How to Have Your First Credit Card “App Party” and Start Traveling for Free

Utah Ski Trip on Frequent Flier Miles from Credit Card Bonus

Our recent ski trip. Flights were free thanks to a credit card signup bonus.

You’ve heard of churning credit cards for cash back rewards, airline miles, and other perks, right?

I’ve dabbled in this strategy (using credit card vs them using you). Last year I earned 100,000 airline miles through credit card signup and spending bonuses. But I’m just scratching the surface.

I know a guy who earned over 1,000,000 airline miles last year. I recently sat down with him. His name is Geoff Whitmore and he runs a site I follow regularly called Noob Traveler. Geoff does what he calls “App Parties” (multiple credit card applications at once, sometimes called an app-o-rama or app spree) to maximize the amount of rewards or miles he can earn at once.

Check out my interview with Geoff and be sure to sign up for his free, 4-video course, which will teach you how to have your own app party and start traveling for free.

My App Party Consultation with Geoff

In the consultation, Geoff asks me about my current credit situation. He wants to make sure I’m the type of person that is responsible with my credit and aware of my score (yes, I reveal my credit score in the video).

We then discuss my travel needs. He doesn’t want me earning miles or hotel rewards if I’m not going to use them. I explain where I’ll be traveling for business and pleasure and he takes that into account when suggesting cards.

Next, we talk about my monthly spending. He wants to make sure I’m spending enough to justify signing up for some of the cards with spending bonuses (i.e. spend $1,000 in the first six months to earn the $250 bonus).

Finally, I tell him that my current cards are the Chase Freedom, Chase INK Cash, and British Airways Visa from Chase. This way he doesn’t recommend these cards for my app party.

Recommendations for My App-O-Rama Party

[table id=50 /]

*In the video he shares a different card but later advised this card due to my frequent American Airline use.

Geoff shares some great insights in the video above. You’ll want to watch it all to find out:

  • how you can avoid future annual fees by asking or by down-grading the card;
  • what are the elements of a perfect app party so you can have your own;
  • how this affects your credit score;
  • how to do a reconsideration phone call when you aren’t immediately approved;
  • and much more.

Transcription: Just click [spoiler]
Philip Taylor: Hi everyone, Philip Taylor from here and today I have with me Mr. Geoff Whitmore of Noob Traveller. Say hi, Jeff.

Geoff Whitmore: Hey guys.

Philip Taylor: And that’s NOOB as in He’s got an excellent site that I personally follow. Love following his travelling and how he takes advantage of the airline reward programs out there as well as credit card reward programs to make the most of his travelling and I’m glad to be talking to him today. Today he’s offered up the opportunity to talk with me personally about my own credit card spending and airline and travel usage and sort of give me a mini consultation here and allow you guys to kind of take a peek at that and see how wise he is in terms of all this information and just kind of go through the experience with me. I’m excited to learn how to make the most of my credit card usage this year. So Geoff, thanks again for being here, I look forward to talking to you and maybe tell us quickly about yourself and your site.

Geoff Whitmore: Sure, thanks for having me Philip. I’ve been running NOOB traveller for a little over a year now and I help educate people on how to use frequent flyer miles and points to travel, and the easiest way to accumulate these points is by using and signing up for rewards credit cards. So we’ve come up with a thing called app parties on the site and we teach people how to protect their credit while applying for multiple cards on One Day. I do these app parties every 90 to 95 days. So, that’s what we’ll be going over today. We’ll be going over how to throw a successful app party and protect your credit score at the same time.

Philip Taylor: Yep, so I’m ready. Let’s just delve right into it. Ask me the questions you need to know to help me to have the best success of this app party.

Geoff Whitmore: Well, the first question is “Do you know your credit score and are you actively monitoring your credit score?”

Philip Taylor: I am actively monitoring it through a program called Credit Karma.

Geoff Whitmore: Okay.

Philip Taylor: I don’t use a service that’s direct. Well I guess Credit Karma is now directly tied to one of the bureaus. Am I correct about that?

Geoff Whitmore: Yes, it is.

