11
Apr

My April App-o-Rama: Meet the Candidates

Posted By Trav

2013 AoR Candidates

It’s Christmas in April.  Yep, time for my first App-o-Rama of 2013!

If you don’t know what an App-o-Rama is, check out What the Deuce is an App-o-Rama and the 4 Most Commonly Asked Questions about App-o-Ramas first.

This is my 4th App-o-Rama since starting the site (February 2012, August 2012, December 2012), and I’ve got to admit, each time it gets harder and harder to figure out what cards I’m going to go after.

Of course, I still love writing these posts.  Not only do I love the idea that a bunch of points will be coming my way, but I also love the feedback I get in the comments.

There have been multiple times I’ve changed my mind about a card due to a reader suggestion.

For everyone who is new to the Meet the Candidates posts, here’s how it works:

I’ll break all the candidates down in to three categories:  Pretenders, Contenders, and Duh Obvies!

I’ll state my initial reactions for each card.

Then, I’ll ask for your feedback in the comments to help me make my final decisions!

Of course, it helps to know what cards I already have.  Here’s all the cards I’ve opened in the past (with ones that are closed in yellow):

April App-o-Rama All cards chart

 

And here is a chart of all the cards I’m considering for this App-o-Rama, listed by bank.

April 2013 AoR Candidates

Pretenders

pretenders

Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom application link

Pros:  This card has two things going for it.  First is the fact that there is never an annual fee, meaning you can open this card and keep it open forever without having to worry about closing it.  This helps keep your credit score high.

The second is that each quarter there are categories that will give you 5x bonus points.  If you meet the maximum spend each quarter ($1,500) this equates to 30,000 extra Chase points each year.  Yes please!

Cons:  The signup bonus is a paltry 10k (it was a high as 35k in April 2012).

Overall:  Every App-o-Rama I list this as a pretender because of the 10k bonus.  If it were to bounce up to 30k, like it was in April of last year, then I’d seriously consider picking this card over any other Chase personal card available at the moment.

But while I really want this card to take advantage of the 5x offer, I just can’t justify getting it with such a small sign up bonus.

Amex Platinum

Amex Platinum application link

Pros:  This card has a ton of extra perks that come along with it, such as worldwide lounge acces, free Global Entry, and a $200 airline credit (which would really be $400 the first year).

Cons:  The annual fee of $450 is not waived the first year and the sign up bonus is only currently 25k.

Overall:  At some point, I will definitely get the Amex Platinum card.  I’ve been swayed by many of the comments on my Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $450 Annual Fee post.

But since the sign up bonus is only 25k right now, I’m going to hold out until it’s higher.  It goes as high as 100k, at which point I’ll jump on it.  Unless that happens prior to my AoR, the Amex Platinum will be on the outside looking in.

Contenders, Part #1: The Chase Conundrum

contenders

Every App-o-Rama, the toughest decision is which Chase personal credit card to get.  This time is no different, as we still have the usual suspects of the Hyatt and Priority Club as well as a AirTran card with an increased sign up bonus.  What to do, what to do?

Chase Hyatt Gold Passport

Chase Hyatt Gold Passport application link

Pros:  Two nights stay at any Hyatt is nothing to sneeze at, since they have some amazing properties and I’ve been wanting to add Hyatt points and stays to my meager stable of hotel points.

Also, for once, the options for Chase personal cards are pretty slim since I’ve already grabbed most of the best cards (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase United Explorer).

Cons:  The $75 annual fee isn’t waived.

Overall:  Each AoR, I come close to picking this card but I usually can’t seem to justify the hotel points, even if it is Hyatt, over picking up some extra airline miles.

This time around, the only Chase airline card out there that I don’t have already is the AirTran card (listed below).  Looks like once again it will come down to either an average airline card or the Hyatt card that I’ve been thinking about for a year now.

Chase Priority Club

Chase Priority Club application link (unpublished 80k offer)
Chase Priority Club application link (public 60k offer)

Pros:  80k Priority Club points is a decent haul considering that Intercontinental Hotels, the premier hotels of Priority Club, range from 30-50k, with most being 40k.  This means you’re getting at least 2 nights at  a top-notch property.

Also, Priority Club has “Point Break” properties each quarter, which are a measly 5k a night, leading to some fantastic value for 80k points.  The no annual fee and no annual minimum spend is also a huge bonus.

Cons:  There aren’t really any cons except that I’d have to pick this over the Chase Hyatt or Chase AirTran since they are all Chase personal cards.

Overall:  Last AoR, I thought I’d grab either the Hyatt or the Priority Club and then this AoR, I’d grab the other.  Turns out, I got the Chase BA card last time, and once again, this time I’m left with a decision between two cards who are neckandneck.

Do I go with the flexibility and great value of the Priority Club or the amazing, “spoil myself silly” Chase Hyatt card?  It’s too close to call at this point.

Chase AirTran

Chase AirTran application link

Pros:  The sign up bonus is currently at 32 credits, which is equal to 50k Southwest points ($833 of Southwest fares), which is a substantial amount. The bonus bounces between 16 and 32 credits all the time.

