18
Sep

My August App-o-Rama Recap

Posted By Trav

Nothing beats a good karaoke session

After a few teary goodbyes, some great karaoke sessions, and lots of packing up, Heather and I finally left Japan at the end of July and then embarked on a wild adventure through Singapore, Indonesia, and India for 3 weeks.

We finally arrived safely back on American soil on August 22nd and I had two very important items I needed to attend to immediately; a fantasy football draft with 11 of my best friends and, more importantly to most readers, a long overdue App-o-Rama!

I had been planning for this App-o-Rama since July, but wanted to wait until I was home in the States to actually start applying.  So, after all this waiting (my last AoR was almost 5 whole months ago, back on April 3rd), I was settled enough to finally pull it off.

So how’d it go?

Out of all the candidates I was considering, I decided to narrow it down to the 5 cards.  I limited it to 5 cards because even though I use Amazon Payments to help meet the minimum spend requirements, if I got approved for all 5 of these cards, I was going to be stretched pretty thin.  So 5 it was; the rest would have to wait for another day.

(If you’re wondering why some of the better cards don’t appear on the list of card I was considering, its probably because I already have them.  Check out my What’s in My Wallet post to see a full list of the 13 cards I currently have.)

The 5 cards that made the cut were:

  • American Express Starwood Preferred Guest personal card
  • American Express Starwood Preferred Guest business card
  • Barclays USAirways Mastercard
  • Citi/AAdvantage Business card
  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus personal card

Boy, this was going to be an interesting AoR and not quite as straightforward as some others.  For starters, I already held 2 Barclays USAirways card and was going for my 3rd, something I hadn’t heard of anyone else being able to pull off.

I’d also been denied the Citi/AAdvantage Business card THREE times already (which was the only card I’ve ever been denied), so getting approved for it would be anything but a sure thing.

Even with some doubt over those two cards, I was super pumped for this AoR.  The SPG cards were offering a 30k bonus (as opposed to the typical 25k) and if I got approved for the Chase Southwest card, I’d have 100k toward the 110k I needed for the Companion Pass, which is the best airline perk out there and the golden goose of this AoR!

Here’s how it shook out:

Citi/AAdvantage Business card

Citi/AA Business application link

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment or maybe I’m just stubborn but I refused to let the fact that I had been denied this card three times before stand in my way of going after it again.  And boy, am I glad I did because amazingly…

I WAS INSTANTLY APPROVED!

At first, I thought it was a joke, but when it began to sink in that I had actually gotten the card, I literally went running around the house, dancing and yelling “VICTORY, VICTORY” (and scaring the dog and Heather in the process).

Of course, I still remained a touch skeptical…could this card, which had been the bane of my existence for almost a whole year, really be this easy to get?  I know the screen in front of me said I was approved, but…I wanted hard, physical evidence!

The physical evidence arrived 3 days later when I got my card in the mail.  I called to activate it, confirmed that I’d be receiving the 50k signup bonus, and then finally, breathed a sigh of relief.  A year of fighting with Citi and finally, I had something to show for it.  While I’m an equal opportunity lover of all my frequent flyer miles, its safe to say that when I do go and redeem these AA miles, the trip will probably be just a touch sweeter!

Tip:  I know other readers have had a hard time getting this card sometimes too, so I’d recommend applying for this card FIRST during your App-o-Rama.  For this AoR, I applied for the Citi/AA card first, all by itself, and THEN opened up 4 different tabs and applied for the other 4 cards as simultaneously as possible.

For some reason, it seems like Citi might be bigger sticklers for the whole “too many recent inquiries” denial, so applying for this card first ensures that they won’t see you applying for other cards that day, at least when considering whether you get instantly approved.

Amex Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) personal card and business card

Now that I was back in America, it was FINALLY time to get the SPG cards!

SPG Personal application link

SPG Business application link

I’ve always wanted to get both of these cards since SPG points are some of the most valuable frequent flyer currency out there; they not only transfer to American Airlines at a great ratio (1 to 1.25) but they also have really good redemption rates at their own SPG hotels, making these cards a good everyday spend card (to rival the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which I typically use).

However, I’ve never put them in to an AoR before for three reasons:

1.  The normal signup bonus is 25k but traditionally bumps up to 30k once or twice a year for a short period.  The increased signup bonus has never corresponded with the timing of my AoR’s, and I wasn’t too keen on leaving an additional 10k (5k for each card) on the table just by rushing in to things.

