Did you know that your favorite blog or the first post that shows up in Google may not be the best place to find a credit card signup bonus? Blogs and websites like The Points Guy may not be giving you the best offer for a credit card.
This site has no relationships or affiliations with banks, and you will find a short section of top credit cards I recommend with non-affiliate links. Most travel/points blogs and similar websites (Nerd Wallet, The Points Guy, etc.) have relationships with banks, meaning that banks give them compensation for every user who signs up through a link on the respective site. They hope that you overlook the legal jargon at the top warning you that the post is basically one big advertisement for a credit card.
Why do you think that most points sites overlook the fact that you should always use a debit card first, track your spending and carry around just a few cards? Instead you will see posts like “here are the 25 cards I have in my wallet” and “why you need to sign up for this Delta credit card NOW.” You don’t need 25 cards in your wallet, and you certainly do not need those Delta miles if you only fly a few times a year on various airlines. If you exclusively fly Delta or live near a Delta hub, it may make sense to get the card, but mostly for the signup bonus and perks.
I don’t recommend specific cards below since I prefer to tailor cards to someone’s specific needs and financial situation. You can read those in the Aaron’s Advice section of this website. However, once you have identified the right card for you and you have determined you can pay off your monthly statement, use the following advice to find the best signups.
Use Incognito Browsing!
Get your mind out of the gutter. Often times incognito browsing will show you a better offer for American Express cards. Why? Amex knows when you visit their site and see a certain offer. If you visit that site for the first time, the offer is better. Once you’ve been searching around, however, American Express can offer you fewer points or cash back since they know you’ve done some research and thought twice about a card.
Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. I’ve also included screenshots below for the American Express Gold Card. The standard offer is 35,000 points, but you can get 15,000 more points if you search through incognito browsing! Note I am not logged into my account in either scenario, although if I logged in, it would show the lower offer. Do not log into your account in incognito mode (if you have an American express account). You can be approved without logging in.
Note that this does not work for Citi or Chase offers, as those are normally fixed, and it won’t matter which browser you use or if you are in incognito mode.
Doctor of Credit
My favorite site for credit card offers is Doctor of Credit (non-affiliate link). The site is one that points and deals nerds should follow regularly anyway. Doctor of Credit, like this site, does not refer using affiliate links and will always provide the best signup bonus for the card.
Always check the best credit card signup bonuses too–there might be something traditional blogs and websites are not pushing.
I found out about my $100 statement credit Alaska Airlines Credit Card (non-affiliate link) offer through Doctor of Credit. Other miles and points sites pushed the 40,000 point bonus and companion pass but not the $100 credit because it requires you to go to the Alaska site directly and sign up directly. That doesn’t give the blogs any additional revenue, so they did not push that signup link. But I pocketed the extra $100, which covered the card’s first year $75 fee and got me a “free” $25 Disney Gift Card (I still had to spend $2,000 on the card).
Mile Nerd was a great daily deal website with no fluff or paid links. The author did a great job posting five days a week, and the content was a great way to start my day. He explained why he stopped posting, but thankfully, he still updates the best credit card links. You can find them here. I am copying and pasting his credit card advice too, since it is the same advice I give my friends and blog readers:
- Find a new hobby until you can pay off all balances each month.
- Take a second to look at what you’re applying for and confirm a bonus is what you expect.
- Get a screenshot of the bonus description in case you have issues collecting it later.
- Take 2 minutes to read the small print before applying. (Look for “once in a lifetime,” “no bonus for cardholders in last 24 months,” etc.)
- Keep everything very organized in a spreadsheet. You’ll thank me later.
OH MY GOD PEOPLE ARE GETTING 100,000 AMERICAN EXPRESS POINTS THROUGH THE CARD MATCH TOOL! I’m sure you’ve seen this one around. No, it’s not spam, but you also don’t necessarily need a $550/year card. The 100,000 American Express points are worth it though assuming you can make the minimum spend on the card without driving yourself into debit (this is actually how I got started with my American Express points even though I eventually got rid of the card).
You can see if you are eligible for better American Express offers through the CreditCards.com Card Match tool (non-affiliate link), but just use the site for that since they also get bonuses for everyone who signs up for their links.
Don’t sign up for a credit card just because a points expert said it had the best signup ever. Do your research and find a card that works best for you and your needs. It may be a cash back card no points blog is talking about because they won’t receive referral credit for it. Use Mile Nerd and Doctor of Credit to your advantage to see what best offers are out there.
Questions? Comments? Post below!