Once Southwest and AirTran merge, this card will not be available.

Cons: The $69 annual fee is not waived.  Since this is a Chase card, I’d have to get this instead of the Chase Hyatt or the Chase Priority Club.

Overall:  I value the Chase AirTran card on par with the Chase Hyatt and the Chase Priority Club, but the reason that I’m leaning towards getting this card first is because the sign up bonus is currently at it’s highest level and there is no telling when this card will disappear.

Because of that, I almost have to get this card now, right?

Contenders, Part #2: The Citi Conundrum

This is a little more cut and dry than Chase, but I’m still not completely sold on my decision.  I’d really like to add to my Hilton stash, but…

Citi Hilton Reserve

Citi Hilton Reserve application link

Pros:  With the major devaluation of Hilton’s award chart, a “free night” is worth a lot more now that a top end property is 95k points instead of 50k.  So the sign up bonus of 2 free nights could be worth up to 190k Hilton points if you use them at the best properties, like the Hilton Bora Bora which I intend to do.

This is now the best way to go about trying to stay at aspirational Hilton properties.  Collecting Hilton points is sooo00 last year.

Cons:  The major downside to me is that it only includes weekend nights.  This puts a big crimp in a lot of vacations if you’re planning on going for any length of time.  You’ll need to have additional Hilton points to use for the days that aren’t weekends.

Also, you can no longer get two Citi cards at once, so the ability to get 2 of these cards, and 4 free nights total, which was available during my last AoR in December 2012 is no longer an option (a huge bummer).

Lastly, the annual fee of $95 and minimum spend of $2,500 in 4 months are quiet hefty for a hotel card.

Overall:  Since I was unable to offload my Hilton points before the devaluation, I’m still sitting on 270k Hilton points, which nowadays, can only get me 3 nights, instead of 6, at a top notch Hilton.

So I’d love to add 2 free weekend nights, which means I could theoretically spend 5 nights at the Hilton Bora Bora, which might make it worth going all the way out there.

The one problem is that you can only get 1 Citi card at a time  now, and I’ve got my eye on the Citi/AAdvantage Visa.  Since I can only have one, I’ll have to decide if the two nights is worth it or if I should go with the 50k AA miles.

Citi American Airlines Visa

Citi AA Visa application link

Pros:  50k AA miles is a good sign up bonus for a good airline, one that has great off-peak awards and rarely charges a fuel surcharge on their flights.

Cons:  I’ve already had this card before (Sept. 2011) and while most people say you can “churn” it 18 months after you your last approval, it’s not a guarantee.  The sign up bonus no longer includes a $150 statement credit nor 2 lounge passes.

Overall:  Because the Citi AA deals seem to be disappearing left and right, I don’t expect the 50k Visa offer to be around much longer.  Therefore, I’m heavily leaning towards getting this card now, and waiting on the Citi Hilton Reserve card.

Contenders, Part #3:  What To Do About Barclays?

Usually, there aren’t many decent Barclays offers, but with the arrival of the Arrival card, I’ve got two options this time.  Do I dare tempt fate and risk another denial?

Barclays Frontier Airlines

Barclays Frontier Airlines application link

Pros:  Frontier Airlines flies out of 4 airports that are very convenient for me; Philadelphia, Allentown, Princeton, and Harrisburg.  The direct flight options are fairly limited (although one option from Trenton is New Orleans, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go), but most of them route to Denver, Frontier’s main hub.

This means with one connection, I can go anywhere Frontier flies.  Check out their surprisingly awesome route map to see all the options.

Cons:  The biggest con is that I’ve already been denied for this card during my last AoR in January, and I’m not sure why this time would be any different. The 35,00o signup bonus is pretty small, and will get you less than 2 roundtrip domestic tickets.

Lastly, its a bummer the $59 annual fee isn’t waived.

Overall:  Normally, I’d be more than happy to pay a $59 annual fee for 35,000 miles.  But since I’ve been denied once before, and not too long ago, I’m a little gun shy.

Do I really want to waste a credit pull (and Barclays pulls all 3 bureaus in my area) on the off-chance that this time I’ll get approved?  The answer is probably yes, but…I put the odds of getting this card at less than 25%.  I have not been very lucky with Barclays reconsideration line recently.

Barclays Arrival card

Barclays Arrival card application link

Pros:  I’ve never applied for this card with Barclays before, so the chances of getting denied may be lower.  The 40k offer is good for either $440 in travel credit or a $400 statement credit, which can be used for anything.

This is nice, since I already have a glut of airline miles and this gives me flexibility to buy $400 worth of something else, if I choose.

The annual fee is waived for the first year.

Cons:  I’d normally rather have airline miles than “cash”.

Overall:  I’d put the 35k Frontier miles and the $400 statement credit as pretty much equal.  Because I was already denied for the Frontier card, I’m leaning towards applying for the Arrival card this time.

Contenders Part #4: Big Fee, Big Perks?

