Credit cards with a sign up bonus

Boost your rewards points account by applying for a credit card with a sign up bonus, available from most banks and often linked with Qantas and Velocity.

By   |   Verified by David Boyd   |   Updated 4th September 2020

Comparing credit cards with a sign up bonus

HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card

On HSBC's website

HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

20,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Get 20,000 Bonus Qantas Frequent Flyer Points with a minimum spend of $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days from card approval.
  • Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent, up to $1,000 every month. Every $1 spent thereafter will earn 0.5 Qantas Point. (Capped at 7,500 per statement period)
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee.
Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card (Altitude)

On Westpac's website

Apply by 11 November 2020

Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card (Altitude)

Rewards program

Altitude Rewards

Points per $1 spent

1.25 points

Sign up bonus

150,000 points

Annual fee

$250.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Receive 150,000 Altitude bonus points when you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval. Exclusions apply. Qantas rewards fee applies.
  • Earn up to 6 Altitude points per $1 spent (terms and conditions apply).
  • Complimentary Insurances: Overseas Travel, Extended Warranty, Purchase Security and Transit Accidents (terms and conditions apply)
Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On Westpac's website

Apply by 11 November 2020

Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

0.5 points

Sign up bonus

60,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Receive 60,000 Qantas bonus points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval. Terms and conditions apply.
  • Transfer your balance at 0% p.a. for 18 months (1 % balance transfer fee applies). Reverts to purchase rate of 20.49% p.a.
  • $99 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($200 p.a. annual fee thereafter).
American Express Explorer Credit Card

On American Express' website

Apply by 02 November 2020

American Express Explorer Credit Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards Gateway

Points per $1 spent

2 points

Sign up bonus

50,000 points

Annual fee

$395.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points when you apply online by 02 November 2020, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. New Card Members only.
  • Receive a $400 Travel Credit each year towards any flights, hotels and car hire when you book online with this card.
  • Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on purchases except government bodies in Australia where you will earn 1 point per $1 spent (uncapped).
American Express Qantas Ultimate Credit Card

On American Express' website

American Express Qantas Ultimate Credit Card

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

1.25 points

Sign up bonus

55,000 points

Annual fee

$450.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, get approved and spend $3,000 on your new card within the first 3 months. New Card Members only.
  • Earn 1.25 Qantas Points for every $1 spent on card purchases, except spend at government bodies in Australia where you will earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
  • $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year (conditions apply).
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature Credit Card (Amplify)

On Bank of Melbourne's website

Apply by 09 February 2021

Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature Credit Card (Amplify)

Rewards program

Amplify Rewards

Points per $1 spent

1.5 points

Sign up bonus

200,000 points

Annual fee

$139.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Earn up to 200,000 Bonus Amplify Rewards Points over 2 years when you spend $12,000 on eligible purchases each year.
  • Reduced annual fee of $139 in the first year, currently saving you $140.
  • 0% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers. Reverts to cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a.
American Express David Jones Platinum Credit Card

On American Express' website

American Express David Jones Platinum Credit Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards, Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

30,000 points

Annual fee

$295.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 30,000 Membership Rewards Points or 15,000 Qantas Points when you are approved and spend $750 at locations excluding David Jones on your new card within the first three months. Available to new American Express David Jones Platinum Credit Card Members only.
  • Earn 4 Reward Points per $1 spent at David Jones, 3 Reward Points per $1 spent at major supermarkets and petrol stations and 1 Reward Point per $1 spent elsewhere.
  • Flexibility to choose Qantas Frequent Flyer or Membership Rewards as your rewards program.
American Express David Jones Credit Card

On American Express' website

VAEFNI OfferApply by 01 November 2020

American Express David Jones Credit Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards, Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

3 points

Sign up bonus

45,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Exclusive Vogue American Express Fashion’s Night In Offer: Receive 45,000 Membership Rewards Points or 22,500 Qantas Points when you apply by 1st November 2020, are approved and spend $1,500 at locations excluding David Jones on your new Card within the first three months. Available to new David Jones American Express Card Members only.
  • Earn up to 3 Reward Points per $1 spent at major supermarkets and petrol stations; 2 Reward Points per $1 spent at David Jones; 1 Reward Point per $1 spent elsewhere.
  • Enjoy complimentary standard delivery for items purchased instore or online at David Jones with the Card. Plus, up to 44 days interest-free.
American Express Platinum Card

On American Express' website

New offerApply by 27 January 2021

American Express Platinum Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards Ascent Premium

