What's Your Bonus Number (For Credit Cards)?

"What's your number?" And by number, we mean the magic number for an intro offer that makes you want to sign up for a new credit card. 

It seems like some people aren't sure what their goal is with cards, and sometimes they blindly apply for cards without thinking through the strategy. Our goal in this post is to help you figure out that magic number.

Choose Your Journey

There are three paths to choose from:

  1. People who don't care about rewards - just want to build a solid credit foundation; rewards don't matter
  2. Cash back optimizers - looking to maximize cash back categories
  3. Travel - looking to maximize travel with points

People Who Don't Care About Rewards

For people who don't care about rewards, the number is irrelevant because they're usually opening no annual fee cards that may or may not offer points back. 

Even if the card offers multipliers on select categories, they're unlikely to optimize their spending with the right card. 

Cash Back Optimizers

The ideal number for cash back optimizers is $100-$200 for no annual fee cash back credit cards. Most "keeper" cash back cards offer intro bonuses up to $200. The idea is timing your applications for increased welcome offers. 

For example, the Citi Double Cash card typically doesn't offer a signup bonus, but sometimes they run a promotion and have a $100 intro offer. 


The typical intro offer for travel credit cards is $500. If you're considering a card that has less than a $500 intro offer, there are other options out there.

There are 30-40 travel credit cards on the market right now, so choose the one that's right for you.

If you're someone who wants to travel right now, but your end goal is to get a mortgage in a couple of years, then I recommend opening cards that have a downgrade path.

The reason why you should consider your "number" is to help you decide if and when to open a card. For example, my number is $500. If the intro offer for a travel credit card is less than $500, it's not worth my time.

Have a travel goal in mind, and try to see how the card will help you achieve the goal.  

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. 

UGC disclosure: These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.