Results of the First Two Credit Card Applications of 2018

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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.

Counting down to the Westin Grand Cayman

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 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?

Head here to learn more about available credit cards and their bonuses.

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

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. May strategy is to get while the getting is good. In that light, both my wife and I applied for both the business and Aspire Hilton cards while we still could. Once the conversion from Citi is complete, we would have had 5 and 6 AMEX credit cards, so we had to apply and be approved for them before the 30th or we wouldn’t have been able to get them. Mine were instantly approved. They asked for additional information for both of my wife’s applications and asked her to call in. She hates calling banks, so we were seriously considering abandoning them, but they have been calling 4 times a day ever since we applied. They apparently gave up on the business card and approved it without any additional information and we got tired of the phone calls, so she called them today and got the Aspire card approved.
    We are already both diamonds, so that was no gain, however, we will be able to get the airline credits and we happen to be headed to a Hilton Resort in March, so will be able to use those credits too, so that is a net $50 gain each after the annual fee, plus the 100,000 points and free night each from the Aspire and 100,000 each from the business card. Total net after fees should end up being about $2500-$3000 in value ($2,000 from 400,000 points, $100 net from the credits and $600-$1100 from the two nights, although so far we have averaged $675/night from the citi certs less $200 in business card fees).
    Will not be under 5/24 for the foreseeable future, so no reason not to proceed.
    Will probably take up some Citi cards after the conversion, as that will reduce our outstanding with Citi by 3 cards and about $50,000 in limits each.
    We will also be watching for AMEX upgrade offers for our 4 Hilton no fee cards and 4 Hilton Ascend cards. If we don’t get any offers, then we will cancel them as fees come due. No real purpose to having a dozen Hilton cards between the two of us.

  2. I’m just finishing up my spend on the Chase Ink Business preferred… then signing up the hubs for the Marriott Biz and SPG Biz (I already have both, and we both have had the SPG personal). My recent focus on the small business cards (we have several rental properties) has worked out well with keeping me well under 5/24 now, so I’ll be working on the business ones that we don’t have for the foreseeable future.. but I really want to max out our SPG and Marriott cards so we take full advantage before they switch out that product for something else.

  3. Just yesterday I applied for the United Explorer card and got online approval with no problem. Next I want to get the Marriott personal card but I may wait a month or two. I already have Hilton and SPG cards…so this will give us more travel choices with points!

    • No. I just charge everything under the sun that we spend money on. It adds up, especially with Josh having lots of out of pocket travel costs and paying close to $1700 per month on a card for health insurance. That expense stinks, but makes it easy to hit spending requirements.

  4. I’m considering the new Hilton cards but am not really sure what I would do with their points. It seems like every redemption I look into requires an insane amount of points. Do you really see much value in building up Hilton points?

  5. I did my travel planning today for the next 4 trips I would like to take. It soon showed that a balance of 1.5 million miles can fall close to zero very quickly. However, doing the planning did help me visualise what areas I need to grow. I may get the Barclay AA card for myself and if they bring back the 50k offer for Lufthansa will grab that for my husband.

    • Yes, it can go quickly, especially if you are booking multiple seats in premium cabins. So good to have a plan and a road map on how to get there.

  6. I find it interesting that you think of Marriott points in terms of their SPG conversion, while I naturally think of SPG points in terms of their Marriott conversion. I do so because the top tier Marriott hotel is 45000 points, while 15000 SPG points is firmly in their middle. Plus, Marriott Gold gets you free breakfast/lounge access, unlike SPG Gold which I find super useful when traveling with the fam.

    • Ha ha – I think some of it is just what you are used to, but I have converted SPG points to Marriott at times, too. I’m extremely partial to using my SPG points for ski resorts which Marriott is a bit weaker in, but both have solid options in their line-ups.

    • Nice! We will be making a change at some point this year, but have been dragging our feet as we like our children’s providers and don’t want to have to change any of them. We can’t stay on our plan past Sept, so change will come one way or another.

    • Just want to give a +1 to this. We switched to CHM also in January, and so far so good. Went from $1700 a month for insurance to $450 for a family of 5.

      • Nice – we coincidentally enough ended up at the ER today so no problems hitting spending requirements around here. New insurance is on the 2018 agenda one way or another.

  7. Planning the usual applications with Citi, Amex, Barclays and Chase non 5/24 cards. Marriott and Citi Thank You card coming up next.

  8. If one already has about 10 credit card accumulated over past 5 years, what would be a good number of credits cards to apply for in 2018?

    • Gosh, it all depends. If you are happy with your current rate of acquisition of about two a year there is nothing wrong with sticking with that. Otherwise, I would just identify some travel goals and then apply for the type of card(s) that will help you get there.

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