Points per $1 spent

2.25 points

Sign up bonus

200,000 points

Annual fee

$1,450.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Get 150,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points when you apply online by 27 January 2021, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. Plus, an additional 50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points in Year 2 upon fee renewal. T&Cs apply. New Card Members only.
  • Receive a $450 Platinum Travel Credit each year, which can be redeemed for flights, hotels or car hire.
  • Earn 2.25 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on all purchases, except for spend with government bodies in Australia, where you will earn 1 point per dollar spent. Points earning is uncapped.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On Bank of Melbourne's website

Apply by 09 February 2021

Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Rewards program

Amplify Qantas

Points per $1 spent

0.5 points

Sign up bonus

70,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 70,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $1,500 within 90 days from card approval. Exclusions apply.
  • 0% p.a. for 15 months on balance transfers with 1% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a.
  • Earn 0.5 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases (uncapped).
ANZ Rewards Platinum Credit Card

On ANZ's website

ANZ Rewards Platinum Credit Card

Rewards program

ANZ Rewards

Points per $1 spent

1.5 points

Sign up bonus

100,000 points

Annual fee

$95.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 100,000 bonus Reward Points and $50 back to your account when you spend $1,500 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months from approval.
  • A range of complimentary insurances for travel and purchases.
  • Earn ANZ Rewards Points on everyday purchases.
  • Offer for a new card only. T&Cs, eligibility criteria, fees & charges apply (including annual fee currently $95).
BankSA Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On BankSA's website

Apply by 09 February 2021

BankSA Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Rewards program

Amplify Qantas

Points per $1 spent

0.5 points

Sign up bonus

70,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn up to 70,000 points bonus Qantas Points when you spend $1,500 on eligible purchases within 90 days from card approval. Exclusions apply.
  • Earn 0.5 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases (uncapped).
  • 0% p.a. for 15 months with 1% fee on balance transfers. Rate reverts to cash advance rate.
BankSA Amplify Signature Credit Card (Amplify)

On BankSA's website

Apply by 09 February 2021

BankSA Amplify Signature Credit Card (Amplify)

Rewards program

Amplify Rewards

Points per $1 spent

1.5 points

Sign up bonus

200,000 points

Annual fee

$139.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Earn up to 200,000 points bonus Amplify Rewards Points* over 2 years when you spend $12,000 on eligible purchases each year. Exclusions apply.
  • Reduced annual fee of $139 p.a. in the first year, currently saving you $140.
  • Enjoy 0% p.a. for 6 months with 0% fee on Balance Transfers requested at new card application. Rate reverts to cash advance rate.
St.George Amplify Signature Credit Card (Amplify)

On St.George's website

Apply by 09 February 2021

St.George Amplify Signature Credit Card (Amplify)

Rewards program

Amplify Rewards, Amplify Qantas

Points per $1 spent

1.5 points

Sign up bonus

200,000 points

Annual fee

$139.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Earn up to 200,000 Bonus Amplify Rewards Points over 2 years when you spend $12,000 on eligible purchases each year. Plus, receive a birthday points bonus of 10% of the points earned in the last 12 months.
  • 0% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers with 0% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred.
  • Reduced annual fee of $139 in the first year, currently saving you $140.
St.George Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On St.George's website

Apply by 09 February 2021

St.George Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Rewards program

Amplify Qantas

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

70,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn up to 70,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $1,500 on eligible purchases within 90 days from card approval. Exclusions apply.
  • 0% p.a. for 15 months on balance transfers with 1% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate.
  • Earn 0.5 points per $1 spent (uncapped). Plus, get a complimentary Qantas membership fee. Saving you $99.50!

Overview

A credit card sign up bonus is an incentive offered by card issuers to new cardholders, in an effort to gain new business by attracting those who have never held a card before, or by wooing others away from their existing card. In the case of rewards points and frequent flyer points cards, the bonus normally takes the form of tens of thousands of points, which would normally take years of card spending to acquire.

Since points can usually be redeemed for account credits (effectively cash), retail spending vouchers and airline flights or seat upgrades, they are a very alluring incentive.

Sign up bonus vs first purchase bonus

These two terms are in fact used more or less interchangeably. While the term 'sign up bonus' implies that all that is required is for the new cardholder to apply and be approved in order to earn the bonus, the fact is that most offers of this kind demand that the new cardholder spends a qualifying amount within a short period after card account approval. A typical condition would be for the cardholder to spend $3,000 using the card within 90 days of account approval.

