Apply for These Top Offers While You Still Can

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Offers for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card are not available through this site. All information has been independently collected by AwardWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. Some offers may have expired. Please see our card marketplace for available offers.

While we don’t have any inside information we can share, we think the outlook for credit card bonuses is likely to take a turn for the worse in the coming months. Big banks are typically slow to make changes, but with Q2 right around the corner, the impact of the global health crisis could see a historic devaluation of offers combined with an increase in approval difficulty.

We usually focus on travel rewards and big points-and-miles bonuses. If you're looking for those, our “Top 10 Offers” post has the best points and miles deals available now. In today's post, we zero in on some of the low- or no-annual-fee cards we think could be harder to get in the coming months.

If you’ve been on the fence whether to apply for a new credit card, there are two big reasons to apply soon:

  • Getting approved will likely get harder — With last week’s record-shattering unemployment claims, banks are probably taking a hard look at which applications to approve. For many cards—especially those offering 0% intro APRs—that could mean higher standards and more denials.
  • Card bonuses could see a significant devaluation — Banks are under pressure to cut spending, and welcome bonuses are an easy target—especially if new customers might present a bigger risk than usual.

Neither of these predictions is a sure thing, but the logic behind both is hard to refute. Banks hate uncertainty, so if we were going to put our money behind a prediction, it would be that fewer cards will be approved in the near future.

The prospect of a major slump in offers seems less certain. Banks could hold the line or even increase offers as new customers become more scarce. But with budgets under pressure, our best guess is that the best offers we’ll see in Q2 are already on the market today.

What Cards Should You Have on Your Radar?

With so much uncertainty, now is the time to evaluate your card portfolio and consider moving from high-cost cards with travel benefits to a streamlined lineup of low- or no-annual-fee options. While none of these cards has a mega signup bonus, it's likely that it will become harder to get approved for cards offering an introductory APR as banks re-evaluate risk.

If you don’t have a safety net of savings to cover unexpected expenses, one of these cards could be excellent protection from high-interest rates over the next 12-18 months.

Cards With Ideal Categories for the Lockdown

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
The Blue Cash Everyday is a solid, no-annual-fee, cashback card for anyone who spends a lot on groceries and gas.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores
  • 1% back on other purchases
  • Welcome bonus: Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. (Terms Apply)
  • APR offer: Intro APR of 0% on purchases for 15 months plus an intro APR of 0% on balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a Variable rate of 12.99% - 23.99% .
  • Earning structure: 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $0

Why now: If you’re looking to earn cashback without paying an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday combines a solid return on groceries with a top intro APR offer. Grocery stores and gas stations are some of the only businesses still open in many parts of the country, making this an ideal pick for current conditions. The Blue Cash Everyday features one of the best APR offers available for personal cards, and with approval for intro APR cards likely getting harder over the coming months we see this card as a top candidate.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases
  • Welcome bonus: Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. (Terms Apply)
  • APR offer: Intro APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months plus an intro APR of 0% on balance transfers for 12 months, followed by a Variable rate of 12.99% - 23.99% .
  • Earning structure: 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $95

Why now: 6% is one of the highest fixed returns you’ll find on a cashback card, and on necessities like groceries and streaming services these are easy categories to take advantage of. While the Blue Cash Preferred carries an annual fee, it also offers a higher welcome bonus than its no-annual-fee counterpart, so your out of pocket expense is roughly the same for the first year. Our only wish is that the spending cap on groceries was a little higher to accommodate the average family’s annual grocery spend.

Cards With a Top Return on Everyday Spending

Citi® Double Cash Card
Citi® Double Cash Card
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Offer 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. (After that, the (Variable) APR will be 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness.)
The Citi Double Cash is a dynamic, no-annual-fee cash-back rewards card that allows you to earn 2% traditional cash back, or convert your rewards to ThankYou Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio (2x ThankYou points per $1). When paired with a premium ThankYou Rewards earning card, the Citi Double Cash is now the best card available for everyday, non-bonus purchases.