Here, it’s strictly a “is it worth the money” decision.  And, to be honest, I don’t really know!

Amex Mercedes Benz Platinum

Amex Mercedes Benz Platinum application link

Pros: The 50k sign up bonus is a decent amount and it gives you all the same extra perks (worldwide lounge access, $200 airline credit, etc) as the “regular” Amex Platinum.

Cons:  The $475 annual fee is not waived…and that’s A LOT of money!

Overall:  Since you can get both the Mercedes Benz Platinum and the “regular” Platinum, I’m definitely leaning towards getting this card now since the sign up bonus is at 50k, as opposed to the 25k sign up for the “regular” Platinum.

My main concern is that if I get this card now and the 100k sign up bonus comes back for the regular Platinum and I get that, I’ll be paying two annual fees ($925) and be getting the same extra perks for both, which doesn’t make much sense.

Overall, I’ve got to decide whether I want to pay $475 for 50k Amex points, and at this point, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Duh, Obvies

captain obvious

US Bank Club Carlson card

US Bank Club Carlson application link

Pros:  The 85k sign up bonus is one of the best hotel offers out there.  The top Club Carlson category is 50k/night, so this sign up bonus is good for almost 2 free nights at their top end hotels or 4-5 nights at a lower end hotel.  In addition, if you stay 2 nights using points, you’ll get the 3rd night free, which is a huge perk.

The card also comes with an anniversary bonus of 40k, which negates the $75 annual fee.

Lastly, this card is from US Bank, so I don’t have to decide between this and some other card.  It’s basically a freebie.

Cons: The annual fee of $75 is not waived the first year and while the minimum spend of $2,500 in 3 month isn’t a killer, it is much higher than most hotel credit cards.

Overall:  This card is a no-brainer for me.  Even though I don’t normally love hotel credit cards, I’m paying $75 for 85k points, which is a steal.  I’ll stash those points and then at some point find a nice Radisson and give myself 3 free nights! 

Citi American Airlines Mastercard Gold

Citi American Airlines Mastercard Gold

Pros:  I love AA miles because they have great off-peak awards and rarely charge fuel surcharges, so any time I can get them, I’m happy.  I’ve never had this card before (unlike the Citi AA Visa, which I have had before), so I should have a better shot at getting approved.

The minimum spend is small ($750 in 3 months) and they waive the annual fee for the first year.

Cons:  The sign up bonus is only 30k.

Overall:  I love adding AA miles, and since there is no longer a valid 50k offer for the Citi AA Amex, I figure I might as well jump on it while I can.

The way to still get both the Citi AA Visa and the Citi AA Mastercard is to apply for one during the App-o-Rama and then one a few days later.

Since I’d rather have the 50k of the Citi AA Visa, I’ll apply for the Citi AA Mastercard a few days after the AoR and hope I don’t get denied for “too many recent inquiries.”  *Crossing my fingers*

Bank of America Virgin Atlantic

Bank of America Virgin Atlantic application link

Pros:  The sign up bonus is back up to 50k (it bounces between 25k and 50k), which is the highest it’s ever been.  Virgin Atlantic miles convert at a 1:2 ratio to Hilton points, so the sign up bonus would net me 100k Hilton points.

Cons:  The $90 annual fee is not waived, and a $2,500 in 3 month minimum spend for a card that doesn’t earn me “good” airline miles is a pain to add to an AoR.

Overall:  While adding the minimum spend to other minimum spends has me a little wary, as it’s one more card to juggle, I need to add to my stash of Hilton points.

Even though it will cost me 2x or 3x as much now that Hilton has been massively devalued, I still have my eyes set on a 6 or 7 day trip to the Hilton Bora Bora or the Conrad Maldives.  Since that will now run somewhere around 500k points, and I’ve currently got 275K, I need to get Hilton points whenever I can.

My Tentative Plan

It looks like I’ll be doing a 6 card app-o-rama this time around, which is what I did last time.  It can certainly get to be a pain juggling all those cards, but if all goes as planned, I’ll be adding some really valuable and diverse points to my miles bank!

Definites:  US Club Carlson, Citi AA Mastercard Gold, BoA Virgin Atlantic

Most likely:  Citi AA Visa, Chase Air Tran, Barclays Arrival

Probably not:  Chase Hyatt, Chase Priority Club, Amex Mercedes Platinum, Barclays Frontier, Citi Hilton Reserve

Definitely not:  Chase Freedom, Amex Platinum

Meeting the Minimum Spend

If I stick to the above plan, the minimum spend will look like this:

April 2013 AoR Min Spend

Total, I’d be looking at spending $8,750 in the first 3 months, and then an additional $2,500 in month 4.  With my natural spending patterns, there’d be absolutely no way I could meet those minimum spends.

But by using Amazon Payments for $1,000 a month and buying gift cards, I should be able to meet these without a hitch!

How Can I Get All Those Cards?

There are two keys to pulling off a successful App-o-Rama and getting approved for all the cards you applied for.

