130,000 Points for the Win: Results of My Second Credit Card App Party

Second App Party - Valley Forge

We travel hacked our way to Valley Forge this last Summer.

When the new year rolled around and my reward point balances started to dwindle I knew it was time to once again think about doing a credit card app party (see the results of year one). An app (application) party is when you sign up with several credit cards all at once to maximize your bonus points and minimize your credit score impact.

Note: I don’t have any consumer debt (credit cards, student loans, or car payments) that isn’t paid off in-full, automatically each month. If you’re in that same position and don’t have an immediate use for a top notch credit score (like getting a mortgage), then I say consider looking into doing an app party.

App parties (also called credit card application “sprees”) help me travel for free. In the past two years my family and I have flown to Disneyland, Deer Valley (Utah), Portland (Oregon), Connecticut/New York/Pennsylvania, St. Louis (2x), New Orleans, and Tucson, for free.

Consider me hooked on the idea of travel hacking with credit card rewards.

My goals for this year’s app party:

1. Earn the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. If you earn 110,000 miles with Southwest in less than a year’s time, you get a companion pass. The companion pass allows you to bring one other person along with you for free. It lasts for the rest of the year in which it’s earned, plus an additional year. So if I earn it in early 2014, it will remain active until Dec 31, 2015. Earning 110,000 miles isn’t easy. But it can be done easier when you sign up for a couple of Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards. As you’ll see below I chose a personal and a business card.

2. Start stockpiling Southwest Rapid Rewards points before the Wright Amendment expires. The Wright Amendment restricts travel from Love Field (Southwest’s hub here in Dallas). It’s annoying to fly anywhere other than within the state or to an adjacent state, because it requires a layover. That law expired in October of this year and I want to be ready to fly a lot more with Southwest. Getting the companion pass will certainly help, but having the 110,000 points that comes with earning it is going to go along way for future flights.

3. Earn some US Airways Dividend Miles before the airline goes away. American Airlines (who has a hub here in Dallas) merged with US Airways. The US Airways miles system will roll up into American Airlines AAdvantage Awards system. I think this is a great time to take advantage of this expiring airline and associated cards.

Based on these goals, I decided to apply for these three cards:

I was immediately approved for the Barclays card since I’m new to them. I wasn’t immediately approved or denied for both Chase cards. I had to call the reconsider line for both applications (personal first). Both cards were approved on the calls after shifting some of my credit lines around.

Here’s what I get with each card:

CardSpending RequiredSpending BonusNotesAnnual Fee
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Visa by Chase$2,000 in 3 months50,000 PointsCounts towards companion pass$99
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Business Premier Visa by Chase$2,000 in 3 months50,000 PointsCounts towards companion pass$99
US Airways Dividend Miles Premier World Mastercard by Barclays$130,000 PointsOne complimentary US Airways Club day pass$89

As you can see, it was a small party and I had to pay to play. The $300 in annual fees isn’t pretty. But these miles will no doubt be used for travel within the next couple of years. And those 100,000 Southwest points are going to go a long way once I have the companion pass earned.

After this app party I’ll be tapped out on applications for a while. We’ll need to start relying more in Mrs. PT to continue to enjoy free travel. I could see her applying for a couple of Chase cards (Ink and British Airways), plus a Barclays card by the end of the year.

Have any questions about my app party? Fire away in the comments below…

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Last Edited: February 27, 2014 @ 12:31 pm
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.