Where are the 100,000 mile credit-card bonus offers?

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They’re on the way!

Million Mile Secrets reader Laurent (thanks!) emailed me with a a tip:

 Hi Daraius,

 I was talking to a US Card VP from Capital One and he told me that in March, there will be a similar match miles opportunity for the Venture card.

Last March, Capital One ran a very lucrative promotion where you could earn up to 110,000 miles and which was one of the 16 cards which earned me more than 1 million miles and points in 2011.

I wasn’t very surprised when I read Laurent’s note (but was very thankful for the tip), because as I wrote before,  I have been expecting the return of the mega credit card offers.  But it was nice to get another inkling that the deal was returning.  Mommy Points has also written on the possibility of the Capital One Match My Miles promotion returning this year and there is a FlyerTalk thread on the same topic.

There are already tons of great offers out there now – including 12+ cards offering 50,000 miles or points as a sign-up bonus in the Hot Deals tab.  I just can’t apply for them fast enough!


I predict that we will see a few mega credit card offers between February and June this year!

Here’s why, based on first hand experience working in both the finance and marketing departments of large companies, talking with business school classmates who work in banks, and my analysis.

Budget Cuts For better or for worse, companies are eager to meet Wall Street’s (The Street’s) profitability and revenue targets.  The real life implication of this is that companies have many “budget cuts” where dollars earmarked for spending against marketing or other programs are cut and used to pad the bottom line (profit) in order to meet The Street’s target.  That’s a terrible way to run a business, but that’s a discussion for a different blog.

I’ve been on both sides of budget cuts – as the finance guy who had to be the “grim reaper” and tell the marketing groups that their funds were cut.  And more recently as the marketing guy who’s not too happy that the bean counters have cut funds for my projects.

Budget cuts usually don’t happen in the beginning of the year, but almost certainly towards the middle and end of the year.  That’s why there is a much higher chance of the credit card mega offers happening in the 1st half of the year than in the 2nd half of the year.

Of course, you could see credit card mega bonuses in the 2nd half of the year if the promotion is high priority and can be protected from budget cuts.  Or if the industry landscape has changed sufficiently where mega bonuses become a necessity (the jury’s still out on that).

It also takes time to develop these mega offers and the associated advertising and promotion which accompanies them.  That’s why most promotional campaigns don’t happen until after January.

Credit Card Mega Bonus History

In general, I don’t worry about missing a 50,000 mile or point sign up bonus because they almost always re-appear in a few months.  Or often times the information suggesting that they are disappearing is incorrect (think Chase Ink Bold, Chase Southwest 50,000 point, & Citi Thank You Premier with 50,000 points).

But I will jump on a 100,000 mile or point offer right away, because they either don’t return or take many months to return.

Here’s a brief history of prior credit card mega bonuses (not including targeted offers):

1.   Capital One Match My Miles.   In March 2011, the Capital One Venture card offered a 10,000 mile sign-up bonus, but you could match up to 100,000 miles from your other frequent flyer accounts for a total of 110,000 miles.  The offer was supposed to last until May, but Capital One pulled the offer in April (after just 1 month) once the 1 billion mile cap on miles was reached.

I’ve cancelled my Capital One Venture card and I’m going to try to get the sign-up bonus again if the offer returns this year.

2.   British Airways 100,000 miles.   The Chase British Airways card offered 100,000 miles in November 2009 and in May 2011. The offer lasted for about 2 months the first time and for just about a month last year.  There was also a targeted version available in December last year.

British Airways points are extremely valuable for short distance flights and to redeem for American Airline flights within North & South America since they don’t charge fuel surcharges and the awards are reasonably priced for those awards.  And it isn’t a bad choice for a free business or first class flight to Europe if you’re willing to pay ~$700 in fuel surcharges for a roundtrip flight.

I’d certainly sign-up for it again (if I could get the bonus again), because 100,000 British Airways points is 2 coach or 1 business class ticket to South America, a business class ticket to Europe (with ~ $700 fuel surcharges) or lots of short flights within the US.

3.   American Airlines 75,000 & 100,000 miles.   Citi offered 75,000 miles on the Citi American Airlines card from about August 2010 up to October 2011.  The offer officially expired in February 2011, but the application page was still live until October 2011.  Citi also offered a 100,000 mile card (for less time) which gave you 50,000 miles after spending $750 within 4 months and another 50,000 miles after spending $10,000 within the 1st year.

Even better, you could get 2 cards at the same time using the 2-browser trick for a haul of 150,000 American Airline miles.  This was clearly the best credit card deal which I’ve seen, and I suspect that most readers agree judging by the 500+ comments & 50+0facebook likes on that blog post.  I can’t wait for a similar offer to return because you can get a new set of Citi American Airline personal cards every 18+ months since your last application.

I’ve always been surprised when folks ranked the Chase Sapphire Preferred as their #1 deal despite offering only a 50,000 [Now 40,000] sign up bonus.

Bottom Line:  I don’t see credit card sign-up bonuses decreasing.  At no other time have we had so many 50,000 point [now 40,000] sign-up bonuses at one time with the promise of more yet to come!

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