My September App-o-Rama Recap

Posted By Trav

lego shoulder shrug

After the debacle that was my last App-o-Rama, my hopes for this AoR were a little subdued.

Fortunately, the horrors of last AoR are now a distant memory, as this time went much smoother.

So, how’d it shake out?

Cards I Applied For

After debating between a number of cards and getting some great opinions from readers, I settled on 7 different cards.

  • Chase Hyatt Visa
  • Chase United MileagePlus Explorer business
  • US Bank Club Carlson business
  • Bank of America Alaskan Airlines
  • Citi Hilton Reserve
  • Amex Hilton Surpass
  • Barclays USAirways business

My Initial Thoughts

  • Before applying, the only one I was fairly confident I would get was the Amex Hilton Surpass.  I have a good relationship with Amex, and not too many cards with them.
  • Bank of America usually smiles pretty favorably on me, so I figured this would most likely get approved for the Alaskan Airlines card.
  • I also assumed that I’d have a good shot at the Chase cards, since we have always been friendly, but that I’d probably have to close a card or two to open these two new ones.
  • I didn’t know what to expect at all from Citi, and gave it a 50/50 chance.
  • I was almost sure I wouldn’t get approved by US Bank, since they are really tight with people who have many cards open, regardless of their score.  And their reconsideration process is basically nonexistent.
  • And Barclays…where to start?  I’ve tried to get a card with Barclays my last three AoR’s and I’ve been denied each time.  They are the only lender that won’t give me another card, no matter how many times I call reconsideration.  I just figured I’d give it another try, because, well, why not?

So, let’s start with the good news.

Amex Hilton Surpass

This card was approved instantly.

Instead of applying for a new card with the 60k bonus, I decided to save a hard pull and simply upgrade my existing Amex Hilton card and get a 50k bonus.

Now, I’ll get the 50k sign up bonus and be bumped from Hilton Silver to Hilton Gold (free internet and breakfast).

Only downside is that I’ll be paying a $75 annual fee, but it’s worth it.

Easy, easy, easy.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer business

I was able to get a targeted offer for 50k miles instead of the public offer of 30k.

To see if you qualify for the targeted offer, follow the steps on this Flyertalk thread.

I made sure to take screenshots throughout the process just to be sure.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t instantly approved, and so I called the reconsideration line right away.

I was told that I had been denied for having too many business cards with Chase in such a short time.  The exact words were “why would a 3 year old company need 4 business cards with us?”

The rep was definitely a tough nut to crack, and about 10 minutes in, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get approved.

However, I dug deep and using all 6 of my tricks to crush your reconsideration call, finally was able to get her to approve me.

But first, I’d have to close TWO of my other business accounts; my Chase Ink Bold and my Southwest Business card.

I didn’t mind getting rid of either, and it actually saves me $164 in annual fees ($95 for Ink, $69 for SW).

I had planned on closing them anyway, but this is a perfect example of why I tell you to only close accounts when opening new ones so that you have collateral.

I never would have gotten the United business card had I not had other accounts to close.

And while it wasn’t easy, I came out of the 20 minute conversation with a new Chase United business card and a smile on my face.

Chase Hyatt

Since I was on a roll with Chase, I called them right back to try to open the Hyatt card, since that was also not instantly approved.

This time, the process was much simpler, and I was actually given the option of moving some of my Ink Plus credit line to open the Hyatt card or to close my United Explorer personal card.

Normally, I’d suggest taking credit line from one instead of closing one, but in this situation, closing the United Explorer made more sense.

I was able to save the $89 annual fee that is attached to the United Explorer, and since I just opened the business version, I had no need for the perks like free bags that it offered.

Also, I do most of my spending on my Ink Plus, and wanted to keep my credit line on that high.

5 minutes later, bye bye Chase United Explorer personal, hello Chase Hyatt.

Citi Hilton Reserve

Soon, I'll finally have enough Hilton points to head to Bora Bora!

Soon, I’ll finally have enough Hilton points to head to Bora Bora!

I didn’t know what to expect when applying for this card, and it turned out weirder than I thought.  After applying, I got an instant denial.


It didn’t even say “we’ll be reviewing your application.”

It just said “at this time, we cannot offer you this card.”


I immediately called up Citi and right away, the rep told me he could approve me as long as I moved some credit from another Citi card I had.

It was like I hadn’t even been denied.  In fact, he didn’t even mention I had been denied.

He just said he could approve me if I moved credit line.

So that’s what I did, and without having to close any card, I was approved.

