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The “dirty little secret” of our family’s miles and points earning is that I am the only one who has really applied for rewards credit cards. My husband
does did not. In fairness he does have the Kansas City Chief’s card issued by Barclays which he got when it was 40,000 points (worth $400) for signing up, but that is the only one he has in his name. Why in the world would I be the only one applying for rewards credit cards? The main reason is that he had a bankruptcy on his credit report, largely thanks to a divorce and upside-down-house 10 years ago. He had excellent credit prior, and has had great credit since then, including mortgages, car financing, and non-rewards earning credit cards. His credit scores are near 800, but until this month he had a bankruptcy that was the reward card deal killer. In our experience he could pretty easily get a 4% interest mortgage or 0% interest on a car with a bankruptcy on his credit report, but not a fancy rewards credit card. So we waited. I applied for the cards, and he helped with the spending via being an authorized user.
Then the day finally came that the bankruptcy fell off of his credit report. Woohoo!!! That meant it was his turn. He is like virgin blood on the rewards credit card scene, so the sea was wide open with options for him. With almost infinite options it was actually hard to narrow down for which cards it made sense to apply. To decide what to go for we sat down and talked about our travel goals and what type of points we need to meet those goals. We decided against any hotel cards that come with certificates that expire within a year as we are already booked up for the next year. We decided against cards that sometimes have a higher sign-up bonus then they do right now. We also decided against some cards that I have with good benefits (like the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature), since we may have him get those if/when I cancel mine in the future.
We decided to go for three cards from three different banks. We avoided business cards for the time being. Given all of that, here is what he went for on his first round of reward credit card applications.
United MileagePlus Explorer Card
I just spent a ton of United miles on our award trip next year to the Maldives, so we very much need to replenish some United miles. He had a targeted offer for 50,000 United miles + 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user in his online United account, so we went for that one. It required $2,000 in spending in the first three months and the annual fee was waived the first year. This is better than the standard United MileagePlus Explorer Card public offer of 30,000 miles + 5,000 for adding the authorized user, so we went for it since we value United miles very highly. Had we not been targeted for that offer, he likely would have gone for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to get 40,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
Platinum Mercedes-Benz Amex
He wanted to get an Amex, so decided to go for the Mercedes-Benz Platinum version since it gives 50,000 Membership Reward points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The is a hefty $475 annual fee with this card, but the annual $200 airline credit allowance will offset most of this since we will get it now and then again in early 2014 for a total of $400 worth in the first 12 months. It also provides many other benefits like lounge access with Delta.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
For our third card we were torn with which bank to go for, but decided on Barclays. You can’t hardly argue with credit to use for travel, so we went for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard which will give 40,000 points that can be used as $400 toward travel charges after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. It also earns 2x miles on all purchases and the $89 annual fee is waived the first year. 10% of your points redeemed for travel are returned to you, so that is pretty awesome! The other Barclays card we were strongly considering was the US Airways card since it will go away at some point due to the American Airlines merger. We will apply for that one next time for sure (if it is still around then).
He got a “pending decision” on all three applications. I usually get pending decisions on my card applications, so we aren’t really concerned. It is possible we went “too big, too fast” and perhaps should have started with a rewards card that is typically easier to get like the Chase Freedom® Visa, but what’s done is done. He has a solid credit score, a credit report free of any bankruptcies or negative marks, and a good credit history for the past ten years. Fingers crossed!
Which cards would you have done differently? If you were starting from scratch what would you go for?
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