Credit Card Offers Are Eroding

Take advantage of credit card offers while you still can — many are disappearing or weakening.

Young couple drinking wine on terrace, Zillertal, Tyrol, Austria
(Image credit: Getty Images, Robert Niedring)

When it comes to credit card offers and bonuses, the times they are a-changin’, and usually not for the better. Higher interest rates, inflation and other pressures have led card issuers to cut back on some offers. That means many credit cards have reduced the points or miles sign-on bonuses, or provide fewer months of no-interest charging or balance transfers.

Read on to learn which offers are still a good deal. 

Credit card offers on balance transfers

Over the past few weeks, many cards have decreased the amount of time for balance transfers promised to new cardholders. Cards that offered 21 months now may offer 18, while those that offered 18 now offer only 15. The BankAmericard credit card, for example, reduced the 0% balance transfer period from 21 months to 18 months. It is still an excellent option though for those looking to avoid late fees.

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The exception? The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card upped its 0% APR for balance transfers and purchases from 18 months to 21 months. As with other credit card offers, this deal is just for a limited time. This card is now on Kiplinger's list of the best balance transfer credit cards.

The same trend holds true for cards that offer 0% APR (interest) for purchases, which are ideal for customers planning a big purchase or to pay off a large bill over time. For example, the Bank of America Custom Cash card used to provide 18 months of 0% APR for purchases, but now only offers 15. As a result, the card has fallen off Kiplinger's list of the best 0% APR credit cards.

Hidden fees or fee increases

If you search the internet for credit cards offering 21 months to pay back a balance transfer, you will find that many sites promote the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card. Kiplinger, however, no longer includes this card in our roundup of the best balance transfer cards because the card recently raised the transfer fee from 3% to 5%. So, if you transferred $10,000 from a high-APR credit card to the Wells Fargo Reflect card, you would now pay a $500 balance transfer fee instead of $300. 

The card is still an excellent choice however for 0% APR for purchases.

Reduced or expiring welcome bonuses

The IHG One Rewards Premier Card announced the last call for its generous welcome bonus offer on Thursday. IHG is an umbrella brand for hotels like Holiday Inn, Even Hotels and Klimpton. New cardholders can earn 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account. That's worth about $980 when spent on travel. You can also earn up to $100 as an IHG statement credit for purchases you make at participating hotels.

This limited-time welcome bonus offer will be removed from the card’s online application page by 9:00 a.m. EDT on September 28, 2023. For more on this card, see our article Earn $1,000+ with IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card Bonus

There are a number of offers that are reduced, but still worth it.

Cash back cards still shine

The good news? Cash back credit cards still offer strong rewards, up to 2% or even 3% back in some cases. For those who spend a lot on their cards, these rewards can add up to thousands of dollars a year. Just be sure you don't overspend in order to earn more cash back. And of course, pay your credit card bill on time to avoid racking up interest and fees.

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Ellen Kennedy
Contributing Editor, ESG,

Ellen writes on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and sustainability. She was an ESG manager and analyst at Calvert Investments for 15 years, focusing on climate change and consumer staples. She served on the sustainability councils of several Fortune 500 companies, led corporate engagements, and filed shareholder proposals. 

Prior to joining Calvert, Ellen was a program officer for Winrock International, managing loans to alternative energy projects in Latin America. She earned a master’s from University of California in international relations and Latin America. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.