The year 2016 started pretty bad for those of us who like to collect miles and points through spending. We had the Bluebird/Serve shutdown (round 1 and then round 2), then we had news that Chase was going to expand their 5/24 rule across all of their cards, then we had the immediate change by Amex to extend their once-in-a-lifetime bonus to their business cards. So, how could 2016 be a good year for bonuses with all of this happening?
Could 2016 Be The Best Year Ever For Chase & Amex Bonuses?
By enacting these new policies on their various cards, Amex & Chase are essentially clearing the deck of card churners. With Chase, they will be assured to not have to deal with “us” for at least 24 months from April (if you are trying to hold back under the magic number of 5 new accounts in order to get Chase cards). For Amex, they have basically made it that they never have to deal with “us” *ever again (* means until they possibly decide to get rid of this terrible policy).
This means that both banks will be going after the newbies – the great percentage of Americans who never use more than the 1 credit card that they have had since they first opened the account and/or those that really do not know/care about travel rewards. This calls for a slight shift in marketing, especially as airlines that have co-branded agreements with these banks have done drastic shifting of their award charts over the last couple of years (and Delta is still not done). So, saying you “Get A Free Roundtrip In The 48 States” may not work much anymore, especially since that has been their tactic on these cards since Day 1.
We have already seen Amex roll out a highest-bonus-ever and it came right on the heels of their change to business cards and repeat customers – the 35,000 Starpoint offer for the SPG Amex cards. This bonus was made possible because the bulk of “us” were not able to apply for it again and that made it easier for Amex to give out the extra points knowing that the new accounts were not going to the customers who could meet the spend and churn out incredible redemption value – with their eyes close (so to speak).
With Chase, they are rolling out their new Chase Freedom Unlimited very soon and most of us will not be able to apply for it to get the sign-up bonus (though we can convert a regular Freedom or Sapphire Preferred to it). This again insures that the people getting the bonus on this card are people that have very little history of churning cards.
I have heard a couple of rumors from a couple different people at Chase that there may be offers coming out soon for the Chase Sapphire Preferred at the 70,000 point amount. Except for some older, targeted offers, that would be the highest ever on that card. That kind of offer, billed as $700 in gift cards or $875 towards travel through Chase, could really get some new customers excited about applying for the card. Or, they could lower the spending on the current offer since they would like to attract new customers and the majority of people who apply for credit cards cannot swing $4,000 in months as easily as many of us might be able to.
What Would This Mean For Us?
If you have had every Amex card or have exceeded the 5 new accounts in 24 months, then, unfortunately, these potentially great offers will not be for you (or for me). But, they will be a great opportunity to get your friends and family members involved in the wonderful pursuit of cheap travel through miles and points. For that, if you currently have a credit card with referral offers, you can get some points as well while helping them get some tremendous offers.
If you have not been hitting card applications too hard, hold off on new apps! This is what we are doing for my wife. She is sitting at 4 new accounts in the last 24 months and we will not be applying for any cards for a few months as I want to see what kind of offers (targeted or otherwise) Chase decides to roll out. I suggest you do the same! Wait for an offer you cannot refuse instead of just applying for run-of-the-mill offers that you could get at any time.
The rewards landscape is changing with credit card bonuses but this could just mean that 2016 could be the best year for bonuses ever from Chase and Amex as they try to draw in customers that have already seen their advertisements and offers for years. Remember also, these banks make money off of people who cannot take care of their balances in regular fashion so it would make sense as well for the banks to roll out offers that these newcomers would not be able to refuse. Make sure you do your part in helping people understand the great value that can be had with rewards credit cards but also the caution of making sure they keep themselves in good financial shape. No great offer is worth paying for for years in interest rates.
What kind of offers do you think we may see this year?