Want to earn thousands of bonus points or hundreds in cash back just by referring your friends and family to a credit card they'll love?
Most major card issuers have a credit card referral bonus program that lets you refer-a-friend to a credit card and earn a sizable bonus.
Here's how credit card refer-a-friend programs work and the details of each program.
Most major credit card issuers offer a credit card referral bonus program that rewards you when you refer someone who gets approved for one of the issuer's credit cards.
Referring someone to a credit card means you both get rewarded:
As a general rule, referral bonuses range from $50 to $200 in value.
With some credit card issuers, the referral bonus depends on the card you refer while others like Capital One offer a flat referral bonus for all qualifying cards.
Other card issuers offer a referral bonus on any credit card they offer, but most only offer bonuses for specific credit cards which may change sometimes.
To qualify for a referral bonus, you'll generally need to have an account in good standing and there may be additional actions necessary. Your friend may need to make a purchase within 90 days, for example, or they may be new to the card issuer — or just the credit card.
If you know someone who might benefit from one of the credit cards you use, it's definitely worthwhile to participate in a refer-a-friend program rather than just pointing them in the right direction. When you refer-a-friend to a credit card, you can get a bonus of up to $200 (usually $50 to $100) and you can typically refer anywhere from 5 to 10 people per year.
If you have a cash back card, your referral bonus will be in the form of a statement credit. With rewards points cards, you'll get bonus points and the potential to get an even better value by using your points wisely.
Referral bonuses definitely add up.
For example, if you have a Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, you can get 20,000 Hilton bonus points for every referral. That's already enough for four nights at a category 1 hotel or one night at a category 4 hotel. While Hilton points have an average value of 0.5 cents each, you can get a value of 1.5 cents each or even more when you use your points strategically. Those 20,000 bonus points can go very far!
Most major credit card issuers offer a credit card referral bonus program that rewards you when you refer friends and family. Each issuer has their own referral policies, however, and maintains a list of qualifying credit cards that may change. The following credit cards have a referral program.
While every card issuer has their own rules and procedures for their refer-a-friend program, the process is basically the same from one program to the next. To refer-a-friend to a credit card, you need to generate a unique referral link. This may be done through a landing page for the program, your credit card account, or the card issuer's app.
When you send your referral link to a friend, they must use the link to apply for the credit card and get approved. With most card issuers, you need to refer your friend to the same credit card you have. If they sign up for a different credit card, you don't get the referral bonus. American Express, though, gives you credit no matter which card your friend chooses.
Once your friend is approved, you receive your referral bonus in anywhere from a few days to two billing cycles.
Ready to start earning referral bonuses? You'll need to know the details of your card issuer's refer-a-friend credit card program and make sure you have a qualifying card. Here's an overview of each credit card refer-a-friend program and how to start earning tons of bonus points.
The Chase Refer-a-Friend program lets you earn up to 100,000 points or $500 cash back every year by referring friends to Chase program. Every time you refer someone to a Chase card, you can get up to 20,000 bonus points or $50 to $150 cash back, but not all Chase cards participate in the program. To receive the referral bonus, your friend must sign up for the same Chase card you have except with the Chase Southwest cards. If you refer someone to a Southwest card, they can sign up for any card in the Southwest card family.
Chase has a large list of credit cards that participate in the refer-a-friend credit card program.
You can refer-a-friend to a Chase credit card online or with the Chase mobile app. You can start by visiting the Refer-a-Friend landing page and entering your last name, zip code, and last four digits of your credit card to generate a referral link. Using the Chase website, you can directly email your referral offer to friends or post a link on Twitter or Facebook. You can also copy the link to share with friends. The app also lets you generate a link and share it through email or text.
To get the referral bonus, your friend needs to apply for and get approved for the same Chase card you have. You will receive the referral bonus within 8 weeks.
Learn more about the details in our Chase Refer-A-Friend Guide.
The Amex Refer-a-Friend program is one of the most rewarding and flexible referral programs in the industry thanks to recent changes. In the past, you could only refer-a-friend to a credit card you have with American Express, but Amex changed its policy and you can now earn a referral bonus when your friend uses your referral link to sign up for any participating Amex card -- and most participate! You can earn up to 150,000 bonus points every year with the Amex Refer-a-Friend program.
Virtually all American Express cards qualify for a refer-a-friend bonus, but the referral bonuses aren't public. Instead, you'll see the referral bonus you can receive when you log into your American Express account. The following are participating American Express cards with typical referral bonuses.
Amex Personal Cards:
Amex Business Cards:
Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards:
Hilton Honors Credit Cards:
Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards:
To participate in the Amex credit card referral bonus program, you need to generate a referral link in one of three ways:
You can send your referral link directly to your friends or do it through the app or website to send an email or post your link on Twitter or Facebook. Your friend needs to use your link to apply for and be approved for an American Express card. Your referral bonus can post in as soon as a week or two but it may take up to 12 weeks.