2.  The minimum spend is a fairly hefty $5,000 in 6 months for each card, meaning $10,000 in 6 months if you get both the personal and the business at the same time.  This isn’t a killer by itself, but throwing this into an AoR with other cards that require a big spend wouldn’t be wise.

3.  The Amex SPG has a 3% foreign transaction fee and since I’v been living in Japan the last 2 years, I’d be looking at spending $300 in foreign transaction fees to make the $10,000 minimum spend.  There is no way I was flushing $300 down the toilet simply on forex fees, so I needed to wait until I returned home to the States to get the cards.

For this AoR, everything lined up perfectly to get both the SPG cards.  I’d wouldn’t be paying any forex fees since I was back home in the States, the bonus was bumped up to 30k during August, and I wasn’t getting too many other cards with high minimum spends.  It was time to pull the trigger on these bad boys!

I opened up 4 different tabs in my browser and brought up the apps for the SPG business and SPG personal card (as well as the apps for the other 2 cards).  I went through and filled out the information for both of the cards and hit submit at the (almost) the same time.

For the personal card, I got the standard “we will be reviewing your application and letting you know” notice.  No big deal, as it’s rare that I get instantly approved for cards.

However, for the business card application I got a notice asking me to call them as soon as possible to verify some information.  Interesting, but since this was my first time going for an American Express business card, I thought this was fairly normal.

I called and after answering a few security questions I was told that because I had already applied for the personal card earlier that day (in reality, it was a mere seconds) that they could not process my business card application until 3 days later to protect against fraud (he did tell me that the personal application had already been approved though…WOOHOO!)

He explained that my business card application would simply be put on “standby” and that in 3 days, it would go and be processed to see if I got approved.

This worried me a little, as I thought that maybe by the time the business card got processed that they would recognize that I had applied for 4 other cards on the same day and that I’d get denied for “too many recent inquiries” (which is what doing an AoR is meant to safeguard against).

I asked him if he could simply process the business app that day as well and cited all the reason I needed both a personal and business one on the same day.  He was polite but said that there was nothing he could do because the computer system locked up the application for 3 days.

Uh-oh!

In the end, it didn’t matter, as I received an email from American Express three days later stating that I had been approved for the business card as well!  Hooray…I was now 3 for 3!

While I was ecstatic to get approved for both cards, I still wonder:  Has anyone else had a similar experience with American Express “locking” an application for 3 days if you apply for a business and personal of the same card at the same time?  I was under the impression that a lot of people apply for both at the same time, and I have yet to read of any similar experience.  Let me know in the comments below about your SPG application experiences.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Business card

Chase Southwest Plus Personal application link

Astute readers may notice that title of this section reads “business card”, whereas earlier in the post I mentioned that I’d be applying for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus PERSONAL card.  Very astute readers will remember that I already got the Southwest Plus BUSINESS card in my last AoR in April.

So what gives?

Well, I was PLANNING on getting the personal card, and yes, I did already have the business one.  Unfortunately, even after meticulous preparations, veterans sometimes make rookie (read: dumb) mistakes, and I am certainly not immune.

In my excitement over finally doing my AoR, I mistakenly opened up the Southwest Plus BUSINESS application and filled out the whole application, including the part asking about my business income, employees, etc. without it ever dawning on me that I was filling out the wrong application!

In fact, I didn’t even realize I filled out the business application until I called Chase 5 days later to check on the status of my application.  

Of course, I called the PERSONAL application line…you know, because I thought that was what I had filled out!  When I was told that I didn’t have any personal applications pending but that I did have a business application for a Southwest card pending, I was completely bumpuzzled.

And then, I slowly and vaguely began to remember filling out two business applications during the AoR; one for the SPG business and one for the….Southwest Plus Business card!

WHOOPS!

Now, this mistake seemed to have put me in a major bind.  The Chase rep told me that there was no way I could simply transfer my business application to a personal one (which I assumed, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask).

I’d have to fill out the SW personal application if I wanted to apply for that card, and at this point, it had been 5 days since my AoR.  This app would almost surely be denied, seeing as I had applied for 5 other cards that week already.

