Amex Business Gold FAQ and My Top 10 List of Other Credit Cards for the Last Minute App-o-ramas

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

I’m getting a ton of traffic and emails today about the current 75,000 point Amex Business Gold deal and people asking whether they should do an impromptu round of applications if they applied for this deal today.

The point of applying for multiple credit cards in a single day, also known as the app-o-rama, is that the different issuers won’t see all of the other inquiries you have because the credit reporting agencies usually have a day or so lag between posting the inquiries. I know this is the case because I check my credit ridiculously frequently and it usually takes a day or so for the hard inquiry to hit my credit report. In general, the less inquiries you have, the better your chances are of getting approved and when you apply in batches all of the inquiries will fall off around the same time. This is not an exact science, but has worked well for many in the points world for years as a way to continuously get in on the best credit card offers.

However, the bottom line is that as long as you pay off your balances monthly (preferably in advance) or at least pay off most and do so on time, your credit score will stay healthy and thus allow you to get approved for the top deals throughout time. Before you apply for credit cards, it is critical that you understand how your credit score works and how to check it so you know where you stand.

To App-o-rama or Not?
I’ve gotten a ton of comments/tweets/messages about whether or not to get in on the Amex 75,000 deal or wait until their next “app-o-rama.” My advice is: don’t work yourself into a tizzy with your windfall, but also take advantage of the hot deals while they last. While this isn’t the first time we’ve seen 75,000 points offered on this card, it normally comes with a $10,000 spend requirement and in this case, the spend is only $5,000. As for timing, yes the T&C state that the promo is good until August 12, 2013. However, Amex can, and likely will, end the offer early if they reach the amount of new cardholders they set out for. I checked most other points/personal finance blogs and pretty much every single one is covering this deal and you can be sure that it is spreading virally. I can tell you that my clicks today have been through the roof at levels I’ve never experienced – which tells me that people are sending this offer to their friends…and their friends…and their friends and so on.

Even my aunt who has never applied for a business credit card got in on this deal and was amazed that she got instantly approved. The first question she asked me was: “This is a lot easier than I thought – which other cards should I get?!”

While I do not recommend going overboard, it may make sense to apply for a couple other top deals, but make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Most cards come with spend requirements, so don’t get a bunch of new cards and then realize you can’t hit the spend requirement and thus will have to forfeit the bonus. However, there are a bunch of deals that don’t have high spend requirements which I list on my Top Deals page.

How many is okay?
In March I got 5 new cards, which netted me 315,000 miles and points. I didn’t get automatically approved for them, but I ended up getting all of them approved by calling the reconsideration lines and I’m enjoying the new additions to my credit card arsenal (and also seeing my point balances skyrocket).

Last week we polled TPG readers on their favorite rewards cards and here are my top 10 current offers on the market, not including the current 75,000 Amex Business Gold offer. (Note: you can get a personal and business Amex card in the same day, but it will be two separate credit inquiries as I experienced last summer). Cards with a * mean that I personally have or have had them in the past.

Note 2: I heard from Citi today that they will no longer honor the offer listed in this Flyertalk thread. I’ve personally had success with this offer in the past, but I don’t feel comfortable promoting it based on what I heard. This is a developing story, but know that is why it was not included in this list.

My Top 10 Current Travel Credit Card Picks

*1. Chase Ink Bold  and Ink Plus
Type:
Business
Sign-up bonus:
50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months
Category Spending Bonuses:
5x points on up to $50,000 at office supplies/cell phone/internet/landline/TV; 2x on up to $50,000 at gas stations and hotels
Card Perks:
1.25 cents per point when redeeming for airfare, hotel, car rentals and cruises with pay-with points; no foreign transaction fees, 2 lounge passes per year; Ultimate Rewards shopping portal offers lucrative spending bonuses.
Transfer Partners:
British Airways, United, Southwest, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club, Amtrak.
Annual Fee:
$0 first year then $95
Value:
I personally value my Ultimate Rewards points at around 2 cents per point, so just the bonus alone would be worth around $1,000.
Expiration:
None from my understanding, no short term changes planned to this offer.