1.  Apply for them all on the same day, and as close to simultaneous as possible.  By doing this, you lower your chance at getting denied for “too many recent inquiries” since they will all be processing at the same time.

2.  Spread out the cards you get by applying to different lenders.  Don’t apply for 4 Chase cards at one time.  You’ll get denied.

However, you can apply for 1 personal card and 1 business card from each lender, so I  highly suggest looking at getting business cards.  Here’s how you can get business cards even if you don’t think you have a business.

In this AoR, I’m looking at applying for:

1 Chase personal card– Chase Air Tran (or possibly Chase Hyatt or Chase Priority Club)
1 Barclays personal card– Arrival card (or possibly Frontier card)
*2 Citi personal card– Citi AA MC Gold and Citi AA Visa (or possibly Citi Hilton Reserve)
1 US Bank personal card- Club Carlson
1 Bank of American personal card- Virgin Atlantic

*Usually I recommend only going for 1 personal card from each lender, but Citi is an exception that seems to work.

Spread  your applications among lenders and don’t get greedy and you’ll have a good shot at getting approved for all of them.

Will getting all these cards kill my credit score?

The short answer is, probably not.  Check out this post on why that is and how my personal credit score has been affected (and its not negatively).

Final Word(s)

I need your help!  I’ve got some tough decisions to make, so in the comments below, let me know what cards you think I should get and what cards you are aiming for in your next AoR!

(photos courtesy of david andersonbradleyloos, TAS Photography, supraman84)

 This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

63 comments

  1. thepointstraveler says:

    Just a clarrification on the Club Carlson Bonus Night option. It is even better than you realize! You mentioned that if you stay 2 nights you get the 3rd night free, but you actually can get the 2nd night free if you only stay 2 nights. So if you book 2 award nights, you will get the 2nd night free. So you basically are getting a buy-on-get-one deal! This is my new favorite hotel card in terms of straight up hotel only cards!

    1. Trav says:

      @thepointstraveler- Oh wow, I just read it wrong. I thought it meant I would need to stay 2 nights and get the third free, but now I realize it says if you stay 2 nights, 1 of them will be free! That is awesome…thanks for the heads up! I better get approved!

      1. thepointstraveler says:

        Yeah, it is an awesome deal!!

  2. Grant says:

    I agree with your definitely and most likely list. Good choices. Seems like slim pickings for your next AOR tho but you never know which cards will come in the future.

    1. Trav says:

      @Grant- Agreed, I’m just hoping some new stuff comes up. If not, I’ll finally be getting the Chase Hyatt or Chase Priority Club, and probably then tack on an Amex Platinum or Gold.

  3. Do you ever write about anything other than credit cards?

    1. Trav says:

      @UPGRD- Sure, I write about other stuff all the time. Check out my reviews of some accommodations, like this post for a place in Porto or these places in San Fran.

      I’ve done stuff about car rentals recently, shared reader success stories, talked about how to use frequent flyer miles to fly anywhere in the world, and even interviewed some of the world’s foremost travel experts on inspiration to travel.

      If there is something else you’d like me to touch on, let me know and I’ll try to make it happen.

  4. Jason says:

    Trav, Barclays pulls all 3 bureaus for you? Really? They only pull TU for me (one bureau), and I am perhaps 25 miles away from you in the same state!

    Overall, options look good; go for the Bora Bora / Maldives trip! Good plan!

    1. Trav says:

      @Jason- Yep, last time they pulled all 3 for me. Weird, right?

  5. Diamond Vargas says:

    Definitely give the City AA Visa a try — I applied for it in August 2011, closed it in January 2013, and just applied and was approved yesterday, which seems like a pretty relevant data point for you.
    Also, in your summary chart you mention that the Chase Hyatt card gives 50k points, when it actually gives 2 free nights at any hotel (which you correctly mention in that card’s Pros section). There are no points for this card other than normal spend. You can actually make $25 when signing up for this one – start booking a room on the Hyatt website and you’ll get to a link that offers $100 statement credit upon first purchase, more than offsetting the $75 (you refer to $95 in the summary chart). You don’t need to complete the room booking – I just did this in January and received the credit.

    1. Trav says:

      @Diamond Vargas- First, thanks for the data point. It is incredibly relevant, seeing as I followed a very similar timeframe.

      Yes, I did have a mistake in the Hyatt section of the chart. I had another card in there and forgot to erase it and put in the right info for the Hyatt…whoops!

      Great to know that I can get the $100 statement credit. I’ll definitely use that trick!

  6. Elliot says:

    Why would citi approve a card a few days after the app-o-rama? Wouldn’t they reject you for too many recent inquiries?

    1. Trav says:

      @Elliot- Yeah, that’s the main fear. I know a few other people have pulled it off, but I’m worried that I’ll get denied for the recent inquiries. I actually may apply for the Citi AA Visa first, then wait three days and add the AA Gold in with the AoR.

  7. Steve says:

    Great piece and site. Keep up the good work.