Philip Taylor: So I use Credit Karma. My score is in the mid 700’s.

Geoff Whitmore: Okay, so, that’s considered great. Anything over 740 is considered great so if you were to apply for any mortgage or auto loan you would receive the best interest rate.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: So I know that you’re responsible and you pay off all your credit cards in full at the end of every month?

Philip Taylor: Absolutely. I’ve had that rule for myself for 8 years now.

Geoff Whitmore: And that’s very important. If you’re paying interest, you know, it takes away the benefits.

Philip Taylor: I hate credit card interest with a passion and I hate any kind of fees, so any kind of late fee or anything, I’ll call and challenge it. I mean, I hate it, so I avoid it in my life. In fact I’ve got all my credit card payments automated so that I don’t have to think about it or worry about it. It’s automatically paid in full each month.

Geoff Whitmore: I like your style!

Philip Taylor: Yep.

Geoff Whitmore: Alright, so we’ve got that established. What are some of your travel goals for the upcoming year? That can help me decide on some of the recommendations.

Philip Taylor: I’m attending a couple of conferences, one in Portland and one in St. Louis. The Portland one is in the summer, the St. Louis one is in the fall. And probably sprinkle in there another flight or two— all domestically. Probably nothing internationally this year— just probably four flights domestically, and that includes, at least one of those includes one other person, my wife.

Geoff Whitmore: Okay, so a lot of domestic travel and then business travel. So airfare and hotels for business, okay.

Philip Taylor: That’s right.

Geoff Whitmore: Great. So now let’s talk a little bit about your spending habits. What are your personal purchases and your business needs?

Philip Taylor: On the personal side, obviously we have our mortgage. We also have a rental property mortgage that we pay— utilities and expenses for both of those assets. The other expenses are just services like our cell phones, and we eat out a lot at restaurants so a lot of restaurant expenses. We’re not big as shoppers and we don’t do a lot of clothes buying or entertainment-type buying. That’s the extent of it on the personal side. Probably a little too much restaurant dining and eating away from the home although we’ve gotten better at that with having two small kids—now we eat a lot at the house, so the traditional spending on that side. With the business though, I operate two businesses,, which is very low in terms of expenses. I have my hosting fees which is probably the biggest and some minor marketing fees.

Geoff Whitmore: Okay.

Philip Taylor: I pay some consultants fees and just the standard stuff to run a website. Very low maintenance, you know that. And then my other business is the financial blogger conference, or Fincon, and that has a lot of expense to it. At a minimum $100,000 dealing with the hotel and some of the expenses associated with that.

Geoff Whitmore: A lot of opportunity there.

Philip Taylor: There are lots of opportunities on the business side of my spending, for a lot of money. So personally, I would say I would probably do between $4,000— Depending on what’s going on that month, probably $4,000 to $6,000 in spending a month.

Geoff Whitmore: Okay.

Philip Taylor: And then on the business side it’s not consistent spending. It’s one big bang. It’ll be in fall this year, so in October. We’ll spend, like I said, about close to $100,000 for that.

Geoff Whitmore: Alright, so as you know when you sign up for a rewards credit card, to achieve the sign up bonus you have to usually meet a minimum spending requirement, so you always want to sign up with cards with minimum spending requirements that you’re comfortable with.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: We’ll include down below some links that will help with tips on how to achieve minimum spending requirements because I run everything through my credit card and there are some tricks and methods that you can use to do this as well.

Philip Taylor: Everything?

Geoff Whitmore: Everything.

Philip Taylor: Mortgage?

Geoff Whitmore: Mortgage, auto, everything. My motto is, if I’m not earning a mile a point for a dollar spent then I’m wasting that dollar. I work hard for my money Philip, so I want to make sure I get full value for it.

Philip Taylor: Alright.

Geoff Whitmore: So that’s the goal.

Philip Taylor: Can you give us a little insight into how you deal with the mortgage?

