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My Year to Date Credit Card Sign-up Haul: 553,500 Points/Miles

by on August 31, 2011 · 57 comments

in American Express, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Credit Cards

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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here

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:

Chase
100,000 miles for the British Airways Visa, $95 annual fee Update: The sign-up bonus is now only 50,000 Avios with $2,000 in spend within 90 days.
53,500 points for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, $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: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card sign-up bonus offer is now reduced to 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

American Express
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.

Citi
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 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, 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?

 

Disclaimer: 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.

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  • Krustacean

    Hi TPG,

    Considering the credit situation that you described in the other post, what do you do when all of these cards start charging annual fees? Doesn’t canceling credit cards reflect poorly on your credit?

  • Anonymous

    I keep several cards with each of the major issuers and make sure to give them a decent amount of business so I’m in their “good graces”. I don’t recommend canceling cards- just downgrade to fee free, or lower fee cards so you keep the line open and you earn all the goodness that comes along with a lower credit utilization and longer account history

  • davep

    In November of last year I had maybe 100,000 miles with Delta (almost entirely due to having had a SkyMiles AmEx for years) and a few thousand with American from flights. I then discovered FlyerTalk and this site and now have over 1,000,000 miles/points, pretty evenly distributed between Delta, American, BA, Membership Rewards and SPG. I have used about 100,000 SPG points for hotels stays, and probably 100,000 miles for flights. Still learning and making some mistakes, but so far happy with the haul. So Thanks, Points Guy. The only problem is too many credit card bills every month!!!

  • Senthil Ramasamy

    I thought the Amex Gold and the Platinum are charge cards. I remember once Amex denied me because I can have only one charge card (I guess AA). Are we allowed to have more than one charge card?

  • Anonymous

    You can definitely have two charge cards with Amex. I’ve heard that if you already have a Platinum card with them, you will automatically get approved for the Premier Rewards, but I’m not 100% sure that is true. I can vouch that earlier in August I applied for Premier Rewards Gold and was approved instantly (and I was a current Platinum cardholder at time of application)

  • Phil

    No doubt 2011 has been a huge bumper year for sign up bonuses. My only concern is a) how long can it be sustained, b) what impact it will have on award availability and c) will carriers raise redemption levels?

    For a) most of these bonuses are for first timers only. While Citi seem to be allowing some level of churning now I doubt that Amex or Chase will be as lenient in the future so I suspect the Plat and PRG bonuses will be one offs

    For b) I am already seeing this … CX availability in F has dried up significantly, just check out the threads on FT about poor AA availability… the big downside of points is the issuer controls access and if it gets too expensive they can just close the tap or…

    For c) I am kind of waiting to see AA jack up their rates after they watch everyone load up on miles for the 10/31 deadline for MM status. It’s been a while since the last BA hike and I would not be surprised to see them close some of the cheap gaps such as harmonizing their one partner awards with the BA metal chart

    So while it has been a great year, my philosophy remains to earn & burn rather than accumulate

  • Tom

    Less than 12 months ago I had less than 75k airline miles split between 3 prorgrams. Then I started reading your blog daily and have recieved the following CC bonuses:
    Citi AA Visa 75k, Citi AA Business 100k, Amex Plat 130K, (25k initial, bumped to 100, and then various other bonuses added) C1 Venture 110k, Chase BA Visa 100k plus 241 voucher, Amex Delta Gold 3ok.
    Then I did my first churn ever on my 50th birthday and was approved for the following 5 cards in one day:
    Amex Starwood Personal 30k, Citi Hilton Visa 50k, Chase Southwest Business 50k, Barclays US Air 40k (also in prep for Grand Slam), BOA Alaska Air Visa 40k. This is 755 from cc signup bonuses alone. When you add my cc spend and various other bonuses I’ve learned about on your blog , FT and the FTG, my total haul has been nearly 1million miles in 12 months.
    I’ve always taken care of my credit and my Credit Sesame score after all these apps is still over 800!
    Thanks for the great advice in your blog.