These targets are rarely difficult to achieve, and are ranked according to card level, with the more expensive, premium cards offering larger bonuses and usually having higher spending targets, in line with the likely income profile of the cardholder.

Only eligible purchases count

In order to qualify for the sign up bonus by meeting the minimum spend criteria, only certain types of spending will count. Typically, the same conditions apply to bonus points as those applied to ongoing points earning. This means that cash and cash equivalent transactions are excluded from both points earning and sign up bonus points minimum spend targets. The types of transactions almost certain to be excluded are:

  • Balances transferred from another card or loan
  • Cash advances
  • Purchases of traveller's cheques or foreign currency banknotes
  • Credit card fees (including annual fees) and interest charges

Other types of payment which may be excluded by some (but not all) card issuers are:

  • Payments made from a credit card using BPAY
  • Government charges such as payments for car registration or to Australia Post (although there are cards that earn points on government spend)
  • Purchases of gift cards
  • Gambling transactions

Credit card churning

Credit card 'churning' is a strategy used by some people to maximise the benefit derived from sign up bonus point offers. Churning can take two forms: applying for multiple sign up bonus cards at the same time, or applying for cards in rapid succession, waiting only until the bonus points have been received before cancelling the card account and applying for another card. But these procedures are fraught with risk.

Firstly, applying for many cards at the same time, or in quick succession, can seriously damage your credit score. Each credit card application results in a 'hard' credit enquiry by the prospective lender being recorded in your credit history file. These hard enquiries have a negative effect on your credit score, and could make it more difficult for you to be approved for credit in the future.

Secondly, striving to meet too many spending targets on separate cards could see you committing to spending more than you can really afford, leading to credit card account balances you cannot pay off in full by the due date. The resulting interest charges will seriously reduce the benefit of any sign up bonuses you might earn.

Finally, most card issuers will not grant the sign up bonus to 'new' cardholders who currently hold another of their rewards points cards, or who have held one of their rewards cards in the previous 12-18 months. So taking a scattergun approach to sign up bonuses could end up severely limiting your future rewards card choices.

However, there's no denying that there are lots of points to be earned if you're prepared to spend a large amount of time chasing sign up bonuses, making card applications, monitoring your card usage and cancelling cards.

Learn about credit card sign up bonuses

Find out how credit card sign up bonuses work and what you need to do to get yours.

  • Pros & cons

  • Tips

  • FAQs

  • Guides

Card churning can do more harm than good

If you apply for and cancel multiple cards just to get the sign up bonuses, you could end up damaging your credit score and also spending more than you can afford in order to meet the spending targets.

Offset the annual fee

If you find a credit card that suits you but the high annual fee is more than a little unpleasant, a sign up bonus can go a long way to offsetting the annual fee in the first year, if not obliterating it altogether. Just make sure that you will still be getting enough value to make the card worthwhile once you hit the second year. Alternatively, you could get a credit card with no annual fee, although these tend to offer little by way of rewards.

Sign up bonus can make you overlook the card's other features

When choosing a credit card, it's best to choose one that suits your income, lifestyle, spending pattern and financial habits. This may mean concentrating on card features like the annual fee cost, the number of ongoing rewards points you are likely to earn, any attached complimentary benefits such as airport lounge access, and the interest rate (if you regularly expect to have an interest-bearing debt). Just looking at the large number of bonus points being offered, and disregarding the card's other features, may lead you to choose a card that's not right for you in the longer term.

Sign up bonus can tempt you to spend more

It's not a great idea to spend more than you can really afford, just to meet a sign up bonus spending requirement. If you end up with a balance you can't repay, and resulting interest charges, you may wipe out all the benefit of those bonus points.

Turn bonus points into cash or flights

The most obvious benefit of sign up bonus points is the immediate and lucrative boost it gives to your rewards or frequent flyer points balance. You can turn those thousands of rewards points into a credit against your card account balance, movie tickets, retail shopping vouchers, travel and accommodation, and more. And if you're saving frequent flyer points for a long haul overseas flight, bonus points can bring your travel date so much nearer.

You were going to choose this card anyway

Here's the scenario: you've done all your research and found a rewards or frequent flyer credit card that will suit you perfectly, but you can't quite make up your mind to take the plunge. While you are delaying your decision, the card issuer introduces a new sign up bonus points offer. You no longer have any doubts, because you've found the perfect card, and now they're effectively giving you something for nothing.

