Last month, I applied for several new credit cards and decided to apply for them all on the same day in one “app-o-rama”. While it’s true some people are shifting away from the app-o-rama idea and applying for cards as needed, I stuck to it as historically it’s worked very well for my wife and I.
Now before I get into the detailed results, please note I post about my credit card dealings as these posts are always popular with readers but remember just because I apply for a card (or 4) doesn’t mean you should. In fact, you probably shouldn’t as I know what I am doing and the risks associated with these financial decisions. We are at different places in the miles/points game and probably have different travel goals/needs. With that disclaimer out of the way, here is what I applied for and why.
1) American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card – 50,000 Membership Rewards Points + $200 in Airline Gift Cards
Update (6/18): Some people might see an offer for 40k points the first year + 25k points the second year by clicking this link. Personally, I like the 50k offer below better since I never have to pay an annual fee but some people might appreciate the extra points.
I find it interesting that while I’ve had 47 credit cards (yes that’s the actual number though many of them are now closed) over the past 4 years, I never had the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card which is a fairly popular card. The normal signup bonus is just 25,000 points but I was able to get a 50,000 point offer to appear by opening this link in a Chrome incognito window. This offer required spending spending only $1,000 in 3 months and the annual fee of $195 was waived for the first year. I was not approved right away but instead of calling reconsideration right away, I waited a day and found out I was approved when I checked my application status online.
In addition to the 50,000 points, this card offers a $100 airline credit annually based on the calendar year so in the first year of card membership I will be able to utilize this credit twice. I have already used this year’s credit to buy 2x $50 Delta gift cards and I plan to repeat it in early January 2017.
Currently, when I click the link for the card above (remember not everyone will see this offer right away or at all), it shows a 50,000 point offer but with a $2,000 spend requirement – still a great offer in my opinion especially as Amex limits you to a card once a lifetime so you want to maximize the signup bonus. There are reports of very targeted 60k or 75k offers but they are quite rare so I think 50k is the realistic highest signup bonus for most people.
2) Chase British Airways Avios – 75,000 British Airways Avios
My general focus for this round of applications was to accumulate transferable points (like Chase UR or Amex Membership Rewards) or airline miles as I have plenty of hotel points right now (over 1.3 million across all programs between my wife & I) so I went for one of the highest signup bonuses with this card. I did unfortunately miss the 100,000 Avios offer earlier this year but I wasn’t confident it would return anytime soon so I pulled the trigger on the 75,000 Avios signup bonus offer. Technically, the offer is split with 50,000 Avios being awarded after $2,000 in spending in 3 months and the other 25,000 Avios being award for spending $15,000 total in the first year. Additionally, the annual fee of $95 is NOT waived for the first year.
Chase is known for the lack of instant approvals and this was no different as I was notified my application was pending. I decided to not call reconsideration as I already had 5 Chase cards open (4 personal, 1 business) and I was worried about having another set of eyes on this application/all my Chase cards and have an overeager agent possible deny my application under the 5/24 rule even though 5/24 does not appear to apply to this card. After waiting it out for about 25! days, this is how I found out I was approved – I got a thick envelope in the mail from Chase.
Going back to the offer, I’ll easily reach the $2,000 spend threshold in 2 months and I have a year to tackle the remaining $13,000 in spend required for the other 25,000 Avios. This won’t be an issue as I will put all non-bonus category spend on this card and I’m sure there will be several reselling deals or smaller manufactured spending deals to help complete this spend. With these Avios, I will plan to exclusively use them on short haul American Airlines flight domestically and to the Caribbean.
3) Bank of American Alaska Airlines (Personal) – 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan Miles + $100 Statement Credit
Before I go into this offer, note the offer on this card has increased now to 30,000 miles + $100 statement credit and you can apply directly via this link. Back when I applied the best offer was 25,000 miles + $100 and even though I knew the 30,000 mile offer was coming at some point this year, I chose not to wait for it. I won’t describe my thoughts on churning these cards in this post as that deserves its own post (which I will write someday) but at a bare minimum I like to signup for at least 2-3 of these cards a year (and some people do much more than this). The timing made sense to get this application in now and I was happily instantly approved.
Anyway back to offer which was 25,000 miles for getting approved for the card (no spend requirement) plus a $100 statement credit if you spend $1,000 in 3 months. There is also a free companion ticket though I have never used mine as I’ve never actually flown Alaska Airlines. The annual fee of $75 was NOT waived for the first year but with the statement credit offer, Bank of America was paying me $25 to acquire 25,000 Alaska miles. Even with the demise of Emirates first class awards (yet another post I need to write – my review of Emirates first class), Alaska miles are still valuable for awards to Asia on Cathay Pacific/Hainan Airlines, awards to the South Pacific with Fiji Airways and great in general for awards on Delta, American or Alaska themselves. In short, I will have no problem spending these miles.
4) Bank of American Alaska Airlines (Business) – 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan Miles
Update (6/18): This card now offers a 30,000 mile signup bonus.
The offer for the Alaska Airlines business card is quite similar to the personal card except it does not include the $100 statement credit to help offset the $75 annual fee which is NOT waived for the first year. Currently, the offer is still 25,000 miles but I’ve heard it will be increasing to 30,000 miles relatively soon to more closely align with the personal card. Just like the personal card, this card is indeed churnable and one that I like to acquire 2 or 3 of in a year to help augment my Alaska Mileage Plan balance. Additionally, if you apply for the the personal Alaska card at the same time, the credit inquiries will be combined thus creating almost no downside to adding a business card application. For this application, I was instantly approved.
For this offer, the 25,000 miles are awarded after first purchase so I tend to think of this offer as a way to buy 25,000 Alaska miles for $75 – an obvious good deal. Even if you don’t have plans to redeem Alaska miles for a luxurious flight aboard Cathay Pacific or Emirates, at the very worst you can think of this offer as buying a domestic flight for $75 since those 25,000 miles will cover domestic round-trips on American, Delta or Alaska.
This was yet another successful round of credit card applications especially when you consider I did not have to call reconsideration on any of these cards and there were no denials. For a total cost of $145 in annual fees the first year (after factoring in the $100 statement credit on the Alaska Personal card), I earned 175,000 points/miles and $200 in Delta Gift cards. That’s a pretty solid haul in return for 3 credit inquiries and shows that even after 47 cards, there is still much value to be earned by chasing the right signup bonuses.