  • RakSiam

    This has been quite a year. But I agree that it will be interesting to see what happens when I try to cash them in. But ultimately they didn’t cost me much…

    Citi AA Visa and Amex – 150K
    Chase CO MC – 50K
    US MC – 35K
    Chase BA -100K

    So, not as big a payday as so many others. But it was what I was comfortable with. I am waiting a bit to see if any other giant bonuses appear. But since so many are first time cardholder only bonuses I think the ones I would be interested are dried up now. Have been toying with the idea of the Citi AA biz card since the 75K one is apparently still available.

  • Anonymous

    Reading your blog was my beginning of the Sign-up Haul – I, like you, had made some poor decisions in college, and I spent about a year with NO credit cards after paying them off.

    When I needed to get a card for business purposes, I signed up for the AMEX Platinum card, and bumped the bonus to 100,000 points (then transferred to Delta for 150,000 SkyMiles).

    Since then, I’ve also opened the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold for 75,000 points, and the Delta AMEX for 40,000 SkyMiles and 15,000 MQMs.

    With the additional bonuses (using your AMEX 15x per month, 5 additional card holders) I should have an extra 90-100,000 MR points, making my year to date total 275,000 MR points — not too shabby for only a couple cards!

    Currently contemplating the Business Rewards Gold card with AMEX or the Sapphire Preferred card.

    As Krustacean asked below, when next year rolls around, what are good options for AMEX and Chase if I wanted to not pay the fees and “downgrade” the Business Rewards Gold or Sapphire cards?

    Thanks for all the tips — you’ve already helped my husband and I fly free to/from Miami, and helped me attain Gold status on Delta with just these cards!

  • Rajnish

    It has indeed been a year when credit card companies have poured miles/points. Here is my summary.
    AAdvantage Citi-225,000 miles
    BA Chase-100,000
    Amex Premier Gold Card- 75,000
    Capitalone-100,000
    Amex SPG-35,000
    Amex Hiltonhonor-50,000
    Chase continental-50,000
    USAirways MC-40,000
    USBarclays Business-25,000
    Picked up 100,000 delta miles from Spa deal :)

  • Glen

    My haul.
    Chase Marriott Visa – 50,000
    Chase Sapphire Preferred-50,000
    Amex Premier Gold Card- 50,000
    AMEX Business Gold – 50,000
    Amex SPG Personal & Business-35,000
    Amex Hiltonhonor-50,000
    AMEX JetBlue – 25,000
    USAirways MC-35,000
    PenFed AMEX Travel Rewards – 25,000

    370K Total

    Will probably try for Delta AMEX & Citi AA on next app-o-rama! :)

  • Chris

    In January of this year I had about 3,000 AA miles to my name. Since then my haul has come close to 600k (counting the SPG personal & business, AA business, and US Airways cards I’m currently working toward the spends on). My day-to-day spend is nominal, but I’ve been pretty successful on additional offers like bumping bonuses and using the shopping portals to my advantage (hoping the authorized users on the platinum works in the end as well!).

    Gotta give a ton of credit to you, FTG, and the folks on Flyertalk for helping out. It’s resulted in a couple nice/cheap trips for me and my family this year.

  • Adamhoolhorst

    Were you logged in to the AMEX site when you applied for the Premier Rewards card? I have the Platinum card but don’t know if it matters whether I am signed in or not when I apply for the Gold.
    Thanks

  • Adamhoolhorst

    Were you logged in to the AMEX site when you applied for the Premier Rewards card? I have the Platinum card but don’t know if it matters whether I am signed in or not when I apply for the Gold.
    Thanks

  • Anonymous

    Nope- if you are logged in, they’ll most likely offer a worse deal than if you apply fresh for the card. Amex still knows your accounts are associated, though so once you get the card, the accounts will be linked together.

  • Anonymous

    Nope- if you are logged in, they’ll most likely offer a worse deal than if you apply fresh for the card. Amex still knows your accounts are associated, though so once you get the card, the accounts will be linked together.