    On a side note, I did my first app-o-rama in early January. I was only able to get one Chase card at that time but I obtained my 2nd one about a month later after I called the reconsideration line. For my next app-o-rama, do I have to wait 91 days from the time I received my 2nd Chase Credit Card or from when I originially applied in mid to early January? Excited to get moving again!

    1. Trav says:

      @Steve- Oftentimes, you can get more than one Chase card in a short period of time if you don’t already have a lot with them. So if they are your first two cards with Chase, you can sometimes get more than one in a short time period.

      However, going forward I’d recommend sticking to a 90+ day plan. I would wait until 91 days after your second approval to go for an App-o-Rama.

  8. Thanks for sharing your thought process behind your app-o-rama. I face the same dilemma with Chase–too many good options. I’ve wanted to pick up a Chase Sapphire Preferred for a long time. The downside is I’m not traveling enough at the moment to take advantage of the 2x points on travel.

    I’d love to get a Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus to take advantage of the gift card churning possibilities. I also spend more money on my business than on travel right now. I’ve wanted to get a separate credit card for business expenses, to make accounting and taxes easier. However, the $5,000 minimum spending requirements are hefty compared to $3,000 for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

    If I get a Sapphire or Ink card, later on I’d get a Chase Freedom card to exploit the multiple spending categories. It’s a good card for earning points on regular, household-type spending. It’s cumbersome though, that you have to pair the Freedom with a Sapphire Preferred or Ink card to use Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel.

    On a slight tangent, I wish there were more credit cards for backpackers, like a HostelWorld credit card. There is an Air Asia card, but I think it’s only for local Malaysian citizens. It’d be so great to rack up points with Air Asia and HostelWorld to do lots of backpacking around Southeast Asia.

    1. Trav says:

      @Marcus- Yeah, I feel ya, there are a ton of great options out there…and most of them are still open to you since you haven’t gotten them yet.

      I’d highly suggest the CSP and Chase Ink Bold or Plus at some point. If $5k is tough to meet, consider using Amazon Payments or buying gift cards to help you meet the spend.

      I completely agree that a HostelWorld or Hostelbookers credit card would be sweet…I’d have racked up quite a large amount of stays over the last few years! And I’ve looked in to Air Asia’s rewards program as well, but it definitely isn’t worth it for me. I’d rather pay with my CSP and get 2x for travel when buying Air Asia tickets.

  9. Kyle says:

    You should know that the Airtran credits do NOT transfer to SW points. They transfer to Southwest credits, which will expire after one year, and are subject to availability.

    1. Trav says:

      @Kyle- You are right, you can not convert them directly to Southwest points, only Southwest credits.

      I was assuming (and hoping) that if the Southwest take over of AirTran happened in the next year, those 32 credits could turn to 50k southwest points, since they are both marketed as “2 free roundtrips”.

  10. Larry says:

    Trav,
    I just did mine yesterday..
    Frontier (approved)..don’t forget you can fly a companion for 5,000 less…
    schedule one ways not RT..we can get to SLC for 15K (10 + 5)and then return for 15K….great deal for 30K!
    Barclay’s Arrival..pending …
    Chase Hyatt for the two nights (my wife already has two nights)…pending
    AMEX Starwood Business…(25K)..pending
    AMEX Gold Delta…(40K)..approved..
    USBank Club Carlson…(85K)…pending…like the second night free!
    So while it rains tomorrow, I will be making four reconsideration phone calls..

    1. Trav says:

      @Larry- Ahhh, so you were able to snag that pesky Frontier card, huh? Nicely done! Nothing better than a few reconsideration calls on a rainy day! Good luck…especially with the Club Carlson!

      1. Larry says:

        Hyatt approved with phone call..moved some credit around.
        AMEX Starwood Bus. approved w/call…auto hold because of earlier Delta application…two apps in short period of time on same day!.
        Club Carlson…still pending but agent said it looks good so far.
        Barclays…missed them..office closed at 5:00 PM…

  11. Ken says:

    Do the 32 Airtran credits actually get 50k miles in your SW account? How did you get two Barclays US Air cards while having the first one open when you applied for the 2nd?

    1. Penn says:

      I was wondering how he got this number too. The closest I can figure out is that 32 AirTran Credits are worth around 38k RR Credits. Hopefully he can explain this a little better.

      1. Penn says:

        RR points, I mean….

        1. Trav says:

          @Ken @ Penn- No, actually 32 Air Tran credits don’t get you 50k Southwest points at this point. Right now, you can only transfer them to Southwest credits, which do expire after 1 year.

          However, I am hoping that if Southwest fully takes over Air Tran in the next year that 32 Air Tran credits will equal 50k Southwest points since they are both marketed as “2 Free Roundtrips”. Of course, this may not happen in a year, but…wishful thinking?