Or, she could connect me to the business card line and I could talk to them about my application.  I figured this would be of little use, seeing as I already had this exact same card, and almost told her no.  But I figured that maybe, at best, I could at least tell them that I had mistakenly applied for the business version again and ask them to remove the hard inquiry from my credit report.  It was worth a shot.

What I got was WAY MORE than I bargained for!

When I got on the line with the Chase business rep, she first asked me whether there was any specific reason why I wanted two of the exact same cards.  Shocked that it would even be considered, I actually answered “no, not really” before explaining to her that I actually meant to apply for the personal card.

After a minute, I quickly regained my composure, and because she was so nice, I thought:

“why not give getting a second card a shot?  If I’m somehow allowed to open up a second business card and they’ll give me the signup bonus, then what do I have to lose?”

I changed courses and said:

“Actually, even though I didn’t plan on applying for a second business card, I wouldn’t mind having one to split the spending between my two businesses.  Since I’ve already applied, would it be possible to get two  of the Southwest Plus business cards?”

Without even hesitating she said “Sure, of course that’s possible.  I’ll just need to get some information about your business” and then proceeded to ask me the basic business card questions.

After 5 minutes of answering questions and moving around credit lines from some other cards, she told me that I had been approved for my second Chase Southwest Plus business card!  

WOW!

Of course, all of this would have been for naught if I didn’t also receive the signup bonus for the card (which was the only reason I wanted the card to begin with), so I made sure she confirmed to me twice that the new card I was getting was eligible for the 50k bonus after meeting the minimum spend.

Just to be on the safe side, she actually transferred me to another customer service rep who then confirmed the signup bonus and minimum spend a THIRD time.

Of course, I’m still a little nervous about receiving the 50k as a signup bonus.  The terms and conditions state that its for first-time cardholders only (which I’m obviously not, seeing as I already have one).

However, Chase is known for having very knowledgeable and on-the-ball customer service reps, so to have 2 people tell me that I will be receiving it does make me fairly confident it’ll come through.

And, because its Chase, I also feel pretty confident that if I do have a problem with the miles posting that I can call up and plead my case with them, even possibly having them look up the recorded conversation for posterity.  At least I know they’ll listen to me, unlike Citi!

Of course, I made the minimum spend immediately and have already paid off the $1,000 bill, so I should be finding out shortly whether I mistakenly fell in to some loophole or whether my “little mistake” royally screwed me.

The main reason I wanted the 50k signup bonus was so that I’d have 100k of the 110k I needed towards the Companion Pass.  Now, with the Southwest cards signup bonus back down to 25k, if I don’t get the 50k, I’ll be left with very little options for getting the Companion Pass, which would be a devastating blow!  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that!

Barclays USAirways Mastercard

Someone’s got to be the guinea pig!

Barclays USAirways application link

After going 4 for 4, my luck finally ran out.  I decided to be a guinea pig for this card and try to see if I could get approved for a 3rd Barclays USAirways card while still keeping my other 2 cards open.  The answer is a resounding NO.

Turns out that while many people consider this card “churnable”, its only churnable to a point, at least according to my experience.  I have yet to hear of anyone getting a 3rd card, although I’d love to proved wrong on this one.

I applied for this card at the same time as others during my August 27th AoR.  Obviously, I did not get instantly approved and about a week later received a letter in the mail stating that I was denied “because I already had sufficient credit” with Barclays.

I waited a few days before calling and trying to get reconsidered.  I even made sure I had a game plan for when they inevitably asked me why I needed 3 of the same cards.

Of course, this was the first question I was asked, and I told the rep that I wanted to separate my spending in to three categories:  food and other essentials, bills, and entertainment/discretionary costs, and that I’d like to have one card for each category.

He responded that unfortunately, I already held 1 of each version of the card (the Platinum version and the World version) and that Barclays only gave 1 of each to an individual.  This, of course, makes sense, but I decided I wasn’t about to give up that easy.

I told him that I was considering closing my first card, the Platinum version which I opened in November 2011, before having to pay the annual fee.  Would it be possible for him to close that card for me and then shift that credit line to the new card I was trying to open (and thereby earning me the signup bonus again, which of course I didn’t mention).

He simply responded:

“why would you want to close one card and then open up the exact same card?  If it is the signup bonus you’re after, you wouldn’t be eligible for it anyway.  You’d have to have your card closed for an extended period of time before being able to open up a new one and get the bonus again.”

