It’s been quite a while since I did a credit card app-o-rama. I have been working on cleaning up my credit report in anticipation of refinancing my mortgage (learning all about “credit bumpage” in the process – more to follow on that in a later post) and with my mortgage apps in I went ahead and put in a bunch of card apps. This time I applied for 8 cards, and at the time of writing I have been approved for 7 with one outstanding. One thing to note is that despite completely eradicating all inquiries on my credit report and starting off with a 765 estimated credit score, I did not get a single instant approval. So it does show that having all these new accounts can impact your ability to obtain credit. Eventually after reconsideration and/or just letting things go through the process I mostly got approved, but this game does have it’s impact.

Also at this point I am starting to run out of cards to apply for as banks are definitely getting wiser on churning and I have had so many of the other available products. But still there were some interesting double up opportunities as I mention below.

So here is how the story panned out… note I do not recommending applying for this many cards in one go unless you are confident you understand the impact it can have on your credit and your ability to meet the spend requirements without putting yourself in debt. These stunts were filmed on a closed set by a professional stunt driver Tongue Out

Card 1: US Bank Club Carlson Personal Visa


I’m sitting on around 750k of Club Carlson points and really wanted this card to maximize the redemption value with it’s last night free feature. Well no instant approval and indeed I got a rejection for having “too many recent accounts”. But I did manage to get them to submit for reconsideration and the card was eventually approved with a $10k line.

Min spend here is $2,500 in 90 days for the 85k sign up bonus.

Card 2: Barclays Arrival

arrivalA lot has been written about this card, and for once the hype is probably justified. 2% travel cash back everywhere with a 0.2% return dividend really is very hard to beat. This was initially an instant decline, after calling recon and going through the app they approved me for $10k. Again the concern was so many new accounts.

Min spend here is $1,000 in 90 days for the 40k sign up bonus.

Card 3: Chase Ink Plus Visa

chaseinkTechnically a business card and I already have a Chase Ink Plus Mastercard under my own name as “sole prop”. I wanted to see if I could get the card again now it is being issued as Visa. This just sat pending for days so I eventually called 888-338-2586 and was able to get application status and be connected to a reconsideration analyst. After some to and fro I got this approved too, and was then passed on to personal cards for the next one…

Min spend here is $5,000 in 3 months for the 50k sign up bonus.

Card 4: Chase Marriott

chasemarriottPut this in the “I have all the other cards and wanted to get something” category. There is a 70k sign up bonus and at some point I could make use of a Ritz-Carlton stay. I had to shift some other credit around for this one so chopped $5k off of a $20k Hyatt line to get this one in (yes that’s the Hyatt line I did an off-cycle app for in November that now gives me Diamond status as long as I keep it!)

Min spend here is $1,000 in 3 months for the 70k sign up bonus.

Card 5: New Old Amex Blue

amexblueWhen I moved to the USA in 2006 my first ever credit card was an American Express Blue Card as Amex was one of the only issuers that would look at my UK credit history (and indeed showed the account as being open since 1999 which is when I first got any kind of Amex product). That card had long ago been closed to make way for more interesting reward cards, but with the current status of manufactured spend at grocery and pharmacy stores, the re-emergence of this card – which gives 5% unlimited cash back at grocery stores and certain pharmacy stores after your first $6,500 – has caused a lot of excitement.

I am still curious how Amex will handle this, and right now I am getting 5x on my Citi card for another 6 months, so this one may just sit there waiting to see how the foot soldiers engage in the battle first.

I was not instantly approved, but was a day or two later without having to do anything.

There is no sign up bonus on this card.

Card 6: Citibank Best Buy Visa

bestbuycitiSay whaat?? Yep you read it right, I blew my one Citibank choice on the Best Buy card. Best I can say is “watch this space”. I just received my denial letter (“too many credit inquiries”) – so now I will escalate to the Citibank Executive Office who will no doubt approve. So why on earth get this card? For now let me just say “watch this space”. But if you read up on it, you will see it has some very attractive MS potential.

Once I have this out of the way I do plan to do a second, off-cycle Citi app, most like the 100k AA offer.

