In a world that has quickly transitioned from being a predominantly hard-copy environment to an atmosphere where everything is done digitally and through cyberspace, there is no question to why the credit card has surged in popularity the past decade. A quick and efficient payment option, the credit card has become a staple of the modern economy, and is now available to almost anyone. Numbering in the thousands, credit cards have competed with one another to gain potential clients, wooing them with things ranging from cash back, sky miles, and even elaborate point systems, with points exchangeable for free goods and services. But, how can one actually consider which card to choose from? One major influence for choosing a credit card is the sign-on bonus, or the initial offer.

A credit card’s initial offer, besides its APR rate, is one of the leading factors that influence a potential client’s desire to apply for it or not. Many companies provide discounted interest rates for a short duration of the time, while others waive a card’s normal annual fee for the first year. A popular method cards use would be proving a cash incentive, either through actual funds distributed or a corresponding balance reduction. All of these influencing factors provide clients with the motivation to apply and possibly begin a long relationship with the crediting company.

Currently, there are several major cash back bonuses that are available from a select group of credit cards this year. One popular choice is the Chase Freedom Visa, with a $200 cash back bonus, after the first $500 is spent during the first 3 months. The Citibank ThankYou Preferred rewards card is now providing a $200 (gift card) reward after $700 in purchases during the first 3 months. The Citibank Dividend World MasterCard is also providing a $200 cash back bonus, after the first $500 is spent in the first 3 months. Capital One Cash Card has a $100 bonus, after the first $500 is spent in the first 3 months. Discover has a Discover Open Road Card that provides a free $150 gift card with the first purchase. For students, Citibank currently has a Citi Dividend Platinum Select card that offers $50, after $150 is spent in the first 3 months.

For those seeking flight miles, there are also several options to choose from that offer a hefty amount of miles after the initial purchase. Delta SkyMiles offers the Gold Delta SkyMiles card, which has a 20,000 mile bonus after the first purchase. You can also add an additional 2 cardholders in your household and receive another 5,000 miles. Capital One Venture One Rewards Card provides a 10,000 mile bonus after the initial purchase, with no minimum. They also offer a Venture Rewards card that offers 25,000 miles, but with an annual fee. Citibank provides the CitiGold AAdvantage World MasterCard which provides a 25,000 mile bonus after the first $750 is spent during the first 4 months of ownership. Discover offers 2 cards, the Miles and the Escape card, which both provide a 1000 mile bonus for each month of the first year of ownership. Southwest Airlines is a providing one free flight after an initial purchase.

For those searching for bonus reward points, which can be redeemable for a variety of gifts, there is a large selection available which offer some points after an initial purchase. There are 3 credit cards that offer a substantial amount during initial ownership period. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card provides 50,000 reward points after $3,000 is spent in the first 3 months. The Citi Thank Preferred Premier Rewards card provides a 50,000 point bonus after $2000 is spent in the first 3 months. American Express offers their famous Gold card, which provides a 15,000 bonus after the first $1,000 is spent in the first 3 months.

There are a variety of cards to choose from that offer a substantial bonus after initially owning the card. Cardholders must remember though that regardless of bonus incentives, one must remain discipline and responsible when using credit cards. Bonus miles or points are meaningless if one’s credit rating is poor.