CHICAGO (CBS) — Credit card companies want your business, and the travel bonuses they offer could have you packing your bags and jumping on a jet for next to nothing.
As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, credit cards have sweetened their sign-up bonuses, allowing customers to take a nearly free vacation .
The United MileagePlus Explorer and Southwest Rapid Rewards cards offer 40,000 miles or points.
The British Airways Visa Signature card offers 50,000 miles.
The Platinum Card from American Express Platinum offers 60,000 points.
And, you’ll get 100,000 points with the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card.
Frequent traveler, Angela Rosa said, “Having those points would really help a lot.”
Some also throw in complimentary upgrades, free checked bags, priority boarding and even monthly Uber credits.
Who’s the target consumer?
Industry analyst, Jim Sinegal with Morningstar said, “Everyone is trying to get the millennial customer locked in now.”
“If you can bring in that customer now as a card customer, as a banking customer, you have a lifetime of opportunities to sell to them,” he said.
One of the best incentives right now is the Citi AAdvantage card. You get 60,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. With that many miles, you can book a round-trip flight to Champaign to visit the kids in college and have miles left over for a weekend in Las Vegas. Or spend them all on fun in the sun.
Dorothy Tucker signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and got 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in three months. Those points are also worth $625.
Experts say the cards not for everyone.
One man we spoke with said, “I don’t like credit cards. Because at 17 percent interest rate you gotta be kidding me . That’s a good way go under.”
The average interest rate offered on the travel cards is 20 percent.
“The perfect person to use these travel credit cards is somebody who travels quite a bit but also who pays off their credit card in full every single month,” says Matt Schulz an industry analyst with creditcards.com.
Experts advise that before you open a card, factor in annual fees that range from $69 to $500. Some are waived the first year, others aren’t.
Also, do your homework on redemption policies.
After you sign up and spend the required amount, it could take another couple of months to get the miles or points in your account.
Note: See Dorothy Tucker’s report tonight at 10 p.m. on CBS 2