Home Consumer Study: Bonus Offers for Travel Rewards Cards Nearly Triple in 10 Years

Study: Bonus Offers for Travel Rewards Cards Nearly Triple in 10 Years

Travel rewards aren’t just for frequent fliers anymore, as credit card issuers ramp up intro bonus rewards on travel credit cards.

New research by MagnifyMoney found that the average introductory bonus on a travel rewards credit card in 2018 is now 40,556 points, more than double the average bonus in 2008 (16,050 points) and up from 34,327 points five years ago.

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Credit card companies have long used introductory bonus offers as a way to lure potential customers into getting their travel-related cards. And in an increasingly competitive space, those reward offerings have steadily increased.

“More and more cards are offering travel rewards without being tied to one airline,” said Brian Karimzad, vice president of research at LendingTree, the parent company of MagnifyMoney. “We wanted to see what that competition has done to intro bonuses.”

MagnifyMoney looked at more than 90 intro bonus point offers from each of the five largest credit card issuers for personal credit cards in five-year increments, February 2018, 2013 and 2008. Some issuers targeted offers to consumers via email, direct mail or site login but those weren’t included in this study.

Key findings:

  • These bonuses come at a steep cost to consumers. The average annual fee on a card with a bonus offer is $120, up 62% from $74 in 2008.
  • Airline miles offers more than doubled to 38,438 miles from 15,500 miles on average in 2008.
  • Cards with travel rewards you can use as cash on any airline have the highest growth rate – with bonuses tripling over the last 10 years, from 10,000 points to 30,455 points.
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