Geoff Whitmore: Yes, I’m actually using Bluebird right now. It’s an online banking program that’s been set up with American Express and Walmart. They’ve teamed together to provide this and it’s how I fund Bluebird that makes it so beneficial because there’s no fees to pay your mortgage online with Bluebird. There are some other third-party sites that let you pay your mortgage, but you have to pay them a percentage so the benefit of going through Bluebird is there’s no fee. You don’t have to pay a percentage which is great. It’s all about how you fund Bluebird which is kind of a lengthy discussion.

Philip Taylor: Okay, I know it has something to do with gift cards, right?

Geoff Whitmore: Yes, buying Vanilla reloads from certain stores you can fund Bluebird for a price of $5.95 for the $500 that you load on there.

Philip Taylor: And I’ve heard that it’s gotten harder and harder. Is that because of the limit?

Geoff Whitmore: A lot of stores have stopped selling Vanilla reloads and a lot of stores have stopped letting you buy Vanilla reloads with your rewards credit cards.

Philip Taylor: I see.

Geoff Whitmore: Only a few stores, CVS and Valero gas stations are still allowing you to at some locations and some Walgreens. It’s kind of hit or miss though.
Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: If you get into it and get that system dialed, it’s totally worth it.

Philip Taylor: Okay, awesome, good to know.

Geoff Whitmore: Good to know. Alright, so let’s get on to some recommendations. I know right off the bat I’m going to recommend the Sapphire Preferred because it gives you 2 times points per dollar spent on dining.

Philip Taylor: Alright.

Geoff Whitmore: And my wife and I use that a lot. Like you, we go out to eat probably more than we should and so it’s nice to earn the two extra points per dollar on all dining expenses. And that card comes with a 40,000 point sign up bonus after you meet the minimum spend of $3,000 in three months.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: And you’ll be earning…

Philip Taylor: That wouldn’t be tough for us it would seem.

Geoff Whitmore: That would be tough?
Philip Taylor: No, I said it wouldn’t be tough.

Geoff Whitmore: Based on your information it wouldn’t be.

Philip Taylor: Yeah.

Geoff Whitmore: And those 40,000 points, you can get a statement credit for that, and that would equal $400. Or you could stretch out those ultimate reward points for travel. They transfer to Southwest, so you have domestic needs flying, so you can really stretch out that 40,000 and probably get close to $700, $800 in value on Southwest if you redeem them during fare sales and other domestic flights.

Philip Taylor: Awesome!

Geoff Whitmore: Also transfer to United which can be very beneficial in many other hotel chains. Ultimate reward points are very flexible and highly valuable, so it’s usually the first card I suggest people apply for.

Philip Taylor: Okay. And we skipped over something. I wanted to let people know what cards I currently have.

Geoff Whitmore: Okay, yeah.

Philip Taylor: So that they know your recommendations are kind of above and beyond what I have. I currently have the Chase Freedom card.

Geoff Whitmore: Right.

Philip Taylor: And then on the business side I also have the British Airways Chase card.

Geoff Whitmore: Right.

Philip Taylor: And then on the business side I had a Chase Inc. card for both of my businesses. And this is the Chase Inc. cash I think you said it was called? That’s the extent of my credit cards right now. So the first one you’ve presented is the Chase Sapphire Preferred, now does that come with an annual fee?

Geoff Whitmore: It’s waived for the first year, but I believe it is $95 after the first year.

Philip Taylor: Okay. So, do you see this as a card I could continue using long term?

Geoff Whitmore: Yes and no. It’s funny. I just actually wrote a post about this today so it’s top of mind. I would keep this card and pay the annual fee if I didn’t have another card that I’m going to suggest to you in a little bit. The benefits are good on this card and warrant the $95 annual fee, but it’s not necessary to keep this card and pay the annual fee on another card.

Philip Taylor: Gotcha.

Geoff Whitmore: Plus, you can downgrade this card to a no annual fee version that’s just a regular Sapphire, no Preferred. And you can keep this card forever, so that way your average age of account can age and not suffer by you closing the card to avoid the fee.

Philip Taylor: I see.

Geoff Whitmore: You have a great downgrade option to get you out of ever paying an annual fee on this card and letting your account age which is great for your credit score.

Philip Taylor: So, I just call them up and say, “Hey, downgrade this card?”

