My 2012 Points Strategy: Future Credit Card Applications

by on January 4, 2012 · 87 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

Update: The offer mentioned below for the Capital One Venture Rewards Card has expired. View the current offer here

This is an installment in the My 2012 Points Strategy Series. Posts include: Taking Credit Card InventoryFuture Credit Card ApplicationsAirline Elite StatusHotel Elite Status.

As I wrote about yesterday, I’m probably going to close/downgrade a couple credit cards in anticipation for several rounds of applications this year. Last year I wasn’t very disciplined with my applications–I would apply for limited time offers and try to do one or two other applications that day. This year I want to organize my applications in batches every 4 months or so (some people swear 91 days is the magic number, but I’m going to go on the conservative side).

I don’t have any big car or mortgage applications coming up, so I’m not afraid to flex my good credit score and maximize sign-up bonuses. But I am picky- 2011 taught me to hold out for the best bonuses, so here is a rough idea of my next application round and other cards that are high on my “To Get” list. You can generally only get one Chase and American Express card per application day, but there are ways to get around that, including negotiating with their reconsideration lines.

For Chase and Amex, I’d recommend doing one personal and one business card maximum, and Citi currently allows two applications in the same day that count as only one credit inquiry (as I highlight in this post). Capital One pulls from all three credit bureaus, so I’ll only apply for one if the bonus is extreme, for example 100,000 points for the Capital Venture Rewards Credit Card. Bank of America, Barclays and the other smaller players don’t have anything that is really exciting to me, so until I’m exhausted with top offers, I’ll focus my inquiries on the ones most worth my time.

Upcoming Applications:
1) Citi Thank You Premier: 50,000 point bonus after spending $2,500 within 3 months–no annual fee for the first year (update: the sign-up bonus has been decreased to 30,000 points). While these points cannot be transferred to hotels or airlines, they can be used to book airfare at 1.33 cents a point, so getting this card will mean I get $665 in free airfare. The great thing about tickets booked with ThankYou points is that they accrue miles and elite status, so I’ll use them for domestic trips that I’ll get upgraded on since I’m a Delta Diamond and soon to be American Executive Platinum. $665 for a single credit inquiry? Sign me up!

2) Citi American Airlines Mastercard: 40,000 points after spending $5,000 within the first 6 months. There are currently 50,000 mile offers for the Visa and Amex AA cards, but I’ve already gotten them when their bonuses were 75,000.

3) Chase Hyatt Visa: 2 free nights at any Hyatt in the world (and I have upcoming plans for the Maldives :-)). Not only that, if you are a Diamond member, the two free nights are in a suite. $75 annual fee, but since I’ll easily be able to book rooms that are $1,000 a night at top Park Hyatts, this is a no brainer for me–especially since you now get a free category 1-4 night each year you renew, which easily pays for the $75 annual fee.

4) I may also try to get the “new” Chase Ink Bold for Business for 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after $5,000 spend within the first three months, $95 annual fee waived for the first year. I got the old Ink Bold right before they launched the new version, so I am going to try and get the new one for one of my other businesses (I have several LLCs). Will keep you all updated if I am also eligible for the new card bonus.

Two options for my Amex:

5) American Express Delta Reserve Card: 10,000 Medallion Qualifying elite miles with first purchase. This year I am dropping from Diamond to Platinum Medallion, but will rollover 40,000 MQMs. My flying in January is exclusively American as I work to almost completely qualify for Executive Platinum status (I’ll have around 70,000 EQMs by January 31), but I’ll need some help getting my Delta numbers up so I can potentially get back to Diamond. The Reserve card also gives special upgrade priority, which may come in handy while I’m a “lowly” Platinum battling for upgrades. The companion ticket is pretty valuable as well and will cover most of the $450 annual fee–and I may end up losing SkyClub membership if I cancel my Amex Platinum card (which is why this application is TBD–if I don’t cancel Amex Platinum I can’t justify having two $450 annual fee cards).


