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My 2012 Points Strategy: Future Credit Card Applications

Jan. 04, 2012
6 min read
My 2012 Points Strategy: Future Credit Card Applications
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This is an installment in the My 2012 Points Strategy Series. Posts include: Taking Credit Card Inventory, Future Credit Card Applications, Airline Elite Status, Hotel 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 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 Credit Card: 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.

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Two options for my Amex:

5) Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express: 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 Preferred Guest® Credit Card 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?

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.