Geoff Whitmore: Yes. You just call them up on the number on the back of your card. Sometimes they’ll give you what’s called a retention bonus. They’ll waive the annual fee for you to keep the card, to keep using it. They’re trying to retain you as a customer and if they offer you that, then obviously, take the retention bonus because then you get to keep the perks that come along with having the Sapphire Preferred.

Philip Taylor: So the first step is to act like I want out completely?

Geoff Whitmore: Right.

Philip Taylor: And then if they don’t offer that, say, “Well, can you downgrade me?”

Geoff Whitmore: Yes, definitely.

Philip Taylor: Oh.

Geoff Whitmore: I call this playing chicken with the banks.

Philip Taylor: Yep, that’s a great tip. That’s a great tip, thanks for sharing that. Alright, so anything else about this card I should know about?

Geoff Whitmore: No, that’s pretty standard. You do get seven percent annual dividend on all miles earned on this card, so when you go out to eat you’ll be actually earning 2.14 miles per dollar spent on dining… So it’s a little extra bonus there.

Philip Taylor: Excellent. I like that card because as I told you I already have Chase cards.

Geoff Whitmore: Right.

Philip Taylor: So it would just roll right into the card, the portal that I already have with Chase— it would be visible there so I could manage it from that same account.

Geoff Whitmore: It’s going to streamline all your previous accounts. It works well with the Freedom because you can actually transfer your Freedom points into your Sapphire Preferred points account. And from there you can transfer those ultimate reward points to travel programs. You don’t have that benefit with your Freedom points now. Those are mainly used for cash-back. So pairing the Freedom with the Sapphire Preferred gives you that flexibility to rollover your current points to your Sapphire for travel.

Philip Taylor: Excellent, alright.

Geoff Whitmore: Very well, so the next card I’m going to suggest is a business card that’s going to work well with the Sapphire preferred and your current Freedom card. And that’s going to be either the Inc. Bold or the Inc. Plus credit card. I would suggest the Inc. Plus to start off with. The Inc. Bold is a charge card, but the Inc. Plus is a credit card and it gives you zero percent interest for the first six months. Now obviously, don’t spend anything that you can’t pay back, but it gives you a little extra flexibility up front, so I would encourage you to just go with the Inc. Plus. It comes with a signup bonus plus 50,000 ultimate reward points after you spend $5,000 in three months. Based on your business needs, that doesn’t seem like it would be an issue meeting the minimum spending requirement.

Philip Taylor: Right.

Geoff Whitmore: What’s great about the Inc. Plus is there’s lots of five-point earning potential, so you get five points per dollar on office supplies. That includes any gift cards bought at office supply stores for employees.

Philip Taylor: Uh-huh. (Affirmative)

Geoff Whitmore: Or you can buy other pre-paids or whatnot. You also get five points per dollar on phone services, your AT&T bill or Verizon, cable, internet. So, there’s a lot of business needs there. I run all my internet, satellite, cable, all of that through my Inc. Plus to earn the five points per dollar.

Philip Taylor: Awesome.

Geoff Whitmore: Which adds up, and is a hefty monthly bill for us. You also get two points per dollar for gas, as well, with your Inc. Plus card.

Philip Taylor: Oh nice.

Geoff Whitmore: It’s handy knowing gas prices are always increasing, it seems like.

Philip Taylor: Yep.

Geoff Whitmore: So that’s a great card that works well with the Sapphire Preferred and works well with your Freedom. And you can combine the Sapphire Preferred points and the Inc. Plus points together. So that gives you more flexibility if you want to redeem for travel. I know you said you didn’t have any international travel plans this year, but if you wanted to, you would have well over a 100,000 points you could transfer to United—and that’s a business class ticket to Europe if you wanted.

Philip Taylor: Nice.

Geoff Whitmore: Easily, $8,000 to $10,000 on the right airline.

Philip Taylor: Wow. Who pays the normal price?

Geoff Whitmore: I don’t know. I don’t know. When I’m on those flights I’m like, “How did you pay that?”