If you're looking to pay down debt or finance a larger purchase, this card also comes with one of the best available introductory APR offers on balance transfers.
  • 2% cash back on every purchase - 1% when you buy + 1% when you pay
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. After that, the (Variable) APR will be 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness
  • No annual fee
This card makes earning rewards simple with no need to worry about keeping track of bonus categories for purchases with specific types of merchants. You'll earn 2% cash back on every purchase—1% when you buy and 1% when you pay. Citi cash rewards now also convert to ThankYou points at 1:1 ($10 = 100 ThankYou points).
  • APR offer: Intro 0% APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, then a Variable rate of 13.99% – 23.99%.
  • Earning structure: Earn 2% cash back on purchases 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Annual fee: $0

Why now: We think the Citi Double Cash offers the best return on everyday spending of any personal card on the market. The Citi Double Cash is best known as a 2% cashback card. However, you can now combine points earned on this card with those from premium ThankYou Points earning cards and transfer them to partners. So, if you don't need to focus on cash back in the future, you can effectively earn 2X airline miles on all purchases! There is no intro APR on purchases, but you do get a full 18 months on balance transfers, which is one of the longest intro APR durations available.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Earn a $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • 1.8% cash rewards on qualified digital wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Welcome bonus: Earn a $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • APR Offer: 0% Intro APR on purchases for 15 months plus a 0% Intro APR for 15 months on qualifying balance transfers, then a Variable rate of 13.99% - 25.99%
  • Earning structure: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Annual fee: $0

Why Now: The standard earning rate for the Cash Wise Visa is 1.5% cash rewards on purchases, but the card also lets you earn 1.8% cash rewards on qualified digital wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening. Plenty of online stores allow you to use Apple Pay and Google Pay for purchases, so you can get a return of 1.8% on items delivered straight to your front door. The card also features cell phone insurance that covers your phone up to $600 per claim.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Earn $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 5% on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the two categories you choose, 2% on one everyday category (like gas or groceries), 1% on all other eligible net purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Welcome bonus: Earn $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • APR offer: No intro APR on purchases, but new applicants receive 0% intro APR for 12 billing cycles on Balance Transfers, then a Variable rate of 13.99% - 23.99%.
  • Earning structure: 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases ($100 per quarter) on two categories you choose. That adds up to $400 cash back! 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores. 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
  • Annual fee: $0

Why now: Given the current need to be inside for extended periods, you can choose TV, Internet & Streaming Services, and Fast Food as your two 5% categories, and earn cashback on up to $2,000 in purchases each quarter. For those not familiar with the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa, the card allows you to choose two 5% categories on up to $2,000 spending each quarter.

Rewards Cards Featuring 100K+ Welcome Offers

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 125,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio
  • 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 125,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. (Terms Apply)
  • Earning structure: Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Annual fee: $95

Why now: The welcome offer on the Hilton Surpass is not the highest Hilton bonus available, but we think this card provides the best bang for your buck of the Hilton cards and the minimum spend is achievable in light of current spending restrictions. Hilton has been on the front foot with COVID-19, making customer-friendly moves to protect Hilton Honors members, extending elite status, waiving points expiration, and extending free night certificates earned between now and August 30, out until August 31, 2021. They are doing lots of the right things to ensure members keep their status, points, and free nights, and we see Hilton points as a great option to collect during the downturn.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Annual Fee$89
Welcome Bonus Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Enjoy a Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
  • Earn 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®
  • Earn 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • 2X points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The earning for spending at IHG hotels breaks down as follows:
  • Earn 10X points for being a IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Cardmember
  • Earn 5X points from IHG® with Platinum Elite Status, a benefit of having this card
  • Earn 10X points from IHG® for being an IHG® Rewards Club Member (Being a cardholder is not required to earn this bonus for participating in the IHG® loyalty program)
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Earning structure: Earn 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $89

Why now: The IHG Rewards Premier Card signup bonus is at an all-time high at 140,000 bonus points. Even in normal times, we wouldn’t expect to see a bonus this high on this card for a long time. Provided you are comfortable collecting points you may not get to use for a little while, this is a rare offer that we don’t expect to see again any time soon.

Keep in mind that we may see banks, frequent flyer programs, and hotel rewards programs aggressively try to attract new business post-COVID. That may come in the form of increased welcome offers to encourage new business and perhaps relaxing lending requirements. With that in mind, we've focused this list on cards that we see as great cards to get now, and ones that are unlikely to see massive bonus increases when things straighten out.

Final Thoughts

Diversifying your rewards portfolio to include no annual fee cashback and intro APR cards is a smart move in the current economic environment. With issuers likely tightening lending standards over the short term, the sooner you pull the trigger, the better your chances of getting an application over the line.