Card 7: PenFed Travel Rewards Amex

penfedtravelrewardsPenFed credit union has some great products including great mortgages, and I figured I would add one of their credit cards. This card earns “5x” on air travel, though the points themselves only have an approximate 0.85 cents value when redeeming for certain gift cards like Hyatt, so it’s more like 4.25x, but that is still a pretty good multiplier. Add in a 20k sign up bonus and I figured why not?

I got approved for a whopping $27k line on this one and interestingly there is an 18 month 0% balance transfer offer. While there is a 3% fee that fee is capped at $250. So if I BT’d $25,000 I would only be charged 1% for 18 months borrowing. Why on earth would I do that I hear you say? Well one could in theory use that money for float for other MS activities. Yes that is absolutely very high risk, and yes that kind of credit utilization will absolutely trash your credit score. But still for those of who get kicks from risks….

Min spend here is $2,5000 in 3 months for the 20k sign up bonus.

Card 8: Bank of America Alaska Airlines

alaskancardI used Alaskan Airmiles for our amazing Emirates trip to the Maldives last summer, and am keen to earn more.

I went with the 30k sign up after first purchase offer as the 40k offers only just showed up after putting the apps in. This sat in processing for a loooonnnng time and none of the recon lines published on the blogs work any more. Indeed I had forgotten about it but then saw a new Bank of America account show up on my credit report! So eventually I got approved.

No min spend here for the 30k sign up bonus.

Notable Absences

I did not apply for either the Wells Fargo or TD Bank 5x cards. With 6 months remaining on my Citi card and the Amex Blue, I will see if these are still around in 3-4 months time when I try to find another set of cards to apply for.

Summary of Cards, Bonuses and Spend

 Credit Card Sign Up Bonus Amount  Minimum Spend 
 US Bank Club Carlson Visa 85,000 Club Carlson  $2,500 / 3 months
 Barclays Arrival 40,000 worth $440 travel  $1,000 / 3 months
 Chase Ink Plus Visa 50,000 Chase UR  $5,000 / 3 months
 Chase Marriott 70,000 Marriott  $1,000 / 3 months
 American Express Blue None  N/A
 Citibank Best Buy Visa None  N/A
 PenFed Travel Rewards Amex  20,000 worth $170 $2,500 / 3 months
 BofA Alaskan 30,000 Alaskan First Purchase
Total Spend Requirement $12,000 / 3 months

So I have 3 months to make $12k spend, though readers will recall I have managed to spend more than that in an hour or two in the past, so that presents no significant barrier.

How did y’all fare on your recent app-o-ramas?

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  • Kirk

    Congrats on all the approvals. Be careful about Penfed. They recently devalued their reward programs without warning. Redeem rewards as soon as you can. My wife and I learned the hard way. Did you call US Bank reconsideration immediately or did you wait a few days? What did you say to Barclays reconsideration? I’ve never had any luck with their reconsideration dept.

    • MilesAbound

      Yeah the Penfed was really another one I just threw in “because I could”. The reward devaluation was not pretty. With Barclays the recon went pretty easy – I think they have a certain “box” they like and if you fit you can get through but if not then doesn’t matter what you say you won’t get approved

  • So did you personally do all 8? Or you and the wife? Either way I like your picks. I have certain of your cards here already. You’ll be presently surprised with how well they’ll work out

    • MilesAbound

      These were all just me. I plan on doing another round for my wife shortly. She has had less cards so more opportunities in the mainstream. Yep there are definitely some gems in this pile certainly on the MS front

      • ABC

        Perhaps one should consider 765 to be a bit “high” for this hobby, 680 – 720 may be the sweet spot.

        • MilesAbound

          Totally agreed – and one of the best FTG posts since 2008! 765 was my FAKO score but the letter that came from Barclays put me at 739 and I am carrying a couple of balances (interest free, of course!). I suspect that the combination of sweetish credit score, carrying a balance and good income put me “inside the box”. I suspect a lot of people struggle today because their income is not high enough and/or their credit scores are, ironically, too high. No bank is going to make money out of a retired 800 credit score guy with $30k of declared income

  • Elaine

    “With Barclays the recon went pretty easy – I think they have a certain “box” they like and if you fit you can get through but if not then doesn’t matter what you say you won’t get approved.”

