My September App-o-Rama: Meet the Candidates
This is my 5th App-o-Rama since starting the site, and man, each time it gets harder!
I already have many of the best travel credit cards, which leaves the pool of cards for me to pick from to be (relatively) slim.
Of course, there is still value to be had, and while it takes a little ingenuity, a really good AoR can be put together, even if you’ve been at it for awhile.
For this AoR, I have two major questions I need to answer, followed by a list of cards I call “Duh, Obvies”, which seem to be no-brainers for me.
As always, my favorite part about writing these “Meet the Candidates” posts is getting your feedback.
Any and all suggestions are welcomed in the comments.
Did I miss a card? Should I consider something else?
Of course, the first thing you need to know is what cards I currently have, so here is a list of every card I’ve ever opened. The highlighted ones have been closed:
And here is the list of cards that I am considering for this App-o-Rama:
Decision #1: Which Chase Card to Get?
As always, Chase has the best options. But unlike other app-o-ramas, this time I’ve run out Chase airline cards to get, so I’ll finally be adding a Chase hotel card to my stable.
So which one: The Chase Hyatt or the Chase Priority Club?
I’m looking towards your comments to help me decide.
Chase Priority Club
See this Flyertalk thread for info on the 80k Priority Club offer.
Pros: 80k Priority Club points is a decent haul considering that Intercontinental Hotels, the premier hotels of Priority Club, range from 30-50k, with most being 40k. This means you’re getting at least 2 nights at a top-notch property.
Also, Priority Club has “Point Break” properties each quarter, which are a measly 5k a night, leading to some fantastic value for 80k points. The no annual fee and no annual minimum spend is also a huge bonus.
Cons: There aren’t really any cons except that I’d have to pick this over the Chase Hyatt.
Overall: I love the flexibility of this card. If I want to stay at a nice place one night, I can. But if I’m just looking for a place to rest my head, I can stretch 80k points super far!
Chase Hyatt Gold Passport
Pros: Two nights stay at any Hyatt is a great deal, seeing as some of their top end properties, like the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris, can run $1,000+ a night!
Cons: The $75 annual fee isn’t waived.
Overall: This card would be used just to indulge myself in fantasies that I would never, ever pay for.
And to spoil my wife, who has put up with more than her fair share of
awful less than opulent accommodations over our years of backpacking.
Decision?: It’s neckandneck between the Chase Priority Club and the Chase Hyatt.
Do I go with the flexibility and great value of the Priority Club or the amazing, “spoil myself silly” Chase Hyatt card?
Weigh in down in the comments!
Decision #2: Is the Mercedes Benz Platinum Worth It?
I’ve written at length about the “regular” American Express Platinum card, coming to the conclusion that while it was worth the $450 annual fee for the first year with a 25k sign up, I was going to wait in hopes of getting a targeted offer for 100k.
The Mercedes Benz Platinum is currently offering a 50k but clocks in with a slightly higher annual fee of $475.
The Mercedes Benz Platinum offers almost the exact same perks as the regular Platinum (broken down here), so technically, it is worth it.
But I’m still having trouble pulling the trigger on the card.
Decision?: What do you think?
Is 50k Amex points, using lounge access a few times a year, and a $200 airline voucher worth paying the upfront fee of $475?
Chase United Explorer Business card
There is a targeted offer for 50k United miles. Check this Flyertalk thread for details.
Pros: 50k United miles is a really nice sign up bonus, especially considering United miles allows you to have stopovers and open jaws and never charge a fuel surcharge.
Also, it gives you 2 United club passes each year and allows you to check your first bag for free, which are are two nice perks.
Overall: This is a no-brainer for me. The minimum spend of $2,000 in 3 months is easily attainable and 50k United miles is a nice haul.
I already have the personal version of this card, but you are allowed to get 1 personal card version and 1 business card version.
Citi Hilton Reserve
Pros: When a night at the top end Hiltons jumped from 50k to 95k earlier this year, a “free night” became MUCH more valuable than collecting points.
The sign up bonus of 2 free nights could be worth up to 190k Hilton points if you use them at the best properties, like the Hilton Bora Bora which I intend to do.
This is now the best way to go about trying to stay at aspirational Hilton properties. Collecting Hilton points is sooo00 last year.
Cons: The major downside to me is that it only includes weekend nights. This puts a big crimp in a lot of vacations if you’re planning on going for any length of time.
