It’s Credit Card Application Time

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Just like many others in the miles and points community, my family is one a 3-4 month cycle with applying for new credit cards.  What that basically means is that every 3-4 months, we look for the best available rewards credit card sign-up bonuses, and apply for a new card or two.  Some in the community apply for way more than one or two cards every few months, but we are relatively conservative with our approach.  Anyway, our last round of applications was in November, so now roughly three months later, it was time to go after another card or two.

Before I get into what cards we selected and why, I want to give a warning that getting new cards this frequently does have a small-ish negative effect on your credit report.  I also don’t recommend playing this game if you have a substantial loan (such as a mortgage) on the horizon, or if you think you would be tempted to run up a mountain of debt on your new cards.  Since neither of those caveats apply to my family, this time I went for two credit cards.  As always, I keep an eye on my credit scores, especially right before submitting new credit card applications.  Here are my scores from Credit Karma and from Citi Identity Monitor.  As you can see, the two sites don’t give exactly the same score, but they give me a general idea of where I stand.  My credit scores aren’t as high as they were before I started getting multiple rewards credit cards, but as you can see, they are certainly not bad scores.

After I checked my scores, the first card I applied for was one that I was targeted for, the The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN.  The targeted offer I received was for 50,000 bonus Membership Reward points after spending $5000 on the card within the first three months.  I also like that this card comes with 3x points on airfare – that will really help my family out since we seem to be purchasing more and more airline tickets these days…which is a great problem to have.  😉  It also comes with 2x points on advertising on select media in the US, gas in stand alone gas stations, and shipping.

Another reason that I wanted this card was because there is a chance I may cancel my American Express Platinum card in the next few weeks as it is up for renewal.  I really like that card, but if I cancel it, I want to still be able to earn and redeem Membership Rewards points.  They aren’t quite as valuable as they used to be before they lost some transfer partners, like Continental, but they still do run some pretty great transfer bonuses from time to time, so I don’t want to miss out.  This was a business application, so it asked some basic questions about my business, such as type of business, number of employees, years in business, and annual revenue.  This was my first Amex business card and I was instantly approved.

I do have two other personal Amex cards: the personal Starwood Preferred Guest Amex and the Amex Platinum, so this marks my third Amex card in about a year.  Overall, I am very happy with the instant approval I received, and I look forward to getting my 50,000 Membership Reward points after I meet the spending requirement.  Just as a side note, unless you are targeted for this card with a decent sign-up bonus, I would think twice before applying right now.  It may be worth it if you have a ton of airline spending that will pay out at 3x points, but otherwise I would hold-off and see if a better sign-up bonus comes along.

For me, that card was the easy decision.  The harder decision was whether or not to go for a Chase credit card.  Chase can be pretty stingy about granting personal credit cards after about your third card, and since I already had three personal cards, I just wasn’t sure if I was up for going for a fourth personal Chase card.  However, given that my Continental OnePass Plus card will likely convert to a United MileagePlus Explorer card in the near future, I wanted to apply for the Explorer card before I potentially lost my chance for that sign-up bonus.  I was able to get targeted for the 60,000 mile sign-up offer by moving one mile into my MileagePlus Explorer account, so I went for it.  You can transfer miles for free from a Continental OnePass account or you can transfer miles in for free (in increments of 1,000) from your Ultimate Rewards account.  You can also make a purchase from United MileagePlus shopping to earn a few miles if neither of the previous options work for you.  There is no guarantee this will work to trigger the 60,000 mile sign-up bonus, but it is worth a shot.

It was not a surprise when I didn’t receive an instant approval for that card.  It has just been one full business day since I applied, so it may still be a little while before I know whether that card will eventually get approval without my intervention.

I don’t know the exact date that the Continental OnePass Plus card will no longer be available, but with the Continental and United merger inching closer to completion, I would bet it won’t be long.  If you don’t have that card yet, I would strongly consider going for it in the near future.  Or, if you already have it, but like me don’t want to close your Continental Chase account, then consider applying for the United MileagePlus Explorer card in the very near future before your Continental card converts.

So, there you have it.  I was 1 for 2 with instant approvals, and I have credit scores that are still in the good-excellent range even after getting multiple rewards credit cards in the past 12 months.  Just like I did last time, I will keep you posted about what happens to my credit scores after these two inquiries hit my credit report.  I will also let you know what happens with my Chase application.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for that one!

Which cards are next on your application list?


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  1. I want to maximize Continental/United bonues before the merger. I’m thinking about signing up for the Continental card now & the United card in the future.

    Will I still get a sign up bonus for the United card if I apply for the Continental card now and the Continental card converts to a United card?

  2. I’m also about to pull an app-o-rama in the next couple days and I’m up in the air what Chase personal card to get. It’s between the Southwest and the United card. I’d love to merge the Southwest with the Southwest business and get the companion pass, but the United 60k (really a 50k for me, since I won’t hit $25,000 spend on it) is tempting.

