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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. I’m partial to Hyatt because I’m a Hyatt diamond, but I won’t say no to free or cheap hotel stays.
Emily’s December Cards
Emily applied for 8 credit cards and was approved for all of them except the US Bank Club Carlson card (still pending) after ~1 hour on the phone with the Chase and Citi reconsideration folks, so Santa was good to us! In case you’re wondering, Emily has a ~6.5 year credit history and a credit score above 700. This cards focused on international travel and hotel stays.
Emily drew inspiration from Rapid Travel Chai – who managed to get 4 different cards from Barclaycard approved on the same day – and applied for 3 separate Barclays cards one after the other using the same browser. She received instant approval for all 3 cards!
Do consider using the links from Rapid Travel Chai as thanks for discovering this!
Emily applied for the cards in the order of importance to us– first the Chase Ink Plus followed by the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa.
The Chase Ink Plus has a reduced minimum spending of $5,000 (instead of $10,000) within 3 months so we wanted to get in on that sooner rather than later. Emily had cancelled her earlier Sapphire Preferred Visa in May to avoid the annual fee, but missed having the no foreign transaction fee and double points on dining and travel and wanted it back!
Next were the 2 Citi Hilton cards with 50,000 points each. My affiliate link to the Citi Hilton card offers only 40,000 points, so I used the link from Flyer Talk and in the Hotel Credit Card tab for 50,000 Hilton points. After calling the Chase and Citi reconsideration lines and getting approved for their cards, Emily applied for the Barclays Frontier Airlines card for domestic travel.
She got an instant approval, so we decided to follow in Rapid Travel Chai’s footsteps and applied for the Chairman’s Preferred version of the US Air card which gives you 40,000 US Air miles regardless of which version of the card you get approved for with the annual fee waived.
She then applied for the Barclays Priceline card to see if she would get approved for another Barclays card and was instantly approved. I also want to research the Barclays Priceline card. We could have applied for the Barclays Best Western and Choice hotel cards, but didn’t find them interesting enough.
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. I may also buy Vanilla Reloads at CVS and use them them to fund my Bluebird and pay bills such as student loans, mortgages etc.
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 317 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
- Buying Vanilla Reloads at CVS and using them them to fund my Bluebird and pay bills.
8 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.
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred (Visa). Emily first got this card in June 2011 and was able to get matched to a very limited time offer of 100,000 points in June 2011, so we were really happy with our Chase Sapphire Preferred card! But the $95 annual fee was due in June this year, so Emily transferred the Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and United to avoid losing them and cancelled the card to avoid paying the fee.
I got a Chase Sapphire Preferred for myself after cancelling Emily’s card, but Emily wanted one for herself because she didn’t like me swapping my Chase Sapphire Preferred into her purse every time she had to use it for travel and dining (for 2X Ultimate Rewards points) or for foreign transactions because of the no foreign transaction fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Emily could have got the MasterCard version of the Sapphire Preferred from the MasterCard site, but I was curious to perform blog research on getting another Sapphire Preferred Visa version.
After calling the Chase reconsideration line, she was approved for her 2nd Chase Sapphire Preferred after closing her 2nd United Explorer card with a $5,000 limit. I’ll keep you posted if she gets the 40,000 point sign-on bonus as well!
Update: She did get the bonus again.
2. Citi Hilton. Emily wanted more Hilton points, so we decided to apply for 2 Citi Hilton cards with 50,000 bonus points. My affiliate link offers only 40,000 Citi points, but this link on the Hotel Credit Card tab is for 50,000 points.
The application page doesn’t mention the sign-up bonus, but readers have confirmed that the link works. Of course we wanted more points, so we used the better link for 50,000 points!
Emily applied for 2 Citi Hilton cards and had to call the reconsideration line to get approved. The first rep noted that we had too much available credit, so we offered to cancel the Visa version of her Citi American Airlines card to free up some available credit. We kept the American Express version of her American Airlines card to use during future American Express Small Business Saturday promotions.
We then called again for the 2nd card and the rep asked us if it was okay to move credit from Emily’s existing Citi Hilton Reserve to get approved.
3. Barclaycard Frontier Airlines Card. I recently wrote about the Barclaycard Frontier Airlines card which offers 35,000 miles after spending $750 within 3 months and Emily decided to apply for the card since Frontier Airlines flies to Kansas City and has a few non-stop flights from Kansas City.
Emily didn’t have any open Barclays credit cards at the time and had cancelled her Barclaycard US Air credit card in February and her Air Tran card in August. She was instantly approved for the Barclaycard Frontier Airlines credit card.
4. Barclaycard US Air Card. Rapid Travel Chai wrote an intriguing post about getting approved for 5 different Barclaycard cards one after the other. So we decided to apply for the Barclays US Air card with 40,000 bonus points using the better Chairman’s Preferred offer. Sure enough, we got instantly approved!
5. Barclaycard Priceline Card. We really didn’t find the other Barclaycards appealing, but I wanted to see if we could get another card approved. We applied for the Barclaycard Priceline card with a terrible 5,000 point sign-on bonus. The main reason for applying for this card was to investigate the 2% cash back on all purchases or potentially higher cash back if you use the card with Priceline’s Name Your Own Price.
And we were instantly approved! If you do apply for more than one Barclaycard at a time, do consider using the links from Rapid Travel Chai as thanks for discovering this!
6. US Bank Club Carlson. The new Club Carlson hotel credit card offers 85,000 points after spending $2,500 within 3 months. The card also offers free Club Carlson Gold elite status. Emily wasn’t instantly approved for the card and we didn’t call the Club Carlson Reconsideration line, because they don’t seem to be very helpful over the phone. We’ll wait for the letter in the mail.
The credit line for 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 personals cards have.
1. Chase Ink Plus. The Chase Ink Plus currently has a reduced minimum spending of $5,000 (instead of $10,000) within 3 months for 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points. I don’t know when the minimum spending will increase to $10,000 so we wanted to apply for the Chase Ink Plus sooner rather than later. We’ll likely transfer the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points to United, Hyatt or Southwest.
Emily already had 2 Chase Ink Bold cards when she applied for the Chase Ink Plus, one Ink Bold with the Million Mile Secrets Tax ID and one as a sole proprietor with her social security number.
Emily applied for the Ink Plus using the Million Mile Secrets Tax ID (if you don’t have a tax ID, you can use your social security number).
We called the Chase business reconsideration line at (800-453-9719) to get approved for the card. The first two reps declined her application because of the large number of new credit accounts opened. But the 3rd rep agreed to approve her application if we closed one of her two Ink Bold cards.
The rep asked 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.
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.
Emily’s credit score was 721 in early December before her December App-O-Rama. Credit Sesame gives a substitute of her Experian score.
Emily’s Credit Karma score is 732 and was updated on December 30, 2012 – 3 day after her applications.
Credit Karma gives a substitute of Emily’s 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 time with friends and family.
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.