The Best Time of Year to Sign Up for a Rewards Credit Card

Credit cards use rewards to lure customers, but play the game right, and you can come out ahead. Most credit card companies offer awesome sign-up bonuses during certain times of the year. A new study from NerdWallet reveals the best months to sign up for different rewards credit cards based on these offers.

NerdWallet analyzed limited-time offer patterns of popular credit cards to figure out the best time for customers to take advantage of these deals. They found that customers miss out on $177 worth of rewards and 15,338 worth of travel points by applying for their rewards card at the wrong time.

 They found that for travel and airline credit cards, the best time to take advantage of these offers is November. For hotel cards, August had the most offers.  NerdWallet found that three of the most popular issuers for rewards—Chase, Citi and American Express—offer the most deals in late summer and fall.

Here’s how they explain their methodology:

Specifically, we verified our internal limited time offer data by looking at travel sites such as The Points Guy, Million Mile Secrets and One Mile at a Time, as well as specific issuer sites. We found at least two sources for each limited time offer to verify that we had the correct offer dates. We got our ideal booking data (47 days) from an analysis by CheapAir.

To calculate the average points or miles lost by applying for a card without a limited time offer, we took the difference between a card’s best offer and regular offer and weighted it based on the popularity of the cards we analyzed. We multiplied the points by the weighted average value of the rewards of these cards to get a dollar amount.

We’d be thoughtless not to remind you to use credit card rewards responsibly. Always pay off your balance in full and understand how signing up for a new card affects your credit.

If you’re into the travel rewards game, you’ll want to check out their full results at the link below. They also offer some interesting insight on when you should sign up for a travel rewards card, depending on when you’re planning to travel.

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