Questions To Ask Yourself Before Applying For That Next Credit Card

On this site, we publish a lot of different credit card offers. It was our intention to try and cover as many different credit card sign up bonuses as possible, we recently removed all affiliate links to avoid any conflicts of interest (among other reasons) but there is something even more serious that we need to address and discuss.

Signing up for credit cards for the sole purpose of getting the sign up bonus (or making use of a category bonus or any other benefit) isn’t for everybody. In fact for the vast majority of Americans it’s the last thing they should be doing, credit card debt is toxic for your financial health due to the massive interest rates charged. This is how card issuers are able to offer $400 cash sign up bonuses, it only takes one person with a balance of $20,000 and a 20% APR and all of a sudden the card issuer is making almost on a monthly basis.

Before you apply for anymore credit cards, I’d like you to answer the following questions truthfully:

  • Have you ever paid a cent of interest on your credit cards?
  • Have you ever made a late payment?
  • Have you ever found yourself making a purchase that you wouldn’t have made, simply to meet the minimum spend requirement?
  • Have you ever paid an annual fee simply because you weren’t aware that it was becoming due?
  • Do you keep cards open with an annual fee, even though you didn’t make use of the benefits last year because you’ll “definitely” make use of them new year?
  • Do you feel anxious and pressured to sign up for a bonus because it’s “amazing”, “limited time only”, “once in a life time”, “incredible value”?
  • Have you signed up for a credit card and then not used the sign up bonus (e.g free night certificates expired)?

If you answered yes to any of the following questions, then I want you to stop applying for new credit cards immediately. Credit card bonuses can be an incredible way to make some additional money and even get free flights or hotel stays, that said at the end of the day these card issuers are making boatloads of money from consumers because they are saying yes to some of the questions above.

You risk damaging your FICO score by making late payments, which could cause you to have a higher interest rate for future big loans (e.g auto or mortgage). You risk damaging your finances by getting into credit card debt so deep that it becomes impossible to pay anything off other than the minimum payment, making it feel like you’re going absolutely nowhere.

It’s easy to get carried away with this hobby and think it’s the best thing ever, but it’s not for everybody. Do what’s best for you and not what a blogger or anybody else tells you to do (apart from me in this instance, you should definitely follow this advice).

To put this into a real world example, I shared a few offers with one of my brothers recently. He ended up taking a really nice trip for “free” and both him and his wife were very happy. I went to his house a few weeks ago and noticed that he bought himself a new television and a few other consumer electronic purchases, I was asking him about them and it turns out they were impulse purchases to help him meet the minimum spends.

If he didn’t have those minimum spends he wouldn’t have made those purchases. My brother is an incredibly intelligent person, but he made a really poor financial decision. At the end of the day it’s not the end of the world for him or his wife as they both earn good salaries and can afford to make this type of mistake. But imagine what the outcome would have been like if he didn’t have the money to cover his purchases and wound up paying interest on them? I definitely won’t be telling him about any more enticing sign up bonuses in the near future because he has demonstrated that these types of offers only make him spend more money on purchase he doesn’t really need or want. He definitely would have been better off if he didn’t spend any of that money on electronics and instead paid for his trip in cash.


If you could add a question that consumers should ask themselves before applying for a credit card, what would it be?

Notify of

oldest most voted

Superchurn (@guest_340662)
January 18, 2017 13:42

This is a very helpful and useful reminder about how easily a profitable hobby can turn into a costly habit. I admit I am guilty of a few of the things on the list, and i doubt anyone can honestly say otherwise.

One aspect people overlook is the unpredictability of life. Plenty of life events can interfere with even the most disciplined churner’s ability to keep up, and the carefully orchestrated house of cards can fall quickly. Yet another reason to keep adequate cash on hand to immediately pay off all CC debt if needed!

James (@guest_31780)
October 10, 2014 09:32

I understand that you cannot reveal affiliate fees because of NDAs. I think affiliate fees are much more than the average blog reader realizes. Based on the info below, I am guessing the average affiliate fee for a credit card approval is around $50. It might not sound like much, but with a high volume blog site it is equivalent to thousands of dollars per week.

I agree with your carrot argument and believe that blog readers should understand the influence of affiliate fees and NDAs have on blog content.

I found the follow info in…

“Some credit card companies pay as much as $300 to the affiliate responsible for new clients applying and receiving cards, although $25 to $75 is the norm. Some offer smaller payouts just for a filled-out credit card application, whether or not the applicant is accepted.”

James (@guest_31637)
October 9, 2014 19:51

William Charles, you have a great website and I hope you keep it that way.

1) How much are the average affiliate fee received per credit card approval?

2) What other well-known websites that have been corrupted by affiliate revenues?

Adam (@guest_31573)
October 9, 2014 13:06

The one I would add is: Have you ever missed reaching a sign-up bonus on a card you’ve signed up for?

Shows you’re not organized enough to pull it off. May be happening to me with a bank account, we’ll see. I am considering carefully whether I should continue in light of that.