*2. American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum Card
Type: Personal Charge Card
Current Bonus: 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months (this was recently increased from spending $1,000 in 3 months)
Category Spending Bonuses: 5x points on eligible Mercedes-Benz purchases, 1x points on other purchases
Perks: Airport club access including; Delta Skyclub and US Airways Club, no foreign transaction fees, $200 annual airline credit, Global Entry $100 statement credit, Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits, Priority Pass Select Membership for lounge access, automatic Starwood Gold Status, Premium Companion Ticket, $1,000 reward certificate towards the future purchase or lease of a new Mercedes-Benz and $100 towards Mercedes-Benz accessories.
Transfer Partners: Aeromexico, Aeroplan (Air Canada), Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific), British Airways, Delta, El Al, Air France KLM, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic; Best Western, Choice Privileges, Hilton HHonors, Starwood
Annual Fee: $475
Value: I value Amex MR at 1.8 cents a piece, so 50,000 points = $900. I’d value lounge access at $300 plus $200 in airline credit, $100 Global Entry rebate, $75 for Starwood Gold and $100 a year in FHR benefits for a rough total of $1,675 – $475 annual fee = $1,200, though that annual fee might be a big consideration for you.
Offer Expiration: None for the time being- it has been 50,000 since the card launched last year.

*3. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Type:
Personal
Sign-up bonus:
40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months
Spending Bonuses:
2 points per $1 on travel (flights, hotels, car rentals, subway, parking, taxis, etc.) and restaurants (basically any food establishment and catering) with no maximum caps
Card Perks:
1.25 cents per point when redeeming with pay-with-points for airfare, hotel, car rentals and cruises; 7% annual points dividend even on points already redeemed; no foreign transaction fees; extra earning potential through the Ultimate Rewards earning mall; Ultimate Rewards Exclusives experience redemptions
Transfer Partners:
British Airways, United, Southwest, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club, Amtrak.
Annual Fee:
$95, waived the first year
Value:
The 40,000 bonus points you’d earn meeting the minimum spending requirement plus the bonus are worth a minimum of $500 when redeemed for travel with pay with points. However, I’d put Hyatt and United redemptions at 2 cents per point, so you’re looking at $800 at least, and if you spend a lot of money on travel and dining, like I do, the 2.14 points per $1 total earning on those (including the 7% annual benefit) puts your earning potential even higher.
Expiration:
No expiration, but it used to be 50,000 points, so if it does change I hope it increases, but I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.

4. Barclaycard Arrival
Type:
Personal
Current Bonus: 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 in 90 days.
Category Spending Bonuses: 2x points on all purchases
Perks: 10% miles refund on redemptions; no foreign transaction fees; free year-long TripIt Pro membership World Mastercard benefits.
Annual Fee: $0 first year then $89
Value: Because of that 10% miles refund, your bonus miles are worth about $480.
Offer Expiration: None stated, but until recently the card only offered a 20,000-mile bonus, so if you have been thinking about this card, now is the time to apply.

*5. Chase British Airways Visa
Type:
Personal
Sign-up Ponus:
50,000 Avios after $1,000 in spend in 3 months.
Spending Bonuses:
1.25 Avios per $1 on all purchases, 2.5 Avios per $1 on all British Airways purchases
Card Perks:
“Travel Together” companion ticket with $30,000 spend per calendar year; 10% discount on British Airways purchases; Chip & Signature technology; no foreign transaction fees.
Transfer Partners:
Can’t transfer your points to other programs, but can redeem them on BA’s Oneworld partners like American, Cathay Pacific and Qantas, as well as non-alliance partners such as Aer Lingus and Alaska
Annual Fee:
$95
Value:
There are no fixed-value redemptions, so there really is a huge range here, though I conservatively value those redemptions at about 1.5 cents per Avios, so you’re getting $750 from the sign-up bonus.
Expiration:
None

Update: This offer is no longer available. View the current offer for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card here.

6. Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa
Type:
Personal
Sign-up Bonus: One free roundtrip flight (25,000 points) when you spend $1,000 in 3 months
Spending Bonuses: 2 points per $1 on Southwest and AirTran, 1 point per $1 on everything else
Card Perks: Sign-up bonus points count toward Companion Pass qualification
Annual Fee: $99 not waived
Value: At most you’ll get 1.8 cents per point in Wanna Get Away fares. So 25,000 points is $450. The Companion Pass is difficult to value, but conservatively I’d say it’s worth at least $1,000 per year, and if you can snag the Companion Pass in January, it will essentially be good for 2 years until the end of 2015.
Expiration: None noted, though this card is outside the affiliate networks so it might disappear at any time.

