Referral programs are not a new concept; real estate agents, local craftsmen, and many other businesses get many of their clients from referrals as opposed to traditional advertising methods.
Credit card companies also have referral programs – believe it or not – and they can make you some extra cash.
Let me tell you how.
What is a Credit Card Referral Program?
Referral programs take advantage of a principle of influence called social proof. In other words, people are more apt to do, support, or use something if they know others are doing it too—especially others they know and respect.
Social proof is the core principle behind all referral programs, and it’s no different with credit card companies.
Companies know that your friends are more likely to buy or sign up for their product if you are a customer. That means they’re willing to reward you for getting your friends on board. In return for your marketing help, you get reward points, airline miles, or even cash—and getting started is easy.
First, you’ll need to be a cardholder for the card you’re referring people to. Your account needs to be in good standing as well; you can’t be delinquent or over your credit limit.
Each program is different, but in most cases, you can enter the email addresses of friends and family who you think would be interested, and the card company will send them an email.
In this age of lost privacy and internet etiquette, giving out someone else’s email address might not be the best way to endear yourself to your friends or family. With some cards, however, you can post a special referral link on social media or your own website. If any accounts are opened through your referral link, you will receive rewards or cash.
What Referral Programs Are Out There?
You might be surprised to know that most major credit card companies have at least one friend referral program, with a few notable exceptions like Citi. On top of that, many stores with branded cards also offer referral opportunities that can translate to cash or gift cards.
You’ll want to check with your existing card companies and see what’s offered before branching out. Signing up for other referral programs means also signing up for more credit cards, which can end up hurting your credit rating.
Discover Card offers a $50 statement credit for any cardholder who refers a friend who gets approved for a card; the friend also gets a $50 statement credit when they make their first purchase in the first three months. The program isn’t available on rewards or business cards, and you’re limited to 10 referrals a year—but that adds up to $500 annually.
Chase also has a referral program, but they offer bonus points that can be traded for gift cards at a variety of stores. You’re limited to earning 50,000 bonus points per year, but those can be traded in for anything from travel to cash back—up to $500.
American Express’ referral program varies by card, and in order to see what your personal referral bonuses could be, you’ll need to log in with your credentials.
Stores like REI and Gymboree, hotels chains like Marriott and Wyndham, and airlines like Southwest all offer referral programs that can make you cash or put gift cards in your pocket
How Can You Maximize Your Money?
Running out and signing up for every credit card referral program out there isn’t a good idea—you’ll have to first get approved for all of those cards, and that means hits to your credit score. Instead, look first at the cards you already have and see what’s available to you. Also, be sure to only recommend credit cards that are valuable and that you have personally had a good experience with.
If you do decide to branch out and look at other programs, start with cards that offer programs with rewards you’ll use. If you’re not much of a traveler, for instance, stay away from cards that pay in airline miles. If you’re a big concert fan, check out card programs that offer reward points that you can use to get tickets to your favorite events.
If you’re looking at store cards, think about the stores where you shop most frequently—or would shop if you had a good reason to. If you’re into the great outdoors, perhaps try the REI card—it offers a $20 gift card for each referral.
You won’t make a living on credit card referral programs alone—the program caps per year will prevent that. You can, however, get a fair amount of cash and merchandise—and if you manage the credit appropriately, your credit rating might get a nice boost as well.
Just last year, I was able to make around $300 by getting my friends and families to sign up for credit cards that I truly had good experiences with. With just a few minutes of work, I was able to earn some extra money to put towards my student loan debt.
By Tom Fire, Blogger over at FIREdUpMillennial.com.