Mega-Mailbag: The 4 Most Frequently Asked Questions About App-o-Ramas
Reader Scott just pulled of a monster App-o-rama (what’s an app-o-rama?), earning 525,000 miles in a single day between him and his wife. But before he was ready to pull the trigger on the cards, he had four very poignant questions regarding an app-o-rama that everyone should consider before trying this at home. I get asked these questions a lot, so I figured many readers could benefit from the answers. Let’s dig right in.
1) How many different cards do you typically apply for per app-o-rama?
This completely depends, but I’ll preface everything with three rules:
- Only do what you feel comfortable with. Yes there are people out there doing 13 card app-o-ramas, and yes, it’s pretty cool, but these are people who been at it for a long time. Get some cards, use the miles, and enjoy the experience, but don’t overextend yourself.
- Err on the side of caution. If you don’t think you’ll be able to meet the total minimum spend if you apply for 5 cards, then cut it down to 4. If you don’t make the minimum spend, you won’t get the miles, and there is no bigger waste in the world than that.
- Always monitor your credit score. Whether you use free services like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame or paid services like MyFico, make sure you are watching your credit score. If you score drops to the low 700’s after an App-o-Rama, don’t do another one until it bounces back up to a healthy level.
First, I look at what deals I really think are worth it applying for. Don’t apply for cards with really crappy signup bonuses or miles you won’t use. Because the good deals have been plentiful lately and because my travel plans are fairly flexible, there is usually a large amount of cards I consider.
Then, I look at the minimum spends of those deals and see which ones I’d be able to make. I can’t stress enough how important this is. If you apply for 5 cards and each one has a high minimum spend that you’ll be hard pressed to meet, you are setting yourself up for disaster.
Never apply for a card or cards unless you are sure you can meet the minimum spend(s). Of course, there are a lot of tricks you can use to help you meet the spend, my favorite of which is using Amazon payments, so make sure to consider those as well. Throwing a few no minimum spend cards in to an app-o-rama is always a good idea, and I add them in with cards that have a minimum spend to even things out.
Last, I look at the lenders. If there are 5 Chase cards I want, but nothing else, I can’t get all 5, so it will be a small App-o-Rama. This is discussed more in-depth in the next question.
Basically, I wouldn’t really suggest more than 5 or 6. People have done it, for sure, but I just don’t think it is worth it unless there are tons of good deals out there that you think will go away soon. Lately, that hasn’t been the case.
2) How do you break them down (ie 2 Chase, 2 Citi, 1 Barclay etc)?
First, it helps to know which lender (Chase, Citi, Barclays, etc.) pulls what credit bureau (Transunion, Experian, Equifax) in your area.
Unfortunately, the only real way to get this information is by applying for a card with the company and then seeing what they pull when they send you the letter that you’ve been approved for denied.
You can take an educated guess at what they will pull by looking at Creditboards.com credit pull database for your area, but its far from perfect. When you apply for a card, make sure to check the approval letter (hopefully) or denial letter so that you know next time which lender pulls what for you.
This helps because the most common reason people will get denied is because of “too many recent inquiries.” If all the cards you apply for pull Experian than they will see that you applied for other cards recently because it will show up on your Experian report.
However, if one lender pulls Transunion, one pulls Experian, and one pulls Equifax, they won’t see your other applications because they don’t show up across all 3 bureaus; they only show up on the one that they pulled.
This is the reason people do an AoR in the first place, so that when you apply for all of them at once, on the same day, they will all pull your report at the same time and it won’t show up that you had other applications.
Therefore, you are much less likely to get denied for “too many recent inquiries.”
Usually, my rule of thumb is one personal card per lender. Most lenders will not allow you to get two personal cards with them at the same time; you’ll most likely get denied for one or both.
However, they will allow you to get 1 personal and 1 business at the same time.
Chase has the best offers (at least right now) so I try to always get 1 Chase personal and 1 Chase business during each AoR. Then, I’ll see if Barclays or Citi is offering anything of interest. If they are, I’ll sprinkle them in accordingly.
3) How would I factor in my wife’s applications? Do I just duplicate what I do?
Depends what miles you want! This is the great thing about having a significant other and being able to get cards for them. You can simply duplicate what you did for yourself, and earn double, or you can change it up and diversify your miles a little.
For example, let’s say you want to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred as your personal card but you also want some British Airway Avios points.
You can’t get the Chase British Airwayscard for yourself (because that would be a 2nd Chase personal card) but you could get it for your wife instead.
Or, you could get her the Chase United Explorer with no minimum spend and earn 55,000 United miles with no hassle at all.
Or, of course, you could just get her the Chase Sapphire as her personal card too, and double up on it.
It’s really a matter of preference and also, most importantly, what minimum spend you can meet.
If you are also looking to get a few other cards with minimum spend, this might be a little difficult.
However, if you got her cards with no minimum spends , it might be easier to meet all the spend requirements for the whole AoR.
Then, next AoR, you can reverse it, and get her the Chase Sapphire and you the Chase BA or Chase United Explorer.
Really, the possibilities are endless. It’s just whatever makes sense for your travel plans and your minimum spend ability.
I always, always suggest taking advantage of having a significant other, parent, sibling, or anyone else you are close with to earn miles together. There is nothing better than doubling, or tripling, up!
4) How many app-o-ramas do you do per year?
Typically, you can do an AoR every 3 months (make sure to wait 91 days between them), so you can feasibly do 4 a year. Sometimes, because of circumstance (I’m abroad and don’t want to do one when I’m traveling, there aren’t any deals out I like, etc.) I end up waiting a little longer between them.
This calendar year, I’ll probably do 3, since I didn’t get around to my first one until April. I’ll probably do another one in July, and then one in Novemberish. That will put me at four in the past 365 days, as I did one last November as well.
Don’t get greedy and try to do more than one app-o-rama every 91 days. You’ll get denied for “too many recent inquiries” and then you’ll set back your timetable for being able to do it again. Even if you get denied, it’s still an inquiry, so you’ll have to wait another 91 days from the denial date. Slow and steady wins the race!
Want App-O-Rama Help?
Anyone who would like personalized help with an App-o-Rama, feel free to email me at email@example.com and we can put together a plan that works your specific travel dreams and minimum spend abilities.
If you have any other questions or tips about an App-o-Rama, please feel free to elucidate in the comments below! If you want to gloat about some sweet App-o-Ramas you’ve pulled off in the past, the stage is all yours!
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