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Applying For The Best Credit Cards – The Top Deals For Your Round Of Applications

by on August 29, 2013 · 19 comments

in American Express, Barclays, Chase, Citi, Credit Cards, US Bank

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

Update: The offers mentioned below for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards from American Express have expired. View the current offers here –personalbusiness.

Credit card sign-up bonuses are the quickest and easiest way to rack up a lot of points. One method that’s widely accepted amongst those that maximize their miles and points – myself included – is to apply in batches, where you apply for multiple credit cards in one day. The benefit of this is that the issuers generally won’t see the applications to other issuers on that same day, increasing your chances of approvals and making it easier in the long run to track how long credit card inquiries remain on your credit report.

When you do all your applications in one day, the inquiries generally fall off your credit report in batches as well. Let me be clear here, this is not an exact science, and I still break this method from time to time. If there’s an incredibly generous one- or two-day offer, I’ll still apply even if it’s not timed to my quarterly schedule. My last round of applications was in April and I ended up getting a couple other cards since like a targeted Delta Platinum American Express card offer, and the one-week 60,000-point bonuses on the Chase Ink Bold and Ink Plus.

Since I personally have both Starwood cards, I’m going to wait to see if some other great offers come around this fall, but I know a lot of you are planning to get the the Starwood personal or business cards (or both), before the 30,000-point sign-up bonus offer ends Tuesday (Update: The bonus is now 25,000 points for the Starwood Amex business and personal cards, 10,000 points after first purchase and 15,000 after $5,000 spend within the first 6 months) and since we’re heading into a holiday weekend, I thought I’d create a couple sample rounds of applications based on a couple objectives: maximizing transferable points, hotel points, airline miles and fixed-value points.

As I talked about yesterday, diversifying your miles and points is important, so the best option for you will likely be a mix-and-match approach. This is not a list of every offer on the market. For that I recommend going to the Top Deals page, and feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.

Before you get started, be sure to check out my posts on How To Check Your Credit – Preparing For The Credit Card Application Process, and When To Cancel A Card – My Personal Card Inventory and Decision Process.

Credit Card Application Combinations

Once you’re ready to apply, check out the following lists for potential credit card application round combinations, and good luck with your applications.

Maximizing Transferable Points

Ink Bold

Ink Bold Business Card andInk Plus Business Card from Chase
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points with $5,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee:$95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, cellphone, landline, internet, and cable TV services and 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations and on hotel accommodations, up to $50,000 annually. Receive a complimentary LOUNGE CLUB membership and 2 free visits each year with access to over 350 VIP airport lounges.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 40,000 points with $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 2 points per dollar on all travel and dining. Receive a 7% annual points dividend on all points earned throughout the year. No foreign transaction fees.

For more information, see these posts:
Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Top 10 Ways To Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner
Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards
Ranking the Top Chase Travel Credit Card Offers

 

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 bonus points - 10,000 after first purchase and another 20,000 with $5,000 spend in the first 6 months. Update: The 30,000-point bonus is no longer available. The bonus is now 25,000 points for the Starwood Amex business and personal cards after $5,000 spend within the first 6 months.
Annual Fee: $65 waived the first year.
Other Benefits: Receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays annually toward the next level of SPG Elite Status, earn up to 5 Starpoints for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at hotels in the SPG portfolio that can be transferred to more than 30 airlines, and get purchase protection for up to 90 days after the date of purchase.

For more information on these cards and the Starwood Preferred Guest program, check out these posts:
Maximizing Starwood Cash & Points Awards
Starwood “Enhances” Cash & Points Awards
Major Starwood Preferred Guest Elite Enhancements
Maximizing Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfers
The Ultimate Guide to Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfer Partners
Details on the Sapphire Preferred 2X on Travel
The Sapphire Preferred 7% Annual Dividend

Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express Update: This offer expired on October 29, 2013. View the current offer for the Business Gold Rewards card.
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points with $5,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $175 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 3 points per dollar on airfare, 2 points per dollar on US purchases for advertising in select media, shipping and at gas stations, and one point per dollar on all other transactions. Receive Purchase Protection, Return Protection, Extended Warranty, Travel Accident Insurance, and Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance.

Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $475
Other Benefits:  You will earn 5 points per dollar spent on select Mercedes-Benz purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. You will receive a $1,000 certificate every year when you spend $5,000 or more on your card, which can be used on a future purchase or lease of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle. This card also comes with the same benefits as the Platinum Card from American Express such as a $200 annual airline fee rebate, lounge access and Global Entry application reimbursement.

Maximizing Hotel Points
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 bonus points - 10,000 after first purchase and another 20,000 with $5,000 spend in the first 6 months. Offer ends September 3, 2013.
Annual Fee: $65 waived the first year.
Other Benefits: Receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays annually toward the next level of SPG Elite Status, earn up to 5 Starpoints for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at hotels in the SPG portfolio that can be transferred to more than 30 airlines, and get purchase protection for up to 90 days after the date of purchase.

