Everything you need to know about credit card referral bonuses

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If you have a rewards credit card that offers referral bonuses, you could start earning extra points when you tell friends about a card you love.

The catch? Credit card referral bonuses only work if you refer people through your unique link or an email you send out. Not only that, but most credit card referral bonuses are limited, meaning you can only refer so many people per year.

Before you dive into the referral game, it helps to know which card issuers let you refer friends to their products, as well as the general rules that govern these programs. Below, you’ll find a general overview of credit card referral bonus programs, a list of cards that offer them and tips to help you maximize these offers.

How do credit card referral bonuses work?

Credit card referral bonuses are offered by card issuers as a way to encourage customers to share products they love with their friends. With a referral bonus, the initial customer is awarded with cash back or points when they get another person to sign up for a credit card using their unique link.

Keep in mind that, in most cases, the person you refer has to be approved for the credit card you referred them to for you to receive a bonus. Having them apply through your link is the first step, but you probably won’t earn a bonus if their application is ultimately denied.

While all card issuers have a slightly different process when it comes to referrals, most let you refer friends with a unique link that you share with them through an online message, whether that includes your social media account or email. Most card issuers also have a page on their website that talks about their referral bonus program, as well as bonus amounts and which cards can qualify.

Either way, the referral links these programs create are unique to the cardmember. This makes it easy for the card issuer to identify you and award you any bonus points you’re due after the person you refer receives approval for their new account.

Which card issuers offer referral bonuses?

Not all card issuers offer credit card referral bonuses, but some of the most popular ones do. If you’re considering a new travel or cash back credit card and are hoping to earn bonus points when you refer friends, here are the main card options to keep on your radar.

American Express referral bonuses

American Express is one of the most popular card issuers for referral bonuses, mostly because so many of their products can qualify.

If you have a general American Express card that isn’t co-branded with an airline or hotel brand, you’ll earn an Amex referral bonus regardless of the card the person you refer is approved for. This means you can refer them to any product with your unique link, but you’ll still receive a bonus even if they wind up using your referral code to sign up for a completely different rewards credit card.

While nearly any American Express credit card could qualify for a referral bonus, here are some of the top options to consider:

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card: Earn 15,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each approved referral (up to 80,000 Bonus Points per calendar year)
Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn 15,000 Hilton Honors points for each approved referral (up to 80,000 bonus points per calendar year)
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points for each approved referral (up to 55,000 Bonus Points per calendar year)
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points for each approved referral (up to 55,000 Membership Rewards points per calendar year)
American Express® Gold Card: Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points for each approved referral (up to 55,000 Membership Rewards points per calendar year)

To see which cards you can refer friends to, visit the Refer a Friend page on the American Express website.

Capital One referral bonuses

Capital One offers its own unique referral program for people who have a participating card. This program lets you earn $100 in statement credits for each person you refer (up to $500 a year).

Capital One credit cards that qualify include:

Capital One Quicksilver Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card
Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card

If you have one of these Capital One credit cards and want to refer friends, you can learn more on Capital One’s referral page.

The information about the Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Chase referral bonuses

Chase also offers a robust referral bonus program that lets cardholders earn bonus points when they refer friends to their products. Bonuses tend to be high with Chase, and their annual caps are equally generous. If you’re a Chase customer, here are some of the top cards you can refer:

Chase Freedom®: Earn $50 cash back for each referral (up to $500 cash back per year)
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 15,000 bonus points for each referral (up to 75,000 points per year)
Disney Premier Visa Card: Earn 100 Disney Rewards Dollars for each referral (up to 500 Disney Rewards Dollars per year)
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Earn 20,000 points for each referral (up to 100,000 points per year)
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card: Earn $150 cash back for each referral (up to $750 cash back per year)
The World of Hyatt Credit Card: Earn 5,000 bonus points for each referral (up to 25,000 points per year)

To refer friends to your favorite Chase credit card, you can head to the bank’s Refer a Friend page.

The information about the Chase Freedom® and The World of Hyatt Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Discover

Discover also offers a somewhat toned down bonus referral program. If you’re a Discover credit card customer, you may be able to earn the following referral bonuses:

Discover it® Miles: Earn $100 in statement credits per referral (up to $500 per year)
Discover it® Cash Back: Earn $50 in statement credits per referral (up to $500 per year)
Discover it® Student Cash Back: Earn $50 in statement credits per referral (up to $500 per year)
Discover it® chrome: Earn $50 in statement credits per referral (up to $500 per year)
Discover it® Student chrome: Earn $50 in statement credits per referral (up to $500 per year)

Interestingly, the bonus on the Discover it® Miles is slightly more attractive than the others. Not only is it for $100 instead of $50, but the person who signs up through your link will also get a $100 statement credit after making a purchase on their credit card within three months of account opening.

Bottom line

If your goal is to get as many referral points as you can, figuring out which cards qualify is your best first step. From there, gain access to your unique referral link and share it with friends and family who might be inclined to sign up. If anyone you know starts talking about credit card rewards, tell them you have referral links they can use.

At the end of the day, these programs offer yet another way to rack up statement credits or more rewards for free travel. If your family and friends might be inclined to sign up for a rewards credit card anyway, why not take advantage?

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