My Husband’s First Reward Credit Card Applications

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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.

American Express:

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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  1. Wow. I had no idea you were the only points earner in your family! That makes what you have been doing even more impressive! Wow.

  2. Btw…i don’t see anything about a $200 airline credit on that AMEX card in the description of the card. Do you have a link with that info?

    I’m guessing that going for a Platinum AMEX straight out of bankruptcy might not work. Aren’t they usually pretty selective about who they issue credit to?

  3. Argggh! He should have been playing the debit card game all those years waiting to play the credit card game. He missed the Chase (United), Citi (American), US Bank (Flexperks) and the Bank of America (US Airways) cards over those 10 years. Even today there is still a trinity of cards available. People have generated hundreds of millions of miles via debit cards over the years they have been around.

    Now that he looks to be getting a Chase and Barclay card he should set up an account for Little C’s college fund. These cards can be used to fund bank deposits.

  4. Great post! We are fairly new to the cc game (I’m going to have to stop saying that soon, because it won’t be true much longer) and it is a bit daunting to look at all of these possible great cards and then try to pick just a few.
    I’m not surprised about the pending, and you’re right, I wouldn’t sweat it. My husband has great credit too, but had no cards in his own name (we messed up and cancelled the BOA cc he’d had for 10+ yrs). His first card was the BA visa – chase called immediately and verified info and approved. 4/5 months later we did CSP, USB club Carlson, and AmEx PRG. Amex instant approval, other two pending, and then approved a few days later. Again chase called and asked some questions (just a few easy ones that were mostly on the app already), and then approved on the phone. The USBank just sent an approval email. Must be that having few or no cards just triggers someone to manually check the app.

  5. I would have skipped Barclays. I’ll be surprised if he gets that. I applied with a 820 credit score, 20+ year perfect credit history, and history of good credit with Barclays (have the Choice Privileges card). Was told I “already had enough credit with Barclays” even though I offered to move credit, not add more. They are tough.

  6. Awesome choice on the UA card — I think thats close to the best its ever been, and glad too! I’ve got the AMEX one, and highly recommend taking full advantage of the $200 airline fee reimbursement (even better that he applied mid-year so he can get it each calendar year)–I’m sure you know how to get full advantage of that!

  7. Wow this post comes at a good time. I also had a bankruptcy fall off but it has been about 2 years. I have had the Barclays US Airways MC for a while. In fact I had it when it was HP (America West) and I really don’t know why except maybe it was one that approved me.

    Anyway, I have airline miles coming out of the wazoo. I NEVER fly US. I only fly AA but I have over 500,000 miles and I needed to collect hotel points or something else. So a month ago I signed up for the Hilton Visa Signature card because it had no annual fee. I was approved online instantly which surprised me. My credit hovers between 775 and 800.

    Now my question is, before I applied for Hilton, I applied for a Starwood AMEX and I was declined on the spot. That was also a month ago and the instant denial response I received was a past bankruptcy. So I know this is not exactly your forté but does that mean I will never be able to get any sort of AMEX? Did you husband include any cards in his BK that he can’t get now? I am not trying to be too personal but I was quite shocked when that happened. I hope I will be able to get an AMEX one day.

  8. I don’t think it was clear but my bankruptcy was at the end of 2000 so it has been 12 and 1/2 years.

  9. I’m also curious why you would cancel the Club Carlson Visa, as the 40,000 points seems like a great renewal bonus and makes it worth paying the annual fee.

    Other than that, I probably would have gone for the Barclay’s US Air card instead of Arrive, just because the US Air card is probably going away at some point and those points will become AA.

    That was a great targeted offer on United… wish I had that option on my recent churn…

  10. Awesome post Mommypoints! For some reason I thought when one gets married you both share the same credit history (but obviously not!) That’s good to know. Thank you for sharing your story.
    I’m curious why your husband opted not to go for the Barclays US Airways mastercard?

  11. Good choices. If he (or you)is going to do any churning I would have picked the Barclay US air card before it disappears and then circled back for the Arrival card. Of course maybe he feels that he has “Arrived” at the end of a long journey.

  12. On Chase applications it often asks as the first question whether there has been a bankruptcy in your credit history. Do you answer that NO if it has dropped off the credit reports.

    I wasn’t sure how they defined “credit history”.

  13. wow, that is really awesome!

    I’ve a few questions:

    I want a reward debit card, is there one by chance?

    If not, then a reward credit card for college student…Do you know if Chase one is good? I tried to do one for my dad, but he was deny for the American one. So, I want to do one because I need to save up point and etc… for my trip in a few months/year later.

    What do you suggest for newbie who is in college with no credit card before?

  14. @LMR – I have MB Platinum Amex, and it has exactly the same benefits as the regular Platinum. I got reimbursed the airline fee credit last year. Many others have reported getting reimbursed as well, on many different sites.

