Credit Card Bonus Program Offers: Proceed with Caution

 
stop sign ‘Stop and Proceed Slowly’ Sign by ComplianceSigns.com
 

INTRODUCTION

My Financial Profile
A recent promotional bonus credit card program has allowed me to be very resourceful with credit cards. Even though I live on a fixed monthly stipend that is typical of a retired low income senior, credit card programs have been a benefit for me. This is because of the tools I have learned and benefited from.

I have written at length about the potential benefits from the responsible use of credit cards. Below are the four Ebook I have written about various credit card benefit offers. These minimally priced Ebooks are available on Amazon.

credit card bonus offer
Financial Ebooks I have written that are available on Amazon
Ebooks and Other Blog Posts
Different Types of Credit Cards And Their Best Uses, Part One – July 2019 was one of my first blog posts on this topic. This blog post is about my latest experience with credit cards benefit offers.

 

PROMOTIONAL BONUS CREDIT CARDS

A New Credit Card Promotional Bonus Program to Explore
Several months ago, I was able to apply for a new Promotional Bonus Program Credit Card. I applied and was immediately accepted. Much to my surprise, I had the opportunity to apply for several more of them. I was accepted by those as well.

Without blinking, I went from qualifying for one, then four, and even as many as six of these credit cards. Even then, I kept finding more of these offers. Since I did not want to miss out on a single one of them, I kept applying and being accepted.

promotional bonus credit card offers
Capital One Promotional Bonus Credit Card Offer

RULES OF THE PROGRAM

How To Play
At first, I thought the rules were simple. The Promotional Bonus Credit Card program required only that I charge a given amount of purchases ($500 to $1,000) within a three month period of time. As the bonus, I could receive the equivalent of two hundred dollars per card. Since I always charged many of my purchases, I assumed this was going to be an easy win.

promotional bonus credit card offers Wells Fargo Promotional Bonus Credit Card Offer

VISITING LAS VEGAS
A Grand Total of Ten Cards
By the time I finally got a denial, I was the recipient of ten promotional bonus credit cards. Wow, I was really feeling exuberant. What I didn’t realize was, like a gambler, feeling exuberant would not last. In other words, I was becoming addicted to applying for and acquiring more of these promotional bonus credit cards.

Because I couldn’t stop, things really got out of hand. With each new card, the game I was playing became increasingly complicated as well as much less manageable. It became harder to keep track of all the rules. I kept making charts of when and how charged were due. Even with this extra effort, I still went from feeling high to feeling totally overwhelmed.

promotional bonus credit card
Roulette Table of a Casino Stock photo courtesy of istockphoto.com

PROS AND CONS OF THE PROMOTIONAL BONUS PROGRAM

Not As Easy As It Appeared to Be
Given my history of a perfect payment record, I thought this program would work like a charm for me. I was confident that it would be an easy win. But so many complications plagued me along the way. At times, I have questioned my investment savvy even my sanity. I’ve sworn I would never get in over my head like this again.

 

CREDIT CARD REWARDS, STATEMENT CREDITS, OR GAMBLING

A Bit of Each
Depending on how intensely one dives into this game determines which level of risk one plays this promotional bonus credit card offer. The more one is tempted to use this program as a gambling gambit, the more one is likely to risk.
 

CONFUSION AND CHAOS SET IN

I Had Definitely Overdosed on This Program
At times I felt very confused, even sleep deprived by the amount of time some of the transactions required. Numerous ‘unk unks’ (unknown unknowns) have taken place. In other words, I had nothing to do with certain things that happened to complicate the process.
warning
Beware the dangers of this credit card program. Like the saying goes, ‘if it seems too good to be true, it probably is’. Sign from CreativeMarket.com
credit card
Bank of America Promotional Bonus Credit Card Offer

A PROMOTIONAL BONUS IS NOT NECESSARILY A CASH REWARD

How Do You Know Which Is which?
In total, I theoretically could net many cash rewards or statement credits. Forms of redemption were unclear. For example, the funds may be held over towards the payment of the next month’s bill. Another scenario was ‘the check is in the mail.’ We all know ‘the check is in the mail’ scenario. In that case, it can take up to several monthly cycles.
Gift Cards
Let’s not forget the gift card option. But is that a gift to me? I didn’t know who it would go to. In conclusion, none of these alternate options was optimal. Given my preference, I like my promotional bonus to be deposited right into my checking account as a cash reward. But that is not always possible. In fact, if the only option is a statement credit, the promotional bonus tool is a guarantee to the credit card company that I will continue to charge in the future to make use of their bonus.
credit cards benefits offers
‘Danger Go Slow’ sign from SafetySupplyWarehouse.com

POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS

A Credit Card Gets Hacked
For example, while I was accumulating bonuses, one of these new cards got hacked. I had to replace it in the middle of my promotional bonus project. In addition, I tried to cancel items that were not refunded but turned into ‘honey points’. Other charges were also counted twice. Even though I did not cause these issues, their occuring caused me to have a severe lack of focus. It became very difficult for me to concentrate on the credit card bonus offers.
citi card
The Citi Custom Cash Promotional Bonus Card Offer

MAKE ONE CHANGE AT A TIME

New Tools Can Be Very Tempting To Use Simultaneously
In addition to signing up for these credit card bonus offers, I signed up for autopay. Making two major program changes at one time was a mistake. As a result, some bills got paid twice. It was becoming impossible to keep track of what I was doing.

