Pile of credit cards
My credit card haul from the past few weeks

This summer I was under 5/24 and was able to apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred in July and Chase Sapphire Reserve in August. This pushed me over the edge so I was at 5/24 making it time to apply for credit cards at some of the other banks. I also got the American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles card this August with a targeted 50,000 point offer for spending $1,000 in the first three months. All of the above were instant approvals. Here’s how I made out this fall.

Chase Freedom

I was already over 5/24 but the Amex card had yet to hit my credit report in October so I decided to apply for Chase Freedom. I could have been ballsier and went for a card with a better sign-up bonus but I thought applying for Freedom would be easier to explain if I needed to call the reconsideration line. I also wanted this card for the 5x rotating bonus categories. Some people have reported that it’s harder to product change a Chase Sapphire Preferred to Freedom these days. I plan to downgrade my Chase Sapphire Preferred card when the fee is due next summer. Since I already have Chase Freedom, I can change it to Chase Freedom Unlimited which is the card customer service representatives tend to offer when people request a product change.

Chase Pending Screen
Not what you want to see when you apply for a credit card. Luckily this resulted in an approval.

My application went to the pending 7-10 days screen. I called recon immediately and was told I would have to wait 30 days for a decision in the mail. I called again later (I’m kind of impatient…) and was told I’d receive a decision by email in 7 -10 days. It’s confusing when you receive conflicting information, but I decided to stop thinking about it.

Two days later the card appeared on my Chase account. My credit limit was a measly $500 but I called Chase and moved some credit from my Chase Sapphire Preferred. I didn’t need as big of a credit line since I’m no longer using it thanks to Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’m glad I picked Chase Freedom because I think I would have been denied if I’d applied for a card that required a larger initial credit limit.

Result: Pending 7-10 days, approved after 2 days

Bonus: 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and 2,500 more for adding an authorize user. Since I have Chase Sapphire Reserve, this is worth $262.50 on Chase’s travel portal.

Citi Hilton HHonors
citi reject letter
My rejection letter from Citi 🙁

High off my small victory over my 5/24 status, I decided to apply for the Citi Hilton HHonors card with the increased sign-up bonus of 75,000 points. I received my first rejection and it felt personal. I called recon twice and they restated that they couldn’t override an automatic denial. I ended up writing a letter to the executive office. It’s been over a month with no response so I’m going to let this one go.

Result: Instant denial

Bonus: 75,000 Hilton HHonors points worth nothing because I was denied…still a little bitter.

For the next three cards, I waited until it had been three months since I applied for Chase Sapphire Preferred. I’m not sure if that made any difference but now I only had three new cards in the last three months (…I needed a little confidence after my Citi shutdown).

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

I was nervous to apply for Barclaycard Arrival Plus. I’ve read that Barclays is strict with applications and I didn’t want another hard inquiry on my credit report without the benefit of a sign-up bonus.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus Approval
My approval email for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

I have a Bachelorette party to attend in a few months so I figured the increased sign-up bonus would be a flexible way of covering my flight since I don’t know what airline we will be flying yet.

I’ve never had my own Barclays credit card but I was an authorized user on my parent’s Upromise card for six years as a teenager. As an aside, this helped build my credit and beef up my credit score in college. Parents, do this for your kids!

Anyway, I was happy to receive an instant approval and not have to be grilled by recon. However, the first time I used my card, it was denied. I immediately called Barclays and they said there was a security flag on my account. I answered some questions about current and previous addresses. They also got personal and asked a bunch of questions about my boyfriend’s identity. The call took about 30 minutes but the problem was resolved.

Result: Instant approval

Bonus: 50,000 miles plus 5% miles back on redemptions worth $525

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest
Starwood Amex 30,000 point offer
Try getting this 30,000 point offer for the Starwood Card from American Express by browsing in private mode

I didn’t intend on applying for more cards the same day, but with a targeted 30,000 point offer for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card floating around the web, I decided to try to find it. I was also afraid of this card disappearing since we don’t know Marriott’s intentions with the card since the merger with Starwood.

My boyfriend seems to be American Express’s target customer because we are usually able to find these increased sign-up bonuses when we browse incognito on his laptop. My computer, on the other hand, seems to show sign-up bonuses that are worse than public offers…

You can try to find the 30,000 Starwood Preferred Guest sign-up bonus by doing the following:

  • Close out of your web browser
  • Reopen and browse in private or incognito mode
  • Go to americanexpress.com
  • Click “Cards” on the navigation bar
  • Select “View All Personal Charge & Credit Cards”

If it doesn’t work for you, try it on a friend’s computer.

I was instantly approved and received an instant credit card number. My mom was ordering a new MacBook Pro that week so I asked if I could use my card to place the order. With Apple Care and a few other add-ons, I met the $3,000 spending requirement in record speed!

Result: Instant approval

Bonus: 30,000 Starpoints valued at 1.9 to 2.7 cents each worth $570-$810

Bank of America Travel Rewards
Bank of America Travel Rewards
My Bank of America Travel Rewards bonus showed up as pending the day I hit the $1,000 spending requirement

I did not intend on applying for two let alone three cards that day, but it’s addicting. I figured I’d cool it on the applications for a bit so I might as well do one more. I chose Bank of America Travel Rewards because it’s a no annual fee card I plan on keeping for a long time. I’m a Platinum Honors client at Bank of America so I get 75% more points per dollar spent on this card. The normal 1.5 points per dollar is actually a little over 2.6 points per dollar for me. I also knew I wouldn’t have to spend any money to hit the $1,000 spending requirement for the 20,000 point sign-up bonus. I decided to open a Santander account (with its own bonus) and use this card to fund the account (more about that here). I was approved instantly and will get about $225 towards travel.

Result: Instant approval

Bonus: 20,000 points worth $200 toward travel

Bank of America Better Balance Rewards
Better Balance Rewards Credit Card
Better Balance Reward credit card from Bank of America can give you $100 to $120 per year for doing almost nothing

This fall I also successfully converted my old Bank of America Power Rewards card to Better Balance Rewards. People have had limited success with this product change recently, but I think I was able to because a) Platinum Honors status and b) the Power Rewards Visa is a really old card with horrible rewards. Basically you get $25 dollars every three months just for paying more than your monthly minimum each month. You get an extra $5 each quarter if you have a Bank of America checking or savings account. You can read more about how this works here.

Final Thoughts

I was a little sloppy with my credit card application strategy this fall. One thing I would have done differently is not apply for a Citi card after hitting Chase so hard this summer. I was a little impulsive with my last three applications but it paid off. With these four cards, I’ll be getting 117,500 points from various rewards programs worth at least $1,500 (not counting points earned by meeting spending requirements). Not bad!

What cards will you be applying for next?

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