  15. Hi Mommypoints! Where are planning on staying in the Maldives? My family and I did the Conrad last year, it was incredible.

  16. You went for the Barclays AW card, worth $400, instead of 40K US miles, or 50K Lufthansa miles? The first of which will be history in 6 months or so, and the latter is said to be over at the end of June. While the one you applied for will probably still be available for years.

    Let me ask you this, suppose you had 40K US miles, and US Air offered to buy them back for a cash payment of $400, would you take that offer? If not, why did you essentially do the same thing by choosing this app? And this doesn’t even consider the targeted offers for many thousands of bonus miles for 3 months of spend that Barclays frequently sends out to new card holders, as you well know.

    Or are you assuming that the AW card will be easier to get approved for with a limited cc history? Because I think of you as SO smart, and turning down 40K US miles/50K LH miles/ or 40K AA miles for $400 makes no sense to me.

  17. I am new to US and got a SSN and credit report work started just last year.. took sometime but then I got one credit card, and then another and then another, to start building a credit line and a credit score.. in 6 months, I have a decent credit line and credit score.. so now I have been researching on my app-o-rama and hopefully by this weekend I would have applied for 3 credit cards.. I have narrowed down on Hilton Honors Amex, SPG Amex, Marriot + Chase, Chase British Airways, Chase Sapphire preferred, Citi AA Advantage, and Amex Business Gold.. Now need to cut it down to 2-3 cards, so that I can meet the expense requirement..

    Is there any downside to applying for more than one card from the same provider/ bank- say Amex or Chase, in my case..

    Thanks.. love your blog..

  18. I would have considered the Club Carlson card if for no other reason then his slate was really clean (no inquiries). US Bank seems to be the harshest when it comes to recent inquiries, so if this was added here you could have dealt with much easier banks on his next round in 91-180ish days. That’s assuming he wants to churn. Plus imagine if you both have the 2-4-1 deal. You could go on 4 day vacations for only 2 days worth of Club Carlson pts!

  19. @Gene I agree about going for more, especially a B/A card. The B/A and FIA Hawaiian card apps stopped working 2 days ago. The same time that the Barclays Virgin America card suddenly “expired” without notice. Strangely, no blogger that I read has mentioned that yet.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed that the B/A Virgin Atlantic card, worth 100K HHonors points, will still be available when I apply for it this Friday.

  20. I probably would have done Citi AA (though as you say, we’ve been seeing 50K offers till recently) or US Air as those will be changing/going away within 6 months to a year. Rather than the Arrival card. But hey its all good.

    And of course if I was looking to pick a card I wanted to have for a long time, I might have gone for the Chase Sapphire rather than the United as the first card.

  21. LMR, he certainly helps with earning $ and spending on the cards (as well as some work travel), but I was the only card applicant. 😉 They are picky, but his credit report is stellar now that the bankruptcy is off it. We’ll see what happens. The $200 is very poorly advertized, but it does come with that card.
    ADK, well he has been earning points on credit cards the last 7 of those ten years via me. 😉
    Jamie, that sounds like you are doing well. Congrats!
    Lynn, they can be. He has one with the already which may help or it may hurt. We’ll see!
    Trevor, I may have seen UA 5K miles higher via a targeted offer once, but this is basically the highest I have seen it. That $200 fee credit can be quite handy. 😉
    Rich, I may or may not. Just giving an example of a card that I like the benefits attached to the card (2 for 1 award night) so I would want someone in the family to have it at all times. The renewal bonus is very generous.
    FFF, great question. The banks he included were Wells Fargo and USAA – thankfully not banks that are hot and heavy on the rewards front. His understanding is that he is not able to get credit with them again. I am not the expert, but I do know he avoids the banks he included in his bankruptcy.
    Nathan, I may keep that card, but I also may not if I want to free up a slot with US Bank. Not sure we would both keep it. Agree the US Airways is a very good one to get. His call though. 😉
    Joey, no particular reason other than he really liked the versatility of the Arrival card bonus. We are also pretty flush with US miles…though all things being equal this is the right time to go for that one.
    Dan, ha ha. Perhaps that was why. 😉
    Carl, I don’t know how he answered that question so I can’t say for sure.
    E, there is a Suntrust debit card that earns Delta miles. There is also an Alaska debit card issued by Bank of America that earns Alaska miles.
    Greg, exactly. 😉
    Andrew, the Hyatt. Almost can’t go wrong there!
    Robert, there is a strong argument for the US card. I don’t think that is a bad choice. I don’t think the Arrival card is a bad choice. We are quite flush with US miles, but do love having some rewards that are more flexible. Hopefully it will hang around long enough to grab it, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.
    Sameer, it is better to generally spread your applications out to different banks. It is possible to get two personal card approvals from one bank, but it doesn’t always happen. I would go for one from each bank mentioned if it was me. Some like to try for more than one from the same bank in the hope the inquiries will be combined.
    Gene, three is the most I have ever applied for at once, so I think we are good at three for now. 😉
    Scott, it can work that way.
    Ben, we thought about that, but I have had no problem getting two cards from US Bank in the last year and I do moderate churning. They seem to be okay if you churn only moderately. Those with many inquiries every few months do have more of a problem with them.
    Robert, we really aren’t heavy churners, so three is good for us. 😉
    Glenn, all good options. Truthfully, I felt like there were too many good options! 😉

