This is the third and final part in my series on applying for credit cards in what’s known as an App O Rama. In the first part, I talked about how to prepare for a credit card App O Rama and in the second part I discussed which cards to apply for and how to find the best current offers.
Now that I had settled on which cards I was to apply for I wanted to give myself the best chance at getting approved for all five. Right before I applied, I checked my Credit Karma and Credit Sesame Score and my scores were 754 and 765 respectively. Like I mentioned before, it’s important to stay on top of your score and report so that you give yourself the best possible chances with each application. I wouldn’t have considered an App O Rama(AOR) like this if my scores were lower.
Here’s how it all went down:
First Application: Barclays US Airways Dividend Miles Mastercard - 35k Bonus after first purchase, no annual fee 1st year($89 after that), 10k bonus on 1 year anniversary, 2 US Airways Airport Lounge Passes
I applied for this card first since Barclays tends to be the strictest out of all the credit card companies. If your credit isn’t in the 700+ range I wouldn’t even bother applying for a Barclays card like this since the bonus isn’t that great and it isn’t worth wasting a hard inquiry in my opinion unless you’re pretty sure you’ll be accepted. Even though the bonus is only 35k, you can wait until the 10k bonus points post after a year and cancel the card right after and you should get the annual fee credited back.
I was approved instantly for this card with a 10k credit limit. Whew, first one done. An inquiry showed up on my Experian and TransUnion reports 2 days later(I use free credit monitoring services from CK/CS and AAA). Barclays also reported that my TransUnion score was 758 so CK and CS were right on there.
As of 9/4/13, this offer is still active. Flyertalk Thread
Second Application: Citi Platinum American Airlines Visa - 50k bonus after 2.5k spend in 4 months – no annual fee 1st year($95 after that)
I applied for the Citi AA card a few minutes later since the point of an App O Rama is doing a bunch of cards in the same day. Again, I was instantly approved for a 13k credit limit. The inquiry showed up on my Experian credit report the same day. AA points are pretty valuable for shorter haul flights and they have great redemption rates for the west coast to Hawaii.
As of 9/4/13, this offer is no longer available, but there is a new offer for 50k points after spending $3,000 within 3 months. Flyertalk Thread
Chase UA Mileage Explorer Visa - 50k bonus after 1k spend in 3 months, 5k bonus for adding an Authorized User, $50 Statement Credit and no annual fee 1st year($95 after that)
Chase tends to have some of the best offers and you generally can’t apply for more than one Chase card within 60-90 days unless you do a personal and a business card. So this was the personal card I decided to apply for and a few minutes after the Citi AA card I applied and was instantly approved again(3 for 3!) with a 20k credit limit. The inquiry showed up on my Experian credit report the same day.
As of 9/4/13, this offer is still available, but it might take some work to get it to show up. Flyertalk Thread
Note: The cool thing about Chase is that they are one of the only credit card companies that will match new offers. So if you sign up for a card when there’s only a 50k bonus and two weeks later a 60k bonus is offered all you have to do is send them a secure message and they’ll award you the extra bonus points.
Chase Ink Bold Business Card - 45k bonus after 5k spend within 3 months, 2 Airport Lounge Passes Plus VIP access, no annual fee first year($95 after that)
Sometimes credit card companies are funny about applying for cards in the same day so I decided to wait a day on this one. Although an inquiry for a business credit card will show up on your credit report, they generally fall off way earlier than the 2 years like with a personal card inquiry.
At this point, I was feeling pretty cocky and of course when I applied the next day, my application went pending further review. What this means is that although you’re not denied, you’re also not approved until further notice. Luckily, I had the number for the Chase Business reconsideration line(800-453-9719) so I gave them a call and after giving them some information about my business, I was quickly approved. Reconsideration lines are a great tool to use if you’re not instantly approved or even if you’re denied. Usually, you can move some credit around or explain why you need the card and they will oblige.
Chase ended up approving me for a 5k credit limit.
As of 9/4/13, this offer is still available. You can actually sign up for Ink or Plus Versions. Flyertalk Thread
(Note: A 60k offer for this card came out a few weeks after I applied so once I hit the spend requirement, I messaged Chase and they matched the offer!)
Citi Business American Airlines Visa - 45k bonus after 5k spend in 4 months, $150 SC on AA purchases, 4 Admirals Club Passes
A few minutes after my Chase Bold application, I applied for the Citi Business Visa. Again, my application went pending so I gave the Citi Business Reconsideration Line(866-606-2961) a call. They didn’t even ask for any information, they just reviewed my application and approved me for a 1k credit limit.
As of 9/4/13, this offer is no longer available, but there is a new Citi Business Mastercard offer for 50k points. Flyertalk Thread
Recap of The Application Process
The main factor into whether you’re going to get approved or not for all these cards is your credit score. But there are some ancillary things you can do like applying for certain cards first and having the number to reconsideration lines on hand that will greatly increase your chances for success. I ended up applying for 5 cards: 3 personal and 2 business cards. I was instantly approved for the three personal cards and had to call the recon line for the two business cards before I was approved.
Business cards tend to offer some of the most lucrative benefits so just because you don’t own a ‘traditional business’ don’t think you can’t apply for these cards. You definitely don’t want to lie on your application since credit card companies have been known to do financial reviews more often on business accounts. But selling things on eBay can be a business or even a blog can be a business. Just be honest with the numbers you report and remember businesses don’t have to make money to be considered a business.