Apply for a sign up bonus card when you are planning a major purchase

If you're not sure about your ability to meet minimum spend criteria by just making your everyday purchases, the best time to apply for a sign up bonus card is when you are planning a major purchase, such as a holiday, new furniture or appliances, or the latest technology. It can also work well just before the Christmas shopping period, or events like Black Friday.

Check eligibility requirements

Whether you will qualify for a card with a sign up bonus depends largely on your credit score and history, as well as your age and income. Not all credit cards have the same requirements, so make sure you consider all your options and check that you actually meet, and ideally exceed, their minimum requirements for approval. After applying online, you will typically receive an answer within a matter of minutes, although some banks may be slower than others.

Couple your sign up bonus with a balance transfer offer

If you need to make a balance transfer to switch your debt from one card to another, a card with a combined balance transfer offer and sign up bonus could be the right choice for you. Finding a card with a 0% rate on balance transfers allows you to pay off your debt with less interest, but to get the savings you need to repay the debt within the bonus period and avoid the higher rates when the promotion expires.

Don't overlook the interest rate

Interest rates should always be taken into consideration, especially if you think there will be times when you don't pay off your account balance in full at the end of the month. The lower the interest you have to pay, the more money you are going to save over the long haul. For this reason, you need to fully understand the rates being offered. If there is a promotional interest rate offered (e.g. 0% on purchases for the first six months) make sure you know what the rate will be after any promotional period expires. And if you expect that you will regularly be carrying an interest-bearing balance on your card, you would be better off shunning rewards points and sign up bonuses, and instead look for a card with an ongoing low interest rate.

Greatest benefit for regular travellers with finances in order

If you are the type who enjoys travelling, and assuming you pay off your account in full each month, then a bonus of many thousands of points can benefit you more than a low interest rate. You may already have a great credit card with everything you could possibly need. However, there is nothing wrong with switching if there is a sign up bonus that could give a serious boost to your points account.

If there's a spending target, be sure you can meet it

Although in the past it was possible to obtain bonus points simply for signing up for a card, it is now more or less universal for the card issuer to require a spending target to be met within the first two or three months of holding the card. The target may not be onerous (e.g. a requirement to spend $3,000 in the first three months) but you need to stay alert to make sure you don't fail to meet the target and miss out on those valuable points as a result.

Are there any credit cards with no annual fee and a sign up bonus?

This is an unlikely combination, since there aren't too many 'no annual fee' rewards or frequent flyer credit cards in the first place. The card issuer is already effectively giving away cash in the form of sign up bonus points, and to expect them to do that without asking you to commit to an annual fee is probably unrealistic.

But there are sign up bonus cards with a low annual fee (starting at $95 p.a.) and others with a discounted annual fee in the first year.

Can I apply for the same sign up bonus credit card more than once?

It would be very difficult to do this within a short time frame, since most card issuers disqualify from earning a sign up bonus anyone who has held one of their rewards cards in the past 12 or 18 months. You could certainly try again a year or two after cancelling your first sign up bonus card, but expect your previous activity in cancelling the card to raise a red flag with the card issuer, who may hesitate to approve your application a second time.

Can I close my credit card account after the bonus points have been deposited?

Yes you can. Once the points arrive in your points or frequent flyer account they won't be taken back. But while the expiry of the frequent flyer points is dependent on the rules of the frequent flyer program, the card issuers can set their own rules about the expiry of their rewards points. You may find that your points expire as soon as, or shortly after, you close your credit card account. So make sure you redeem your points before you close your credit card account.

Be aware that closing your credit card account will also lift your credit utilisation rate (your total borrowings as a percentage of the credit available to you), which could temporarily reduce your credit score.

Also, since you will have paid the first year's annual fee upfront once your card application was approved, you may as well retain the card for the remainder of the 12 months in order to take advantage of ongoing reward points and any attached complimentary benefits.

Can I get the sign up bonus more than once?

Yes, but usually only by applying for a different credit card. The sign up bonus is a one-off incentive for new customers. You will receive the bonus once only, either when your account is approved or, more normally, when you meet the spending conditions. Most sign up bonus offers exclude existing customers who currently have, or have previously held, another card from the same issuer. This exclusion can often extend to customers of another bank in the same group (e.g. the wide-ranging Westpac / St.George group). However, in some cases you will be able to qualify for the sign up bonus if a reasonable period of time (e.g. 12 or 18 months) has elapsed since you last held one of the issuer’s cards.

Do cash advances and balance transfers count towards eligible spend for the sign up bonus?

No. These two transaction types are considered to be ‘cash equivalents’, and will not be counted as part of your qualifying spending. You must make actual purchases of goods or services in order to meet any spending criteria.

