Emily’s September 2012 App-O-Rama – 5 Cards. 170,000 Miles & Points + 4 Free Hilton Nights

Emily’s September 2012 App-O-Rama – 5 Cards. 170,000 Miles & Points + 4 Free Hilton Nights

Million Mile SecretsEmily’s September 2012 App-O-Rama – 5 Cards. 170,000 Miles & Points + 4 Free Hilton NightsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

Emily applied for 5 credit cards in September.  So far, she’s been approved for 4 cards for 120,000 miles and points + 4 free Hilton nights.  In case you’re wondering, Emily has a 6.5 year credit history.

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!

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

5 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.

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.

Personal Cards

Update:  Citi NO longer lets you apply for 2 Citi Hilton Reserve cards at the same time.

1.   Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.  I like this card so much that Emily applied for 2 Citi Hilton Reserve cards at the same time!  It offers 2 free weekend nights at almost all Hilton hotels.  Thanks to Rapid Travel Chai for leading the way.

The card also gets you Hilton gold elite status (free breakfast and internet).  We have Hilton gold elite status from a virtual move to Australia, but Emily will now be able to extend her Hilton gold status.  We plan on keeping this card because the $95 annual fee is well worth the Hilton gold elite status.  For example, we saved ~$80 per day in Bora Bora by not paying for breakfast and internet!

We plan on using one card for personal expenses and the other card for business Hilton stays since the card gets you 10 points per $1 spent at Hilton.  You earn 3 Hilton points per $1 spent and the card doesn’t have foreign transaction fees for using it outside the US.  Big Spenders can earn top-tier Hilton Diamond status & at least 120,000 Hilton points after spending $40,000 within a calendar year.

Emily applied for 1 card and then another immediately afterwards.  She was approved for 1 card instantly, but called the reconsideration line to find out that her second application wasn’t received.  So she submitted another application and was approved!

The free weekend night certificates are valid for only 12 months from when they are issued, so we plan on completing the minimum spending in January 2013, so that we can use the 4 (hopefully!) free nights in December 2013.

We’ll use these free nights at a top tier category 7 Hilton which usually cost 50,000 points, so 4 free nights is worth ~4200,000 Hilton points to us.

2.   Bank of America Hawaiian Airline.  Emily applied for the Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airline card a few months ago and still has the card open.  This time we applied for the Bank of America Hawaiian Airline card.

Ideally we’d have applied for the Virgin Atlantic card with a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus, but that offer is now only 25,000 miles.

We were too busy to call the reconsideration line immediately after applying, but got an approval letter in the mail after 10 days.  Bank of America used the Experian credit bureau and her score was 721 on the approval letter.

We would normally transfer the 35,000 Hawaiian Airline miles after spending $1,000 within 4 months to Emily’s Hilton account.  However, we’re also looking to see if we can book a ticket on Virgin Atlantic from the US to Europe and not pay fuel surcharges for that award.

Here is a link to the different Hawaiian Airline partner airlines where you can use Hawaiian Airline miles.

Business Cards

The credit line for business cards does not show in our personal credit report and impact our credit utilization or credit aging, so it doesn’t impact our personal credit score.  However, the credit inquiry does show in our personal credit report, but the effect drops off after 3 to 6 months.

1.   Chase Ink Bold.   As I’ve written previously, the Chase Ink Bold is a great way to get another 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points.  I’m a big fan of Ultimate Rewards points because they have a great airline partner, United, which doesn’t charge fuel surcharges for Star Alliance award travel and Hyatt which has some very nice expensive hotels which I wouldn’t stay in without the points.

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.  However, business credit cards may not have all the consumer protections which personals cards have.

Emily had previously applied for the Chase Ink Bold in February using the Million Mile Secrets Tax ID (if you don’t have a tax ID, you can use your social security number).

I wrote earlier about our experience getting approved for her 2nd Ink Bold card.  We’ll also be using the card to earn Ultimate Rewards points while paying down our student loans.

2.  American Express Business Gold Rewards.  Emily also applied for The  Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN with a 50,000 Membership Rewards points sign-on bonus after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.

American Express has been running limited time offers for a 75,000 point version, but the minimum spending of $10,000 would be hard to reach with our other minimum spending requirements.  I got in on the offer the last time it ran. [Expired]

So we’re giving up the extra 25,000 points and saving $5,000 in minimum spending.  I don’t like leaving points on the table, but I also don’t like biting more than I can chew.

I know we’re all trained to maximize awards, and fly extra miles just to experience “premium cabins,” but do what makes sense for you!  There’s no point wasting a credit inquiry on a card if you can’t make the minimum spending.

American Express wants to see Emily’s tax return (again!), so this will take a while to sort out.

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 me because I don’t want to spend money to get my official credit score.

 Credit Sesame:

Emily’s score of 770 was last updated in June before her September App-O-Rama.  Credit Sesame gives a substitute of her Experian score, but for some reason is not updating after June 2012.

Miles and Points Churning 2
Emily’s Credit Sesame Credit Score

Credit Karma:

Emily’s Credit Karma score is 725.  It was 735 before she applied for these 5 cards.

Credit Karma gives a substitute of one’s TransUnion score.

Miles and Points Churning
Emily’s Credit Karma Scores

Bottom Line: 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.

This is 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.

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Could you use one HHonors account number for two applications from different people? Meaning that my wife can put my account number when she applies to a Hilton related credit card.

My wife just got approved for both Hawaiian airline cards. They told her she had to spend $1000 on each card the first month to get the 35,000 miles X 2. She even called back to confirm and was told that both times. Once we get the cards to activate we will ask again. Have you heard of this rather than the 20,000 for first use and an additional 15,000 once you spend $1000 in 4 months?



Hey Daraius, i know you convert the b of a Hawaiian airlines miles into Hilton points, but does it bother you or anyone else that the advertisement for the card says you'll earn enough miles for a round trip flight to Hawaii, however the hawaiian airlines website shows their cheapest flight is 20k miles per way, or 40k miles. am i missing something? is the ad false? or are the miles more useful as hilton points instead of using to fly hawaiian? thoughts would be appreciated.


credit card application says this.

Earn a flight to Hawaii

Earn up to 35,000 HawaiianMiles after qualifying purchases—enough for a round-trip flight from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii

Million Mile Secrets

@greg - I believe there are some flights for 17.5K miles each way, so 35K in total. I actually just used our miles for a flight on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, but transferring to Hilton or using for flights to Hawaii could make the most sense. You can always get another Bank of Hawaii card to add to your miles.

On a second thought, Do you think I should not cancel the cards and use the credit lines as leverage if I have to call the reconsideration line to move the credits around or cancel old cards then?

Hey Daraius,

I want to apply for the 2 Citi Hilton Reserve cards too. I currently have 2 Citi AAdvantage cards one Visa and one american express and a citi thank your card. Its approaching the one year mark for the AA cards and annual fee are about to kick in. I have $8000 credit line on each of the AA cards and 7000 in the thank you card. I am thinking of cancelling the AA amex but dowgrading the AA visa to the bronze card so that I don't lose all the credit line. Also, I have already used the Citi Thank you points so I can cancel that too. So my questions for you are: Do I need to cancel these cards to get approved for 2 reserve cards? If i cancel them today, can i immediately apply for the reserve cards? Is cancelling these cards gonna negatively affect my approval for the reserve card? Thanks a lot.

Million Mile Secrets

@blueflower - With Citi I usually have better luck cancelling cards if I have a lot of available credit because, in my experience, the reps don't reallocate credit. It could make sense to keep 1 AA card since you get 1 free bag and a 10% mile rebate up t0 10,000 miles back in a year.

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