6) American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum: 50,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three months. 50,000 points alone are worth over $3,000 to me, which makes the $475 annual fee palatable.

So potentially I could net 190,000 miles/points and 2 free nights at a Park Hyatt suite for four credit inquiries (~8 point temporary hit to my score).

Bench warmers:
1) Continental OnePass Plus or United MileagePlus Explorer cards. I am waiting until they offer 60,000 miles, which many people are getting as targeted offers. They were supposed to run this promo in the fall of 2011, but it got pulled last minute. I’m hoping they decide to run it again and when they do I’ll hop on it since I value United/Continental miles highly.

2) Starwood American Express. Believe it or not I’ve never had the Starwood Amex. I was in the beginning stages of applying for a mortgage when it was launched this past August, so I’ll apply again when the bonus is 30,000 points or higher. They ran that promo for the last two years in August, so I hope it happens again since that’ll be around the time of my second round of applications.

3) Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Currently the bonus is a measly 20,000 after $2,000 spent in the first 3 months, but there are rumors that they may run another 100,000 point sign-up bonanza, in which case I’ll hop on it since I missed it last time around.

What cards are you eyeing in 2012?

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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  • Scotts92939393993939393993

    Ugh. Have fun in the Maldives. After reading the recent news stories out of there I have NO interest in supporting that country or worrying about my safety while trying to enjoy a vacation.

  • rick

    For frequent AA fliers, Alaskan Air BofA cards are a good deal as well. I’m waiting for their 40k+ offers, and rumor has it they might be churnable.

    I held out on the targeted Continental offer for 50k+10k, since I’m hoping they’ll have a better promo with a business card option, so I can double-dip.

  • Jack Bellows

    I have a similar strategy brewing, and I’m especially eyeing the Chase Ink Bold and Hyatt card. Probably will go for the Chase Ink early on in 2012, and go for the Hyatt towards the end.

  • Pete

    Dear TPG, how long should I keep CC open after I hit the spending requirements and received the point bonuses? I had thought I would keep them for just less than a year (right before the annual fee hits) so it doesn’t look like I’m constantly trying to get bonuses. Not sure if that’s how my credit profile works…does anyone have any insight into this? -Peter

  • dave

    With the American Express Platinum MB card do you still get all of the benefits of the regular American Express Platinum card (ie: global entry, $200 airline fees waved, etc.)

  • Anonymous

    Hey, TPG, I don’t know if it was a fluke just for me or if this is standard, but I received the 1 free night (Cat. 1-4) on the Hyatt card 90 days after I opened the account. So, I received the 2 free nights and then the 1 free night that would be the annual renewal gift. It could be standard, I don’t know – it was a nice surprise just when I was looking for a room!

  • Jenna Odett

    I just got the United MileagePlus Explorer card in preparation for a a first-time trip to Ireland flying United. I made the choice because the annual fee is waived ($95), I’ll get 2 free United Club passes ($80 value), I’ll earn double miles on purchasing the tickets to Ireland (~2K for 2 tickets so 4K miles), and with 25K miles after first use, 5K miles for adding an authorized user, and 10K miles if I spend $25K in a year….44K miles seems like a good offer. Plus, no expiration date on the miles and no blackout dates. I’m not convinced I’ll hit the $25K mark as this isn’t my go-to card for points, but for the purposes of flying to Ireland I think this card was the best choice.

  • Florence Sterlin

    Since I jumped on the all the airline deals last year, I am now looking into hotel deals. Thanks to the Visa Signature promotion, I have Hilton Gold, that will come in quick handy on my upcoming trip to Bali. So I am eyeing the HHonors Surplus card. I plan on shutting down my Citi AA and Chase BA cards, and focusing on my United Miles and Hilton points. After a year of domestic bliss in E+ on United, I can not fathom going back to American.

