2013 Credit Card Application Plan

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

Like most things in life – you are going to get more value out of churning rewards credit cards (i.e., sign-up for multiple rewards credit cards on a pretty regular basis in order to load up on the lucrative sign-up bonuses) if you come up with a game plan and map out your year ahead of time.  Of course, some adjustments will be made based on any new cards, new offers, limited time offers, etc, but it is better to have a plan and amend it than not have a plan at all.  Most people who churn rewards credit cards do so on a schedule of roughly every 91-ish days in order to spread out the inquiries and spending requirements, so it makes sense to plan out four theoretical churns for 2013.

You should plan the cards you get for 2013 in part based on what, at that time, are the best available offers, and then mainly based on which cards will best meet your travel goals.  Of course that means you need to first really sit down and come up with your travel goals not just for 2013, but also really for 2014.  This is important since it takes some time to get the cards and then the pay-off, plus some trips have better availability when planned well in advance.  The booking window for many airlines is already open into December 2013, so that means we are actually just about a month away from actively booking 2014 trips.  Everything I am now planning is for 2014, and even some into 2015.

Here is my current plan, and some other cards that are worth considering for 2013 if you don’t already have them.

Hilton HHonors Points:

I want to add to my HHonors balance for a hopeful 2014 or 2015 trip to the Maldives.  I would like that trip to be in 2014, but that may be wishing upon a star due to the limited vacation days my husband has, and the fact that I have already earmarked many of them for a big trip in 2014 (and they are long gone already for 2013).  Naturally planning that far out puts you at greater risk of point devaluation, but we aren’t too far out from booking a ’14 or ’15 trip, so fingers crossed that any changes will be minimal between now and then.  Cards on my radar to boost my HHonors balance are:

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card – this one will give me two free weekend nights at a Hilton plus Hilton Gold status after spending $2,500 in four months.  The $95 annual fee is not waived on this card.  (though I need to time this no more than a year out from my trip)  This card also makes you eligible for the GLON/VIP points discount of 15% off four-night stays, 20% off five-night stays, and 25% off six nights or longer.

Amex HHonors – 40,000 points after spending $750 in the first three months.  What I love about this card is no annual fee (so it is a card that will actually pay you assuming Small Business Saturday happens again) and it gives you access to AXON and GLON awards.  This means that the 50,000 per night for the hotel I want will actually just come to 145,000 for four nights using an AXON award instead of the 200,000 it would otherwise cost for four nights.

Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines Card – 35,000 miles (which can convert to 70,000 HHonors points) with the first 20,000 coming after the first purchase and then the other 15,000 coming after spending $1,000 on the card in the first four months.  There is a $79 annual fee with this card.  I actually already have this card, but plan to cancel and reapply in 2013.  Rumor has it this is a card you can get multiple times.


American Airlines Miles:

I need to boost my AAdvantage miles balance a bit as I want to fly OneWorld for our Maldives trip.  I will likely be cancelling my remaining Citi AAdvantage card later this year and using the two-browser trick to increase my balance by 100K.  Or, I may just add a business card and call it done.  Or both.  Most of the best offers for these cards can be found here.


Ultimate Reward Points:

I already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Bold® Business Card, Chase Freedom and am working on my spending requirement for the Ink Plus Business Card, so I won’t be repeating those in 2013.  I will also continue to really maximize the 2x travel and dining bonuses on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the quarterly 5x benefits from the Freedom, and the 5x bonuses on cell phone, cable, landline, and office supply stores with the Ink cards.


Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card:

I really enjoy the 3x on airfare that I get on my Business Gold Rewards Amex, but it does come with a hefty $175 annual fee, so an option would be to ditch that card in favor of the personal Amex Premier Rewards Gold card to avoid the annual fee for a year (it is $175 in subsequent years).  I’m not 100% that I will pick up this card in 2013, but there is a real possibility, especially if the sign-up bonus comes up above the current “25,000 points after spending $2,000” level.


