Advertiser Disclosure

Can I Get a Better Signup Bonus Even After I’ve Applied for the Card?

Nov. 7, 2013
Credit Cards
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Credit card offers are always in flux. If today the intro APR is advertised at 15 months, it could easily drop to 12 overnight. That free flight you get for signing up could be gone tomorrow if you don’t apply while the offer is hot. Credit card companies reserve the right to alter their rewards programs at any time without warning.

Jump on good offers quick

When applying for a card, there is nothing more maddening than seeing a new extraordinary signing bonus after you’ve already submitted the application under an older offer. Many credit card issuers hand out bonus rewards when you sign up. Usually, you have to use your new card to spend X amount of money in Y amount of time to receive the sum. The required charges typically range between $500 and $3,000, and the time frame is almost always 3 months.

The value of a signing bonus can be substantial. Sometimes they’re as low as $50, but the more prestigious cards can exceed $500. These offers change all the time. If you’re unfortunate enough to apply while the offer is low, you could miss out on hundreds of dollars in flights, hotel stays, gift cards or cash.

If you’re flirting with a credit card application, remember the signup bonus could change in the blink of an eye. Snag big bonuses fast. You can get a decent idea of the card’s bonus history by searching Google for old blog posts and forum discussions.

On the other hand, if the offer seems low, you could play the waiting game and see if it increases. Just remember, you could be waiting a very, very long time, and there’s always a chance the bonus will continue to shrink. The moral of the story? Signing bonuses are a gamble. They are difficult to predict, and you can miss out if you’re too eager or too greedy.

Asking for a bigger bonus

Sometimes, you’ll see a signing bonus advertised, and by the time you apply, it’s been reduced. Or inversely, you’ll submit an application, and the signing bonus shoots up days later. This can leave you feeling cheated. Before you get yourself worked up, understand that’s just the way that is goes. Credit card companies are fully within their rights to raise or lower signing bonuses as they see fit. It’s a shame you didn’t apply at the ideal moment, but the issuer owes you nothing.

However, if you ask real nice, maybe–just maybe–you can get a kindly customer service rep to increase your bonus. Simply call up your credit card company and explain the situation. Tell them how you the previously advertised bonus is half the reason you were going to sign up or how you just submitted your application and would greatly appreciate if they could give you the new offer.

You might be surprised how often the issuer will grant your request. The closer you are to the application date, the better your odds. The decision varies from company to company, and often there is no written policy dictating exactly how such situations will be handled. It really is the luck of the draw. The best you can do is be pleasant and go into the conversation with no expectations. Good luck!

Credit card image courtesy of Shutterstock