          This article explains the SW-AirTran credit exchange pretty well.

          http://www.budgettravel.com/blog/how-to-swap-miles-between-southwest-and-airtran-reward-programs,12334/

          1. Penn says:

            Yeah, the thing is though, both use a different redemption system, at least as far as I know. AirTran needs 8 credits to book a one way, no matter how long the flight is, while WN is based on cost. So really 50k RR credits could get you way more than 2 round trips. The conversion I saw on WN’s site is 1,200 RR credits for one A+ Credit, and one AirTran credit is 1 A+ credit.

            Following that, 32 credits *1,200 is 38,400RR credits. Still not chump change, but really depends on what system they end up using for redemptions once the merger is complete.

            On a slightly different subject, any idea how much longer this will be around? I really don’t want to do it in my AOR in about a month, since I might not have any more room at Chase to move CL around and will then be locked in for a year with Chase, but if it’s going away soon I’ll have to re-evaluate and figure something out. Most recent I can see is a talk of 2014 final merger, which gives me time.

          2. Trav says:

            @Penn- Yeah, I agree that it might not end up as 50k, I’m just hoping it does. I’ve also seen that the takeover might be complete in 2014, but really, that is just speculation. I’m also not sure when it would be, and can’t even really guess because I have no extra information.

            In your case, I’d say that if you don’t really want to Chase AirTran card, wait a little bit. If you hear the takeover might be complete soon, jump on it, but usually if you follow the blogs and forums, you’ll know ahead of time.

  12. Travel Bug says:

    You’re not into the Barclay US Airways card? Its’ my favorite. I’m on card #3. A good chunk of miles for non minimum. I was targeted for 15,000 bonus point for hitting their minimum spend requirement for 2/3 cards, and get another 10K on my cardmember anniversary (ant then close the card). Once the miles transfer to American, they’ll be even easier to redeem.

    1. Trav says:

      @Travel Bug- Actually, I LOVE the Barclays USAirways card. Only problem is that I’ve already gotten 2, and when I applied for my 3rd, I got denied. However, I had never closed either of the 2 cards before, so my plan now is to close the oldest one and reapply and hope I can get my 3rd one.

      Did you close them before reapplying? What was your timeframe for getting all 3?

      1. Travel Bug says:

        I apply every 6 months. With application #2, I called and told them I needed to split expenses, and they divided my credit line in two. I closed card #1 before applying for card #3 and was automatically approved. I suspect that I got the automatic approval because I was using only 50% of my total Barclay’s credit line.

        I’ve heard that they’re cracking down on applicants, so I planning to hold off on my next application until I collect the 10K anniversary bonus and close the card.

        I’m currently working on my second 15K min spend bonus. It’s really an under-appreciated gold mine.

        I haven’t used most of the miles, and honestly, I’m looking forward to transferring them to American. I know that geographically-challenged US Air agents will let you construct crazy itineraries, but I’d rather just look for straightforward tickets using an ordinary search engine.

  13. Glenn says:

    Citi AA VISA & MC. Sure. VISA first, MC a few days later. Looks like there’s a 45K Amex offer but you can’t pair that with the VISA so you’ve got the best pair. You’re over 18 months since your last personal AA. I *assume* (don’t know, be helpful if you stated it) that your ownership of the CitiBusiness AA within 18 months doesn’t matter.

    Obviously you’re ignoring the Chase only every six months “rule”…

    I know you’ve got two Ink Bolds, but why no consideration for the Plus? Seems like the obvious choice for lots of reasons–UR points are the most valuable out there, the 50K offer is solid, past history suggests people can trade a Bold for a Plus and get the Bonus, etc. “I need to be able to pay on credit” (even if you don’t). No reason you couldn’t try for the Air Tran (personal) and the Plus (business) in the same AOR no?

    Why not the Barclay US Air 35K Card rather than the Frontier? Sure you can only get 35K since the 40K trick seems to be dead, but these cards will be going away in the future too and hey, its 35K AA miles which seem more useful to me than Frontier.

    I’d still want a Chase Freedom before Q4 myself. Too great to be able to get 5X on all department store and Amazon spend. But hey you can downgrade to it and you’ve probably got another AOR before then anyway.

    Otherwise seems solid.

    1. Trav says:

      @Glenn- Yeah, I’m hoping that I don’t get denied for the MC Gold though for too many recent inquiries. Do you think I should do the Citi AA Visa first, by itself, and then do the AA MC Gold a few days afterwards and do the AoR that day?

      I don’t think my ownership of the Citi AA Business will matter with the 18 month rule since its a biz card and not a personal one.

      I actually do have a Chase Ink Plus, just forgot to put it on the list. I got it during my Dec. 2012 AoR (my last one). Now, I’m getting an EIN so I can get yet another Ink Bold and Ink Plus.

      I’d much rather the Barclays USAirways card than the Frontier, but I already have 2 of them and last time I tried to get a 3rd, I got denied. However, I had never closed either of them, so I’m hoping that now I can close one, leaving only one open, and get a 3rd one. Maybe I’ll throw it in to the mix here, but the Arrivals card (and $400) isn’t so bad either.

      Yeah, I’ll shoot for the Chase Freedom maybe next AoR. I’m still hoping the bonus goes back up from a measly 10k.