Philip Taylor: So, the Inc. Plus, does it have an annual fee?

Geoff Whitmore: It’s waived for the first year and I believe it is $95 as well.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: If you didn’t have the Inc. cash, there’s always an option to downgrade it to the no annual Inc. cash card, but you already have that card. In your situation, it may be worth paying the annual fee on, because you get two points per dollar for hotels if you purchase them directly through the hotel. So for your big hotel instance— your conference, you may want to put that on your Inc. Plus card.

Philip Taylor: Awesome, because the Inc. cash was only giving me the one time, the one point…

Geoff Whitmore: You would double your point earnings.

Philip Taylor: Yeah, and that’s to be… Last year I think I earned 1,300 points on that hotel.

Geoff Whitmore: Nice.

Philip Taylor: Or no, I’m sorry, 150,000 points on that hotel purchase. So you’re saying it could be as much as 260,000 extra next year?

Geoff Whitmore: Right. And I would say that’s well worth the $95 fee.

Philip Taylor: Yes, yes, yes, yes. I like where you’re going here. You’ve added a lot to my bottom line so far.

Geoff Whitmore: I’m a little jealous of your situation there.

Philip Taylor: Hey, you want to come and pay for this conference for me?

Geoff Whitmore: Using my credit card?

Philip Taylor: Is there another card that we should include in this app party?

Geoff Whitmore: Definitely, I would say that those are no-brainers for sure based on your needs. I think it’s another card to think about to get away from Chase, because a perfect app party is going to diversify between the banks Chase bank, Citibank, American Express, Barclays, US bank. A good Citibank option for you might be the Hilton Reserve Card. It comes with two free weekend nights, and it gives you Gold status on any Hilton stays. Gold status with Hilton gives you free breakfast, internet, possible room upgrade, late checkout. If you’re staying in hotels often, and Hilton may be one of those hotels, definitely you can reap the rewards with the Gold status.

Philip Taylor: Nice.

Geoff Whitmore: The free breakfast alone, I just love that part. I love not having to wake up and pay for breakfast. I don’t know. It saves money.

Philip Taylor: I like that. That’s a real breakfast too, that’s not like the continental or anything?

Geoff Whitmore: And possible lounge access where alcohol could be served or Dr. Pepper, water, room service breakfast if they allow it. Not all establishments do, but it’s definitely a great benefit.

Philip Taylor: Dr. Pepper, spoken like a true Texan.

Geoff Whitmore: Yep.

Philip Taylor: That’s cool. So, anything else about this card I should know? The city Hilton Reserve— the points I’m earning on this card are all going to go toward Hilton hotel stays, am I right?

Geoff Whitmore: Right. It’s actually going to be two certificates to stay at a Hilton on the weekends, so Friday through Sunday. I’m planning on using mine. I’m going to try to get to Hawaii and use them over there. If not, we’ll think of some way to use them.

Philip Taylor: Gotcha. And then ongoing. What about ongoing?

Geoff Whitmore: Ongoing, the purchases you get are three Hilton points per dollar with your Hilton Reserve card, and that goes straight into earning that can be redeemed for Hilton stays.

Philip Taylor: And that’s on any spending. What kind of spending?

Geoff Whitmore: Any spending will give you three points per dollar.

Philip Taylor: Wow! So how much of my spending should I divert to this card?

Geoff Whitmore: Well, I would focus primarily on the ultimate rewards points, but you may want to put some spending on it. Hilton points don’t have the same value as a lot of other points.

Philip Taylor: I see.

Geoff Whitmore: Usually, depending on where you’re staying, it’s between 40,000 and 50,000 for a night.

Philip Taylor: I see.

Geoff Taylor: If you’re paying for Hilton stays you get 10 Hilton points per dollar. If you’re renting cars, you get 5 points per dollar. It’s good for international travel because there’s no foreign transaction fee on it, the chip and pin card, so I’ve used it abroad some. There are some unique features to it, for sure.

Philip Taylor: Okay, in terms of continuity with this card, should I keep it around a long time or should I just use it for these two free nights?

