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Warning: If you’re new to miles and points, you should NOT apply for more than 1 or 2 cards at time. Much better to start small, gauge the impact for yourself and then work your way up to more. Also read The 5 Dangers of Credit Cards before applying for a credit card!
Emily and I set travel goals and we then collect miles and points to get to those goals. Our goals are quite simple. We want to have enough miles and points to travel within the US in coach to visit friends, to go to Michigan or Ohio to visit family and to have weekend getaways.
We also want to travel internationally 2 to 3 times a year – ideally in business or first class, but we’ll choose a flight in coach if it means less connections and more time on the ground (like we did when we visited Brazil during Carnival).
We also need hotel points since we have to stay somewhere. We don’t really care which airline we fly or hotel we stay in as long as we can save money while traveling.
Daraius’ March cards
I applied for 6 credit cards and was approved for all of them without calling the reconsideration lines except for the Citi American Airlines Gold MasterCard which asked me to call in. I also didn’t call the Chase reconsideration line (or any other) to get approved for the Ink Plus because I was curious to see how long it would take to get approved without calling in.
The good news was that I got approved after ~3 weeks without calling anyone. The bad news was that Chase cut the credit line on my personal card by $10,000 and closed my British Airways, Southwest and Hyatt accounts to approve me for the Ink Plus!
They did all this without asking me, but since the miles and points were already in my account I didn’t lose them. The letter (which looked like a form letter) said that if I had Ultimate Rewards points in my accounts, I could transfer them for up to 30 days.
In case you’re wondering, I have a ~12 year credit history and a credit score above 700. These applications focused on international air travel. We’ll use the American Airlines miles for a flight to Asia, transfer the points from the Chase Ink Plus to United and we’re running out of vacation to use the American Express Membership Rewards points!
I applied for the cards in the order of importance to us– first the Chase Ink Plus followed by the Premier Rewards Gold etc..
I have a Chase Ink Bold, but the annual fee is coming due, so I wanted to cancel the Ink Bold and get the Ink Plus. The Ink Plus has a 50,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $5,000 within 3 months and gets us 5X points at Office Supply stores and for cable/TV/Internet etc.
Next was the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card which had a limited time offer (no longer available) of 50,000 points after spending $1,000 within 3 months. Followed by the Mercedes Benz Platinum card with 50,000 miles after spending $1,000 within 3 months. I didn’t get instant approvals on either of these cards.
After that I applied for the Citi American Airlines Visa since it was 21+ months from when I was last approved for the personal Visa or AMEX. I was approved instantly.
After a few days (because of the recent change in “rules with Citi applications), I applied for the Citi American Airlines Gold MasterCard with 30,000 miles after spending $750 within 4 months.
As I’ve written before, Emily and I don’t have any big loans in the next 2 years (equity, house, student, etc.) so we regularly apply for credit cards to earn millions of miles and points. We also pay our cards in FULL each month because paying interest will negate the benefits of earning miles and points.
We then use these miles and points to have lots of Big Travel with Small Money!
Note that you should NOT apply for multiple cards just because I or other bloggers do. As always, do what is comfortable for you! Make sure you can meet the minimum spending requirements comfortably. There is no harm in applying for just 1 or 2 cards at a time.
If I were applying for a big loan, I wouldn’t apply for any credit cards until I had my loan. Much better, in my opinion, to do everything possible to get a low interest rate on the big loan first, and then apply for credit cards. And to be as conservative as possible, I wouldn’t apply for many cards in the 2 years before a mortgage or refinance.
Many credit cards require you to complete a certain minimum amount of spending before receiving the sign-up bonus. I am careful to see that I can complete the minimum spending and use the 40+ ways to complete minimum spending requirements.
Credit Card Resources
- Hot Deals tab which lists my favorite cards with a large sign-up bonus or great perks
- Reconsideration phone numbers which has 400 comments and reader success stories
- 40+ Powerful Ways To Complete Your Credit Card Minimum Spending Requirements to help complete the minimum spending requirements on credit cards
- Paying bills such as my car loans, student loans, and other bills
6 cards from 4 different banks
In general, we apply for credit cards from different banks, every 3 to 4 months, so that we don’t have credit inquiries (which usually happens every time you apply for credit) hitting only 1 credit bureau.
I want to limit the number of inquiries on each of the credit bureaus because banks don’t like seeing too many inquiries (especially in the last 6 to 12 months) on your credit report. If you apply for 1 or 2 cards at a time, I wouldn’t worry too much about this.
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are the 3 main credit bureaus in the US. Banks will usually request a copy of your credit report from at least 1 (sometimes more) of these credit bureaus. The exact credit bureau used depends on where you live and which bank you’ve applied for credit from.
The credit line for Chase business cards does not show in my personal credit report and impact my credit utilization or credit aging, so it doesn’t impact my personal credit score in the long term. However, the credit inquiry does show in my personal credit report, but the effect drops off after 3 to 6 months.
Business cards are an easy way to get extra miles and points, and as I’ve written previously, many of us may qualify for businesses even though we don’t realize it. However, business credit cards may not have all the consumer protections which personal cards have.