  • Splp007

    How can you get the A.A. citi card since you have recently got one or two for 75k–THE T/C say

    This Citi® / AAdvantage® card offer is valid only for first-time Citi® / AAdvantage® cardmembers who apply pursuant to this offer for an account.

  • Splp007

    SCOTT you are right on!!! will not go to Maldives if you paid me to go

  • infamousdx

    Why cancel it any shorter or longer than necessary? I usually call to cancel mine around 11 months to give them a chance to waive the fee or give me some sort of credit. If you don’t plan on paying the fee, might as well cancel ~11 months instead of earlier or later (and get hit with the annual)

  • James Byers


    See the entire thread for further confirmation. Other than additional Mercedes benefits, the fee is $475 instead of $450.

  • Natelaw

    Here is the 60K offer I just received for the United Mileage Plus card:

    You’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles after your first use of the Card.1,2 Then, spend $25,000 or more in a calendar year and earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles.3 That’s up to 60,000 bonus miles!

    You’ll also earn miles faster with two award miles for each $1 spent on United and Continental® ticket purchases and one award mile for each $1 spent on everything else.3

    Plus, enjoy two passes to the exclusive United ClubSM every year – just for being a cardmember.4″

  • Chris

    Dear TPG:

    I am new to the game this year, and I have been eyeing the Hyatt card. I am a casual traveler for the most part. Do you think it is worth mattress running to get platinum status prior to applying for the Hyatt card in order to receive the two suite upgrades? I have a local Hyatt that costs about $100 per night that I could use as a get away with my wife. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  • Benthelefty

    I have the same question

  • Benthelefty

    If you don’t use the hotel stays much as it is, then I always struggle with why would I work so hard to get a status if I don’t use it enough to justify? If you stay at the Hyatt for the status, say 5-7 times, that’s $700 bucks. You could probably use your free room and upgrade to a higher suite for a couple hundred per, saving you $ and time. Just a thought (because I deal with the same quandry!)

  • Benthelefty

    On the Citi card, what are the application wait limits again? I applied back in October and was denied because of low to no revolving credit (I stupidly applied a few days after paying off my cards). Isn’t it 60+ days w/ Citi or 18 months?

  • Anonymous

    How likely is the Capital One Venture 100k to happen? I got that last March for both my wife and I. I need to cancel or downgrade to the no fee card before the annual fee comes due. I plan to downgrade it to the Capital One Rewards so i don’t lose the points. If I downgrade it, will I be able to apply for the Venture Card again if they have the 100k promo?

  • NewsFlashCAM

    News Reports today about militant Islamics burning a hotel and shooting hotel guests in MALDIVES because the establishment serves alcohol.

    They don’t write which hotel– could be Hyatt.

  • Anonymous

    I have been a USBank customer for years (because of NWA) and at first was very reluctant to the Flexperks program which I now think is pretty good! Their Visa Signature offers 1 Point per dollar with some double category spends, 20k points = “up to $400″ ticket”. It also seems relatively easy to get their Gold Checking package free and a 25% point bonus, although I’ve got a mortgage with them and have their Plantium (+ 50% bonus).

    Signup bonus aren’t as lucrative as other cards, and the redemption values of other things like merchandise isn’t that great, but I personally think it’s a solid card for award travel tickets. As with ThankYou points, you earn Elite Points, Miles, and you can do a “rebate” for luggage fees since you won’t get first bag free.

    TPG, if you ever have a chance, love to hear your thoughts.

  • Diamond Vargas

    Would love to get in on the Amex Platinum and/or Premier Gold. The current signup bonuses are not great, particularly compared to the 100k and 75k, respectively, from last year. Any insight or thoughts on whether we’ll see bonuses meaningfully higher in the coming months than the current ones? Similarly, has anyone ever had success calling Amex to express interest in signing up for a card contingent upon a bigger signup bonus, or requesting to be considered for the next targeted signup offer? I was considering trying this, but not sure if there’s precedent.