Geoff Whitmore: If you stay at Hilton properties a few times in a year, it’s definitely worth holding onto for that Gold status.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: If you’re not a Hilton loyalist, maybe you’re a Hyatt or Marriott guy, then I wouldn’t hang onto this card for more than a year.

Philip Taylor: Okay, and annual fee?

Geoff Whitmore: The annual fee is not waived for the first year.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: So you will be paying for that upfront. But the free nights and the breakfasts and the perks is well worth the annual fee.

Philip Taylor: Gotcha.

Geoff Whitmore: There is a downgrade option I believe with it, to go to the regular Amex Hilton in 10 or 11 months if you decide that you’re not maximizing the benefits on the Reserve card.

Philip Taylor: Gotcha. Alright! What else you got?

Geoff Whitmore: Well, the next card is one of my all-time favourites and it’s been a staple for rewards loyalists for a long time and it’s the American Express Starwood Preferred guest card.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: This is a really solid card. It gives you a lot of options on redeeming points. You can stretch out your points for hotel stays by doing cash and points method of redeeming. I actually just stayed in Thailand at a hotel and I paid 2,200 points and $35 for a four-star resort, so you can really stretch out your points very far with this card. There are Starwood properties everywhere and they’re usually all pretty nice.

Philip Taylor: The Starwood is? What brands are under Starwood?

Geoff Whitmore: Weston, Crowne Plaza, Conrad, or not Conrad, that’s Hilton—just to name a few. There are some lower level hotels as well.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: You can also transfer your Starwood points to many airlines, and for every 20,000 you transfer you get a 5,000 bonus. That can really come in handy. Say you have 40,000 to transfer. You’ll get 10,000 bonus points and it’ll turn into 50,000.

Philip Taylor: Okay, excellent. Now, when I sign up for this card are there any upfront bonuses?

Geoff Whitmore: Yes, you get 25,000 Star points, and I hate that name, Star points. You get 25,000 Star points, 10,000 on first spend, and I believe 15,000 thousand after spending 5,000 in six months. So it gives you some time to meet the minimum spending requirement on this card.

Philip Taylor: Alright. Okay, so with 25,000 Star points upfront or after the
spend it looks like that’s a free night essentially?

Geoff Whitmore: Well a couple. Or you could get multiple nights if you stretch them out. And, if you redeem for four or more nights, you get your fifth night free, so it can be stretched out to five.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: With the right category at the right level.

Philip Taylor: Gotcha.

Geoff Whitmore: Starwood points are just— they’re really valuable and flexible, kind of like ultimate rewards points because of the options you have to either use them completely for a hotel stay or to combine them with cash, or to transfer them to an airline. And they transfer to American Airlines, which would be a huge benefit for you.

Philip Taylor: Okay. Maybe this is a good time to talk about… I’ve told you I use the Chase Freedom mainly, so I like getting the cash out.

Geoff Whitmore: Right.

Philip Taylor: And then making a decision on what I want to do with that cash at that point. I like the objectivity of that, right?

Geoff Whitmore: Right.

Philip Taylor: It sounds like a lot of your spending done with your credit cards means you’re really trying to maximize the frequent flyer points for the most part. So is there a lot of math involved for me to understand when and where that needs to happen, or do you think that you just do it as a rule now. Or is there any trick to determining how I should get the cash for this, versus, I should shoot this over to American Airlines or my points? Is there a quick-and-dirty way to kind of make that process in your head?

Geoff Whitmore: Right. You can get into numbers on this, but I choose to do what makes sense for me and my family and I base that on our travel needs or if I need the cash. If I’m cash poor I will use my points for a statement credit. If the books are looking good, the budget’s going well, which is normally the case, I prefer to use my ultimate reward points, my points for the travel because I can stretch the value out. Now, a lot of people get into the numbers on where— how do you redeem your points, where do you redeem them to and they base it all on the value of a point. I just go where me and my wife want to go. If I can find the right flights at the right time, then I just book it and I don’t worry about it if it’s considered the greatest value for my points. If I could have booked two months later in February, it may be more value.

Philip Taylor: Right.