  • Anonymous

    As a newbie, am wondering what happens in year 2, 3, etc., when all these annual fees kick in?
    What effect does quitting a card have? Multiple cards?
    Or do new bonus schemes for each card keep popping up every year, making annual fees = small price to pay for benefits…?
    Any advice from anyone appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    Once again, I recommend keeping accounts open and downgrading to a fee-free card if necessary. The credit card companies don’t want churners, so I try to spread my business out and I do pay annual fees on the cards whose benefits I enjoy (like the BA Visa 30k companion ticket, Amex Platinum, etc) .

  • mikes

    DW and I are at 463,000 (plus $500 from DISC, but not technically a sign up haul). I’m not sure about the total spend, but we’ve has no problem making those.

    I’ve been taking it a little bit easy since we’re likely going for a new mortgage soon. Also, DW already had the AAdvantage MC and AMEX so we couldn’t do the 150k x2 on that one.

    I am looking to get some hotel points. I’ll probably go for the Sapphire since that will give us more nights at a Hyatt and our likely destinations don’t include anything exotic or too expensive. I am having some troubles with the award calculator however: it does not seem to offer the same options as just looking at the hotel list by category. Is there room availability that doesn’t show up in the award calculator?

    Love the blog Brian. Just the right mix of new stuff, reminders, and in particular I love how you include links to prior articles. That is very useful for someone who’s only been reading the blog for a few months.

  • Bonofan

    Rajnish, did the spafinder points post already? Am still waiting on mine.

  • A. S.

    I read somewhere (I think it was on Lucky’s blog — i.e., One Mile at a Time) that the AMEX Gold Premier Rewards “bump” was no longer working. Do you have any inside info on this? I can’t find where exactly I read it (or the bonus ID)…

  • Jimgotkp

    Personally am at 230K. SPG, 2 personal Citi AA’s and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I would like to get the business AA card but don’t have any bills to show as verification. Not worth the credit hit if I don’t get an instant approval. Just going to wait it out till next year or later this year for more cards.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve only pulled the trigger on the Chase deals. I got denied for Citi a while ago, may have even been 2010, so I’m contemplating trying again now that I’ve gotten both the BA and Sapphire cards.

    I already had an Amex Green, so I’m not so sure I’d get all those Amex deals but my annual fee is due this year so I’m gonna try to leverage that maybe.

    Thanks again for all the effort on this.

    Chase BA – 100,000
    Chase Sapphire – 50,000
    Amex Insite promo – 10,000

  • http://www.facebook.com/todd.brezinski Todd Brezinski

    mine hadn’t so i emailed spafinder customer service with the original transaction id, they asked for my delta # and i got the points in a week

  • Anonymous

    Same experience here

  • Rajnish

    Yes, it was posted within a week. You should call spafinder customer care.

  • Anonymous

    Here goes the mine and the Mrs. haul combined.

    4 AA Citi cards (2 each) = 300,000 AA miles (Will be getting another 150K within the next 2 months)
    2 DL Am Ex’s = ~120,000 DL miles and 40K MQM’s (from spending requirements and new Reserve card)
    4 SPG cards (2 each) = 138,000 SPG points (have only earned 67K now, but after another $11K in spending next month and will have the rest)
    1 PRG Am Ex = 100,000 MR points
    2 Chase Sapphire = 100,000 UR points

    Total now is 758,000 points since June! Add to that when I get 2 more AA Citi cards, and I will have over 900,000 miles/points in a 7 month time frame.

  • Nathan

    TGP, I think the annual fee for the Chase BA Visa with 100k miles was $95.

  • Nathan

    100k Chase BA, 150k Citi Visa & AMEX, 50k Southwest, and planning on 75k more with the Citi business account credit card. Heck, I’m not even cracking 400k yet! :-p

    As to credit, I don’t plan on ever again borrowing money, but the credit score does seem to be important for getting cards for such bonuses.

