One of the most commonly asked questions I get is “what credit cards do you have?” so I thought I would share the results of my wife’s latest app-o-rama. While some will argue the following is outdated, my wife and I stick to applying for credit cards around every 91 days or so, though we do make exceptions if there is an amazing, limited time offer. Between the two of us, we have applied for 76 credit cards in the past 4 years and have only been denied twice (and for the doubters who think our credit scores are awful, they have actually gone up since we first started this). Safe to say this method hasn’t let us down so I don’t see any reason to change it.
My FICO score
Andrea’s FICO score
One last note before I get into what cards we applied for this time around. The cards we chose to apply for below matched our needs based on our future travel goals and what cards we were able to apply for/haven’t had before. I felt comfortable making this a smaller churn with only 3 cards but some people will only feel comfortable doing 1 card while others will do 8 at a time. The average person may or may not benefit from following our example below but if you want a personalized assessment of what cards to acquire based on your travel goals and credit history, please check out my consulting service.
Our main focus for this round of application was to increase our airlines miles. We’re sitting on millions of hotel points spread across several programs so I felt comfortable bypassing any hotel cards this time around. We ended up applying for two cards that offer flexible points in the sense they can be transferred to many different airlines (or could also be used to pay for tickets at a fixed value) and one card that offers straight airline miles. Without further ado:
1. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card – Offer of 50,000 points for spending $1,000 in 3 months. Annual fee of $195 waived for the first year. Automatically approved (this is a charge card so no credit limit).
- $100 airline credit annually (based on a calendar year so can use this credit twice before the annual fee is due). This is where I am getting the $200 in airline gift cards.
- 3x miles on airfare purchases
- 2x miles on US gas purchases
- 2x miles on US restaurant purchases
- 2x miles on US supermarket purchases
- 1x miles on all other purchases
The public offer on this card is only 25,000 points but if you open this link in an incognito window you might be able to get the 50,000 point offer to appear. It did not work in incognito Chrome for my wife but did in Firefox and Internet Explorer in their private browsers. We use Membership Rewards points for airline miles as MR points transfer to 23 different airline partners covering all major airline alliances and smaller airlines like JetBlue, Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic & Virgin America.
Interestingly enough, neither Andrea or I ever held this card before so this was an easy decision to increase our Membership Rewards balance since she was able to generate the 50,000 point offer via a private Firefox window.
2. Citibank Thank You Premier – Offer of 50,000 points for spending $3,000 in 3 months. Annual fee of $95 waived for the first year. Automatically approved with a $10,300 credit line.
- 3x miles on travel purchases
- 3x miles on gas purchases
- 2x miles on dining purchases
- 2x miles on entertainment purchases
- 1x miles on all other purchases
Citibank is making a strong push with its ThankYou points program recently and I find myself looking to increase our ThankYou points balance substantially. If you have a Prestige card, ThankYou points can be redeemed at a rate of 1.6 cents a point towards paid American Airlines tickets (1.33 cents on flights on other airlines) and you would earn miles for flying on these tickets since these are considered ‘paid’ tickets. This is a pretty big benefit as you don’t have to worry about award availability though if you want to travel in premium cabins, this not the way to go. If you don’t have a Prestige card, then points can be redeemed for paid flights at a value of 1.25 cents a point.
ThankYou points can also be transferred to 11 airlines, including Singapore, Virgin Atlantic and Flying Blue which are probably the best values for transferring ThankYou points. The points also transfer to Hilton HHonors at a rate of 1.5 ThankYou points to 1 Hilton HHonors point. I could see myself transferring them to Singapore most frequently or using them for American Airlines flights as mentioned above since I have a Prestige card and my wife can transfer her points to me.
3. Barclays Lufthansa Miles & More World MasterCard – Offer of 50,000 points for spending $5,000 in 3 months. Annual fee of $79 NOT waived for the first year. Automatically approved with a $19,000 credit line.
- 2x miles on airfare purchases from Miles & More airlines
- 1x miles on all other purchases
- Annual companion ticket (though I don’t foresee us ever using this)
This card isn’t the most popular one out there but I wanted to add another card to this round of applications that wasn’t from Citi, Amex or Chase so I was left with a Barclays or Bank of America card. My wife just got 2x Alaska cards earlier this year and I wasn’t interested in the Virgin Atlantic card due to the high spending requirements so this left the Lufthansa card for us.
I got this card solely for the 50,000 miles with plans to use these miles for United flights, mostly to the Caribbean or domestic first class since those tickets are only 17,000 miles each way instead of the 25,000 miles United charge for the same exact flight. Miles & More also offers discounted award flights via Miles Bargain to Europe for only 30,000 miles so that could be an option though fuel surcharges are a deterrent there. Here is a list of the best uses for Lufthansa miles. For most people, I wouldn’t recommend this card until you’ve run out of options but 50,000 miles is the best offer I’ve seen on this card.
This was the absolute best case app-o-rama as I was shocked to see my wife get 3 auto approvals so she didn’t have to get on the phone to call the reconsideration departments. Auto approvals almost never happen anymore for either of us so I’ll take this as a pleasant surprise. For an out of pocket cost of $79 (the upfront annual fee on the Lufthansa card), my wife will earn 150,000+ points/miles plus $200 in airline gift cards. We do have to spend $9,000 in 3 months but a little manufactured spending will make this pretty feasible.
Full disclosure: I do not have any affiliate links and as such, there are NO affiliate links in this post. I have included links to the cards to make it easy for readers to access the card and learn more about them.