BRAVO!  

On one hand, I was disappointed I wouldn’t be getting the signup bonus again…but on the other, I was impressed that Barclays was actually employing people with some common sense.  I mean, the arguments he was making of course made sense to me, seeing as I was the one trying to “game” the system.

But more often than not, the customer service reps don’t realize this and just hand out signup bonuses like candy.  Not that that’s a bad thing, but still, I got to give credit where credit is due; this guy was on the ball!

So that was that.  I wasn’t getting another card with Barclays and I wasn’t getting another 40k USAirways miles…at least not through him.  While I’m not too optimistic about my chances, I will be calling one more time to see if I can potentially sweet talk my way in to the 40k signup bonus again somehow.  I won’t, however, be holding my breath!

Meeting the Minimum Spend

The minimum spend requirements are fairly high by my standards, but definitely doable by using Amazon Payments to knock out $1,000 each month of “spend.”  Here’s the rough plan:

Chase Southwest card- Requires $1,000 spend in 3 months.  I used my September limit of $1,000 worth of Amazon Payments to complete the $1k spend on the Southwest card, and so that was finished immediately.

Citi/AAdvantage card- Requires $3,000 in 4 months.  I’ve been using this card for all my spend since I got it September 1st and estimate that I’ll put around $2,000 on it during September by using it for all my bills and purchases (plus maybe letting Heather shop a little?).  In the beginning of October, I’ll use the $1,000 Amazon Payment limit for that month towards this card, and that should complete my spend requirement.

Amex SPG persona and business- These cards both require spending $5,000 in 6 months each, meaning I’ll have to meet a total of $10,000 in 6 months.  Since I’m focusing all my spending on the Citi/AA during September, I’m basically giving myself 5 months (until the beginning of March) to spend $10,000.

I might be able to hit this spend naturally ($2,000 a month on average) but I won’t be taking any chances.  I’ll use $1,000 worth of Amazon Payments for November, December, January, and February to knock $4,000 off the total easily, and then I’ll be down to $6,000 in 5 months.

That should be easily attainable, especially if I shift some of the recurring payments I currently have on other cards (cellphone bill, charitable monthly giving, etc.) to the SPG, even if its temporary.

If for some reason I’m not spending that much (which would be great, because it means I’m saving more money!), I‘ll use some other tricks, such as buying gift cards, paying ahead on my health or car insurance, or donating money to Kiva to help make the minimum spend.

Final Word(s)

As long as the signup bonus with Southwest goes through, I’ll be a happy camper.  Sure, technically I only went 4 out of 5, but in reality, I had very little hope I’d be getting a THIRD Barclays USAirways card.  I did it more as an experiment than anything else, and now at least, I’ve got a data point that can be useful for everyone else.

And I was finally able to get the Citi/AAdvantage business card, the one card that had eluded me for the past year.  That, of course, was a pleasant, and unexpected, surprise.

The Final Stats:

  • 50k American Airlines miles from the Citi/AA card.  I’ve been itching to replenish my AA miles since using most of my balance to fly my sister and parents to Japan, so this is a nice start.
  • 60k SPG points from the SPG personal and business card.  I’ll probably end up transferring these to AA at some point.  Since every 20k SPG points transfers as 25K AA miles, these two cards will net me a cool 70k AA miles.  I’ll also probably start using the personal card as a semi-everyday spend card alongside the Sapphire Preferred, depending on what points I need at the time.
  • 50k Southwest points from the Chase Southwest Plus business card.  While the 50k Southwest points are nice (and worth $833 of airfare with Southwest), this bonus essentially seals up the Companion Pass for me for the rest of 2012 and all of 2013.  This is basically invaluable to me, seeing as I plan on taking TONS of domestic trips with Heather now that we are back on home soil!
Overall, I’m very happy with how things went during this AoR, even with the one denial and what could have been (and I’m praying is not) a catastrophic mistake.  Now that it’s over, it’s time to start looking ahead to December, when I plan on pulling off my next one.
Will some of the hotel cards out there that I’ve had my eye on forever, like the Chase Hyatt, finally make the cut?  Or will there be even better, more lucrative signup bonuses that we don’t even know about?  Who knows, but its never to early to start dreaming!
Pulled off an AoR lately?  What did you decide to apply for and why?  Looking to do one soon?  What cards are going to make the cut for you?  And lastly, anyone else pull a completely bone-headed maneuver during an AoR, like applying for the wrong card?  If so, make me feel good and tell me about it!  I can’t be the only one, right?