      Thanks for all the advice…never hurts to have other eyes look over your AoR and offer suggestions!

      1. Glenn says:

        Nah, I’d do the MC last in a separate application after everything else. Risking that alone seems better than risking everything else. Obviously this new approach is still evolving so I don’t have any personal experience with it. You can troll FlyerTalk of course and see what others experience is.

      2. Glenn says:

        I just did my last churn a couple of weeks ago. Amex MB Platinum, Barclay’s US Air (tried 40K trick as part of the AOR, didn’t work, went for 35K a WEEK later, immediate approval), BofA Alaska Air, BofH Hawaiian Air (for Hilton Xfer), Chase Southwest RR Business (going after Companion Pass), Citi Hilton Reserve. Got all of them eventually. The Chase Southwest Business took two calls to get a different rep to approve. The Citi Cards were trivial. Barclay’s and BofA ditto.

  14. Yash says:

    Chase Hyatt Visa card gives 100$ statement credit after first purchase. You can avail the offer by trying to book any hotel on Hyatt.com after selecting the type room.

    1. Trav says:

      @Yash- Awesome, didn’t know about that trick. I’ll try it when I go for the Hyatt card…maybe next AoR!

  15. Mike says:

    Steve: On one of my Chase reconsideration calls I was told you can apply for up to 3 Chase cards within a six month period.

    1. Trav says:

      @Mike- Really, they actually told you that? Interesting. For me, it’s not the amount of cards I have as much as the amount of total credit. They keep giving me cards, I just have to keep moving credit lines around.

    2. Steve says:

      @Mike and Trav. Thank you both for the information. I should be good to go then. I’m not sure which cards to go for so it is great reading blogs like this. Keep up the great work Trav!

      1. Trav says:

        @Steve- No problem. I do these posts to help me figure out what cards to get and have others weigh in, with the hope that it also aids in other people’s decisions who are also considering a bunch of different cards. It’s like a giant brainstorm!

  16. Graydon says:

    I tried two Citi cards a few weeks ago. First app was instant approval. Second app declined. Called recon and was told no two apps in 24 hours and it was auto decline but only 1 HP for both apps. Recon told me to wait 24 hours then reapply. I did and was auto declined for more than 2 apps in 60 days and it was another HP. WTH? Never got the second card after many calls to recon and a letter. Tread lightly on two Citi cards as I fear this is the new norm.

    1. Trav says:

      @Graydon- Yeah, it seems like everyone has a different story when it comes to Citi at this point. Looks like you just got screwed by two rules, the first that you can’t have 2 apps in 24 hours, and then the one that you can’t have more than 2 in 60 days, even though they told you to reapply.

      And of course, the reconsideration process with Citi is a total pain in the butt. Did you try writing a letter? One time I did get approved after writing a letter to Citi.

      I’m going to go for both and cross my fingers. Of course, I’ll let you know how it goes in my recap post.

      1. Glenn says:

        What’s the harm in taking a second shot? Sure it might be another pull, but that’s not the end of the world. The 18 month clock for AA is starting again anyway. Obviously you go for the big mile bonus on the first application so worst case you’re losing the smaller bonus. Take a shot.

      2. Graydon says:

        I did write recon letter that normally gets me approval (long clean history, no bads or lates ever, always PIF, heavy spend on cards, need this card to categorize spends for travel, bla bla bla and got the shortest and strange reply with no verbiage about 4 reason for denial, no credit score becuase of denial, noting but this statement:

        “In our previous letter you were provided with the reasons for denial (first letter said not approved because you submitted multiple applications for credit – that was it – no other reason on letter) Based on our experience with our cardmembers we have established credit requirements that must be met by all applicants to be approved by us (you just gave me instant approval on the Hilton card with a fat limit) . Based upon our credit criteria we could not approve your request. We cannot publicly disclose the exact minimum amount of credit approval requirements because this would compromise our credit evaluation process (cough cough two browser trick cough cough).

        Now I’m pissed again. I’m writing another letter. I applied for this card based on EPoP writeup.

        1. Trav says:

          @Graydon- Sorry to hear about getting denied again. That is a really, really strange reply letter. It can’t hurt to send another letter, and I’ve actually tried sending two letters to Citi before, but unfortunately, I was still denied.

          Like everything in this hobby, some people get lucky and some people get the short end of the stick sometimes. When you come up on that wrong side, it definitely does burn though.

          Let me know how else I can help, and good luck!

  17. Royce says:

    hey, I noticed at the end you didnt list the hilton reserve as an option. if you did i think you should list it as a probably not. the card t&c states that for the free weekend nights you can only use it in a category 1-7 and bora bora is a category 10. i found this out when i was thinking of cards to apply for.

    1. Trav says:

      @Royce- Yeah, the Citi Hilton Reserve is a probably not (you’re right, I did miss putting it in there). The T&C’s were written before the devaluation, when category 7 was the highest.