  • Flyer Fun

    This offer is on the website if you are elite. Since I have liked my accounts, my Continental 1K shows up on United. Funny enought, I am only Platinum on Continental instead of 1K because 1K does not yet exist on Continental.

  • Ivan

    also same question…..

    “Citi American Airlines Mastercard: 40,000 points after spending $5,000 within the first 6 months. There are currently 50,000 mile offers for the Visa and Amex AA cards, but I’ve already gotten them when their bonuses were 75,000.”

    I got the AA Citi Amex business 75K card and AA Visa Personal 75K ……. you’re saying that I can get 40K AA Master card simply because it’s a Master Card? Are you sure???? I’ll apply right now!

  • Felipe Yang

    My status on United was only Premier and I was still targeted for this offer whenever I logged into the United site. On the home page before login it was 40k and after login it was 60k, you don’t have that option?

  • Jenna Odett

    After reading Natelaw’s post in the last hour I called Chase to verify that I was getting the best deal on my brand new card. In fact, the 60K mile offer was just released today…and all I had to do was ask nicely for it (and reference that I was reading TPG). I went from 25K bonus miles after first purchase up to 50K! Thanks Natelaw!

  • Eric

    It’s 6 months: see this story on TPG’s other site, TravelCreditCards:

  • Amazonkam

    Did Lexington Law clear up the “minor” things you mentioned a few months back off your credit report? I’m curious to try them in preparation for this year’s card offerings. Thanks

  • Benthelefty

    good find thanks!

  • Jwooster

    I know you have mentioned the CO Presidential Plus card from Chase in prior posts, but it seems it hasn’t made your top picks list. I like this card because of the United Club pass, 2:1 points on UA/CO spend and the ability to earn 1,000 EQM for every $5,000 spent. I have a lot of business spend, but not a ton of air travel, so this will help me maintain UA Platinum status, which is always a stretch for me. I understand those with a lot of BIS miles aren’t crazy about less-frequent flyers earning status, but you can’t blame me for taking advantage of it.

    No sign-up bonus right now and the $395 annual fee is steep, but I recall they were waiving that for a period of time for the personal version of this card. I am curious as to why this card hasn’t received a makeover with the UA branding.

  • dave

    fantastic, thank you!

  • PJ

    watch out application with US BANK: the one and only I ever got rejected with around 800 experian credt score for the LAN card. reason: too many applications with other institutions.. ie the one and only bank which looks into how many cards you already have

  • Chris D.

    I’d love to jump on a Capital One offer. I can’t imagine they’d do the same thing as last year. With everyone primed and ready, I bet that would go quick! About the United Explorer: I think I remember that if youv’e had the CO or United cards in the past (or currently and ready to cancel!), you can’t get the sign-up bonus for this new card. Is this correct? I like the MB AmEx card…good idea.

  • travelingchairman

    One note about the Delta Reserve card…the companion ticket comes when you renew your card (your 2nd payment of $495). You do not get one in year one. But getting bumped up to the top of your priority tier can make the card totally worth it, especially on flight routes that are tough to upgrade.

  • tassojunior

    My go-to is the Virgin Atlantic from BofA (where I do my banking). $90 annual fee with 50K easy miles bonus($2500 or $750 spend). Best is 1.5 miles on every purchase. and since it’s AmEx I can use it at Costco and get the Small Biz Bonus every fall. Miles usable on CO & US plus nice lower-than normal-awards on many partners.

    BofA is not only churnable but also allows multiple cards after 90 days so a new VS is probably in my future.

  • Vimaury

    TPG: We are all waiting for an answer to this question. Thanks

  • PJ

    I think it is doable since Brian is getting MASTER CARD not VISA NOT amex

  • Anonymous

    Each card is a different product. Visa/ Amex/ Mastercard. People have been able to get all three in the past, but I can’t guarantee it’ll be that way, but I’ll report back when I apply.