  22. I would have recommended just applying for the Barlcays and waiting for it to clear. The rules of doing an app-o-rama of multiple apps on the same day so the pulls don’t show up for each application don’t seem to be true any more. With an 800 FICO the impact of serial rather than parallel applications isn’t meaningful.
    Barclays is likely to decline the app based on 3 applications in a short time.

  23. This must be crazy exciting for you. Not only do you get to see someone learning the ropes firsthand, but he’s like a blank canvass on which you can start your miles & points story all over again 🙂

  24. I would have probably applied for two cards at most, but hopefully it works out! I got my wife involved and manage and pay her cards. She gives me a dirty look when she has to call in to verify information.. =\

  25. @Sameer The B/A Virgin Atlantic card gives you 20K Virgin miles with 1st purchase, and 25K more miles after spending $2590 in 3 months. {The membership fee doesn’t count towards the minimum spend}. Plus an additional 5K miles for adding two authorized users. They won’t ask any details other than names for the 2 users, so you can add anyone you wish, then destroy the other cards when you receive them. You might need to use them each one time to get the credit, say at a grocery store where no one will ask for id, I’m not sure about that.

    Virgin Atlantic miles are not very useful, since they charge sky high fuel surcharges. But you can call VA and ask them to transfer your miles to your HHonors account. You must transfer them in units of 5K, with a minimum of 10K. VA miles transfer to HH at a rate of 2 to 1, so 50K VA miles gets you 100K HH points. It takes several weeks to complete the transfer, and you cannot transfer them back.

    • Funny though, I don’t see the spending requirement and bonus 25k miles on their landing page.. also, the first year fee isn’t waived, just wanted to confirm that..

  26. Wow.. that is simply killer.. I am so adding that to the list of cards I am considering for my first ever APP-O-RAMA *EXCITED*..

    Thanks for all your help and your blog.. keeping it coming..

  27. @Sameer No, the first year fee is NOT waived, that’s why I said you had to spend $2590 in 3 months to get the second set of miles. The $90 is the first year fee. There are some great Hampton Inns and even Hiltons in Europe at 20k a night in July and August, with the fifth night free, which means you are paying $90 for 5 nights ie $18 a night ! Or stay at the Paris Hilton La Defense for one night for that $90 if that’s more your style.

    I don’t know how to find the offer on MPs, but here is the landing page for the VA app from Million Mile Secrets:

  28. I am curious about you might contemplate dropping the Club Carlson card. I assume your getting 40,000 renewal bonus points, to more than offset the $75 annual fee. That and if you both had the card you could maximize the free reward night (2 nights him, 2 nights you and so forth).

    • Carl, I would drop it if I wanted to free up another slot with US Bank. It is a great card though, so I don’t know that I would actually drop it. I do know I want at least one of us to have it at all times.

  29. My fico score was very low a few years ago due to some mismanaging of my money. Now it’s back on track and nearing 700 for the the first time ever. I did get my very first reward card being the USAirways barclay card. Next up is probably an Amex Plat either MB or the NQ version. I have to be careful since my salary isn’t much to talk about 🙂 Congrats to his first reward cards!

  30. I’m in a similar situation with my wife and my approach is to focus on cards that are either (1) limited-time offers (LH card, 70k DL, 100k Amex Plat) and/or (2) churnable, because you want the clock to start ticking now (SPG, Citi AA, US Air).

  31. Mommypoints thanks for your follow up post. I looked up my BK papers and I included 4 banks. 2 of the banks no longer exist and the other 2 were AMEX and Citibank.
    Citibank had no problem issuing me a Hilton Visa on the spot. I was approved online last month and had the card in a week.
    I did some reading and it looks like I will never ever be able to get an AMEX again. I wish I would have know that 13 years ago when I started this process.

  32. Finally went through my first App-o-rama..

    Got a shock of my life when the first card I applied for got rejected.. 3 calls to the re consideration line later, it was still a reject.. I was disappointed, but I thought, what the hell, I already have a credit pull.. let’s go through this.. end result- applied for 7, got approved for 5 🙂 somehow Amex managed to make a credit pull on the next day, so have two credit pull on my account..

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