it fits into your award travel strategy.