(photos courtesy of fede1845, Striking Photography by Bo InsognaWork and Travel USAKaptain KoboldIzzzieIrvine 2011)

 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.

 

11 comments

  1. Jason says:

    Great information Travis, hope everything works out with the companion pass, very interesting that you could have just found a great work around if you can indeed get multiple cards and multiple sign up bonuses on the same card. Hoping this works for you and others! Best!

  2. Ken says:

    Wow, congrats on a SECOND identical Chase card! You may be the first person ever provided you get the bonus a second time. Definitely let us know if/when the 50k miles post for the SW offer.

  3. Nick says:

    “For some reason, it seems like Citi might be bigger sticklers for the whole “too many recent inquiries” denial, so applying for this card first ensures that they won’t see you applying for other cards that day, at least when considering whether you get instantly approved.”

    This is true in my experience. Citi denied my wife’s AAdvantage Amex application for “too many recent inquiries.” I even followed MMS’s advice and sent Citi a well-crafted letter along with a copy of my wife’s credit report. It got me nothing.

    1. Trav says:

      @Nick- I’ve had the exact same issues. Like you, I sent a well-crafted letter and my credit report to them and still got denied. Basically, the reconsideration process with Citi is akin to banging your head against the wall. I try to stay away from them whenever possible, but unfortunately, if you want the AA miles, you have to deal with them. In the long run, when you get the miles, its worth the hassle, but needless to say, my loyalty lies with Chase.

  4. Matt says:

    What are people’s experiences with using Amex and AP? I’ve got a lot of spend to meet, but I always thought that Amex didn’t like AP and you risked a FR.

    1. Trav says:

      @Matt- I’m also wondering the same thing. So far, I’ve only ever used Amazon Payments with Chase (since I have a lot more Chase cards) and everything has been fine. I figure that when I get to the Amazon Payments with the Amex cards, I’ll try a small amount first and see if that sets off any alarms. If not, then I’ll proceed with bigger amounts. Of course, I’ll let everyone know how it goes, but I’d love to hear some people’s experiences as well. One question: What’s the FR acronym stand for?

      1. Matt says:

        I haven’t been bold enough to step into those waters yet with Amex.

        FR – Financial Review. I heard it’s not pretty.

  5. EL says:

    Any idea why Citi instantly approved you for the biz app this time? I’ve used AP on a few different AmEx cards since November of last year, never for $1000 in full and no FR so far (knocking on wood)…

    1. Trav says:

      @EL- Every other time I was denied was because I had “too many recent inquiries”. I think what happened was that each time, Citi pulled my credit report a day later than all the others and saw that I had applied for a bunch of other cards and just denied me because of that. And of course, dealing with reconsideration with them is a joke, so that was no use.

      This time, I made sure to apply for that card first. This way, if the automated system did look at my app, they wouldn’t throw it out right away for having too many apps already. This doesn’t explain why I got INSTANTLY approved, but its the only difference I did in my apps from the 3 times I got denied to when I got approved, so it seems to be a pretty educated guess, albeit still a guess.

  6. bluecat says:

    I notice you said you quickly did your spend requirement and paid it off asap. I am considering soing a similar thing, so that I can accelerate the posting of my bonus. Do you know if it really works to do this? I mean, I got the card 2 days ago, fulfilled the requirement yesterday and plan on paying it off today. Does this speed things up? OR….do I need to have them bill me first? If it;s the latter, is there a way to ask them to change the billing date or otherwise make everything happen faster? (I am trying to get those 2 free Hyatt room stays to be available to me in time for a trip in 2 months!!)

    Any advice is much appreciated!

    1. Trav says:

      @bluecat- Unfortunately, every time I’ve tried to do this with Chase the points ended up posting AFTER my first bill, not after when I actually paid it. I even tried to do what you suggest, and call them up and ask them to move up the date of my first statement, but they said that if you want to change the date that your statement is due, it takes a month or two for that change to take effect. So, in my experiences, I’ve never been able to expedite the process during the first month and get my points quicker. That being said, I’d still recommend to anyone that they try. It wouldn’t hurt, and maybe for some lucky reason, you’d be able to pull it off! If this is the case, let me know!

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