App-O-Rama 2016

Disclaimer: If you are new to credit card rewards, please read Part 1Part 2, & Part 3 of The Fear of Leveraging Credit Cards.

 

Background

The last time Rachel and I opened any new credit card accounts was August of 2015. With the recent close of our home purchase, it's time to leverage those credit scores again! The cards that we last opened were the 2% Fidelity American Express and a little known 5% card that allows you to redeem up $2,500 of cash back per year!  Back in August, we decided cash back in our pockets was more important than accruing a bunch of travel rewards, especially since we had no immediate upcoming travel. 

 

Caveat

There has been rumors of Chase starting to restrict new credit card approvals based on the “5/24 Rule”. The rule essentially states that if you’ve been approved for 5 or more credit cards (doesn’t matter from which bank) within the past 24 months, they are less likely to approve you for their Chase branded personal cards - i.e. Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom, Chase Slate, etc. Recently, it has also been reported that this “rule” will now extend to not only Chase business, but co-branded cards as well. Thus, I went about this app-o-rama with a purpose, and in the specific order listed below. We also applied for all of the cards on the same day (basically one after the other), as this results in less credit pulls, especially if you are applying for multiple cards from the same issuing bank.

 


Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred

This is one of the better cards out there, and highly touted by most travel bloggers. Since we downgraded to the regular Sapphire card last year, and it being over 2 years since we last received the bonus, we went for it. However, I had a good feeling that we weren’t going to be approved, and I was right! So much for the 2 x 55,000 points. :(

  • Both Denied for too many opened cards in the past 2 years

Chase IHG Rewards MasterCard

This card currently has a 50,000 bonus offer with a $50 credit, but there is a 60,000 bonus offer with no credit floating out there as well. I would rank IHG hotels at the bottom of my list of hotel chains to stay at, as most are Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express’. However, as I mentioned in my 2016 Travel Plan post, the Intercontinental Hong Kong is a property that we would potentially like to stay at. So, the 120,000 points from this card sign-up, plus the 58,500 I won from the Priceless Surprises Promo, and the points from Rachel’s entries still en route, all combined would put us up at the Intercontinental for at least 3-4 nights! Another aspirational Intercontinental property to stay at, further down the line, would be the Intercontinental Bora Bora.

  • Rachel: Approved
  • Joshua: Approved
  • Potential Bonus Points Earned: 2 x 60,000 = 120,000 IHG points

Chase British Airways Visa

I’ve blogged about this card before and its benefits for domestic short-haul flights.

  • Rachel: Approved
  • Joshua: Pending
  • Potential Bonus Points: 2 x 100,000 = 200,000 Avios points

Chase Marriott Visa

This card has the highest bonus ever offered at 80,000, plus you get an extra 7,500 points for adding an authorized user, who then uses the card within the first 3 months. 

  • Rachel: Initially denied, but she called in, moved some of her credit around, and was Approved
  • Joshua: Pending
  • Potential Bonus Points: 2 x 87,500 = 175,000 Marriott points

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard

Wow, even the name is a mouthful. HA! They had an offer for 50,000 miles that was ending, so I jumped on this the night before the end date. It will be nice to replenish our AA stash as I used some points to help my sister-in-law fly back from Africa (trip report forthcoming), as well as helped a friend get to Australia to see his girlfriend. The great thing was, after applying for them, I found out there was a 60,000 offer out there, so I sent a secure message to Citi, and we both got our bonuses matched! Easy peasy.

  • Rachel: Approved
  • Joshua: Approved
  • Potential Bonus Points: 2 x 60,000 = 120,00 AA miles

Bank of American Alaska Airlines Visa

BofA is pretty generous with the approval of this card, and multiples at that. We each already had a card when we applied, but both card's annual fees recently posted, so we will probably cancel them, get that fee refunded, and drop back down to 1 card each. It comes with an immediate 25,000 bonus, and a $100 credit when you make $1,000 in purchases. No brainer. We will probably apply for several more down the line, and save up for a 1st class trip on Emirates/Etihad to the Maldives, routing through Dubai/The Middle East.

  • Rachel: Approved
  • Joshua: Approved
  • Bonus Points: 2 x 25,000 = 50,000 Alaskan Air miles

American Express Hilton Honors

This card was having it's highest bonus ever as well, at 80,000 points. I've had this card for a long time (it was one of my first credit cards, EVER), so I am not eligible to get the bonus again (as AMEX only allows for one bonus per lifetime, and recently extended this policy to their business cards as well - rats!). Rachel, however, has never had this card. I mainly got it for the big bonus, but it not having an annual fee was also a bonus *duh dun dun ching!*. To me, Hilton Honors points are only worth a tiny bit more than IHG points.

  • Rachel: Approved
  • Potential Bonus Points: 80,000 Hilton Honors points

Citi Hilton Honors Visa

We waited 7 days from all of the above card applications prior to applying for this one. The reason being, Citi has a rule in which you can only apply for your second Citi card at least 7 days after your first, and your third Citi card at least 65 days after your second. I've held this card for a long time, but Citi does have a tendency to close your card if you aren't using it. Good thing they closed this account late last year, which was perfect timing, as this was another card offering it's highest offer ever - 75,000 points! Also, no annual fee. 

  • Rachel: Approved
  • Joshua: Approved
  • Potential Bonus Points: 2 x 75,000 = 150,000 Hilton Honors points

 

Conclusion

I know to a "normal" person, this is pure craziness. But I am not normal. When it comes to minimizing to maximize, I go... what is the term? Oh yes, balls to the wall! Through this app-o-rama, we are looking at netting a total of 525,000 hotel points and 370,00 airline miles! If that isn't leveraging your credit scores, I don't know what is!

It's interesting that there are so many "highest bonus offers" out there right now. With the Marriott/Starwood merger, and the seemingly tightening up of approval regulations by banks, I would get in on some of these cards if you're in any way interested in leveraging them for free and cheap travel!

*How many credit cards have you applied for at one time? Are you planning on applying for any of the cards I mentioned above?