  • Anonymous

    Good point.. Maldives is on hold for a while!

  • Anonymous
  • Frequent Miler

    Brian, I was just writing up a blog post about the Delta Reserve and I clicked through the app to get more details. It says that the offer has changed. It looks like they took away the 10,000 MQM signup bonus! I hope someone can figure out that I’m wrong about this…

  • oldmanpeabody

    TPG, I’m going to mirror your strategy of one round of applications every 4 months and I’m faced with my first quandry with Chase. I don’t have the Sapphire Preferred and I know it’s your card of choice but I also know the 60,000 United MileagePlus Explorer offer is only (currently anyway) good through January. With that in mind, which one would you recommend going for first. I probably won’t be able to complete the spend for the full 60k on United so it’ll likely be only 50k bonus for me. Would love to hear anybody else’s opinions too…thanks!


    I think you should mention the 1000 spending with the hyatt card to receive the 2nd free night…it used to be no min spending to receive the 2 free nights..but they changed it…1000 isn’t much but might be to much for me right now.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know when sapphire 50k offer will end but I say go for the 60k continental and hope to pick up the sapphire later

  • Anonymous

    10k MQM shows on my link

    Amex is wonky with being logged in – they will take away all good offers. Do private browsing or use a new one and you should see the 10k

  • David

    You’re actually afraid to go?!
    I’ll go to the Maldives, and you don’t have to pay me!!

  • Anonymous

    I’m expecting a revamp of the presidential plus card this year.. I just don’t like how they don’t count those eqms towards 1k

  • Frequent Miler

    You’re right. I was logged in. When I tried with a different browser it worked fine.

  • Akhil Anumolu

    TPG: Do I get the 10k MQMs if I upgrade from AMEX Delta Gold to AMEX Delta Reserve? I have been considering this to bump me up to Gold medallion status since I rolled over 24k miles and am going to Taiwan in a few weeks (13.5k MQMs) plus a few domestic trips.

  • Kamancali

    Brian for MB Platinum can you get the 50k points? The erms say not valid for current platinum or mb platinum members. If this works let us know!?!?

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  • tassojunior

    I was able to get the MC biz card a few months ago even though I was closed out of personals as prior. Of course this was when the biz cards were still churnable.

  • tassojunior
  • travelingchairman

    From what I understand you’d only get 5k MQMs because you already got 5k MQMs for the AMEX Delta Gold (correct)? When upgrading cards you only get the difference.

  • Annie

    I want the Sapphire Preferred card. As someone who is reading the posts for a few months and waiting patiently for good bonuses and some cash flow to come into place.

  • Jeff

    Does anyone know if you currently have an existing United Mileage Plus card issued prior to the changeover to the new Explorer version, are you eligible to apply for the new Explorer card and receive the bonus miles?

  • tassojunior
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  • Caz

    Like you, I also got the 75K Citi Biz and Personal cards. But you seem to say I can still apply for the Citi Mastercard for 40K miles? Would I need to wait any amount of time to apply?

  • Akhil Anumolu

    Actually Delta Gold gives no MQMs, only got 40k miles for signup and 15k more for reaching certain spending limits

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  • Diamond Vargas

    Hey Points Guy. You’re at 190k potential points for 2012 right now — any idea where you would have put that number this time last year for 2011? Did a lot of offers end up arising during 2011 that you weren’t aware of and/or didn’t expect, and we might end up with the same in 2012, or was it just a banner year for signup bonuses in 2011?

  • Mm

    I actualy got the new Ink Bold on top of the old Ink bold for the same business, don’t know about the sign up bonus though…..too new still.