Hyatt Credit Card:

I very much want this card in 2013 in order to get the two free nights in a suite at any Hyatt in the world (my nights are in a suite due to my Hyatt Diamond status, otherwise they would be in a standard room) after spending $1,000 in the first three months.  However, since the free nights are valid for one year, I need to time this application appropriately as I want to use them in Paris potentially in 2014.  There is a $75 annual fee that is not waived.  If you want to try for an offer that also provides a $100 statement credit then go through the steps of making a reservation on Hyatt.com and see if that offer appears.


Club Carlson Premier Visa:

A new card on the scene is the Club Carlson Premier Visa from US Bank that awards 50,000 points after the first purchase and 35,000 points after spending $2,500 in the first three months.  This card not only has a decent sign-up bonus, but it also gives you one free night when you redeem points for two or more reward nights in a row.  So, if I want to use 50,000 points to stay at a top property in Europe, then I can get the second night for free.  This is amazing “hidden” value in this card.  US Bank is very strict about approvals and doesn’t like to see many recent inquiries in the last 6-12 months, so I have to time this one carefully.  There is a $75 annual fee.

There certainly will be some adjustments to the cards I want to get in 2013, but for now these are my thoughts and plans.  All of the cards have at least a general travel goal that they are helping to meet, so I know the points won’t go to waste.  What cards are you considering for 2013 and what redemptions do you have in mind for their sign-up bonuses?


Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a card using one of my affiliate links.  Some of the links in this post are my affiliate links and some are not.  All links are to the best offers of which I am currently aware. 

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.



  1. Hello, Like the churn for 2013, Would you explain the best way to use the Oneworld for travel to Maldives? Me, my wife always wanted to go to Maldives or Fiji also have a child age 2, now I see that is possible since we started churning last July. Between me and my wife we got, 229K AA miles, hoping to get another 50 by Feb from Buz card that would make it 279K. When ever you book the trip for Maldives if you would post the procedure it will be very helpful.

  2. From painful experience, apply for the Club Carlson first, and only after a good few months have elapsed since your last application. US Bank likes to see some history on recent apps, and no more than three in the last half-year+, otherwise you are almost likely to be rejected

  3. did not realize the strictness about Carlson… I had gotten 10 cards in 2 months before went for carlson, not instantly approved but got it after a week w/o calling, although with very low line. so they might have changed a bit.

  4. Do you know if the 1-year clock on the Hyatt 2 free night certificates starts when you apply for the card or when you receive the certificates (i.e. complete the minimum spending requirement)?

  5. I have been thinking about Maldives for quite some time. You need A minimum of 2 weeks of vacation to go there. At my work I am unable to take more than 1 weeks of vacation at any given time. Instead I go to the Caribbean instead. It’s just a few hours away and the time zone is just about the same which make it easier with kids.

  6. Right now I do not get much time off from my job, but I am considering an app plan. I do not travel a lot, but would like to save for international travel.

    In April I would like to get the US Air (if Chairman Preferred link still works) and United Explorer (currently showing 50k+5k+95 statement credit when logging into United and making a reservation). No immediate use for the points (US Air to Australia/New Zealand and United as my go to account with home base EWR). I most likely would not app for a while after this since I have heard Barclay is Inq sensitive after awarding cards.

    If I were to app 6 months after I would go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the BoA Hawaiian. I plan to have Hilton as my go to, with Hyatt as my backup through UR.

    Currently I have the no fee Hilton Amex, but have an offer to upgrade to the Surplus with bonus points after 3k spend in 3 months (not sure if I would be eligible since the CARD act and the annual fee).

    I currently have an offer from Amex for 50k PRG or 100k Platinum after certain spend, which I am tempted, but would like to hold off until next January when I might have more time to travel and still get max backdating. I would use the 100k points when there is a transfer bonus to Avios. I would use try to use these points for roundtrip to Ireland on Aer Lingus and maybe business/first on Cathay Pacific from JFK-Vancouver. With the $200 airline credit I could buy $200 gift cards on United to use towards visiting family.

