Promotional credit card offers are always very popular but these days they seem to also be few and far between, and those that you can find seem to have more strict application requirements.

Credit Cards website has recently published a study regarding the reality of promotional offers. This study shows the longevity of promotional rates and the actuality of other benefits that are intended to attract new clients.

Part of the study indicates that only 20 percent of credit card offers (during the first quarter) in 2008 contained some kind of sign-up bonus, over 60 percent of offers in 2011 did.

This is quite a remarkable increase that has been indicated by Ipsos Loyalty’s Direct Mail Tracker Mail Monitor. What is, perhaps, more interesting, though, is that these numbers drop significantly in the first quarter of 2012, according to Roy Persson, directory of Competitive Tracking Services for Mail Monitor. He says:

There are signs that we’ve kind of hit our high point.

Obviously, then, the evidence shows that there are fewer offers available on the market right now. Still, however, the offers that you will find at any given time may be quite generous.

The Priority Club Select from Chase, for example, recently gave notice that the Visa Signature card sign-up bonus has increased to 60,000 points, which you earn after making your first card purchase.

Southwest Airlines has also initiated a new sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles for new Rapid Rewards Plus Card carriers ($1,000 in spending is required during the first three months to qualify).

While these are, indeed, quite impressive it is important to note a few very important components.

First of all, these offers are only available to consumers in light of the fact that they usually require a large spending requirement.

Secondly, these offers are probably subject to change at any given moment.

Third, these offers are not exactly widely advertised to the public so if you want to take advantage of some kind of specialized offer you may have to do quite a bit of research first.

From the 102 credit cards compared the following statistics have been determined:

  • More than 50 offer some kind of teaser rate (that’s more than half!)
  • Out of the 53 that offer a teaser rate, a whopping 49 offer a 0 percent interest rate with a few others, like the JetBlue Card from American Express, offering rates as low as 3.9 percent. The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card is a great card for students, obviously, with cash rebate benefits and a low 5.9 percent interest rate.
  • 13 cards, though, provided a promotional rate of 12 months; 8 cards offered 15 months of promotional interest rates and 3 credit cards offered somewhere between 18 months and 36 months of promotional rates as low as 0 percent
  • Promotional periods average for about six months; 24 of the 102 cards offered this period
  • Exactly 50 of the cards that were surveyed offered a sign-up bonus with 23 of these using a point system
  • The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card from Citibank, the United Mileage Plus Explorer Card, the Hilton HHonors Card from American Express, and the U.S. Airways Premier World MasterCard all offer a promotional bonus of 40,000 points
  • The most common introductory bonus offer was, simply, 10,000 points
  • Additionally, 10 cards provide a sign-up bonus between 20,000 and 30,000 miles
  • About half (25) of the cards were exceptionally generous, with benefits that included both low promotional interest rates in addition to other sign-up bonuses

Obviously, it was much more common to find an annual fee attached to cards that offer a sign-up bonus. 26 cards, then, came with an annual fee and of this number six offered a promotional rate and 17 offered another kind of sign-up bonus.

Nine of the cards with annual fees, however, did not offer any promotional rate or additional bonus.