  • Redline325

    I received the targeted offer for the 60k (50k on first use) Continental OnePass Plus card. I applied and received a phone call from Chase asking my intentions since I already have a $30k limit on my Marriott Platinum Visa card and $50k limit on my United Mileage Platinum Plus Visa. They approved me by splitting up the Marriott card credit line. Here’s my question. Should I close my Mileage Platinum Plus card and open an Mileage Plus Explorer card before the merger closes? I don’t want to lose the ability to get a sign up bonus on the Explorer card if the OnePass card transfers to that product when Continental no longer exists. Thanks!

  • MJLouise

    I just did two apps for two different Citi Hilton cards, 50K after 1.5K spend and 40K after 1 K spend. Both instantly approved with two-browser trick.

    I’ll let you know how it works out when I call to activate.

  • Sdavis8312

    Is it possible for both me and my wife to apply for and get credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire so that we can double our bonus points? My wife is a stay at home mom so she does not have any of her own income.

  • Anonymous

    Yes it is possible

  • Anonymous

    If you received the bonus for the onepass plus card, you can’t get the explorer bonus per the t&c. That may change down the road

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  • Brian

    I applied for the AA card for 40k and was denied. It wont work if you already got the 75k/bonuses.

    Why we’re writing you
    Thank you for applying for the Citi(R) Platinum Select(R)
    / AAdvantage(R) World MasterCard account. Unfortunately, we
    are unable to approve your request for the account at this
    time because of the following:

    o This specific offer is valid only for first-time Citi(R)
    / AAdvantage(R) cardmembers.? Our records indicate that
    you previously had a Citi(R) / AAdvantage(R) account
    with us.

  • Benthelefty

    I tried that too and got the “first time cardmember error.” I originally had the Visa and tried for the MC and got the error.

  • Bill

    I have great credit and not to many cards what card would give me the best offer at this time

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  • MJLouise

    So is a person still eligible for the “good offers” that are viewable when NOT logged in? This kind of seems like anti-targeting LOL.

  • Andrew T

    I actually already applied for and got the United MileagePlus Visa w/the 50K bonus. I just got a targeted offer in the mail for the Continental OnePass Plus MC w/the same 50K bonus after first purchase. I know the United card says you can’t get both bonuses; however, the Continental card does NOT (different bonus, but EXACT same t&c as this: Since the Continental card doesn’t say anything about not being able to receive both, and since I’ve already gotten the united bonus, should I apply for the CO card and see if I get the other 50K?

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  • Miriam Abrams

    1. Chase Sapphire for me 50k
    2. Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card 75k MR Points x 2 (fee waived 1st yr) both me & dh
    3. Chase Ink Bold for me & dh 50k x 2
    4. US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Card 10,000 Points (3x/dollar for Charitable Donations)

  • pazz0

    U.S. Bank FlexPerks – Charitable Donations>>>Brian – While working on my tax return, I decided to determine which plastic would be best to charge this year’s charitable contributions to. The USB FlexPerks VISA seems by far the best to me. They provide triple credit (3x) for charitable contributions…and if you “package” the card at U.S. Bank with various free checking or savings accounts you receive a 50% points credit on all spend. Here’s my “payoff” analysis. 20,000 points = $400 ticket…LAX-JFK non-stop on Delta RT is less than $400 this spring. Sign up bonus 10,000 points plus $2,858 of charitable contributions on FlexPerks card equates to another 10,000 points…enough for a free paid ticket from LAX-JFK RT on which I will earn 11,138 SkyMiles as a DM and 4,950 MQMs. Oh yeah, and with a much better chance of being upgraded to business class than if I claimed a SkyMiles reward.

    I noted in another blog that there is a special in-branch promotion at U.S. Bank which offers 17,500 points at sign up, making this an even greater no-brainer for me.

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  • Nathan

    Any update of this application? I have also had the Visa and Amex and was looking to get the Mastercard. The Citi card would be great since I am very Chase heavy right now.

  • Kyashley

    last year i was able to convert Amex points to Delta MQMs. Was that a one time promotion? i don’t remember how i got the link but cant seem to find it.

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