The huge range of credit cards on the market does not make it easy for consumers to find a suitable model. The conditions in terms of terms and debit terms vary greatly – cards with bonus programs in particular are becoming more and more common. Clever customers not only compare the bonus program, but also interest and fees. The credit card can only be worthwhile if the conditions as a whole are correct.
Some providers include special insurance or points can be earned for rewards. Other providers grant discounts on certain products or services. Such bonus programs can be attractive if you use them wisely. However, many credit cards with bonus programs are also comparatively expensive if, in return, you cannot save enough through the discounts.
Special features of the bonus program credit cards
Credit cards can be divided into two types: Type 1 is usually only issued in connection with a checking account . A loan is possible within the agreed framework – normally, however, no more than the amount of the account balance. Because you have to load these cards before using them, similar to the money card or Girogo chips that are integrated in many bank cards.
The business with classic credit cards, which grant a certain amount of credit, is older than these limited prepaid credit cards. How many fees you have to pay back depends on how you use the card and what credit limit the bank grants you. Credit cards with bonus programs are available in both versions, free and with a top-up function.
The bonus cards are also issued by banks; however in collaboration with major brands or popular providers. Banks want to use this to attract customers and make money elsewhere, for example through borrowing costs or fees. However, if you can assess whether a card is worthwhile and whether you can benefit from the programs at all, you can make a good catch with such offers.
Requirements for credit cards with bonus programs
While credit cards can often be received by minors for top-up, classic credit cards and credit cards with bonus programs are usually only given to adults. A prerequisite is also a permanent residence in Germany and – particularly important – creditworthiness . So you must have a good credit rating.
In Germany, creditworthiness is usually checked with the largest credit agency, SCHUFA (short for: protection association for general credit protection). Every German who has ever taken out a loan, opened an account or entered into other liabilities also has a SCHUFA entry. The SCHUFA entries trace the traces that a person leaves in economic life – for example, whether he has paid his bills back on time or has already fallen behind with pending installments or open items.
SCHUFA calculates a so-called score from what is reported to it by companies or lenders. Based on this guideline, it is established how high the statistical probability of default for payments to be made is. For a good score, it is important not to have any negative entries in the SCHUFA database.
Loan lock and savings programs
Exactly how the profit of the bonus program looks depends on the contractual conditions per provider. Sometimes there are discounts on shopping, special credits or air miles with which you can book trips. Most bonus programs are settled either after a certain time or automatically when you use the card.
With some cards, if you want to redeem rewards or bonus points, you can choose when and what you do it for. With some cards there is only a rather limited offer from the cooperation partner of the respective bank. As with any financial product, you should calculate the cost before you sign a contract. The providers think entrepreneurially and of course want to make money.
As a rule, this is done either via the borrowing rate that arises if you do not pay a credit card bill on time. Or there are fees for cash dispensing at ATMs. Whether you can benefit from the bonus programs or better choose a credit card without such additional offers depends on the desired areas of application.
Overview of providers
If you already know programs like Payback, you already have an idea of how credit cards with a bonus program work. With some cards there is cashback (credit for online shopping) for every use of the credit card on certain portals, award points or bonus flight miles. Other bonus programs offer free insurance.
The advantage per credit card depends on the contractual terms and the cooperation partners. If providers offer several cards with a bonus program, you will only find the cheapest offer based on the annual fee in the following table. In most cases, annual fees only accrue in the second year.
Provider with bonus programs
|Basic fee from the 2nd year||Type of bonus program||Type of additional service|
|Miles and More|
Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB)
|From 55 euros||Bonus miles||Traffic / travel|
|Amazon Visa credit card|
|From 19.99 euros||Shopping discount||Online shopping price advantages|
|Payback Visa credit card|
|29.00 euros (Main card)||Shopping discount||Bonuses|
|Advanzia credit card|
|0 euros||insurance||Traffic / travel|
|American Express Card|
|From 60 euros (free for sales over 4,000 euros)||Bonus points||Bonuses|
Is a credit card with a bonus program worth it?
If you use the bonus programs intensively and regularly, you can take advantage of credit card fees. Can you do it? Then you are well advised with such a card.
Pay attention to a possible hook
As beautiful as the prospect of a year without a basic fee may be: what sounds tempting can quickly become expensive in the following year. Here you should always get an overview. Possible obstacles are expensive fees for cash withdrawals, high costs for paying in a foreign currency or basic fees, which exceed the savings advantage with discounts for less active users. Even high debit interest rates, which punish unpunctuality in credit settlement, can tarnish the joy of the credit card.
Consumer behavior as a benchmark
The basic fee often decides whether a card is worthwhile. When you convert it, hidden points, bonus points or miles usually hide only savings and bonuses of a few cents. Therefore, you should choose the credit card according to your consumption habits. This also applies to pure discount cards such as the DeutschlandCard or Payback in the basic version without a credit card.
Are you rarely on vacation? Then you may not need permanent international insurance. If you do not shop on Amazon, you do not need an Amazon credit card. If you rarely drive a car and therefore rarely refuel, a credit card that requires a binding membership of the ADAC is relatively pointless. In order to benefit from the offers, you have to collect as many of the bonus counters or benefit from the discounts so often and extensively that at least the transaction and annual fees are amortized.
The annual fee, which is usually due from the second year, must be neutralized in order to come out with a black zero. Otherwise, the cards can be a losing deal and in the end, collecting them may just be a playful incentive that leads you to spend more money than planned. So do the math!
Payback grants a Payback point for every two euros you pay with the card, for some contractual partners it is two. However, such a point is sometimes only worth about a cent when exchanging for some bonuses or cash. So from Payback there is a mathematical discount of the equivalent of 0.5 to 1 percent per purchase.
So if you incur costs of around 30 euros with the card in the course of the year through fees, depending on the contracting partner, you have to spend either 3,000 euros or 6,000 euros with the credit card so that it pays off. The Miles & More bill is similarly sobering: in most cases there is one mile for every two euros spent on a credit card.
Depending on the provider, 7,500 miles may be necessary for a hotel stay or 9,000 miles for a flight to pay for the service in full. Depending on the card model, sales of 30,000 euros or more must have been achieved at Lufthansa. Frequent flyers and frequent business travelers may be able to do this, occasional travelers less. The bonus points of the providers expire in the rarest of cases; but look for security in the respective contract. Also, some points that were acquired through special campaigns can expire exceptionally and others cannot.
It doesn’t always have to be a bonus
If you find that you are not really enthusiastic about any of the bonus programs or have calculated that you cannot benefit from them, take a look at the classic relatives of the bonus program cards. The bonus tariff does not always have to be linked to a credit card! On the contrary: Sometimes there are bigger savings in other ways if you choose a classic credit card without a bonus program.
Many credit cards are also available without an annual basic fee, free of charge even from the second year. There are many all-round credit cards that can be loyal and inexpensive companions without a bonus program, whether on vacation abroad or in everyday use when withdrawing money. The payment terms and conditions vary so much that you can usually find suitable offers for every need.