If you’re a responsible user of credit cards — someone who pays their balance off each month — or if you use credit cards for business purposes, then you may be able to benefit from some of the offers from credit card companies. I wouldn’t suggest these cards for anyone who pays interest on their balance every month, because those interest charges may not be completely offset by bonuses. Also, in many cases, these cards are only good for their sign-up bonuses; once you cash in, cancel the cards.
In addition, your credit score may be affected if you open new lines of credit, so if you’re looking to get a good deal on a mortgage interest rates any time soon, hold off on applying for these cards.
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card
This is a business card, but you do not have to be a business owner to qualify. Any individual can apply and be accepted — as they qualify — for a credit card that bills itself as a “business credit card.” This business card offers an immediate reward of 5,000 bonus points, redeemable for a $50 gift certificate. Update: This card has been upgraded as of June 19 to offer 25,000 bonus points — a $250 gift card!
Be sure to cancel this card before your first year is up; there is a $125 annual fee, but it is waived for the first year.
Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express
Sign-Up Bonus: $100
This is similar to the Business Gold Rewards Card for a few reasons. Your first purchase with this card earns you immediate rewards. In this case, you’ll earn 10,000 points right away, good for a $100 gift card. There’s a $30 annual fee to be a card member, but that fee is again waived for the first year.
Citi PremierPass Elite Level Card
Sign-Up Bonus: $150
Citibank gives you 20,000 bonus points after $600 in purchases made within 3 months of account opening. The points can be claimed for a $150 reward. You’ll have to be careful to avoid the annual fee.
If you go ahead with any one of these cards, don’t fall into any of the traps. If you end up paying an annual fee or substantial interest, you’ll end up losing money even after the initial bonus.
Updated March 28, 2010 and originally published June 10, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.