  • c c

    i only happened upon this blog in may, so since then
    150K for Citi AA and Visa
    50K for Chase Continental
    and probably the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

    Would that be the best option for a card with no foreign transaction fees? i don’t currently have one and do tend to go international at least once a year.

    thanks for all the good tips!

  • Anonymous

    Is it known whether or not “downgrading” is also perceived as gaming the system?
    If one has multiple downgrades under a specfic bank card & holds no fee card(s),
    can one later successfully apply again for the upgraded card(s) timed to a bonus promo?

  • PJ

    AUTO PAY AUTO PAY

  • bitachu

    FYI…when I got my venture one card..from capitol one…they checked all 3 agencies..heard the same from other sources….i’m sure its that way with the venture card

  • jamie

    DavidHAL,
    How did you get 100,000 points for the AmEx PR Gold? I thought the highest bonus was 75,000?

    Very impressive churn– enjoy your travels

  • Anonymous

    I was lucky. There’s others that got the Authorized User and the 15 transactions per month codes applied and will get anywhere from 125K to 175K from the PRG.

  • sil

    Thanks for blog. Glad i found this in May 2011. Started my Credit card spree in early May until August 2011. So far I have:

    Chase British Airways 100k
    Chase Continental 50k
    Citi Visa and Amex 150k
    Chase Sapphire 50k
    Alaska Air Visa Signature 40k
    AMEX Platinum- 100k when bumped in a couple of weeks
    AMEX PRG -75k when bumped in a couple of weeks, plus 50k for AUs notated, confirmed 3 x and said to call back to bump
    Chase Southwest 50k
    U.S Dividend Mastercard -40k

    Guess the only biggie I missed was Cap one for 100k early this year.

    Gonna be interesting when I have to cancel a bunch of cards when annual fees come up

  • Senthil Ramasamy

    Thank you.

  • sbtower

    I would say the Capital One Venture Card (Visa) would be your best bet internationally as it has no foreign transaction fee and also earns 2% cash back. Then I would rate the Chase Sapphire card after that.

  • Anonymous

    I agree both of those cards are good and have waived first year annual fees. I’d probably lean Sapphire Preferred right now because they have a 50,000 point signup bonus vs 25,000 on Cap One.

  • Anonymous

    Good call, it used to be $75, but I forgot they raised it. I’ll update

  • Afasd

    Me within last year or so

    Amex Plat 50->75K with bump (applied during round 1 last year, one rep wouldnt bump, 2nd rep found
    obscure code)
    Amex Gold 50->75K with bump
    Citi AA 75K (visa or amex but not both despite applying same day…maybe cookie problem)
    Cap 1 100K
    Delta Reserve 25K MQM – cancel before fee
    Delta Plat 40K + 15?K MQM – can’t remember
    Delta Gold 35K?
    BA 100K
    Hyatt 2 free nights
    Flex Perks 10K
    United 30K (shame)
    SPG Amex 30K

    Wife

    Amex plat 50K->100K
    Amex Gold 50->75K
    Citi AA 75K (visa or amex but not both despite applying same day)
    Cap 1 100K
    Delta Plat 40k? + 15k? MQM
    Delta Gold 35K?
    BA 100K
    Hyatt 2 free nights
    United 30K (ugh stupid)
    SPG Amex 30K

    I guess that’s about 1.2 M pts/miles in about a year

    I think that’s it but can’t remember….

  • Afasd

    Me within last year or so

    Amex Plat 50->75K with bump (applied during round 1 last year, one rep wouldnt bump, 2nd rep found
    obscure code)
    Amex Gold 50->75K with bump
    Citi AA 75K (visa or amex but not both despite applying same day…maybe cookie problem)
    Cap 1 100K
    Delta Reserve 25K MQM – cancel before fee
    Delta Plat 40K + 15?K MQM – can’t remember
    Delta Gold 35K?
    BA 100K
    Hyatt 2 free nights
    Flex Perks 10K
    United 30K (shame)
    SPG Amex 30K

    Wife

    Amex plat 50K->100K
    Amex Gold 50->75K
    Citi AA 75K (visa or amex but not both despite applying same day)
    Cap 1 100K
    Delta Plat 40k? + 15k? MQM
    Delta Gold 35K?
    BA 100K
    Hyatt 2 free nights
    United 30K (ugh stupid)
    SPG Amex 30K

    I guess that’s about 1.2 M pts/miles in about a year

    I think that’s it but can’t remember….