Ultimately, I would say it was definitely a success since I went 5 for 5 and since I was instantly approved on the first three that shows that my credit is still pretty strong. When you start getting a lot of pending results, that’s a sign that companies may become less likely to approve you in the future. Although you can easily call the recon line and get approved, you might want to slow down if you’re not getting any more instant approvals since eventually you may start getting declined.
Meeting the Spend Requirements
About a week later I went to check the mail and all 5 cards had arrived on the same day! It was a pretty glorious day for me and I was excited to get spending. It’s important to know how much you can safely spend since you don’t want to sign up for a bunch of cards with high spend requirements and spend money that you normally wouldn’t have just to get the bonuses. In total, I needed to spend $13,500 across 5 cards in 4 months. Sounds pretty tough considering I only spend $1,000 a month normally but here’s how I did it.
Since I normally spend $1,000 a month, I would be able to knock out $4,000 of the $13,500 doing this method. I’m going to re-iterate, make sure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew in your first AOR. It’s pointless to get all these points if you have to spend a bunch of money to get them.
This is probably the easiest and best way to meet spend requirements. Amazon Payments is a service by Amazon that lets you send money by credit card to friends without a fee up to $1,000 a month. You can only sign up for one account though since you need to give them your social security number. It really helps if you can get a couple friends or family members to sign up and you take control of their accounts. That way you can link all the accounts to your bank accounts so when you receive money you can cash it right out.
I use three accounts: Mine, Friend 1 and Friend 2. So every month, I’ll send $950(just to stay under the radar) from my account to friend 1′s account and cash it out to my bank account. Then I’ll send $950 from Friend 2′s account to my account and cash it out to my other bank account(I have two checking accounts). This is a great way to unload $1,900 a month and it’s free.
A couple warnings though. First, don’t send money back and forth between the same two AP accounts, Amazon does not like that. Second, make sure that you’re not solely spending money through AP on your credit card accounts. Card issuers like Chase don’t like to see 5 charges for $1,000 to AP over a 3 month period and nothing else. Make 5-10 purchases before you start using AP and a few inbetween to make your spending look more natural.
Since the limit is per month, if your 4 month spend window starts in the middle of the month you actually have 5 months of AP to take advantage of. So 5 months x $1,900 a month is $9,500 which just covers the spend requirement. I actually just spent the last few dollars on this AOR(on 9/7/13) so I’m now finished with my first AOR!
Since not everyone can get a hold of 3 or even 2 Amazon Payment accounts another option is a payment service from Amex called Bluebird. Although I have an account, I haven’t actually needed to use it yet. Bluebird is very valuable though since you can load it with Vanilla Reload Cards(which can be purchased in stores with a credit card) or even prepaid gift cards(with a PIN) and use it to pay for things like your credit card bill, mortgage and rent. I think you can even write a check to a friend and cash it out that way.
The only problem with Bluebird though is it’s tough to find Vanilla Reload Cards and some stores won’t accept credit cards for them. There is a $5 fee for these cards but you can buy a $500 reloadable card so the fee is only 1%. You’ll have to go to a Walmart to load the Bluebird card and there is a $1,000/day limit. I think the best way to load Bluebird is through prepaid gift cards with a PIN since you can find them with no fee more often.
I don’t have a ton of experience with Bluebird but I’ll be trying it out over the next couple months and be sure to let everyone know how it goes. You can find more information on Bluebird here.
Prepaid Gift Cards
The last option that I’ll use is prepaid gift cards. Although they normally have a $4-$7 fee, there are always sales going on at places like Vons/Safeway, Staples, etc where the fee is either negated or there is a cash back bonus on the card. Right now(as of 9/4/13), you can actually buy Chase Prepaid Gift Cards for free(but you must use a Chase card).
The benefit of buying gift cards lies in the fact that it allows you to hit the spending limits faster and you can unload the gift cards at your own pace. You can spend the cards, add them to Bluebird or cash them out later with Amazon Payments. So for example, if you have to spend $10,000 in 3 months and you only spend $1,000 a month($1,000 x 3 = $3,000) and have 2 Amazon payment accounts($950 x 4 = $3,800) you could make up the rest($3,200) by buying prepaid gift cards before the 3 month deadline and then using AP to unload them afterwards.
I don’t really like spending money to make money so I tend to stay away from the Vanilla Reloads and other costly methods of manufactured spending. Instead, I use a combination of my normal spending, Amazon Payments and prepaid gift cards(when I can find them with no fee) in order to hit the spending requirements. It might seem like a lot of work to plan for an App O Rama, research cards and then spend all the money but I think it’s more than worth it. Remember all the points and money you’re accumulating is tax free and once you gain some experience your App O Rama’s will get easier and easier.
In total, I ended up hauling in 250,000 points, $200 in statement credits and 8 airport lounge passes(4 for AA, 2 for US Airways and 2 for VIP). In total I value the points at about 1-2 cents per point and the airport lounge passes at about $25 each(that’s what you can buy them for on eBay). So my haul from this App O Rama was $2,900 – $5,400 depending on how I redeem the points.
Readers, so what do you think about my first Credit Card App O Rama. Was all that work worth at least $2,900?
-Harry @ PF Pro