1. Chase Ink Plus. The Chase Ink Plus currently has a minimum spending of $5,000 within 3 months for 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points. We’ll likely transfer the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points to United, Hyatt or Southwest.
The Chase Ink Plus has all the same perks as the Chase Ink Bold (50,000 point sign-up bonus, 5X points for purchases at Office Supply stores & cable/internet/wireless).
The only difference is that you have to pay your balance in full on the Chase Ink Bold (which you should do in any case!), whereas you can roll it over and pay interest (which you should not do) on the Ink Plus.
I already had 1 Chase Ink Bold card when I applied for the Chase Ink Plus. I normally call the reconsideration line a few minutes after applying. However, this time I did NOT call the reconsideration line to get approved because I wanted to see how long it would take to get approved without calling.
I did get approved with a $5,000 credit line, but Chase closed my Hyatt, Southwest, and British Airways cards to approve me for the Ink Plus card. I would have closed my Southwest and British Airways cards myself, but I planned on keeping my Hyatt account for the free annual night in a category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel. Oh well, I’ll just have to get the card again!
That said, I’m fairly sure that I could have called the reconsideration line and got approved for the Ink card without having to close 3 of my personal cards!
If you do call the reconsideration line the rep asks you the usual questions – how long has your business been established, is it a full time job for you, revenue projection for 2013, how much experience do you have in your business etc. See this post for a list of questions which I was asked when I was last approved for a Southwest Business card.
You don’t need to be incorporated to get a business credit card and you may be approved with very low or no revenue as well.
2. American Express Premier Rewards Gold. I’ve always thought that 25,000 points (the regular and current offer) on the American Express Premier Rewards Gold was too little to get me to apply. So I signed-up for the (now expired) 50,000 point offer from the cardmatch tool on creditcards.com.
I didn’t get approved immediately, but was approved automatically in a few days. I completed the $1,000 minimum spending and got the 50,000 point sign-up bonus.
3. American Express Mercedes Benz Platinum. I’ve never had an American Express Platinum card because I didn’t want to pay the $450 annual fee and the sign-up bonus was only 25,000 miles.
But I was running out of cards to apply for, so I applied for the Mercedes Benz American Express Platinum which has a 50,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 within 3 months.
The $475 fee was hard to stomach, but I will use the card to get $200 back in airline gift cards, and $100 back (the full cost) when I sign-up for Global Entry (to make it easier to clear customs and immigration when I re-enter the US).
I also get free access to American Airlines and Delta lounges when I am flying on those airlines, or to US Air lounges even if I am not flying on US Air. But lounge access isn’t really a big deal to me since we often fly on Southwest.
I was curious to see how long it would take to get approved, and I got approved a few days later. There was only 1 credit inquiry from both my American Express Premier Rewards Gold and Mercedes Benz Platinum applications.
4. Citi American Airlines Visa. It was 21 months since I was last approved for a Citi American Airlines personal card, so it was time for some more miles!
The “rules” for getting Citi American cards had changed, and I couldn’t get both at the same time. So I first applied for the 50,000 mile Citi American Airlines Visa after spending $3,000 within 4 months. I also get a $150 statement credit credit for any American Airline purchase – even a sandwich or drink on an American Airlines flight.
Unfortunately, the statement credit is no longer available and the best current offer is for 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 within 4 months. I was approved for this instantly!
5. Citi Gold MasterCard. As I wrote previously, you can’t get 2 Citi personal cards on the same day, but you can get a second card a few days after being approved for your 1st Citi card, as long as you don’t apply for more than 2 cards within 65 days.
So I applied for the Citi Gold MasterCard a few days after I was approved for the 50,000 mile Visa card. But I wasn’t approved immediately and was asked to call in. I actually thought that I was going to be denied, but the call when quite well.
The rep pulled up my application, noted that I was just approved for an American Airlines card a few days ago, but then said that he could approve my application!
6. Barclays US Air Card. I applied for the 35,000 mile Barclays US Air card from this link on FlyerTalk. My affiliate link is for 30,000 miles, but doesn’t waive the annual fee and is NOT the best offer.
I got an error message after submitting the application, but got an approval email after a few days!
Credit Score Impact
Credit Sesame and Credit Karma are not official FICO credit scores which lenders usually use, but substitute scores or “FAKO” (as in fake) scores.
But these are good substitutes for us because we don’t want to spend money to get our official credit score.
My credit score was 720 before my March App-O-Rama. Credit Sesame gives me a substitute of my Experian score.
My Credit Karma score was ~757 before my last app-o-rama and was 754 in April after my app-0-rama.
Credit Karma gives a substitute of my TransUnion score.
Many of the millions of miles which Emily and I use for Big Travel with Small Money have come from credit card sign-up bonuses. We use our miles and points for a mix of domestic travel, international travel, and to spend time with friends and family.
The minimum spending may seem high, but there are many ways to meet the minimum spending requirement creatively!
App-O-Ramas are a great way to earn lots of miles and points, but you HAVE to be careful.
Don’t apply for credit cards if you can’t pay off the entire balance monthly. You’ll likely be paying more in interest than the value of the miles and points. And don’t apply for credit cards if you will be applying for a big loan in the next 2 years. Oh, and again read The 5 Dangers of Credit Cards before applying for a credit card!