Club Carlson is the hot new thing in the hotel world offering lucrative promos and credit card

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 85,000 Gold Points, 50,000 of which will be earned after your first purchase, plus 35,000 more points once you spend $2,500 within the first 90 days.
Annual Fee: $75
Other Benefits: You will earn 10 points per dollar spent at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels and 5 points per dollar spent everywhere else. Club Carlson cards come with Gold status and a bonus award night.

For more background on the Club Carlson program, check out my Maximizing Club Carlson series, whose posts include Base Level Earning and Redemptions,  Business Program, Elite Status and  Cash + Points RedemptionsHalf-Price Award Redemptions on two-night award stays if you have one of the Club Carlson credit cards.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 2 weekend night certificates after you spend $2,500 in the first 4 months.
Annual Fee: $95
Other Benefits: Receive complimentary Hilton Gold status with the card and Hilton Diamond status when you spend $40,000 within a calendar year. You will earn 10 points per dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio, 5 points per dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases, 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases.  You can also earn a 3rd Free Weekend Night certificate if you spend $10,000 annually. There are no foreign transaction fees with this card. Read my full review of the card here.

Hyatt Credit Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: Earn 2 free nights at Hyatt properties worldwide after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $75
Other Benefits: Earn 2 free nights at Hyatt properties worldwide as well as 3 points per dollar spent at Hyatt, 2 points per dollar spent on all dining, airfare and car rental purchases and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. Read this post for details on other Hyatt Visa Perks.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $85 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott locations, 2 points per dollar spent on airfare, car rentals and dining and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Receive 1 free night upon approval and every year on cardmember anniversary. Receive 1 credit toward elite status for every $3,000 spent. No foreign transaction fees.

Maximizing Airline Miles

 

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 bonus points – 10,000 after first purchase and another 20,000 with $5,000 spend in the first 6 months. Offer ends September 3, 2013.
Annual Fee: $65 waived the first year.
Other Benefits: Receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays annually toward the next level of SPG Elite Status, earn up to 5 Starpoints for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at hotels in the SPG portfolio that can be transferred to more than 30 airlines, and get purchase protection for up to 90 days after the date of purchase.

United MileagePlus Explorer Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 miles with $2,000 spend in the first 3 months (ONLY IN CHASE BRANCH) or 30,000 miles with $1,000 spend in the first the months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Get first checked bag free and priority boarding on United-operated flights. Receive two United Club passes per year. No foreign transaction fees.

Update: The current offers for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard and Visa are 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 miles within the first 3 months. 

Citi Platinum Select / AAdvantage World MasterCard or Citi Platinum Select / AAdvantage Visa Signature (unverified) – Offer expired 
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles with $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Receive a $100 American Airlines flight discount every year with $30,000 or more in purchases. First checked bag is free for you and up to 4 travel companions and get Group 1 priority boarding when flying on American.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express (Offer seen on the Card Match Tool on August 29, 2013 and is no longer be available)
Sign-up Bonus: 45,000 miles with $5,000 spend in the first 6 months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: First checked bag is free and get priority boarding. Receive a 20% discount in the form of a statement credit on drink, food and entertainment purchases when you fly Delta.

US Airways Premier World MasterCard
Current Sign-up Bonus: 35,000 miles after first purchase or balance transfer in the first 90 days – unverified offer from this FlyerTalk thread, see the T&C on the application page.
Annual Fee: $89 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Receive an annual companion certificate good for up to 2 companion tickets upon approval and every year on cardmember anniversary and 10,000 Anniversary Miles. Also receive 1 complimentary US Airways Club day pass and get first class check in and Zone 2 boarding.

Maximizing Fixed-Value Points

Barclaycard Arrival
Current Sign-up Bonus: 40,000 miles with $1,000 spend in the first 90 days
Annual Fee: $89 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and receive 10% of your miles back when you redeem on travel. 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months afteraccount opening – after that, a variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%,based on your creditworthiness. Receive a complimentary membership to TripIt Pro. No foreign transaction fees.

For more information on this card, read my review here, and then check out this post for details on its Travel Bonus Category and Redemption Options, and this one for ideas on the Top 10 Ways To Maximize Barclaycard Arrival Miles.

Chase Sapphire
Current Sign-up Bonus: 10,000 points after you spend $500 in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $0
Other Benefits: Earn 2 points per dollar on all dining. Redeem points for 1 cent each towards travel.

Ink Bold

Ink Bold Business Card and Ink Plus Business Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points with $5,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee:$95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, cellphone, landline, internet, and cable TV services and 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations and on hotel accommodations, up to $50,000 annually. Receive a complimentary LOUNGE CLUB membership and 2 free visits each year with access to over 350 VIP airport lounges. Redeem points for 1.25 cents each towards travel.

Business Platinum Card from American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee: $450
Other Benefits: There are several benefits that will bring you much more value than $450 like the $200 airline rebate, airport lounge access, and reimbursement for Global Entry. Also you can use the pay with points option still giving a 1.25 cents per point value.

