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Video: Make the most of card bonus offers

Kristin Arnold

Intro: How would you like 30-thousand air miles or how about an extra $500 in your pocket? Sounds pretty good ... but what's the catch? Well, the catch is you've got to sign up for that credit card. Sounds innocent enough, but it's not.

Take VO:

Credit card reward offers are becoming more attractive and consumers are taking notice.

Take SOT:

Janna Herron,
Credit Cards Reporter, Bankrate.com

"Well, credit card offers are really ramping up what they're offering consumers. For example, not only can you get 30-thousand miles when you sign up for a credit card, but some issuers are offering a companion ticket. Others are offering up to 5-hundred dollars cash-back and some cards even have introductory teaser rates that are really low."

Continue VO: *In 2011, 2 out of every 3 credit card offers featured a little sign-on extra, according to market research firm Synovate. That's up from 1 in 5 in 2008 and a little more than half in 2009 and 2010.

If these offers are too tempting to pass up - you may first want to weigh the negatives with the positives.

First, what you see is not always what you get. Your credit history and score is paramount in determining if you qualify. The issuer checking your credit worthiness will cause a hard inquiry on your report ... which negatively impacts your score. A lower credit score will hurt your chances of getting the best interest rates on credit cards and other loans.

If you plan on taking advantage of all these bonuses by surfing from one card to the next and simply closing the account, you may want to rethink your strategy. Every time you open and close a credit card, your credit score takes a hit. Also, every new credit card lowers your average age of accounts and that negatively affects your score.

Janna Herron

"Consumers should be careful when they chase after these bonus offers, just for the bonus. They really want to choose a credit card that's right for their lifestyle ... even before they apply. A lot of cards have restrictions and conditions, especially related to their rewards program. So, you want to choose wisely."

Continue VO:

One last piece of advice ... don't let sign-up bonuses distract you from the card's interest rate, late fee and an annual fee. Interest and fees might outweigh the tempting bonuses in the long run.

TAG: You can search credit card offers by card type, credit score and issuer right here at Bankrate.com. I'm Kristin Arnold.

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