Strange, but I have to give Citi some major props.  Their customer service used to be the thing of legends…bad legends!

They’d never reconsider you on the phone and you’d actually have to write a physical letter and mail it in to be reconsidered.  It was like being stuck in the 90’s!

But now, their phone reps are super nice and obviously empowered to make decisions and approve you if they see fit.

Well done Citi, we applaud you!

US Bank Club Carlson business

I didn’t get an instant approval, which I figured was the end of the road.  I was probably denied, and not many people get US Bank to reconsider their decisions.

I waited 4 days, called the reconsideration line (again, figuring I’d been denied), and to my surprise, was told I had already been approved for the card and that it was in the mail.

I made sure to ask that I was approved for the card with the 85k bonus, since the personal one I had been approved for last AoR was the lower level 60k one, and was told yes.

Nice, and highly unexpected.

What was also strange was that they gave me a miniscule credit line for the personal card that I got last AoR, and a massive one this time for the business card.

But hey, I’m not complaining.  I’ll be getting even more buy 1 get 1 free nights at Radissons now!

Bank of America Alaskan Airlines

While I wasn’t too excited about the sign up bonus of 30k Alaskan Airlines miles, this was a “why the heck not” application.

And even though it’s just 30k miles, it was basically no hassles getting approved.

I wasn’t instantly approved, but when I called in 4 days later, I was told that I’d already been approved and that my card was in the mail.

The best part?  The 30k miles are awarded to you after approval, meaning there is no minimum spend.

Always a huge plus when you’re in the middle of an AoR.

Barclays USAirways business card

Of course, stories can’t be perfect, and Barclays is once again where I strike out.

After calling reconsideration and telling her all the reasons I wanted the card and what I do as a business, she still wouldn’t approve me.

Her reasoning was twofold:

  • 1.  I didn’t use my USAirways personal cards enough.  This is a valid point, and I probably should have used them a bit prior to applying, seeing as I’ve only made 1 purchase in the last year.  A costly mistake on my part, for sure.
  • 2.  I have too many recent inquiries.  Whether I had spent on the card or not, I still may not have been approved.

It’s now been 4 AoR’s in a row that I’ve been denied a Barclays card, and each time, they say its because I have too many recent inquiries.

The reasoning of “well, I’d like to shift my business to Barclays, but all the banks continue to give me more cards and treat me nicer” also doesn’t work (fyi).

You think, maybe, just maybe, I’ve learned my lesson with Barclays.

Is next AoR the one I finally stop trying with them?

Meeting the Minimum Spend

Between the six cards I got approved for, I’ll have to spend $8,500 in the first 3 months, then an additional $2,500 in the 4 month.

While this may be cake for some people, my natural spending patterns do not have me spending that much that quickly.

So what do I do?

I use Amazon Payments to help me spend $1,000 every month and also, when needed, buy gift cards.

With these two strategies, I can now easily hit the minimum spends and collect my bonuses.

Cha ching!

Bottom Line

Overall, this AoR turned out really well.  The Barclays card was probably only 6th on my priority list anyway, so getting denied that doesn’t sting so much.

And other than that one lengthy conversation regarding the Chase United Explorer business card, everything else went really smooth.

And remember, the most important part of getting all these miles and points is using them!

I plan on rolling the 50k United miles in to my ever growing balance for an epic RTW trip some time in the near future.

If I can’t pull that off, I’ll most likely spoil Heather with a business class trip to Europe, using stopovers and open jaws to visit 3 places for the price of 1.

Speaking of spoiling, I’ll be using my 2 free Hyatt nights for Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris, Heather’s #1 destination request.  I’ll be a a king for 2 days!

Both the Hilton points from the Amex Surpass and the 2 free nights from the Citi Hilton Reserve will be used in conjunction with my already accumulated stash to visit either Bora Bora or the Maldives.

We’re open to suggestions about which people prefer, although I’m guessing you can’t go wrong with either.

Lastly, I’ll be combining the 30k Alaskan Airlines with my 45k that I already have and most likely trying to use them on a partner.

Maybe AA or LAN to South America at some point?

The possibilities are endless…and the joys of using miles innumerable.

Every day, I count myself lucky that I’m able to have these rich travel experiences without you know, actually being rich!

Have you just done an AoR?  If so, what miles did you get and how are you going to use them?  

Or, what is next up for you?  What cards are you looking to get?

(photo courtesy of bobsfever)



  1. Ken says:

    Did you enter the same Carlson account number for this Biz card as you did for the Personal card last AOR? I already have a Carlson Biz card and my wife has the personal, but a Personal card for me would mean another 85k points.