Geoff Whitmore: But it didn’t make sense for me to go in February. I needed to go in November. I always tell people use points for what makes sense for you and if that’s for using them for statement credit and cash, then that’s how you need to use them.

Philip Taylor: Awesome. Good tip. Alright, so any other cards I need to do in the app party here?

Geoff Whitmore: I think you got a pretty good app party there. If you want to get aggressive, and kind of push the envelope, you could go for a US Airways card from Barclay’s.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: It gives you 40,000 dividend miles on first spend and you can actually… The great thing about dividend miles is you don’t have to use them for US Airways. I’ve never flown on a US Airways flight. I use my dividend miles to fly an airline in their Star alliance partner. So, United’s in there in the Star alliance, so you could fly United. And then there’s a lot of international carriers you can fly too. They’ll look at US Airways and go— I’ve never flown US Airways, I don’t go to Phoenix, or Charlotte, Austin, but you can fly them on United. And it’s an easy 40,000 points. It’s a different bank and Barclay’s usually pulls Transunion on your credit report and the other banks usually don’t pull Transunion. My Transunion score is pretty high, so that’s why I’ve thrown in a Barclay’s card. It really doesn’t have any effect on my credit score.

Philip Taylor: Gotcha. Okay, that’s good to know. And, is there annual fee on this card?

Geoff Whitmore: Yeah, it’s $89 I believe.

Philip Taylor: Okay. And most airline cards like this are going to have an annual fee of some sort?

Geoff Whitmore: Right.

Philip Taylor: Why is that? Just not as much competition once you get into that if you’re— if you like that airline you’re willing to pay for that? What’s the thought there?

Geoff Whitmore: Yeah, that’s— I guess they’ve done algorithms and they figure that people that are going to be loyal to them and get their cards and use their miles, that they’re going to be willing to pay the annual fee. Usually with airline cards, there’s enough benefits to make paying the annual fee make sense, because usually you get free checked bags or priority boarding. And if you’re flying a lot using the card for those purchases and miles, it’s usually paying the annual fee. It is a no-brainer.

Philip Taylor: Okay. Good stuff.

Geoff Whitmore: But for most, most cards are waived for the first year.
Philip Taylor: Gotcha. Another question here… I already told you I had the Chase Inc. cash and the Chase Preferred, I’m sorry, the Chase Freedom—

Geoff Whitmore: Right.

Philip Taylor: If I didn’t have one of those two cards already, and also the British Airways, so if I didn’t have those three cards already, would those three have been included in this app party recommendation?

Geoff Whitmore: Probably not, probably not. But they probably would have been included in your next app party. The British Airways card is a great card, comes with a lot of benefits. Fifty thousand right off the bat after you make the minimum spend requirement, I believe right now, but potentially you can earn 100,000 with that card if you meet the spending clear. So there’s a lot of value to that British Airways card. I just always suggest that Sapphire Preferred because of the flexibility of the points because you can transfer those points into British Airways or other programs, so I usually go with that one first. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that British Airways card. In my mind, it’s a must-have.

Philip Taylor: Okay, yeah, I did that one last year. And having been sort of new-to-the-bonus points upfront mentality, I knew this one was too good to be true, it seemed like. And then when I got in and discovered that the British Airways Avios points transferred to American Airlines points at a ridiculous level. I’ve now been able to use those points for a free trip for my wife and I to Salt Lake and an upcoming trip for my whole family, my wife and one child and one lap baby, going to Disneyland out in California. That whole thing’s going to be free. So both of those trips are going to be free based for that card and I’ll still, I think, have 10,000 points, Avios points left and that might get me another domestic trip for free for myself. It’s been a ridiculous, I mean, a ridiculously effective card in terms of being able to actually use it. Okay, so these are the cards in my app party. Now how do I have this app party?