    Great to know the tidbit on how to get targeted for it as well as the “after 3 personal cards, they get stingy” rule. This will be my third one, so I guess we’ll see next app-o-rama just how stingy they are!

  3. I applied last week for the 60K United Explorer and 50K BofA Virgin Atlantic cards. I had 6 personal and 1 business Chase cards when I applied (4 of these cards I got in the past year). I called Chase the day after applying and was immediately asked why I needed another card. They weren’t thrilled with the common “I really need this card because …”, so I offered to close my Continental card, moving the credit line to the new card. SUCCESS! I also got the Virgin card; I plan to transfer those miles to 100K Hilton points.

  4. @egwg, according to Frugal Travel Guy, you can’t do that now and get both bonuses. If you apply for the Continental card, it’s considered the same as the United Mileage Explorer. however, if you do try that, who knows, maybe there’s a chance you’l lbe lucky.

  5. @egwg From what I understand, they will not give you the bonus on both cards unless you got the first one prior to late July of 2011 (I can’t remember the exact date…26th maybe?) I would love to be wrong about this, since I got the Continental card the first week of August, so if anyone can prove me wrong, that would be great.

    @mommypoints I just did an app-o-rama that was actually inspired by that targeted offer for the Amex Business Gold Rewards card. Wrote a post about it on my blog. I also got an instant approval even though I currently have the Platinum, Delta Gold, Hilton, and SPG personal Amex cards. I guess I tend to be a little less conservative when it comes to the apps. So far, my credit scores are still doing ok, so I will keep earning those bonuses.

  6. I applied for the Sapphire card a month ago and got it after a few days’ wait. Then again, I’d just canceled my CO card, so I’m not sure if it really counted as #4. I’ve been having luck applying for a new card every 4-5 months. Explain why you need the card and you should be fine.

    Churning seems to have different effects on everyone’s score. If anything, mine has gone up since I started churning two years ago, but I’ve never read about anyone getting much higher than 780 while churning.

  7. I checked the AMEX website and saw that I was pre-selected for the Premier Rewards Gold Card for 75,000 bonus points after $1,000 spend it 3 months. I also would like to get my husband Chases Ink Bold Card for the 5x rewards on office supplies, communications etc.. but I will have to wait a bit since he just got the Freedom. I haven’t decided which other credit card I will apply for.

  8. I got my Onepass Plus card in Mar 2011, and I am thinking about getting the United Explorer card [hopefully I will qualify for the bonus], do you by perchance have a link to the 60K bonus offer page? The link on your blog sends me to the 25K page.

  9. OK, Thanks for the info. It looks like I cannot get both the Continental & United bonuses now. I will have to reevaluate my strategy.

    BTW, I have 4 Chase cards: Freedom, BA, Sapphire & Priority Club (in order of oldest to newest). I had to call in the reconsideration line for the 3rd card but not the 4th…weird. I was thinking of replacing the BA card but the short distance rewards on Avios may be useful to me.

  10. Seems like you’re not being very strategic from an inquiry standpoint. My understanding is multiple inquiries on the same day for the same issuer get consolidated so in hindsight you should have done e.g. 1 biz and 1 personal Chase last time, and 1 biz and 1 personal Amex this time, or vice versa. By mixing issuers you are doubling up on inquiries. Also, a lot of people seem to think Chase will reject more than 1 app within a certain time period but that’s not necessarily the case if you do 1 personal and 1 biz the same day. A buddy of mine just applied for Sapphire and Ink on the same day and got approved for both instantly.

  11. Surprised that you only did 2 apps. I’m holding until I see some strong offers. These cards are on my list

    – Amex SPG personal
    – US Air Barclays
    – BofA Hawaii
    – Chase Hyatt
    – Discover (for cashback rewards)
    – Citi AA

    I’m trying to mix and match so that I don’t have too many apps from the same bank. I’m going to prepay rent to meet minimum spend 🙂

  12. @egwg, I concur with the others have said – according to the terms, you can’t get both bonuses after a date in July. Of course, you never know what will happen in the “real world”, but that’s what it says.

    @Noob Traveler, thanks.

    @Extra Pack of Peanuts, that is a tough call. Though, if you think you will get good use out of the CP, that may be the more valuable way to go.

    @pianodude, congrats on getting your cards approved! Yeah, I’m not thrilled about making a call to Chase since I don’t want to lose any of my cards, but we’ll see how it goes. 😉

    @Frequent Flyer Collector, that is my understanding as well. Thanks!

    @The Wanderer, congrats on the approval! I am a bit more on the conservative side with applications, but everyone has to do what works for them. 😉

    @Scottrick, yeah it has only made mine go down, but the trade-off has been worth it for sure.

    @DealsSeeker, that is a great targeted offer, congrats! Since the Ink Bold is a business card, it shouldn’t be too hard to get it approved even if you recently got the Freedom. If you didn’t apply the same day, I would probably put a month between them and then go for it.

