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Could a new credit card bring your family closer together?

Odysseas Papadimitriou

In this age of video games, social networks and the never-ending workweek, it’s become more important than ever to connect with one another and strengthen our bonds with the people we love most.

thappy couple with credit card

t Remember those “priceless” MasterCard commercials — the ones that tugged at your heartstrings with images of the precious moments that spending money can help create. Whether you rolled your eyes at those ads or liked them (as my wife did), they had a ring of truth.

t I mean, how long has it been since you and your husband went out on a date — just the two of you? How about the last time the whole family went to a movie or a sporting event together? It’s understandable if it’s been a while, since our to-do lists never seem to shrink these days and the economy hasn’t exactly inspired confidence either. Heck, we’re all still trying to recover from the so-called Great Recession.

t But here’s where it all comes full circle: A new credit card could score you 3-4 free dinner-and-a-movie dates with your beau or pay for the entire family to attend a ballgame.

t The credit card market has been hot this year, with issuers offering extremely lucrative sign-up perks to people with good credit. Some companies are even paying people as much as $400 just to open new accounts (and hopefully become loyal customers). A couple could do quite a bit of reconnecting with that kind of dough, as the average movie ticket costs about $8 and dinner for two at a nice restaurant, when all is said and done, can easily run you upward of $100. Alternatively, a family of four could use their rewards bounty to buy tickets to Disney on Ice or cover the hefty $359 price of attending the average NHL hockey game this season.

t But which credit cards could possibly be this lucrative? We compared more than 1,000 offers and found a number of extremely attractive deals currently on the table.

t For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a $400 statement credit (free money to use for paying your bill) to new customers who spend at least $3,000 during the first three months. Considering that the average person spends $51,442 each year, or roughly $4,286 per month (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), meeting that initial spending threshold should be doable.

t Prefer more long-lasting rewards? The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers 6 percent cash back at supermarkets, 3 percent at gas stations and department stores and 1 percent on everything else. It does charge a $75 annual fee, but you get a $100 initial bonus for spending at least $1,000 during the first three months. This card would save the average person around $30 per month, based on their normal spending habits. That’s pretty much a free family trip to the movies or “mad money” for date night every month, without having to change a thing — other than what’s in your wallet.

t And if you’re in need of a vacation (who isn’t!?), the Club Carlson Rewards Card offers an initial bonus worth up to 18 free nights at hotel chains like Radisson and Country Inn & Suites — making that romantic getaway more viable.

t At the end of the day, between work and school and extracurricular activities and errands and bills, most of us feel like we have neither a moment nor a dollar to spare. But in this age of video games, social networks and the never-ending workweek, it’s become more important than ever to connect with one another on a more intimate level and strengthen our bonds with the people we love most.

t If a new credit card can make life a bit easier and free up some room in the ol’ budget, enabling us to afford some much-needed fun and socializing, then why question it?

t Odysseas Papadimitriou, a former executive at Capital One, is the CEO of the credit card and gift card marketplace CardHub as well as the new personal-finance social network WalletHub.

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