    1. Trav says:

      @Ken- No, it wouldn’t let me. They also won’t let you combine them right away either, which is weird. Gotta have two separate accounts. Strange, huh?

  2. Nancy says:

    Do you have any suggestions for using the two free Hyatt nights in the US? One of us is currently without a passport.

    1. Trav says:

      @Nancy- There are tons of great Hyatts in the US. If you are looking for the swankiest, here is a list of all category 6 Hyatt hotels in the US. Some gems on there, including the Key West resort and the Bellagio in Vegas. All would be a treat!

  3. TVN says:

    Can you share some tips on what to say to the rep for the need to have another business card. I am in the same situation like you.

    1. Trav says:

      @TVN- Just make sure you give them reasons of why you need this specific business card. If it is a United business card, then tell them why you need the United one. For example, I’m flying a lot with United these days, so I need the United business card so I can get a free checked bag and 2x on United flights.

      Whatever the reason is for this card, tell them that.

      1. TVN says:

        Thank you for your response and sharing your experience.

  4. Frank says:

    LOL I am never approved with Barclays so far. US has denied me twice but somehow recently I got both Club Carlson and Korean Air within a few days interval. 5k and 9k. Out of my expectations…

    1. Trav says:

      @Frank- Yeah, who knows the reasoning with some of these things. Korean Air, huh? What are your plans for them?

  5. Aaron says:

    Instead of applying for a new card with the 60k bonus, I decided to save a hard pull and simply upgrade my existing Amex Hilton card and get a 50k bonus. Exactly how did u do this?

    1. Trav says:

      @Aaron- When you click on the Amex Hilton Surpass link, if it recognizes you as an Amex Hilton cardholder already (and how it does this, I don’t know…I guess through the cookies in your computer?), then it will give you an offer to UPGRADE to the Hilton Surpass card and get a 50k bonus. If you do this, they won’t pull your credit report again, since you are already a cardholder of the Amex Hilton in good standing.

      If you can’t get the upgrade offer to populate for you, then I would just call Amex directly and tell them that you saw an offer to upgrade your regular Amex Hilton to an Amex Surpass and receive 50k and you’d like to do that over the phone.

  6. Glenn says:

    Good for you. My AOR in September was:

    Chase Business United 50K (pending, approved after call)
    Chase Freedom 10K (pending, approved after call)
    Amex Business Platinum upgrade from Gold for 25K MR points (approved)
    Amex Delta Gold SkyMiles 45K (approved)
    Citi 3 of the AA VISA Platinum 50K cards before they were shut down (all approved without calls)
    BofA Alaska Business 25K (approved)

    I skipped US Air (waiting for that 15K offer… coming up on 5 months since I touched the card, still nothing).

    In January, I’ll try and replace the Amex Business SPG I cancelled a year earlier to get the stay/night credit again. Gotten great benefit out of being SPG Platinum and in particular the 35% off and 10 Suite night bonuses for 50 nights this year and want to repeat that next year. Also desperate for more SPG points. We’ll see what offers are out there. I suppose I should wait for later in the year when they bump the bonuses up but …

    Will also go for the Hyatt VISA for the 2 free nights. And yeah, maybe that’ll be for nights at the Bellagio. I’m Hyatt Diamond so these should be nights in a Suite right? Haven’t had this card before. Good success with the Citi Hilton 2 weekend night certs this year though, so should be a nice bonus. Presumably there’s bonuses for Hyatt spend as well? Have to research.

    Not sure what else. Maybe replace the Ink Bold with Plus. Cycle through the new Virgin Atlantic for some more worthless Hilton points. Maybe try CitiBusiness AA again? Dunno.

    1. Trav says:

      @Glenn- That’s quite a pull. Especially jealous of your 3 Citi AA cards. Can’t believe I missed the boat on those. That’ll teach me to wait!

      Yeah, being Hyatt Diamond means you should get upgraded to a suite. Looks like a pretty good plan. You’re right though, those Virgin Atlantic points are basically worthless at this point, since Hilton is so devalued.

      1. Ken says:

        From what I’ve read the suite upgrades are gone for Platinum members form the Hyatt card. they do waive the first year’s annual fee for everyone now though. Things change fast in this game ;)

        1. Trav says:

          @Ken- I believe the suite upgrades are for Diamond members. So just having complimentary Platinum from the Hyatt card isn’t enough to get you suite upgrades, but if you have earned Diamond, you should still be able to get a suite upgrade.