 

BEWARE OF TRAVELING IN UNEXPLORED TERRITORY

Use a Reliable Map
Ultimately I realized what was wrong. It was that I had embarked on a new system that was going outside the box of familiar navigation. This new program was twice as hard to maneuver since I was exploring the unknown. Therefore I strongly advise readers to make one change at a time when adding a new element to an existing template.
credit card benefit offers
Bank of America Promotional Bonus Card

NOT QUITE THE CONCLUSION

Is This Calculus or Physics? It Can’t Just Be Bookkeeping
Using credit cards responsibly and profitably is not a strictly arithmetic endeavor. As I discovered with each new profit making tool, their value is equaled by their complexity. Although the original templates are the foundation of this program, with each new component the program goes further outside the original box.

 

PROMOTIONAL BONUS BAIT

Something Smells Fishy
Along these lines, credit card companies continue to make themselves increasingly tempting to individuals who think they can stay on top of the latest innovations. This requires that individuals stay more than sharp and continue to search for new and existing credit cards. These can improve as investment tools, not just a means of delaying payments on purchases. But they become very challenging to use.

 

ANOTHER WARNING

This Is Not Bookkeeping 101
As time has gone by, this project has become painfully complicated. What initially seemed like a straightforward giveaway has become a torturous maze of numbers and dates. I participated to see how far I could go outside the box. In other words, I wanted to see how much I could challenge myself. It has been several months with a total of ten new cards. But I am not yet finished with this program. I can hardly wait to be done with it.

This chart illustrates how my credit score was affected by the promotional bonus program. It was 820 before I started and went down to 800 at its lowest. It is rising again since I have almost completed the program.

MY FINANCIAL PROFILE GETS HIT

Effect on My Credit Score
My credit score dropped during this project. The reason is that each credit card application was a ‘hard’ check to my score. But since I have met each charge challenge in a timely manner, my score is rising again and is recovering it’s 800+ scores. Credit score chart courtesy of American Express.

But there is one catch to building an emergency fund with this program. Money has to go out before it can come in. For a while it has seemed that I have lost rather than gained financially.

credit card benefit offers
Warning sign from readers-digest-ca

 

CASH REWARDS OR CREDIT STATEMENTS

Read the Fine Print to Find Out
Besides the delay, the rewards are often available as statement credits rather than cash rewards. Since my tendency and necessity has been to buy more things, this project has not been a great source of emergency savings. Saving up for them was why I participated originally. Instead, it has also required constant vigilance with each card. Besides that, the amount that I have had to charge is requiring the use of partial payments to stay flush each month. Now I also have to keep track of the deadline on partial payments.

This is a very tricky game requiring numerous greater than rudimentary skills. It feels like the Olympic decathlon competition. In fact, I am now having to use the partial-pay 0% APR feature that comes with these cards. Therefore I am learning something else that is new. But I have been pulled deeper into this maze. I never paid attention to APR percentages in the past, nor did I need to. But now, how many months will I need to use this new tool keeping to the 0%APR?

A FINAL WARNING

Do What I Say, Not What I Did
I do not recommend going to the extremes I have. It has nearly driven me crazy. I may have even permanently burnt out some numerical brain cells besides spending a huge amount of time on this experiment. Has it been worth it?

Sometimes, the way I learn things is by going to extremes. It involves extending the limits of my existing skills to see what new ones I want to gain. Taking little steps would be more prudent. In fact, I suggest taking small, prudent steps for anyone who wants to sign on to this or any cash bonus program.

credit card benefit offers
A set of directional signs from Monexsafetyservices.com

 

A FINAL WORD ABOUT THIS CREDIT CARD BENEFIT OFFERS PROGRAM

On the Plus Side
One: Paying car insurance in four instead of six payments saving money on installments.
Two: Paying home contents insurance in full annually saving about $50 dollars.
Three: Paying car registration for the next two years, early, without a pinch, and in full.
Four: Being able to afford a healthy diet and avoid illness.
Five: Purchasing pleasant necessities rather than feeling very deprived.
Six: Occasionally buying something new, even secondhand, but not completely pantry hand-me-downs.

 

CONCLUSION

The Tip of the Iceberg
As you can see from this blog post, there are many credit card benefit offers. But they have complications that may outweigh their worth. These benefits are like an iceberg. What they appear to offer is actually only the tip of the iceberg of what they can cost.

Were you able to navigate this obstacle course? I’d love to hear your experience. Please share with the rest of us in the comments area. I will report in with my final results as soon as I am done. Right now, I’ve got two cards to go. One is to make a claim. The other is to charge $500 and then make my claim.

promotional bonus credit card offers
Bondi Beach Australia, Bondi Icebergs, Courtesy of Marley Clovelly

SOURCES & RESOURCES

1. Using Cash Reward Credit Cards for Survival & Profit
2. A Credit Card Rating System Introduction
3. The Rating System Used for Cash Back Credit Cards (Series Part 2 – June 2019)
4. Excellent Cash Reward Cards (Part 3 – June 2019)
5. Mixed Cash Reward Credit Card Benefits (Part 4 – June 2019)
6. Risky Cash Reward Credit Cards (Part 5-June 2019
7. How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many?
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