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A new year is a great time to evaluate your rewards credit cards, ditch the ones that no longer make sense, and apply for the ones that will make your upcoming travel cheaper, easier, and more fun. These days, you will be best served if you approach your credit card applications with a sound strategy in place. Some bonuses you can only get once, others you can only get once every certain number of months, some you can only get if you don’t also have other select cards, and some count against your Chase 5/24 numbers, while others don’t. Add into that limited time bonuses, new cards and offers, the reality that some cards and their bonuses will go away forever, and, well, you need a strategy…and I’m happy to help.
My 2018 credit card application strategy
I shared my own credit card application strategy for 2018 in this post. My main priorities were to grab an existing Marriott card and bonus before it was potentially too late, as we know the Starwood and Marriott cards are getting a shake-up this year. I already have or have had the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card, or else they would have been a priority, too. My second priority was building my American Airlines balance back up as I’ve been using those miles like crazy on some very good redemptions…I know, I was surprised at first, too.
My final priority is to put myself in a position to go for the Southwest Companion Pass at the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019 by applying for the personal and small business Chase Southwest Cards when their bonuses are 50,000 points and up during that timeframe. You need to earn 110,000 Southwest Companion Pass eligible points in a calendar year to get the pass, and those two card bonuses would just about do it. This means laying pretty low on Chase cards and being under 5/24 by at least two cards when the time comes to pull this off. To keep my 5/24 count low, most of my card applications for this year will be small business credit cards that won’t hit my 5/24 totals. I need to double check, but I think I can have one personal card approval at some point this year and still be okay for 5/24 purposes at the end of 2018 and/or beginning of 2019.
That was the strategy I outlined on paper, but this week I put it into action.
Applying for the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card
First, I applied for the Marriott Business Card as I really want to transfer those points to Starwood and make more Starwood award bookings before anything drastic could potentially happen with their award chart as the Marriott merger progresses. This card currently awards 80,000 Marriott bonus points after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months. At a 3:1 transfer ratio, that is the same as 26,667 Starwood points, which I’m pretty excited about.
Here are the currently available Starwood and Marriott credit cards and details on their respective sign-up bonuses.
I did not get an instant approval for this card, which is common for me and Chase cards these days. I sat tight and let the system work itself out, and a few days later when I logged into my Chase Business online account my new Marriott Business Card was sitting there with a $10,000 credit line without me doing anything other than completing the initial application. The physical card hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m sure it will any day!
Applying for the American Airlines CitiBusiness Platinum Select World MasterCard
Not wanting to mess anything up with that Chase process I didn’t apply for any other cards until my Marriott card was approved. As soon as I noticed the new account in my online Chase account, I applied for a targeted offer I received for the American Airlines CitiBusiness Platinum Select World MasterCard. This card was offering 65,000 American Airlines miles after $4,000 in spending in the first 4 months. The public offer for this card is currently 60,000 miles, so you can still do pretty well with this one even if you aren’t targeted for an increased bonus.
This card was an instant approval, so no stress required for my next 65,000 bonus American miles!
Josh is up next
Josh has not yet applied for a new card in 2018, but that is the next order of business for us. We talked about him getting a Citi Prestige card last year so that the fourth hotel night for his various work trips could be covered as a perk of that card, but his work trips ended up usually being just three nights and we didn’t need that benefit after all. We’re keeping an eye on that development this year and will get the card when it has a sign-up bonus (it doesn’t always) if his travel shifts to four nights instead of three.
His next card application will most likely be either a Marriott Chase Card or the United Club Card with its 50,000 bonus miles. We will also likely have him go for the new Hilton Honors American Express Business Card and its 100,000 bonus points at some point in the near-ish term as I have my eye on a trip using Hilton points for summer 2019, so it is time to start building that balance up a bit.
It’s still January, and for 2018 we already have two card approvals after two applications completed with several more to go. Once I hit the spending requirements for the two cards I was approved for, we will have a cumulative total of 145,000 more bonus miles and points worth about $1,500. These miles and points will help our family see more of the world for less.
How is your 2018 credit card strategy shaping up thus far?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.