What is a credit card statement credit?

A recent trend in credit card rewards is increased flexibility in how you can redeem your cash back, points or miles. You can book travel, invest, get gift cards and more – but one of the most common ways a credit card company will issue rewards is as a statement credit.

Statement credits may seem simple, but they’re handled a little differently by each rewards program, and there’s a lot to consider when you’re trying to decide if they’re the best way to redeem cash back or other rewards.

See related: What is cash back?

What is a statement credit?

Put simply, a statement credit is money credited to your account. In its most basic form, a statement credit is not much different from a payment. Like a normal monthly payment, a statement credit is deducted from your card balance, reducing the amount of money you owe. But where cardholders are responsible for payments, credits come from either a merchant or card issuer.

rewards cards also allow you to redeem the points or miles you’ve earned as statement credits. While some cards allow you to use a statement credit to reduce your balance with no restrictions, others only apply credits to your account after you meet certain criteria or make purchases in specific spending categories.

Statement credits on cash back cards

Cash back cards usually make it easy to redeem your points as a statement credit. In most cases, all you need to do is meet the card’s minimum redemption criteria, then choose a statement credit as your redemption method. Once a credit is applied to your account, your card balance decreases accordingly.

If, for example, you were to spend $3,000 with a flat rate 1 percent cash back card, you’d earn a $30 credit; and if you were to redeem this entire credit, $30 would be deducted from your account balance.

While many cards give you the option to request your cash back in the form a check, some only allow you to redeem as a statement credit – so be sure to read your issuer’s terms carefully. After all, when you get your cash back as a check or direct deposit, the money is yours to spend or save as you’d like. With a statement credit, however, the funds are “trapped” in your account and only impact your card balance. If you stop using your card or close your account, you could lose any cash back or points you haven’t redeemed.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, for example, allows you to book travel through the rewards center at a rate of 1 cent per mile. But if you redeem your miles for cash back as a statement credit, their value is cut in half to just 0.5 cents per mile.

If you prefer to redeem your rewards as a statement credit, make sure doing so doesn’t dilute the value of your points or miles, as each rewards program grants and values statement credits a little differently.

Statement credits for an introductory bonus

Statement credits also frequently appear as part of a card introductory or annual bonus, when issuers offer to reward you if you spend a certain amount of money within a given timeframe. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, for example, offers a $250 bonus after you spend $1,000 with your new card in the first 3 months. Instead of simply sending you a check for $250, however, American Express credits your account $250 after you’ve met the conditions of the offer. Once received, the credit will cover the next $250 you charge.

Statement credits for card benefits

Many cards also award extra perks in the form of a statement credit. The United Explorer Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, each offer up to a $100 credit to cover the cost of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.

In these cases, a statement credit is applied to your account only after you make the eligible purchase and cannot be used for anything else.

How statement credits work with the major rewards programs

Here’s how some of the major rewards programs treat statement credits:

Rewards program Can you redeem rewards as a statement credit? Minimum redemption Rewards rate when redeemed as a credit
Discover cards Cashback Bonus Yes None 1:1
Bank of America Cash Rewards Yes None ($25 for automatic redemptions) 1:1
American Express Membership Rewards Yes $25 1:0.6
Chase Ultimate Rewards Yes $20 1:1

Should I redeem my points as a statement credit?

Once you know what a statement credit is and how it’s treated by your rewards program, you’ll probably wonder if it’s smart to redeem your points or miles in this form. While the answer will depend on your spending habits, goals and financial situation, it makes more sense in certain circumstances.

If you’re trying to decide whether you should redeem your points as a credit statement, consider the following:

  • Are you going to carry a balance? If you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to pay off your balance in full by the due date, redeeming your points as a statement credit makes sense. You’ll knock a chunk off your balance and make it easier to pay in full and avoid interest charges. Keep in mind, however, that statement credits are not usually considered payments, so if you can’t help carrying a balance, you’ll still have to make a minimum out-of-pocket payment.
  • Does your card offer an incentive for redeeming points as a statement credit? Some cash back cards offer redemption bonuses when you opt for a statement credit over “true” cash back in the form of a check or direct deposit. If that’s the case, and you plan to continue using the card, go with a statement credit to get more mileage out of your cash back rewards.
  • Are your points worth less when redeemed as a statement credit? If you’re using a card with a more flexible rewards program, redeeming your rewards as a statement credit is likely possible, but not necessarily wise. Check your issuer’s terms to see if your points lose any value when redeemed as a statement credit. If 1 point is worth 1 cent when used for travel purchases, but only 0.5 cents when redeemed as a statement credit, you’re missing out on a lot of the value you’ve earned. If you have no interest in travel, see if you can get full value out of your points in a roundabout way, like redeeming points for gift cards at stores you frequent.