*7. Chase Hyatt Visa
Sign-up Bonus: Two free nights at any Hyatt in the world when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Those nights are in a suite for Diamond members of Hyatt Gold Passport. For existing Platinum members it includes 2 suite upgrades good for up to a week each on paid stays
Spending Bonuses: Earn 3 points for every $1 you spend at all Hyatt properties, 2 points for every $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies and 1 point for every $1 you spend on other purchases
Card Perks: Earn Platinum status and it for as long as you are a cardmember and you will receive 1 free night in a category 1-4 property every year on cardmember anniversary
Annual Fee: $75 annual fee
Value:Varies based on your elite status at the time of application and how much you value suites. I’d gladly pay $150 a night extra at top hotels for a suite, so for me being a Diamond, that’s like $300 additional in value. The two suite upgrades for existing Platinums could be worth easily $125 each, or $250 altogether at the very least. These are good at any category hotel including Hyatt’s top-tier properties like Park Hyatt Maldives and Park Hyatt Paris Vendome. Conservatively speaking, I think it would be easy to use the free nights for two $350/night stays, reaping $700 minimum, plus the add-ons. The free annual night at a Category 1-4 is worth up to around $150, which negates the $75 annual fee for the first 2 years. The 2x points at restaurants and on airline tickets isn’t particularly great considering you get 2.14 points per $1 using the Sapphire Preferred.

*8. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa Signature
Type: Personal
Sign-Up Bonus: Two weekend night certificates, each good for one weekend night (standard room, double occupancy) at most hotels and resorts within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, after $2,500 in eligible purchases within the first 4 months.
Category Spending Bonuses: 10 points for every $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio; 5 points for every $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases; 3 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Card Perks: Automatic Hilton HHonors Gold status; Diamond status with $40,000 annual spend; no foreign transaction fees, SmartChip technology; Visa Signature benefits; cardholders who spend $10,000 annually get an anniversary free weekend-night certificate as well that can be used at any property; GLON discount award redemption rates
Annual Fee: $95
Value: Those two free weekend nights are good at any Hilton property in the world (except the exclusions list) including top-tier Waldorf Astorias. You could be getting easily $400 per night out of them for $800 total just from the sign-up bonus.
Expiration of Offer: None

*9. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature and Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Signature
Type: Personal & Business
Current Bonus: 85,000 bonus points – 50,000 upon first purchase, additional 35,000 when you spend $2,500 in 90 days.
Category Spending Bonuses: 10 points per $1 at Carlson Rezidor hotels, 5 points per $1 on other purchases.
Perks: When you redeem Gold Points for 2 or more consecutive Award Nights, your last night is free; 40,000 renewal bonus points each year; automatic Gold Elite Status; existing elite members get 10 qualifying nights toward obtaining or maintaining elite status; Visa Signature benefits.
Annual Fee: $75 on the personal; $60 on the business.
Value: A top Radisson Blu free night is 50,000 points, so I’d peg their value at about .5 cents apiece since it isn’t hard for those free nights to be worth $250. That would make the 85,000 point sign-up bonus worth $425. However, since the second award night is free on two-night stays, I’d put the value closer to $500 (2 nights at $250 per night), even with the annual fee.
Offer Expiration: None.

*10. Bank of America Virgin Atlantic American Express
Type: Personal
Current Bonus:
65,000 miles:  20,000 after first retail purchase, plus 25,000 additional Flying Club bonus miles after you spend at least $2,500 in qualifying purchases.
Category Spending Bonuses: 3 miles per $1 spent directly on Virgin Atlantic purchases and 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Perks: Up to 15,000 bonus miles on cardmembership anniversary. Up to 5,000 bonus miles when you add additional card members to your account.
Annual Fee: $90
Value: Virgin Atlantic has high taxes on awards, but miles can be valuable when upgrading to business class

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