Other types of transactions likely to be excluded include:

  • Credit card account annual fees
  • Credit card account interest
  • Purchases of foreign currency banknotes or traveller's cheques
  • Gambling transactions

Some cards will also exclude any BPAY payments made using the card, and any premiums paid for the bank’s proprietary brand of credit card insurance.

How do I compare sign up bonus credit cards?

Firstly you should compare the various interest rates and also find a deal that offers you the biggest savings if there are promotional interest rates on offer. You must also take into consideration how long the introductory deal lasts, and how it changes when the honeymoon period expires. Sign up bonuses look great in the short term, but you also need to plan ahead to make sure you get the best deal for the long term. Most sign up bonuses involve a single bonus of points added to your account. So when you are comparing this type of bonus, consider how many points are on offer, what they can be redeemed for and how many points you need to redeem for something you actually want, e.g. flights, hotels, electronics, &c.

How long does it take for sign up bonus points to hit my account?

Sign up bonus points involving a target spending amount will normally be credited to your points account within two or sometimes three months of the spending criteria being met. For example, if you are required to spend $3,000 in the first three months after card approval, and you don’t reach the spending target until the end of the third month, your bonus points may not arrive until six months after you first get your new card.

If I have a bank-issued AmEx companion card, can I apply for a card issued by AmEx itself and get the sign up bonus?

Yes. Amex companion card holders are not excluded from Amex’s own sign up bonus offers. American Express will still allow you to qualify for a sign up bonus if you apply for a directly-issued American Express card, even though you may already have, or recently had, a companion Amex card issued by another bank.

Is there an average sign up bonus?

Sign up bonuses are limited-time offers, and may appear or disappear, or go up and down, on the same card. It's also the case that more expensive premium cards (i.e. those with higher points earning rates, more complimentary benefits and a higher annual fee) will tend to offer larger sign up bonuses. Additionally, rewards points in different programs are not directly comparable, since different programs will require varying numbers of points for the same redemption value. Finally, rewards points bonus offers tend to be larger than frequent flyer points bonus offers, simply because rewards points are on the whole less valuable than frequent flyer points. Cards which offer a choice between earning frequent flyer points and in-house rewards points will usually offer twice as many bonus rewards points when compared with bonus frequent flyer points.

So there's no such thing as an 'average' sign up bonus. Bonuses typically start at 15,000 rewards points (or 7,500 frequent flyer points) and rise to 200,000 rewards points (or 100,000 frequent flyer points) depending on the card.

What are the benefits of a new card with a sign up bonus?

If you are someone who regularly travels either domestically or internationally, then a sign up bonus offering frequent flyer points may be exactly what you are looking for. However, before deciding on the card you want to apply for you should carefully consider which airline you fly with most, which airlines fly the routes you travel most and even what airlines fly from your local airport.

When does the clock start on the spending requirement for a credit card sign up bonus?

The clock starts ticking as soon as your application is approved, not some time later when your card arrives in the mail. So it means you need to start spending as soon as you receive the card if you're going to meet the target (unless you have a major purchase in mind).

And since some card issuers advise the time limit in days (e.g. within 90 days of card approval) while other do it in months (e.g. within two months of card approval) it's best to assume that each month has only 30 days and get your spending done in 60 or 90 days, depending on the requirement.

When the sign up bonus is frequent flyer points, do I need to have a frequent flyer account before applying?

No. Your card issuer will normally ask you to notify them of your frequent flyer number within a given period (e.g. four weeks) after your new card is approved. However, you will need to have the appropriate brand of frequent flyer account before you can receive any bonus points or points earned on normal spending:

  • Qantas Frequent Flyer. There is a fee payable to join the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, but many card issuers will pay this fee on your behalf if you are not already a member.
  • Virgin Velocity and Emirates Skywards. Both programs are free to join, so it would be a good idea to open a points account at the same time if you are applying for a credit card with a sign up bonus for these programs.

Will I get the sign up bonus automatically, or do I have to meet other conditions?

The terms ‘sign up bonus’ and ‘ first purchase bonus’ are often used interchangeably. In fact, there is a difference. A very small number of cards will give you the sign up bonus as soon as your account is approved — no spending required — and this is a true ‘sign up bonus’. But for most cards, the sign up bonus is in fact a ‘first purchase bonus’; that is, you will be required to fulfil certain spending conditions (e.g. make $3,000 worth of purchases in the first three months of holding the card) before you can receive the bonus.