    @Golfingboy, there is no public link for the 60K offer. As I mentioned in the post, many are having luck getting “targeted” if they have at least one mile in their United account. That’s not guaranteed, but it worked well for me and others. So, transfer in at least a mile or earn some miles from the shopping portal or something and see if you can get that offer.

    @egwg, that’s funny about calling for the 3rd and not the 4th. So seemingly random sometimes. 🙂 Congrats!

    @HikerT, well, strategic all depends on your goals. In this case, my goal was to get a MR account and the United card before my CO potentially converted. So, from that point of view I was very strategic. True, if I went for two cards from the same issuer I may have ended up with one less inquiry, but that wouldn’t have really helped me with the goals I had for this round of applications.

    You are right about Chase giving one personal and one business on the same day, but that just isn’t what I was after this time. Since I am much more conservative with applications than others in the miles and points world, I don’t really have as much of an inquiry issue. That being said, there will be times when I will go for two from one issuer, but that just isn’t what suited my needs best on this go-round.

    @mintcilantro, as I said in the post, I am relatively conservative with the credit card applications. Everyone has to do what their are comfortable with. Sounds like you have some good cards on your list. Good luck!!

    @Rick i, yep, that is my understanding, too. Just wasn’t quite what I needed on this go-round. 😉

  13. Congrats on the instant approval! I’ve never had any issues getting a new American Express pers/biz card. Even when I had 6 open Amex cards and was declined for the SPG Biz b/c I had the “maximum # of accounts allowed”, I still was approved on reconsideration once I canceled my JetBlue biz card. Amex is great!

  14. @mommypoints, I realize your hand was forced this time. Then again, if you had projected things out a couple months ago you might have held off on applying for Ink and saved an inquiry. I’m in a similar situation now that you were a couple months ago and am holding off so I can apply for Ink and Explorer the same day (need to hold off on Explorer for 3 months as I had a previous United card that may disqualify me and I want it to fall off the 2 year radar). Of course, I run the risk that the Ink or Explorer offer may go down, so I may substitute another personal Chase card for Explorer to mitigate that risk. I guess my point is there are benefits to considering future needs when applying for cards. I don’t like the app-o-rama approach either as it you limit you to the available offers on any given day and leaves little flexibility in-between app-o-ramas. Best approach IMO is somewhere in the middle that minimizes inquiries by combining apps for the same issuer whenever possible.

  15. Re: Bold – same treatment here a month ago that you got, but with a nicer rep – I asked “Why do I have to sacrifice my personal credit limit for a business that grosses over a million bucks?” Answer – “We dont have enough information on your company without further review to really make that kind of decision.” So the individual’s credit is really what they rely on.

    Personal credit limit down by same amount as Bold card. I was also told I could move credit back from business to personal at any time.

  16. Does anyone know what is meant by inquiries from the same creditor on the same day get consolidated? Does it mean that when someone pulls my credit in the future, they will see just one inquiry? I applied for Chase Sapphire preferred(VISA and MC) on the same day and got approved, but had two inquiries on my report.

  17. I noticed it’s common to apply for multiple credit cards to maximize the points, but do most people cancel the credit cards in a few years? Or do they end up with dozens of credit cards over time? If you cancel, do you have advice on how to do it with the least negative impact on credit score?

  18. Just submitted for a United Explorer card on Saturday. Notified that would be notified in 10 days by mail. Checked my account this AM and saw a card# that I didn’t recognize. Called and found out it was my NEW EXPLORER card. First time that has happened to me, but I am new to the mileage points game. It is fun so far. I goat the Sapphire Card in December, my wife got her Sapphire in Janurary, and I just got my Explorer card today. It is my 3rd chase credit card. We now BOTH have enough points to fly to Japan Business class. My credit scores are about the sam as yours. We are looking forward to our next trip for “FREE” (mileage). Yours will be on your account before close of the week.

  19. I just applied for my first Amex business card today, and was instantly approved too. I got targeted for Amex business platinum 100k bonus… Too good to pass up!

  20. I’m trying to decide if I should go for the United Explorer card now. I already have 5 personal Chase cards, including the OnePass card. I just did a round of apps on 1/1/12, although no Chase apps since last August. I really want the 50,000 bonus (I’ve already confirmed that I can get to the targeted link) before the OnePass card converts. My normal 90+1 day strategy would put my next round of apps on 4/2/12 but I don’t want to miss out on the bonus. Should I jump on it and risk a mid-strategy inquiry? Is Chase likely to lt me get the card, perhaps by closing the OnePass account in the process? What does everyone think?

    • @mikera, that’s a hard call. You are right that you may have some trouble getting it given the number of Chase cards and your recent inquiries. You can always just move the credit line from your OnePass card to another card and close that card so it wouldn’t convert then do the United app later. Or, you could go for it and see what happens. Keep us posted!

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