  • Matty

    I have a question; I’ve been so tempted by all of these sign-up bonuses with first-year fees waived, but I’ve haven’r partaken in the points windfall because I know I’ll just have to cancel all of these cards before my one-year anniversary to avoid paying the fee in the second year. So, two questions:

    1. Do people typically cancel their cards before their one-year anniversary, pocketing the points in the meantime?

    2. Does cancelling cards have any affect on your credit?

  • Bohemiana

    Can someone explain “bumping?” I know it means you get extra points but how do you get them, when do you ask, what do you say to customer service to get “bumped?”

  • PJ

    Brian, Did you leave out 6664 ( 15 times charge per month and 5721 ( add on AUs) there were the most outrageous ones ; i was told i got in 5721 and then they reneged on me

    thanks for the hint, US airway just tossed me ANOTHER CC

  • Mimos1963

    Is the Citi 75,000 offer still good as of Sept. 2011? If so, how? Thanks

  • Anonymous
  • Eltsai

    FYI: If you get the Chase Freedom in time for Q4 (Oct-Dec) 2011, you’ll get 5x points on dining and department stores (also, movies, charity). I love this because I’m a typical new yorker, and I eat/order out almost daily. 5x UR points plus 5x miles for the few places that belong to the dining program….amazing!

    The other great thing about UR points is that they post automatically (and can be transferred to Sapphire Preferred) as soon as your statement closes, unlike my MR points which have been “pending” for weeks since my statement closed.

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  • PJ

    not enough for the spend? I hopped on Starwood 30K on the expiration day, got the card , paid property tax with convinenience fees 2.75 % I was done; If I was happy paying $75 to get 40K from Alaska air, this is about as GOOD . Wonder why my friends are still turning deaf ears blind eyes to signon bonus while charging + 4K up for major expenses and getting 1 % back sigh… with a bit creativity you can get 300K amex MR points to boot :)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t own a home or a car. My monthly expenses (not including rent, which I can’t put on a card) is less than $1000. So I need to concentrate on one card at a time, and even then it’s tough.

    I was able to meet the spend on my Chase BA by buying 70,000 miles during their 100% bonus. And I recently bought a new laptop, so that’s helping me with the Chase Sapphire.

    I always offer to pay for things while out in groups and have them give me cash, and that helps. Gift cards aren’t really an option; I can’t afford to put up that much money up front and I refuse to carry a balance. I never got on the US Mint bandwagon because that seemed dishonest to me.

    I travel a lot, but I do so very cheaply, which is why I got into this game in the first place. If you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear it.

  • Kris

    I’ve gotten 350,000 miles/points so far this summer, and best of all is that I haven’t had to resort to any spending tricks to get them… All were either from targeted offers that didn’t require a minimum spend, or were cards that I could easily hit the minimum spend by paying for my April 2012 wedding. If all works out as planned, I will use the miles for trips to Peru, Japan, and somewhere in Europe, most likely the UK, with my future husband. Best hobby ever :)

  • Pointsbuyer
  • Husarm99

    I am looking at citi premier:

    125 fee waived first year- and 25oo spend witjin 3 months

    50,ooo points which gets you 500 in gift cards or 665 in flights (there is a 33% premium given to flight awards) on any airline throught the thank you portal and the flights are priced the same as any online posting.

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  • Anonymous

    Iv been using the Citi AA card in a desperate attempt to accrue as many miles towards platinum by 12/1. my usual favorites are amex starwood and amex platinum ( I love the perks) After 12/1 I think its chase preferred sapphire for me

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