My December 2017 “App-O-Rama”

It’s been a long while since my last post, but I’m still at it! Sign-up bonuses on new credit cards are a great way to get a large number of miles/points quickly. So that’s why I sign up for new cards every few months.

It had been almost 4 months since my last AOR, and there were a few cards I was eyeing. I was a bit hesitant about applying because my credit score had recently dipped and wasn’t as high as I preferred. This was due to the fact that some of my cards reported balances at statement close (even though I pay them off before the due date). Still, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so here’s what I applied for and my results.

Bank of America Alaska Personal Visa

Sign-up bonus: 30,000 miles+$100 statement credit

Minimum spend required: $1,000 in 3 months

Annual fee: $75 (but is offset by $100 statement credit)

Card features that I find beneficial: Comes with “Companion Fare” buy one ticket, get another for taxes and fees only (but I really have no use for this feature), no foreign transaction fees

Result: pending, then denied

I find Alaska miles to be extremely valuable for premium travel. I used 70,000 Alaska miles earlier this year for a wonderful one-way Cathay Pacific first class flight. Since I am eyeing a future business class redemption using Alaska miles, I needed to replenish my stash.

BOA has tightened up their “churning” rules, targeting people who sign up for their cards frequently. Reports indicate BOA has a 2/3/4 rule, meaning you can only be approved at most for 2 BOA cards per rolling 2 months, 3 cards per rolling 12 months, and 4 cards per rolling 24 months. Reports also indicate that business applications don’t count toward this rule. At time of application, I was 0/2, 1/12, and 3/24.

After applying I got a pending response, so I checked the online application status a couple days later and learned I had been denied. I called BOA’s reconsideration line to find out more and see if I could shift that denial into an approval. The analyst I spoke with said I was denied because of too many recently opened accounts and not enough deposit/investment balances with BOA.

I was puzzled because I am not over their “2/3/4” rule, but I guess they were looking at all accounts. I don’t have any sort of banking relationship with BOA at the moment. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to open a checking account and deposit some cash with them. I didn’t even know that was something they take into consideration.

Ameriprise Amex Platinum

Sign-up bonus: None

Minimum spend required: None

Annual fee: $550 (waived for 1st year)

Card features that I find beneficial: 1st year no fee, lounge access (Priority Pass, Centurion, Delta Sky Clubs, Airspace), $200 annual airline credit, 5x Membership Rewards (MR) points for airline, 5k bonus MR per $20,000 in spend (up to 30k MR), $200 annual Uber credits ($15 per month, $35 in December), complimentary SPG Gold & Hilton Gold status, complimentary Boingo membership (airport wi-fi)

Result: instant approval

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American Express was the only issuer to show me instant approval love this go-round. The Amex Platinum card had never really been on my radar due to its high annual fee of $550. Yes, it’s chock full of awesome benefits (see list above), but my goal has always been to minimize my out-of-pocket costs in this hobby.

However, when I found out there was a flavor of the Platinum that came with no 1st year fee, I gave it a closer look. Unfortunately, it comes with no sign-up bonus. Signing up in mid-December should allow me to “triple dip” on the $200 annual airline credit, meaning I can get it this year, next year, and in January 2019. Of all the benefits with this card, I am most excited about having lounge access because my home airport has a Centurion lounge.

Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 AAdvantage miles

Minimum spend required: First purchase

Annual fee: $95 (not waived)

Card features that I find beneficial: 10% of redeemed miles back, preferred boarding (though I have these benefits with my other Aviator card)

Result: pending, then denied

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I have a former US Airways card that was converted to a Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red card a few years ago. Typically, Barclays will not approve more than one of the same card, meaning you have to close the old one to open a new one. However, I have read reports of people with the old US Air card being approved for another Aviator Red card. I could always use more AAdvantage miles and a 60,000-sign up bonus is quite desirable. So I gave it a shot.

My application went into review, so I checked the application status online a few days later and learned I had been denied. The letter I received in the mail gave the reason: “Our records show that you’ve already established the maximum allowable number of this product with us.”

So unfortunately the trick of getting a 2nd card while having the old US Air card did not work for me. The good news is the letter stated that a “credit bureau report was not used in making this determination.” This means that the application will not count as a credit inquiry on my credit report.

Chase Marriott Business Visa

Sign-up bonus: 80,000 Marriott Rewards points

Minimum spend required: $3,000 in 3 months

Annual fee: $99 (not waived)

Card features that I find beneficial: transfer to SPG, annual free night at a Category 1-5 hotel

Result: pending, then approved

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So Chase Bank has a 5/24 rule, meaning Chase will not approve some of their cards for applicants who have more than 5 new personal cards from any issuer in the past 24 months. Essentially, this locks me out from churning or (re)applying for cards like United or Southwest. However, the Marriott Business card does not fall under the 5/24 rule.

I have one current business card from Chase, the Ink Plus. About 2 ½ years ago (before the 5/24 rule), I applied for the Southwest Business card. It went to review and the analyst said she could only approve it if I closed my Ink Plus because that’s all the credit they could extend me. I decided to keep my Ink (good decision as the Plus is no longer available).

So essentially, I was denied for the Southwest Business card. Since then I’ve been a bit gun-shy on applying for another Chase business card. However, I decided to give Marriott a try since Chase recently doubled the limit on my Ink Plus with no effort on my part. I was not surprised that my application went to pending. After a few days, I called the application status number (there’s no online status check) and discovered I had been approved!

I expected to get a call from Chase with a lot of questions about my business (which is legitimate, but has low revenue), but I was happy to be approved with no such call.

I haven’t quite decided how I will use the sign-up bonus points. Marriott has a few decent redemptions, but there is additional value in the transfer ability to Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points at a ratio of 3:1, so 80,000 Marriott points equals just under 27,000 SPG points. SPG has a lot of great hotel redemptions at low rates, or the points can be transferred to various airline programs (20,000 SPG points=25,000 airline miles).

All in all, I went 2 for 4 on approvals in this round of credit card apps, so I will only wind up netting 80,000 points in sign-up bonuses. But I am quite pleased to enjoy all of the benefits of the Amex Platinum. I was last denied for a couple of cards back in 2015, so these 2 denials are my first since then. Even though I apply for a lot of cards, getting denied is a pretty rare event.

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