TPG reader credit card question: Can I get a higher sign-up bonus after the account is opened?
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Editor’s note: This article is part of a column to answer your toughest credit card questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at email@example.com.
A common topic of discussion in our TPG Lounge group is whether you can get a higher sign-up bonus after you’ve already been approved for the card and opened the account. New cardholders are often frustrated when they see a better offer announced, potentially missing out on hundreds of dollars in value.
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Sign-up bonuses come and go. Since the pandemic, we’ve seen issuers offer a whole range of great offers to incentivize people to apply. With travel back on our radars, now is an ideal time to apply for that travel rewards card to get you closer to your next trip. We’ll go over the options if you miss out on a better offer by a couple of weeks (or maybe even days).
Contact the issuer directly
It happens — sometimes you get approved for a credit card, and within days, the publicly available offer increases by thousands of points.
When this happens, you can try to 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, offer a live chat function on your account that can help you reach a representative within seconds. You’ll want to explain that you ask if the issuer will 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.
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.
Refer and receive instead
If all else fails, remember that you can usually get a nice stash of points by referring someone to apply for your card. It’s a win-win situation: You’ll get some points, potentially making up for the lost opportunity, and your friend or family member will get the superior offer.
While this isn’t a perfect solution, remember that sign-up bonuses are temporary. Once you achieve the minimum spend threshold, you’ll want to focus on the card’s ongoing rewards rates. Remember that a sign-up bonus/welcome offer is merely just an incentive for you to apply, but there will be plenty of points-earning opportunities (not to mention the card’s perks) beyond the sign-up bonus that you should be focusing on.
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 (I made this crucial mistake on my first study abroad trip and paid 3% fees all summer), and sometimes you miss out on the spending minimum on a sign-up bonus/welcome offer by a few dollars.
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.
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 you’ll want to check all of your options next time to make sure you’re getting the best deal available.
There’s no hard and fast rule regarding whether you can get an elevated bonus after you’ve already applied. There are so many factors that will be a case-by-case situation 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 want to consider the long-term value of your card and how it fits into your award travel strategy.
Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy
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