2011 has been a year for the record books when it comes to credit card sign-up bonuses. In the past, I only dabbled in the credit card game because I was working to get debt free and repair some blemishes on my report, but this year I’ve really taken the plunge and acquired 7 new cards, which have padded my points balances nicely. And interestingly enough, not only gave my points grown, but my credit score has gone up substantially since applying for the 7 cards that I’ve signed up for this year. This is because my overall available credit has increased, yet my utilization has stayed the same low (zero) amount. Inquiries usually take 2-5 points off your score, but since there are many factors in a FICO score, getting new credit can outweigh those dings.
I’m sure many of you will put me to shame, but here is my current year-to-date haul:
100,000 miles for the British Airways Visa, $95 annual fee (the sign-up bonus is now only 50,000). $2,500 in spend within 90 days.
53,500 points for Sapphire Preferred, $95 annual fee waived for the first year (the sign-up bonus is 50,000, but the card has a 7% yearly bonus on all points accrued, so I’ll get an additional 3,500 at year end). $3,000 in spend within 3 months.
Update: Sapphire Preferred spending requirement is now $2000 in 3 months instead of $3000 in 3 months.
Update: Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus offer is now reduced to 40,000 points.
100,000 miles for the Platinum Card, $450 annual fee (the sign-up bonus is 25,000 but I bumped it to 100,000 like many others). $1,000 spend within 3 months.
75,000 miles for the Premier Rewards Gold Card, $175 annual fee waived for the first year (the sign-up bonus is 15,000, but I bumped it to 75,000 like may others). $1,500 in spend within 3 months.
75,000 miles for AAdvantage Visa, $75 annual fee waived for the first year (applied for Visa/Amex on same day), $1,500 in spend within 6 months.
75,000 miles for AAdvantage American Express, $75 annual fee waived for the first year (applied for Visa/Amex on same day) $4,000 in spend within 6 months.
75,000 miles for AAdvantage Visa Business, $75 annual fee waived for the first year. I waited 65+ days to apply for this card and had to send in LLC verification (which I actually have) and was promptly approved. $1,500 in spend within 6 months.
Total Payday = 553,500 points/miles, $545 in fees and $15,000 in spend.
My plan for the rest of 2011: since my score is as strong as ever, my debt cleared and no immediate plans to get a mortgage, I’ll probably get in on the following:
1) Chase: The Hyatt Visa- since I’m a Diamond member, the 2 free nights sign-up bonus are in a suite at any Hyatt in the world. Value to me: ~$1,000. Plus, they just announced a free category 1-4 night every year, which more than covers the $75 annual fee.
Possibly also the Freedom card, which will earn me up to 5 points per dollar on certain categories and since I already have a Sapphire Preferred, that translates into 5 Hyatt/British Airways/Continental miles since you can transfer to Ultimate Rewards partners, like I wrote about here.
2) American Express: I don’t currently have a business card with Amex, so I’ll probably go for the Business Rewards Gold card, which has a 50,000 point bonus and waived first year annual fee of $175.
3) Citi: Will wait and see if there’s a better offer than what’s currently out there.
4) Barclays: Possibly the 40,000 mile US Airways card, which will earn me a hit in Grand Slam.
5) Capital One: I might get in on the Venture card. It earns 2 points per dollar and most importantly the points can be redeemed for flights and hotels and you earn elite status on those redemptions. My angle would be to redeem for domestic coach flights that will help me retain my Delta Diamond status. I missed out on the 100,000 point sign-up bonus earlier this year, but will bite if it goes to 50,000 or more.
What has your personal haul been this year? What deals are you currently eyeing?