You’ll need to have additional Hilton points to use for the days that aren’t weekends.
Lastly, the annual fee of $95 and minimum spend of $2,500 in 4 months are quiet hefty for a hotel card.
Overall: Since I was unable to offload my Hilton points before the devaluation, I’m still sitting on 370k Hilton points, which nowadays, can only get me 4 nights at a top notch Hilton.
By adding 2 free weekend nights, I could theoretically spend 6 nights at the Hilton Bora Bora, which might make it worth going all the way out there.
Since there are no other Citi cards worth applying for now, this is an obvious choice.
Amex Hilton Hhonors Surpass
Pros: 60k Hilton points gets me closer to my ultimate goal of spending a week or so at a crazy awesome Hilton property, like the Hilton Bora Bora discussed above.
Also, you receive complimentary Gold status, which entitles you to free internet and free breakfast. That can save you tons of money during an extended hotel stay.
Cons: The minimum spend of $3,000 in 3 months is high for a hotel credit card, and the annual fee of $75 is not waived.
Overall: If I didn’t already have a ton of Hilton points, I wouldn’t get this card because the annual fee and minimum spend aren’t worth it for 60k.
However, because I’m working towards a specific goal, every little bit helps, which is why I’m applying for the card now.
US Bank Club Carlson Business card
Pros: The Club Carlson card is my favorite hotel credit card out there.
Well, the 85k sign up bonus is a ton of points. The top Club Carlson category is 50k/night, so right away the sign up bonus is good for almost 2 free nights at their top end hotels or 4-5 nights at a lower end hotel.
But it gets better….
You can get buy 1 get 1 free nights when using points. This doubles your free nights!
The card also comes with an anniversary bonus of 40k, which negates the $75 annual fee.
Cons: The annual fee of $75 is not waived the first year and while the minimum spend of $2,500 in 3 month isn’t a killer, it is much higher than most hotel credit cards.
More importantly, US Bank only approved me for the lower version of the personal card (60k instead of 85k) last app-o-rama and have been known to be stingy.
Overall: While it makes sense to apply for this card, I’m not overly optimistic about getting it. US Bank doesn’t really ever reconsider their decisions, so if you get denied, there isn’t any recourse.
But the 85k points, with the ability to get buy 1 get 1 stays in Club Carlson properties, is enough to make me chance it.
Bank of America Alaskan Airlines
Pros: I already have 40k Alaskan Airlines miles from back in 2011, so adding on 30k would give me the ability to redeem for a nice flight somewhere.
The miles post immediately after approval, so no need to worry about a minimum spend.
Cons: 30k isn’t much, and Alaskan Airlines miles don’t work near as well for me since I live on the East Coast.
Overall: This is more of a “why not” application. 30k doesn’t move the needle much for me, but there is basically no effort to get it. So, why not?
There is also an offer for the same card which gives you 25k miles but offers $100 statement credit when spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. I’m still deciding between 30k or 25k and $100.
How Can I Get All Those Cards?
There are two keys to pulling off a successful App-o-Rama and getting approved for all the cards you applied for.
1. Apply for them all on the same day, and as close to simultaneous as possible. By doing this, you lower your chance at getting denied for “too many recent inquiries” since they will all be processing at the same time.
2. Spread out the cards you get by applying to different lenders. Don’t apply for 4 Chase cards at one time. You’ll get denied.
However, you can apply for 1 personal card and 1 business card from each lender, so I highly suggest looking at getting business cards.
In this AoR, I’m looking at applying for:
- 1 Chase personal card- Chase Hyatt or Chase Priority Club
- 1 Chase business card- Chase United Explorer Business
- 1 Amex personal card- Amex Hilton Surpass
- 1 Citi personal card- Citi Hilton Reserve
- 1 US Bank business card- Club Carlson
- 1 Bank of American personal card- Alaskan Airlines
Spread your applications among lenders and don’t get greedy and you’ll have a good shot at getting approved for all of them.
Will getting all these cards kill my credit score?
The short answer is, probably not. Check out this post on why that is and how my personal credit score has been affected (and its not negatively).
This AoR is a little more cut and dry due to the fact that I’m running out of great options.
However, I’d still love your opinions in the comments of what I should do, or if I’m missing a decent card.
Also, I wanted to show that even with opening 20+ cards in the last 2 years, there are still some options out there that provide good value.
You just got to dig a little!