Is It Better to Sign-Up for Multiple Cards Each Quarter or Cherry-Pick the Biggest Bonuses?

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Is It Better to Sign-Up for Multiple Cards Each Quarter or Cherry-Pick the Biggest Bonuses?

Million Mile SecretsIs It Better to Sign-Up for Multiple Cards Each Quarter or Cherry-Pick the Biggest Bonuses?Million Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Update:   The Chase Ink Plus 70,000 point offer is no longer available, but check Hot Deals for the latest offers!

There are 2 main strategies to signing-up for credit card bonuses. Some folks like myself, usually apply for multiple cards at once every ~90 days.

Others wait for a great offer like the 70,000 Chase Ultimate Reward point Chase Ink Plus and then they apply.

Note: The Chase Ink Plus 70,000 point bonus offer ends on October 19, 2014.

Is It Better To Sign Up For Multiple Cards Each Quarter Or Cherry Pick The Biggest Bonuses
How Often Do You Apply for Credit Cards?

So which way is better for your type of travel plans?

Applying for Cards Every 90 to 120 Days

Some folks, myself included, usually apply for credit cards every 90 to 120 days.  The 90 to 120 days rule isn’t a hard rule, just a recommendation.

Each time you apply for a credit card, you get a hard pull on your credit report that lasts for 2 years.  Although no one knows the exact impact of credit inquires on your credit score, most folks believe older inquiries (such as 18 months) have less impact than recent inquiries of 1 month.

This is why some folks apply for cards every ~90 to 120 days.  Because they feel that the impact of recent credit inquiries is less, and it gives your credit score time to rebound.

Is It Better To Sign Up For Multiple Cards Each Quarter Or Cherry Pick The Biggest Bonuses
Applying for Cards Every ~90 Days Gives Your Credit Score Time to Rebound

Although your credit score takes a slight dip when you apply for new cards, your score could improve because of the extra credit available to you.

Applying for credit cards every ~90 to 120 days could make it hard for some folks to meet the minimum spending requirements.

Before you apply for any card, you should know the 5 dangers of applying for credit cards.

And for folks who are applying for cards every ~90 to 120 days, you could run out of cards to apply for.

Note: Folks who have a lot of recent credit inquiries may get denied by US Bank.  So if you plan to apply for a US Bank issued card like the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card or U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® card, you should apply for these cards before you apply for other cards.

Some folks have had success in getting approved by US Bank after freezing their IDA and ARS reports.

Cherry-Picking Bonuses

Some folks only apply for cards when there’s a large sign-up bonus or when they feel they can complete the minimum spending.

While others who follow a ~90 to 120 day application schedule, some apply when there’s a lucrative offer.  So they just add another application in when the bonus is big enough.

Because big sign-up bonuses don’t come around that often, those folks who cherry-pick usually don’t have to worry about their credit score taking a dip when they apply because it may have been months since their last application.

However, sometimes large sign-up bonuses are offered around the same time like the 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points offer on the Chase Ink Plus, the 50,000 United Airline miles offer on the United card, and the 50,000 Delta Airlines miles Delta card.

Have a Plan

But I wouldn’t recommend applying for miles and points credit cards without a plan.

You should decide what your travel goals are and how you want to use your miles and points before you apply for credit cards.  Then with your destination in mind, you can apply for the credit cards that will get you there.

Is It Better To Sign Up For Multiple Cards Each Quarter Or Cherry Pick The Biggest Bonuses
Do You Know Which Credit Cards Can Get You to Hawaii?

Otherwise, you’ll have a bunch of miles and points that you might not be able to use.

For many folks, it’s best to start with flexible bank points that can be transferred to a number of airlines and hotel partners.  The Chase Ink Plus card currently gives you 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points that you can transfer to:

 Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners 
Aer LingusBritish AirwaysFlying Blue (Air France/KLM)
IberiaJetBlueSingapore Airlines
SouthwestUnited AirlinesVirgin Atlantic
 Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners 
HyattIHGMarriott
Ritz-Carlton

Emily and I decide where we want to go and then find the credit cards that will get us the miles or points we need for the airfare and hotel accommodations.

Don’t Let Your Miles and Points Expire

You don’t have to use your miles and points immediately. You can save them for a future trip.

But some miles and points expire so you should know how to keep your airline miles active and what you can do to keep your hotel points from expiring.

Note: Chase Ultimate Rewards points do NOT expire.

Bottom Line

If you have no problem meeting the minimum spending requirements on multiple credit cards within a few months, you might consider applying for cards every ~90 to 120 days.

When your travel plans require multiple sign-up bonuses at once, this method is helpful.  For example, when you’re trying to earn the Southwest Companion Pass to get nearly free travel for your companion.

But if you find it challenging to spend many thousands of dollars at once, it might be easier to cherry-pick the best offers.  Your credit score might take a bit longer to bounce back but that’s usually not a problem if you have excellent credit.

Emily and I usually wait ~90 days or more before applying for multiple cards.  But we’ll sometimes break that rule to apply for a card with an exceptional offer such as the Chase Ink Plus with 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards point bonus.

Both methods allow you to get Big Travel with Small Money. 

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Cancel only when the annual fee comes due (i.e. at the 11 or 12 month mark).

When do you cancel the cards?

Virginia A. Paola

I found today’s letter very interesting and useful. Thank you.

I don’t see any validity in your 90 – 120 credit card application cycle. I’ve been approved for more than 20 new cards in 2014 including 16 Chase cards (4 Inks). My credit score has not taken a major hit and for each card approved I’ve had to call and justify the card to the representative and sometimes move credit lines or cancel a card with low usage but I’ve always gotten the bonuses. To meet my minimum spend I often pat my income taxes or property taxes with a credit card. I enjoy your newsletter and read it daily.

“And for folks who are applying for cards every ~90 to 120 days, you could run out of cards to apply for.”

I’m sure you’ve run into this several times by now. What do you tell credit card companies when you’re re-applying for the same card a year or so later (since I believe that’s the waiting time on some cards to get the sign-up bonus again)? Do they ever say anything about your multiple inquiries?

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