    I am also interested in the Citi Hilton Reserve, but I would not benefit from the 2 free weekend nights this year.

  7. I’m planning a limited AOR (just 2 cards) this quarter. I’m curious to know what others consider the most valuable Amex option at the moment?? Considering the SPG Biz, PRG, HHonors, et al.

  8. What’s your reasoning for wanting to fly OneWorld on your Maldives trip? My wife and I also want to plan this trip (out of Michigan), and we have plenty of Chase UR and Hilton points, and some US Airways miles, but no AA miles at all. I’m planning on applying for the Citi cards in the future, but I’m just curious what your rationale is for OneWorld over Star. Thanks!

  9. @Adam, I believe the clock starts as soon as you reach the $1000 spend on your card. If you keep track of your purchases, you can usually call Hyatt a few days after that and ask if the free night certificates have been posted to your account. I heard from them a few weeks before I received anything in the mail from Chase or Hyatt. Im staying at the Park Hyatt Vendome in a few weeks thanks to the free night certs, with rates above 700 euro a night, not bad.

  10. Dear Mommy Points, great post as always!
    I have a Sapphire Preferred Visa and am thinking of switching to MC version. Would you mind commenting on: if need to cancel the visa version first before going for the MC? If need to call Chase reconsideration, I would say I need a MC for Sam’s Club, would you suggest other points I can make to the reconsideration reps? Thanks!

  11. The Club Carlson US Bank card might be easier than you think depending on which credit agency they hit. In Texas, I got instantly approved even though I recently applied for the US MC and Chase Ink. Forgot which one they used, but it was different than Chase and Barclays.

  12. Thanks for sharing.
    I am trying to figure out how to follow this discussion and continue to learn from the comments as the year progresses. The only way I know now is checking ‘Notify me of follow-up comments by email’ while submitting a comment.
    So many great posts on the boardingarea to learn from, but I some times get lost in the sea of information…and find myself frantically searching for information that I vaguely remember reading some time ago somewhere.

  13. Does anyone have any experience getting the SPG Amex bonus a second time? I canceled my first SPG Amex 1 year ago.

    I got in on the Hyatt card just before the minimum spend was added thanks to a MommyPoints post. I used the 2 free nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo in April – great value for the $75 annual fee – it would have cost over $1000 to pay cash.

  14. Look at the BOA Hawaiian business cards instead of the regular BOA/BOH Hawaiian. 35k miles on first purchase and annual fee of only $50 each instead of $79. You can get approved for more than one at a time too.

  15. @MommyPoints & @ Grant Thomas, my certs expire on October 31, 2013. Do you know if I could book a stay from Oct 30-Nov 1? I hope so! Also, there’s no way to book but to call right? I hope to book Park Hyatt Milan for those two days, but can’t see availabilty or anything.

  16. Hah! I have a similar trip lined up for 2015, but to French Polynesia. I am also trying to rack up AA miles and HHonor points. Going for the no annual fee versions of the HHonor cards though. I already have the Citi AA cards, and I don’t plan on applying for any more in 2013. Most of my point/mile accumulation will be coming from other methods.

  17. -I am hoping to use my AA miles to fly Etihad to Maldives, so that is why I am focusing on them. If that doesn’t work I have some back-up plans I would also be okay with, but that is my first choice.
    -I think the Hyatt certs expire one year from date of issue (more or less).
    -Some folks need MasterCards as Visas aren’t accepted everywhere (and vice versa).
    -I was approved for a US Bank card last year, but want to wait about a year from when I got that one to try for another since they are so conservative with approvals.

  18. Talking about Eithad, if its 2014 then Qatar airways will be oneworld partner. Hopefully that will be easier, I tried several times too book a flight to Bangladesh via Eithad, unsuccessful ..