    My very first app and recon call last Dec. 2012 was for the Barclay’s US Air card. I was ultimately approved and have since gotten the same card for my husband, as well as an Arrivals for him and another US Air for me, all immediate online approvals. But as I contemplate getting us additional Barclays cards, I’d love to know more about your thoughts on who fits the “box.”

    Thanks! And congrats on your success!

    • MilesAbound

      If you read the FTG article that ABC links above I think that ties in with my views… I think banks want good – not out of the world excellent – credit scores, along with good income and some history of being a profitable customer to someone. They don’t want the folks who never carry a balance and they don’t want the focus drowning in existing credit card debt.

  • Is your BBY plan to sit back and wait for the next insane promo, or will you be more proactive?

    • MilesAbound

      Gonna go straight in. By my calcs you can generate net profit of 5% of MS spend pretty easily with the card. When they run a promo this will just add juice to it.

      • 5%–does that include Shopkick and/or other add-ons?

        • MilesAbound

          nope. it’s pretty easy math really if you are top tier you get 8% back in spend with the card, and vgc’s cost 3%

          • Jessica

            I have the BBY card (I’ve had it for several years) so I started doing some digging around after I saw this.

            How do you get 8% = 2% for just being a BBY member + 5% for using the BBY card + 1% for being an elite? Do you get the 25% elite point bonus on top of that?

            Do you think it is better to use the US Bank Cash+ for the first $2k in spend each quarter? Or do you strictly use your BBY card? Maybe I will use the Cash+ card until I become an elite and then switch?

          • MilesAbound

            It actually sounds like my assumptions were wrong. I thought the card paid 5% back plus 1% if you are elite in addition to the 2% you get. But it sounds like it’s 6% top all in meaning ultimate return is just 3%. Still not bad but not quite as sexy. Though would be great if they run a 2x or another 5x promo! I would say the US Bank Cash+ would be better for 5% straight cash back on $2k a quarter, though this is a card I do not have (maybe I will try in the next round!)

          • Jessica

            So the trick would be 5% CB with Cash+, 2% BBY rewards for being a member + 25% elite point bonus, and Shopkick points for the first $2k a quarter and then switch to BBY card for 6% in rewards. Still sounds like a good return especially after you throw in shopkick. Fingers crossed there will be another 5x promo! I missed out on the last one and I have my eye on a new 65″ TV!

          • Jayson

            Are you able to buy visas with the best buy rewards? If so, it could be decent. Does anyone have first hand experience with this?

          • MilesAbound

            I have not tried. Hearing some rumors of BB pulling VGC’s altogether, yikes

          • Jayson, I’ve not been able to buy visas with the BBY rewards, but Amazon giftcards work just fine.

          • Jayson

            That’s good to know. Do you know if you could get best buy gift cards with the bb rewards? Thanks

          • Don’t know about that.

  • Nathan

    Is the Hyatt card with Diamond status still available?

    • MilesAbound

      Nope, it was a mistake in the first place

  • Songer

    I’ve been getting the same push back from the banks after having so many cards opened in the past few years. Any advice on what you say to them that gets them to approve you?

    • MilesAbound

      As I mentioned above, I really think it’s down to whether you are “in the box” or not. If you are having trouble I suspect they think that down to either your income being too low or your credit score being too high you are not seen as potential profit and thus are put through the ringer.

  • Glenn

    Wow, skipped the Citi Executive 100k offer huh? Hope its still around when you decide to go for it. There are certainly rumors that it may be around until March 15th, but who knows? Plus they could start getting picky about whether you were actually targeted or not. Regardless, good haul.

    Having trouble on my Ink Bold MC -> Ink Bold VISA application. Considering whether to call back one more time before I give up and simply cancel the MC and wait for a while before applying again.

    • MilesAbound

      Glenn at the time of applying the 100k was not open… I knew it was out there but the link had not yet surfaced. It was just the 75k offer.

      Not sure what to suggest on the Ink Bold MC – VISA App. For sure it should be easier if you have canceled the existing card, makes the story easier if for whatever reason you end up being a marginal decision