In total it has been a success. I now have lots of points to use towards traveling or cash, my credit was only slightly affected, and I’ve been able to manage the whole thing without incurring a late fee or other issue.
I only recommend this approach for those of you with (1) a solid handle on your credit card usage, (2) no short-term credit needs (i.e. not applying for a mortgage soon), and (3) a little extra time on your hands. This does take time to manage.
First let’s look at what I applied for, then we’ll see how Mrs. PT made out.
Cards in Order of Application
I first applied for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature card. I was instantly approved and given a $15,500 credit line. The card comes with 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 and has a $95 annual fee. I’ve already spent $1,008.64 on the card and the points are already in my American Airlines Advantage account. Since I’m a new Citi customer I had to create an account there and create an automatic payment for the full balance each month. Right now I don’t have plans to use this card beyond spending with American Airlines. And I’ll have a decision to make in year two when the $95 annual fee approaches. I’m using CardWatchdog.com to help me keep track of things like this.
The second card I applied for was the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. My application was not instantly approved. The screen displayed a pending status after I submitted the application. I emailed my boy Geoff from NoobTraveler.com and he was kind enough to give me the Chase reconsideration phone number. I called them up and they had a few basic questions for me before approving. They said to approve the card I would need to transfer some of my credit from other cards I had with them. I told them to drop my Chase Freedom line of credit from $25,000 to $10,000. I was then approved with a credit line of $11,500. This card comes with a 40,000 point bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. It also gives us 2 points per dollar on dining, which we do a lot of. The $95 annual fee is waived in the first year. I’ve already spent $2,703.71 on the card and so I don’t anticipate there being an issue with meeting the requirement. I ordered a second card for Mrs. PT since this will be our dining out card going forward and I setup an automatic payment online to pay the card off in full each month.
While I was in pending status with the card above, I went forward with the application for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card. My application was instantly approved and I was given a credit line of $17,900. The card comes with 25,000 star points when you spend $5,000 in 6 months, and has an annual fee of $65 that is waived in the first year. I’ve spent $5,112.81 on this card already and the points are already in my Starwood account. Since I’m a new American Express customer I had to create an account there and setup an automatic payment for the full balance each month. Right now I don’t have plans to use this card beyond spending with Starwood Hotels, but we will see. Obviously I’ll have a decision to make next year when the annual fee becomes due.
The last card I applied for was the Chase Business INK Plus card. Note that I waited until Chase approved me for the Sapphire Preferred card before proceeding with this one. The calls actually happened within a few minutes of each other. I was not instantly approved and again placed in a pending status. Using a different reconsideration number (thanks again, Geoff), I called and asked for a speedy approval. They needed to confirm a few details about my business and again they wanted to shift some of my credit balance to from other cards to this one. We ended up dropping my old Chase Business INK Cash card limit from $25,000 to $10,000. I was then approved with a credit line of $33,000. This card comes with a 50,000 bonus if you spend $5,000 in three months. It also gives me 5 points per dollar spent on office supplies and services like cell phone and internet. The annual fee of $95 is waived in the first year. I’ve already spent $2,956.19 on the card and with conference expenses rolling in I don’t anticipate a problem reaching the spending limit. I set up an automatic payment to ensure the card is paid off in full each month.
The last application was made by Mrs. PT and it was for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card. She has excellent credit and was instantly approved with a credit line of $25,000. The card has an annual fee of $99, which you pay right away. But there is an annual bonus that negates this fee if you use the card regularly – something we are considering. Mrs. PT went ahead and ordered us both a card and we’re on our way to spending the $2,000 required to earn the 50,000 bonus points (good enough for two round trip tickets). Mrs. PT is tracking this card in her online Chase account and will be setting up an automatic payment to pay the card off in full each month.
Summary of Points and Results
In total, it looks like the app party will result in a total of 185,000 bonus points, plus all of the points on the spending (roughly 15,000 when it’s all said and done). What I like about these points is that most, if not all can be transferred quickly and easily to the places where we spend on travel. For instance, all of the Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transfered to Southwest or British Airways (which can be used to purchase American Airlines domestic flights at stellar rates). I tested a booking on British Airways the other day, Dallas to St. Louis, and the total miles used was going to be 11,000. I could take 17 of those flights with the amount of points I’ve amassed. Even at $250, that’s a $4,250 value. Also, all of the Chase points can be cashed out if we end up not traveling as much.
You may be asking, “how the heck did you spend all of that money so fast?” In total, we spent $8,800 in personal spending and $3,000 in business spending over the course of a month and a half. That’s ridiculous, even for a baller like me (kidding). For one, we had a big home improvement project at the end of February (replacing 13 year old kitchen appliances) that took up a big chunk of the required spending for three of the cards. Had we not had this project, we would have taken the entire three to six months to complete the requirements, depending on the card. The business card spending took care of itself as there are a lot of front-loaded expenses associated with a 500-person conference. The rest was just our normal spending: insurance, cell phone bills, gas, fuel, tolls, restaurants, groceries, and some costs associated with our recent Disney trip.
Effects to My Credit
According to Credit Karma, my Vantage credit score before the app party was 898. After the app party it is 852. Also, my TransUnion credit score went from 731 to 699. The biggest change appears to have been to my average age of accounts. Before the app party my average was 60 months and after the party my average age was 48 months. There appeared to be no changed based on the credit inquiries alone. If I was applying for a mortgage next week I would obviously be disappointed in the results. But since I’m not, and since my credit will only improve with age (i.e. no permanent damage), I’m fine with the changes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the success of the app party. Fire away in the comments below.