      According to many people, now that a category 10 is the highest, the Reserve card is still good at ANY Hilton property, they just haven’t changed the T&C’s to reflect that. So those 2 free weekend nights SHOULD be good at any Hilton, even the Bora Bora one.

  18. Jason says:

    Considerations on Club Carlson spending requirements: do not even bother using AMEX GCs as a spend method, US Bank will decline you; better off with AFT, or VR, under $1k increments. Also ensure you get 2 separate Club Carlson hotel acct #s, IF you are approved for both biz (they assign # to you) and personal (you choose#) versions at once, so you get separate point bonuses.

    1. Trav says:

      @Jason- Good to know. Where you able to get approved for both the biz and personal by applying at the same time? In reading Flyertalk, it seemed like very few people, if any, were able to get approved for both. That’s why I was only going for the personal card, but if you think there is a chance I could get both, I’d love to have the biz version as well.

      1. Jason says:

        Trav, I applied for both at same time. The personal card was approved, without a recon call, but can not remember if instant approval. The biz card declined, so I called recon line a week later, and finally received it in hand within 3 weeks. US Bank is the THE slowest on credit card fulfillment I have seen; plan on waiting up to 3 weeks for the card even if approved right away … this eats away at your 3 month spending period, be ready for it.

        1. Yuhao says:

          Interesting you were able to get US Bank to turn their decision. Rarely successful it seems. How did you do it?

        2. Trav says:

          @Jason- Wow, I’m really surprised that you were able to get them to approve you for the biz card through the recon line. Did you say anything special?

          Yeah, I’m trying to balance the minimum spending requirements, figuring out if cards are worth it or not.

          1. Jason says:

            Trav – they really had nothing to say except something to the effect of “we will submit your request to an analyst for review” like the rep I talked to had no power to effect anything. It was like dealing with a robot … nothing like the Chase recon line where they actually try to help you with a cheerful mood!

  19. Mark says:

    Good analysis. My AoR is this month as well (my second) and I will be tagging along with some of your suggestions. Good luck!

    1. Trav says:

      @Mark- Good luck. Let us know how it goes!

  20. Yuhao says:

    Club Carlson is a great deal. Just remember to apply towards the beginning of your AOR, since my experience with US Bank is they are highly sensitive to the # of recent inquiries. Good luck!

    1. Glenn says:

      I’m assuming most people do AORs bang-bang-bang over the space of an hour or so. And that it was unlikely that they would be able to see the inquiries due to the other cards yet. I nevertheless do the cards in the order I care about them just in case, and in particular call the consideration lines in that order too (when necessary). But you seem to be suggesting it really matters. Does it?

      1. Yuhao says:

        I don’t know for sure, but like you, I do them in order just in case.

        1. Trav says:

          @Yuhao @Glenn- I don’t know how much it matters, but it can’t hurt. I also do mine in order of the ones I want the most combined with which ones are the most stringent.

          As a data point, I had been denied the Citi AA business card two other times before, and I had always just done it during my AoR, without regard to doing it first or anything.

          The third time I went for it, I did it first and was instantly approved. Not saying that it will work every time, but now I definitely write them out in the order I’m going to apply for them, based on the above, and go down the list, boom, boom, boom.

          I’ll be doing that again, and the Club Carlson wil definitely be the first one I apply for.

  21. Steve says:

    Trav, I’m curious what cards you ended up going with for your app o rama? I just did one yesterday:

    AMEX Business Gold (50k) – Pending
    AMEX Mercedes Benz Platinum (50k) – Accepted Instant Approval
    B of A Alaskan Airlines (25k) – Pending
    Bank of Hawaii – Hawaiian Airlines (35k) – Pending
    Barclays US Airways Premier (35k) – Approved
    Chase Ink Plus (50k) – Approved but had to cancel Ink Bold as they recently gave me too much credit.
    Citi Business Advantage (50k) – Pending
    US Bank Club Carlson (85k) – Declined for too many inquiries. Reconsideration line didnt help at all.

    Overall I’m disappointed that US Bank declined me but considering I had a big app o rama 3 months ago I’m not shocked. In fact I wish I didnt apply at all because I did notice the hard inquiry on my record this morning. Dumb.

    Anyway, I’m curious how you think I did overall? Similar to what you say above, I’m starting to run out of cards to go after. I only have two Chase Personal Cards (United and Sapphire Preferred), but they were very hesitant to extend me more credit at this time until they see more of a history. I may try another personal card in 3 months, but for my “business” I think I’m on hold for a while.

    1. Trav says:

      @Steve- I’ll be posting my results next week, but…it’s not too pretty. The reason I haven’t posted it yet is I’m still scratching and clawing and trying to get a few pendings to be yes’s!

      I think you did really well actually. Obviously, a lot depends on what those pendings turn in to, but I think you got some of the best ones approved: Ink Plus, barclays, Platinum. A little surprising with the Barclays, because I’ve had the opposite type of problems.

      Got approved for US Bank, Citi, and Chase with no problems (all of which have given you problems) and then had issues with Barclays and Amex (both of which were fine for you). Weird!

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