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  • Glad I have couple of the cards listed here in hand already.

  • Citi double cash cards seems a perfect fit for me.

  • Citi Double Cash card seems to be the best choice for me, not only for lockdown but for the future. It matches everyday needs with travel planning.

  • Victoria son says:

    And why is changing cards such a dreaded experience? I’m retired now but always seem to get fast approval. I switched to cash back no fees last year. But it makes good sense to review and put the effort in every year or when the wold financial out changes. It has.

    When we changed I was amazed how many cash back no fee cards were available. It really pays since. The industry is always coming up with new offers.. I’m just sorry I paid $95 dollars per year for 4-5 cards for so many years.

  • Kripal Singh says:

    what is the value of 140,000 bonus points offered by IHG card ?

    • Really comes down to how you use it. PointsBreaks give you some options often at 10-15K that may or may not line up with your plans. In that scenario you may get 10+ nights out of the card at places like Candlewood Suites, etc. Realistially though, you’re looking at 4-5 or nights in a big City for most properties, or 2-3 top end type properties.

      As always YMMV, especially based on WHERE you want to travel.

    • Somewhere around $700.

  • Which card offers the highest cash back on grocery spends?

    • Amex Blue Cash preferred is 6% cashback up to $6,000 in spend. Amex Gold card is 4x MR points (valued at 8% back) on up to $25,000 in spend if I’m remembering right.

  • Follow up: I know of Citi DC but is there anything better than that? Cashback cards only!

    • If you have $100k in investments (or $50k still works), you can transfer to Merrill Edge and qualify for Bank of America rewards. You then get the right card and can get 2.62% cashback on everyday spend and 5.25% on category spend.

  • ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    Synchrony 2% cash back is better than Citi’s. Immediate rebate, $150 welcome bonus for mall min spend, 0% on purchase for 18 months.

  • i have the citi double cash card and it is great! love getting 2% back on my purchases.

  • Yeah Amex has left a bad taste in my mouth. Twice they declined any bonus miles really for no reason. One I will roll with on but the other makes me now not want to apply for any other of their cards. I am looking at the Citi Double Cash Back. That seems good in this day and age.
    I am curious about the future of cards. I wonder what banks, etc. will do to entice people to pick cards that benefit them the most.

    I am really curious if this will push AA to finally become a partner with Citi or whoever and allow transfers from a credit card.

  • Food delivery and streaming services are hot categories right now.

  • Will banks actually resort to devaluations when customers are less interested in discretionary consumption?

  • The Citi Double Cash used to be a no-brainer as a general use card when it had its Price Rewind and other shopping benefits.

    Even now, its not too shabby.

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    I wonder if this is the same deal that they offered on board the flight. I like flying American, but they need to get more strict with their animals on board policy. Fleas and zoonosis are real concerns.

  • Do you really think it is going to be harder to get approved for credit cards?
    I think their current credit evaluation scheme will largely stay unchanged, so one’s chance of getting approved for a card won’t change that much.

  • I have a contrarian take that says applications will be decreasing in number so approval rates will be higher. I’m not an economist and I have no data points to support my theory, however, so take it for what it’s worth. 🙂

  • Michaelj1 says:

    I think you projection for changes regarding approvals and bonuses is spot on. Thanks.

  • Corey Hovanec says:

    I think CC companies will be clamoring for customers just like every industry, and do all they can in terms of promotions, etc. to keep existing customers and lure in new ones. People still need CCs to purchase food delivery after all!

  • Some of these sound interesting, but I’ll be lucky to meet the Amex spend required to keep Diamond status on DL.

  • Killing me waiting on these until our refi closes in two weeks, though the savings there outweighs many of these!

  • Thanks for the suggestions. Staying away from hotel cards for now – assume points will be devalued and not enough travel to justify annual fee.

  • If this crisis drags on any longer, I am very curious what credit card companies are going to do. I feel like it can go both ways. They either shut off the valve and be more conservation. Or the flood gates open up.

    • The federal reserve has already opened the flood gates. The cost of money for banks – the interest rate they pay to the fed – is cheap and is not going up anytime soon. That means the cost of lending to customers is at historic lows. So, you have banks very much wanting to lend, extend credit, in the form of cards and otherwise. This would be set against the increase risk of default that AW mentions here. I’m sure there’s an historical analog to see which usually wins out. I think the cheap money is the winner and application approval rates don’t dip.

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