Citi ThankYou Preferred Rewards Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 20,000 bonus ThankYou Points after you spend $1,500 in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: No annual fee
Other Benefits: You’ll earn 1 ThankYou point will be earned per dollar spent on all purchases and there is no annual fee with this card. As of July 28, 2013, you will earn 2 points per dollar on dining and entertainment purchases including movies, museums, amusement parks and sporting events and 1 point per $1 on everything else.

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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  • Ben

    The hilton honors card offers the free night after spending 10K during a card member year, not calendar year!

  • Vladimir

    I think it is after calendar year. I spent 10k already, but didn’t get free night. I called customer service and they told I will get it on anniversary.

  • Rob

    Any general tips on being approved for Barclays’ offers? I applied for the Arrival card 4 months ago and was rejected due to “too many applications” and not using my only other Barclays’ card enough (hit the spend threshold on that card and sock-drawered it after that b/c no annual fee and lousy rewards structure). Barclays is the only credit card company I’ve had any problems with…

    Rather than wasting another hard inquiry and denial, what do you recommend? Wait a year between Barclays applications for any card?

  • Alex

    I am think about applying for the AX SPG card, but it says “If you are identified as a current American Express® Cardmember, you
    may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer. This offer is also not
    available to applicants who have had this product within the last 12 months.”,
    does it means an AX cardmember for any AX card or SPG AX card? Thx. I have a
    Hilton AX card.

  • Matt

    I had the same question before I applied for the SPG Amex. I had a blue cash preferred cash back Amex and wanted to make sure as well. In my cash, I received the SPG bonus since my other Amex was a cash back card. I’d call them and ask

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  • jasmine

    Should mention that united club card when you apply at chase the $395 annual fee is waived for the first year.

  • Allan Klein

    I called and got the bonus…I have multiple AX cards, both credit/charge.

  • Points R King

    Don’t call and ask. It means don’t log into your Amex account when you apply as you may not get the points. Apply, don’t log in during the application, then link to your account once accepted.

  • DBest

    I notice that the Mercedes Platinum offer says “This offer is not valid for existing Platinum Card members from American Express”. I had been thinking of switching to it when my current regular Amex Plat comes up for renewal but now that seems impossible. Can you recommend how I might be able to not renew my Amex Plat but still hang on to the MR points?

  • manyquestions

    Newbie over here…. I just got approved for the Ink Plus and declined for the Sapphire. How long can I wait until I can apply for the Sapphire card?

  • Daniel Obenoskey

    Question: Awhile back, I received the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and before annual fee renewed the next year I “downgraded” to the Chase Sapphire card with no annual fee. Am I eligible to reapply for the Preferred card or would I need to cancel the Sapphire card altogether for a period of time before reapplying???

  • JMSL

    Open an Amex Blue card before you cancel the Plat. The MR points become “express” (non-transferable, redeemable only for gift cards etc.), but it keeps your MR account open. Then open the MB Plat and your points become regular MR points again.

  • Robert

    I already have:
    - Chase’s BA card, 2 different Uniteds (Explorer and Awards) plus business version,
    - Citi’s ThankYou, AA Master, Amex plus business version,
    - USBank’s Carlson with a lower bonus,
    - Barclay’s US Airways,
    - Amex’s Premier personal,
    - BofAm’s something regular.

    My wife has:
    - Chase’s Sapphire and Ink Bold,
    - Citi’s AA platinum Visa, HH Reserve plus a regular one,
    - USBank’s better Carlson,
    - Barclay’s US Airways,
    - Amex’s Hilton Honors and business Premier,
    - BofAm’s non existing anymore Hawaiian and Virgin.

    Apparently, neither US Bank nor Barclay’ business version seem to be churnable at all. Most likely in our dreams:)

    If we were to keep on applying for the cards interchangeably, we may barely have one more year to get them all. Plus some more cards, I guess, with EIN.

  • Robert

    Will I get both SPGs with Business Premier at the same time???

  • Bob

    My current Visa card has dues paid until Feb 2014. Should I overlap and get the Chase Sapphire Preferred now or wait? Are there any changes to the CSP offering planned over the next few months?

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  • Ricky Tan

    New to TPG. Did my first mini AOR. Approved for CSP, $20k and SPG Amex (limit unknown). Approved for Barclays World MC earlier this week. Pending decision for AAdvantage Platinum. This is fun. Looking forward to responsible spending and bonuses.

  • Dustin

    I’m assuming that, when you apply in batches, that you do so with the intent of only pursuing one of them should you get approved for all that you applied for. Trying to hit the first three month spend requirements for the sign up bonus for multiple cards at once would be pretty nuts for most people. Obviously you don’t want to carry debt just for the sake of getting some reward points. Even if you’re confident that you can pay it off in X months and the math works out to where the value of the bonus points are worth the interest you would pay on the debt carried, it still seems like a bad habit to get into from a personal finance point of view. It also strikes me as somewhat convoluted.

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