Other ways to redeem your credit card rewards

Many cards offer several other options for redeeming your rewards. In addition to statement credits, you may be able to redeem cash back, points, or miles for:

  • A direct deposit – You can link your bank account so that when you hit “redeem,” that money goes directly to your account. For some, this is more satisfying than receiving a statement credit.
  • A check – If you don’t mind waiting, many credit card issuers will mail a check for the value of your rewards.
  • Gift cards – Some credit cards allow you to exchange your points or cash back for gift cards. Make sure that you’re getting the same or more value before you choose this option – sometimes the dollar value of gift cards is different from what you would get redeeming for a statement credit or direct deposit.
  • Merchandise – Credit card issuers sometimes have shopping portals that give you the option to use your cash back or points to pay for merchandise. This is another option that you should approach with caution. Do the math to make sure you’re getting the same dollar value as you would with a direct deposit or statement credit.
  • Travel – Travel redemption options vary from card to card, but there are two main methods, one of which is receiving a statement credit for travel purchases you’ve already made. The other is using the issuer’s portal to book travel, such as flights or hotels, online.

Final Thoughts

A statement credit is just one way you can receive bonuses and redeem the rewards you’ve earned. If you’re using a cash back card, it could be a smart, low-maintenance way to reduce your balance and build good spending habits. If you’re using a more flexible rewards or travel card, though, make sure redeeming as a statement credit still gets you fair value for your points or miles.

Source: creditcards.com

4 credit cards offering a $500 sign-up bonus

Nowadays, it is easy to score a generous introductory bonus on a credit card. Just by meeting eligibility requirements and a specified spend threshold, you can bring home hundreds of dollars in extra pocket change when you sign up for a new card.

While cash back cards typically offer less valuable introductory bonuses than rewards cards offering points or miles, these bonuses come with a big advantage. Rather than having to redeem points a certain way to stretch their value, you can use a big cash back bonus to make a huge dent on any kind of purchase.

Plus, cash back cards are offering higher and higher bonuses to compete with other rewards currencies – even up to $500 or more.

Right now, $500 (or higher) intro bonuses are limited to business credit cards – but offers change regularly, so a personal card boasting an inflated bonus could be around the corner. Personal cards, including the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, have offered intro bonuses up to $500 in their history. Though the sign-up offer on the Savor is not at its peak, keep an eye out for future limited-time offers on this and other cards.

Which cards are currently offering $500 introductory bonuses?

At the moment, only small business credit cards are offering intro bonuses of $500 or more. Take a look at four current offers below:

Card Introductory offer
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card $750 if you spend $7,500 in first 3 months
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card $750 if you spend $7,500 in first 3 months
Capital One Spark Cash for Business $500 if you spend $4,500 in first 3 months
U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard® $500 if you spend $4,500 in first 150 days

As you can see, each of these generous intro offers requires a fairly high spend threshold to reach it. Before you sign up for one of these cards, ensure you can spend enough to earn the bonus without overextending your budget.

See related: How business credit cards can help you run a business from home

Who is eligible to earn these bonuses?

Before jumping at one of these generous offers, you should ensure you are eligible to earn the bonus. Issuers often have restrictions on who can take home a sign-up bonus.

For example, the Ink Business Cash and Ink Business Unlimited cards from Chase are subject to the 5/24 rule. This means if you’ve opened five or more credit cards with any issuer in the last 24 months, you likely won’t qualify for either card.

On the bright side, Chase business cards will not count against your 5/24 standing for future applications.

For the Capital One Spark Cash card and U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards card, the sign-up bonus is limited to new account holders. If you currently have or have previously had one of these cards, you might not be eligible for a new bonus on the same card.

Cash bonuses vs. points bonuses

The possibilities for a $500 sign-up bonus are endless – allowing you to book a trip, buy yourself a special something, offset your next major bill and so much more. It is easy to see how an extra $500 is valuable – but is it the best offer you can find?

The short answer is no. Points-based sign-up bonuses can offer incredible potential value when you redeem rewards strategically. Because the value of points and miles shifts depending on how you spend them, you can often get much more than the estimated cash value of a sign-up bonus by redeeming your points for well-priced flights, hotels or other promotions.

For example, check out some top points-based introductory offers and our estimated value. At first glance, the following bonuses seem to offer a similar value to a $500 cash bonus. But when you redeem your points for travel, they can actually take you much further.

Card Introductory offer Estimated value of introductory offer
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card 140,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months $770
Chase Sapphire Reserve® 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months $750 (when redeemed for travel in the Ultimate Rewards portal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card*

60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months $750 (when redeemed for travel in the Ultimate Rewards portal)
IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card 100,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months $550

But there is a big drawback – point bonuses are typically only worth their full value when you redeem them for a specific kind of purchase. If a card offers an 80,000-point bonus – but points are only worth a full 1 cent each when redeemed for travel – then that bonus is only ideal for cardholders who already spend a significant amount on travel. If you’d sacrifice half the value of your bonus offer to redeem it for another kind of purchase – such as a statement credit to cover your bills – then you are better off opting for a more flexible cash back offer.

Should you sign up for a $500 bonus offer?

Before jumping at a high bonus offer, you should always consider the spend requirement. If you will have to charge more than you can afford to pay off in order to earn the bonus, it might not be worth it.

See related: Card APRs are at a record high. Is a sign-up bonus still worth the risk?

Additionally, cash bonuses don’t always offer as much potential value as a points-based introductory bonus. Consider how you want to spend your rewards and which card’s earning rate works best for you before you apply.

*All information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.

Source: creditcards.com