          1. Ken says:

            There have been some changes to the Hyatt Visa in the past month.

            -The $75 annual fee is now waived the first year.
            -The two free nights worldwide after $1000 spend within three months is now stsandard for all members who apply. Diamond members do not get the added bonus of having their two nights in a suite, and existing Platinum members do bot get an extra bonus of suite upgrades on paid stays.


          2. Trav says:

            @Ken- Ah, thanks a bunch. Any clue if these rules get “grandfathered” in, or if the change is immediate?

          3. Ken says:

            If I had to guess I’d say that it will based on the terms when you apply for th ecard. So if you applied for the card a month ago before the terms changed you should still be good to go.

          4. Trav says:

            @Ken- Would seem to make sense that way.

  7. goals^n^dreams says:

    Would you tell me how many pulls did you have in 2013 and 2012 before these applications?

    1. Trav says:

      @goalsndreams- To be honest, I’m not really sure. I applied for 17 cards in 2012, so probably around that number of pulls. Before this AoR, I had only applied for 6 cards so far in 2013, so again, probably around that number of pulls.

  8. RedHat says:

    Regarding the AMEX Hilton Surpass, I was also offered to be upgraded and get 50K bonus. But with this clause “For the first year, receive complimentary HHonors Gold Status”
    Did you get the same one or forever Gold as long as you own the card?

    1. Trav says:

      @RedHat- As far as I know, the card always offers Gold Status only for the first year, whether you upgrade or get the card outright.

      I could be mistaken, though. If you see an offer that shows it for as long as you hold the card, send it my way.

  9. kim says:

    Regards to your example of only closing accounts when opening new ones so that you have collateral.

    Rep told you that the main reason that you did not get approved instantaneously is because you have too many CC with Chase.

    What if you closed your account previously, do you think there is a higher chance that you will be approved instantaneously? Do you think there is a chance that keeping too many cards or too high of credit line with one bank is making you to call reconsideration line more often?

    I always like to just close my account because I believe I have higher chance of getting my card approved instantaneously. What is your thought on this?

    Love your blog !

    1. Trav says:

      @kim- Great point, and interesting questions. I guess I’m not really sure of the answer, seeing as I’ve never done it myself. It makes sense you’d have a better chance of getting approved instantaneously if you have less cards, but I’ve never had an issue with getting approved after calling reconsideration, so I guess I’ve always gone with what has worked for me.

      It’d be hard to even guess, since each situation is different. My only worry is that if you close cards ahead of time, and then apply and DON’T get approved, what are you going to say when you have to call reconsideration? But if instantaneous approvals are what you are after, then I do think you’re on to something. I just can’t say yes definitely at this point.

  10. Naomi says:

    How do you apply for Chase so often? I keep getting denied, even called reconsider line and card arrives, I cannot get bonus miles since bonus is given only to new customers. :/

    1. Trav says:

      @Naomi- I’m only getting approved for Chase cards that I haven’t previously had. If you’ve already had the card, you won’t get the bonus. And I make sure to keep a really good, mutually beneficial relationship with Chase. I use their cards all the time for most of my spending, and they like that.

  11. jewishsportsBen says:

    how do you jusitfy doing a 6 card AoR — i just feel having so many open cards w/o enough expenses .. just feels weird

    1. Trav says:

      @jewishsportsBen- I try to get cards that can benefit me in some ways. So, while I may use some cards much more than others, there are always going to be times I need to whip out a random card because it gives me the best return on investment. I don’t think you need to spend a lot on each card to be a good customer…just make sure you are paying off the amount you are spending.

  12. Eric Oh says:

    Wow… I stumbled on this site while looking for better ways to use my Avios points, and I’m flabbergasted! I’ve been slowly and quietly accumulating my miles & points, but never felt like I was squeezing out all that I could from them. AND seemed like such slow process to accumulate the miles & points! Hmmm…I’m gonna have to study this site for the next few months and take ACTION!
    But…opening up all those credit cards feel very uncomfortable to me.
    …especially for a minimalist like me ^_^

    1. Trav says:

      @Eric Oh- Yes, there are definitely ways that you can earn points MUCH, MUCH faster…which I document on this site! However, the key thing is doing what you feel comfortable with. IF you don’t want to open up a ton of credit cards, don’t.

      Pick 1 or 2 that you really like, open them, get used to them, use them, etc. Then, when you feel comfortable with that, see if you want to open a few more. If not, no big deal. Simply use them in the best way to get the most miles.

      In the end, do what you feel comfortable doing. But know that the option to do more is always out there!

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