Learn more about the details in our Amex Refer-A-Friend Guide.
The Capital One referral program allows you to earn a $100 bonus per referral and up to $500 per year. Only select Capital One credit cards participate in the program and your friend needs to sign up for the same credit card you have. Every participating Capital One card earns the same referral bonus, unlike many other referral programs that base the bonus on the type of card.
Only a handful of Capital One credit cards qualify for a referral bonus, but some of the most popular Capital One cards participate. All qualifying cards have the same $100 referral bonus capped at $500 per year.
To refer-a-friend to a Capital One credit card, you need to generate your referral link through your Capital One account. The Capital One app doesn't offer a referral option. After logging in, choose the credit card you're referring and select "Refer a Friend" from the "I Want To..." menu. You can send a referral offer via email or social media to your friend or copy the link and send it to them directly.
To qualify for the bonus, your friend can't be a Capital One cardholder already, even if they do not have the same Capital One card as you. Your referral bonus will be posted to your account within four weeks.
Learn more about the details in our Capital One Refer-A-Friend Guide.
Citi has a fairly narrow referral program available to Citi cardholders with participating Citi cards. In the Philippines and India, Citi has fairly comprehensive Refer-a-Friend programs that haven't quite expanded into the United States. Only three Citi cards in the United States currently offer referral bonuses but Citi's program is very different than other credit card referral programs.
It isn't enough for your referred friend to get approved for the same Citi card you have: YOU then have to spend $500 on your Citi card before you get the bonus.
It isn't clear if all cardholders of eligible Citi cards can participate in the refer-a-friend program; the offers may be targeted. Still, it seems most people with these Citi cards can earn referral bonuses.
To refer-a-friend to a Citi credit card, you need to be targeted for a referral offer through a Citi email or with a pop-up when you log into your Citi account. You must send your unique referral link to your friend and they must use this link to apply for and get approved for the same Citi card you have that participates in the refer-a-friend program.
Once your friend gets approved, you will need to take one additional step: you must spend at least $500 on your Citi card to get the referral bonus. Your friend doesn't need to meet any spending thresholds, however.
Bank of America doesn't have a large or fixed refer-a-friend credit card program like other card issuers, but they do sometimes have referral bonuses for the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card. When the referral bonus is offered, you can get a $50 statement credit for every referred friend who gets approved.
Bank of America's referral program isn't always active. When referral bonuses are offered, they are only available for the BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card, it seems, with a statement credit of $50 for every friend who gets approved using your referral link.
To refer-a-friend to Bank of America, the referral offer must be valid. You will likely receive a targeted email or an offer in your Bank of America credit card account when you log in. You can follow the link to invite friends via email to apply for the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card or copy your unique referral link to send to them.
Discover has a simple credit card lineup with different versions of its popular Discover it card. As you can imagine, the Discover refer-a-friend program is also very simple and straightforward. Most Discover cards participate in the program with two exceptions -- the Discover it Secured and Discover it Business cards. You can earn $50 per referral for all cards except Discover it Miles which has a $100 referral bonus. You can earn up to $500 in cash back per year through Discover referral bonuses.
Interestingly, Discover is the only referral program that gives you and your friend the $50 referral bonus -- plus your friend still gets the welcome offer that comes with the credit card!
There are several Discover it cards that participate in the refer-a-friend program. All earn $50 per referral and up to $500 per month except the Discover Miles card which has a $100 referral bonus.
To get the Discover referral bonus, you need to generate a unique referral link through your Discover it account, the Discover Refer-a-Friend landing page, or the Discover app. Using the app, select "Rewards" and "Refer a Friend" to send your link via Facebook, Twitter, email, or text. Your friend must apply for and be approved for the same Discover it card you have using your referral link for you to get credit.
Learn more about the details in our Discover Refer-A-Friend Guide.
To refer-a-friend to a credit card, you need to generate a unique referral link to share with your friends. Here's where to go.
This depends on the credit card and card issuer. There's usually a limit of 5 to 10 referral bonuses per year.
Depending on the card issuer, you can earn up to $500 cash back or up to 100,000-150,000 bonus points every year through referrals alone.
The following card issuers currently have a credit card referral program: American Express, Chase, Discover, Citi, and Capital One. Bank of America and Barclays sometimes offer targeted referral bonuses.
Some refer-a-friend credit card programs allow you to refer-a-friend to participating business cards, but some card issuers exclude business cards. All Amex business cards are eligible for a referral bonus. In the Chase refer-a-friend program, the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card are eligible for a bonus. Discover excludes its business card from the program.
This depends on the card issuer. With most refer-a-friend programs, your referral bonus will be credited in 4 to 12 weeks, but many bonuses show up as soon as 1-2 weeks after your friend is approved.
You may get a 1099 tax form from your card issuer if you earn referral bonuses which report te value of your bonuses as taxable income. Some credit card issuers have a policy of sending out 1099 forms, but you may not receive the form if you only refer one or two people per year.