Geoff Whitmore: Well, usually I go one card at a time and I’ll just apply for one. With Chase cards, if you get, ‘needs further review,’ don’t freak out or panic. Oftentimes you have to call Chase after applying for a card if, like, in your situation, you have three or four other Chase cards. It’s really just a technicality and they just want to talk through the process. Sometimes you just have to move over some pre-existing credit with them, but usually it’s just a five-minute phone call. You answer a few questions, you get their approval and you go on your way. For business cards I always call right after I apply because they always want to chat about the length of business, what your expenses are, projected income, stuff like that. But again, it’s usually just a five-minute phone conversation after applying online and it’s an approval. Then I just apply for the other cards after making the phone conversation.

Philip Taylor: Okay, so I take it one at a time then, apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If they stomp down and say give us a call stop right then, give them a call, until that process goes through, and then pick up with the second card, which in my case is going to be the Inc. Plus card?

Geoff Whitmore: Right.

Philip Taylor: Okay, and if I have another call then I’ll call them on down the line?

Geoff Whitmore: You don’t have to call right away. I’m just impatient and like to get a decision that day, because they will tell you in10 to 14 days and sometimes that usually means 30 days. But if you get that letter in the mail, you’re going to call the same number.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: That’s why I just tell people just to call right away.

Philip Taylor: And where do I find this number? Is that typical? Will they advertise that once I sign up?

Geoff Whitmore: No, we’ll have it listed. I’ll have it listed below on the website or in the video tutorials.

Philip Taylor: Oh, awesome! Awesome! Alright, and so what’s this going to do to my credit, that I’m doing this with do you think?

Geoff Whitmore: Okay, great question. When you apply for a credit card, when the bank does the inquiry to see if you’re credit worthy, there’s going to be a 2 to 5 point ding on your personal credit. As the account ages, your score will recover from this pretty easily. So within two months it should be back to where it was. That’s why we always tell people to downgrade cards instead of cancelling cards because the average age of an account does play an impact, a role, in your credit score. So as those accounts age, your credit score goes back up. It can actually improve your credit score over time because you’re raising your credit limit but you’re not going into more debt, so your credit utilization rate is improving. Your debt to credit ratio should be better with the more credit limit that you have.

Philip Taylor: Excellent. Alright, and in terms of keeping track, sort of, of all these, is there something I should do in terms of managing how much I should be spending on which card and all that? Is there sort of a strategy used to kind of keep track of it all?

Geoff Whitmore: Well, right now I’m using an Excel spreadsheet.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: I just enter in my cards, what the signup bonus is, what the minimum spending requirement is and then I just make a note when I need it, the spending requirement, and usually I go one card at a time.

Philip Taylor: Gotcha. Does Citi and Amex allow you to do automatic payments of the full balance?

Geoff Whitmore: They do. They do.

Philip Taylor: Okay.

Geoff Whitmore: Usually, I just set up everything automatic. I’m not worried about missing a payment that way. But I always know after I’ve met the minimum spending requirement.

Philip Taylor: Okay, excellent. Anything I didn’t ask that people often maybe ask about at this point?

Geoff Whitmore: No, I think this was a good discussion over an app party. I think we answered all the questions that are required to get a good start on it. Down below we are going to have a link to some video tutorials that we have on the site and then we’ll go into more depth and there’ll be blog posts there to answer any questions. That will go into depth on the techniques and some of the methods that we briefly covered, like the re-consideration phone call with Chase, when to cancel cards, how to get out of annual fees— just more of a reference for people so they can read it and see it in print.

Philip Taylor: Excellent. Yes, definitely check out Jeff’s site. He’s got lots of good information. You’ve obviously heard, if you’ve listened to this hang out today, you’ve definitely heard that, so definitely check that out. Jeff, thanks so much for being on with us, man.

Geoff Whitmore: Thanks for having me.

Philip Taylor: And sharing your advice. Anything else you want to say before we shut it down?

Geoff Whitmore: No, just feel free to stop by the blog and hit me an email. I’m always here to answer questions.

Philip Taylor: Okay. Thanks Jeff.

Geoff Whitmore: Thanks Philip.

Do Your Own App Party

If you’re ready to do your own app party I suggest you watch Geoff’s 4 free videos (available when you sign up in the form below), which will walk you through how this affects your credit, how to pick the right cards, how Geoff earned 250,000 points in one day, and other great tips.

About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.