  19. I have a ton of cards open right now, but I haven’t delved into the cancel-and-reapply just yet. You made mention of doing so with the Citi AA. I have both a personal and a business account, but I thought that you had to wait like 18 months after cancelling to reapply. Or is it 18 months from initial application?
    One other quick question- I did a 2-card mini-churn last week, both with Chase. I like to immediately call to enhance my chances, and the phone rep quickly pointed out the 13 new cards I’ve obtained in the past 6 months. Do you think I’m moving too quickly, or is this an issue that every churner deals with? I managed to talk my way into it, but I’m now hesitant to open more cards. Thanks!!!

  20. My plan of action is limited for sure. I don’t cotton to canceling cards and applying for them again later on. Was planning to apply for the British Airways Visa but then remembered that the annual fee isn’t waved for the 1st year. I feel like the UR cards are the cat’s meow and can’t be beat, so I plan to maximize points and miles with them. But I will shortly accept Discover’s pre-approved offer for their new “It” card. It offers 5% cash back each quarter in select categories, and the best part is everything else earns 1% – no requirement to first spend $2500 at a fractional rate like the Discover More card.

  21. Wow! We almost have all of the same plans for our 2013 credit card apps. I am definitely looking forward to focusing on the hotel side of points this year… of course adding some UR’s to the balance is always a good thing too! Good luck to you!

  22. Basic question… do you have to close a card before you churn it? I have both AA cards open for 2+ years. New to the concept of churning. Do i have to cancel before reapplying and how long of a wait should i allow in between? Thank you

  23. I’m planning for 2014 and hoping to get a few more Hilton cards to cover a (potential) 9 night stay at the Grand Wailea on Maui. I would prefer to just use my Ultimate Reward points for transfer to Hyatt so we could stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, but I feel like I should really move those points to United for the flights instead (especially because we just took our first international business class flight and I would love to be able to fly business class again – it seriously made the overnight flight 1000x better). I will also likely apply for the Sapphire Mastercard (comes in handy when shopping at Sam’s Club) and might do the US Airways card as well. For my husband, I plan to add to his Hilton stash plus add the Sapphire MC and a United card.

    On a side note, I would like to suggest that you consider using those Hyatt nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. It is the most fabulous hotel, and I really think you’d love it (especially for your daughter – my son is 3 and adores it). My reasoning to use our “free” nights at that Hyatt rather than a more expensive one in Europe is that we really don’t spend all that much time at the hotel when we’re in Europe (or any big city in the US) and we got much more value by having rooms at a wonderful hotel where we could spend the entire time just relaxing and enjoying what the hotel had to offer. I never thought I’d enjoy a big resort until we tried this hotel (and we did also recently stay at the Sheraton on Maui and absolutely hated it, although I’m sure it’s a perfectly fine place, but it was just horrible compared to GH Kauai).

  24. For what it’s worth, I booked a round the world trip last September for my wife and I to celebrate our 25th anniversary using USAirways miles. For 120K miles each+$200, we fly from CLT-MUC (LH) with a 5 day layover during which we’ll visit Prague (2 days) and Salzburg (2 days), then continuing on from MUC-IST-MLE on Turkish Airlines for 5 days in the Maldives at the Conrad Rangali: 2 nights in beach villa, 3 nights in overwater villa all on Hilton points + upgrade fee. Return trip is MLE-SIN-INC (SQ) and INC-ORD (OZ) ORD-CLT (US). Didn’t intend for it to be around the world, but the routings just worked out that way. Couldn’t believe how easy it was – only spent a couple of hours on the Air Canada website checking routings, then called US to request the flights. Already working on planning the next 2 trips!

    • It’s at least 18 months between applications with Citi….I prefer to wait a tad longer, but that is the minimum.

  25. Love your posts, thank you mommypoints!
    Can you please clarify the “two browser method”? I haven’t been able to find anything on this, how and why?

  26. What does AXON And GLON awards stand for?

    I just applied and got approved for Amex HHonors using your link 😉 but I just want to make sure I take advantage of the benefits of this card. Thank you mommypoints!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *