My January App-o-Rama Recap: 6 Cards and 340,000 Points
As both a late Christmas and early birthday present to myself, I decided to pull off an App-0-Rama. Originally, this was scheduled for early December but I put it off because I was still trying to make the minimum spend requirements from my August App-o-Rama.
I posted about my plan for this AoR back in late November and I had a few tough decisions to make:
- Do I go for the Chase British Airways card, the Chase Hyatt, or the Chase Priority Club?
- Do I get the regular Citi Hilton Hhonors cards with no annual fee or the Citi Hilton Hhonors Reserve cards which gives 2 free weekend nights but has a $95 annual fee each?
After much deliberation, I decided on the British Airways card and the regular Citi Hilton Hhonors with no annual fee.
Here’s the chart for all the cards I applied for:
Overall, this AoR was pretty interesting for me for a few reasons. First, at 7 cards applied for, it was the biggest AoR I’d ever done.
Second, I don’t usually apply for many hotel cards. Personally, I prefer airline miles much more. However, after my last two AoR’s, I’m running out of airline cards to get, and so I decided that this time I would put a major focus on earning a ton of Hilton points.
Why Hilton Points?
Hilton points are certainly not the most valuable hotel points on a per point basis (that would be Starwood points), but it is really easy to rack up a TON of them.
Also, they a special award charts for anyone who has at least Silver status (called the GLON award chart) or anyone with a Hilton American Express card (called the AXON award chart). Since I have an Amex Hilton Hhonors card which gives me automatic Silver status, I can access both charts.
To better understand AXON and GLON, check out this awesome explanation from The Points Guy reader Tony.
These award charts can be super valuable because they give you 15%-25% off stays of longer than 4 nights or more. This allows you to earn an awesome, long vacation at a top-notch Hilton property pretty easily.
For example, just from the Hilton points I earned during this AoR, I’m eyeing a 6 night stay at the Hilton Bora Bora.
First, let’s look at how I earned the Hilton points.
A BOATLOAD of Hilton Points
Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines
BoA Hawaiian Airlines application link
This was the only card that I received instant approval for and it gives me 35,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles after spending $1,000 in 4 months.
I’ll be converting those 35k Hawaiian Airlines miles to 70k Hilton points. Unfortunately, the $79 annual fee isn’t waived but 70k Hilton points is well worth the annual fee.
Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines
BoH Hawaiian Airlines application link
This card has exactly the same offer as the Bank of America card but because it is offered by the Bank of Hawaii instead of BoA, you can get both at the same time.
I was not originally approved for this card because the system saw that I had applied for the BoA card as well and, as a safety precaution, denied me.
However, it only took a 5 minute phone call to the BoH reconsideration line to get approved. I simply explained that yes, I had meant to apply for both cards and that I’d like one of each to split my spending.
The rep was super friendly and helpful and had no problem approving me for this card as well.
Once again, I’ll be converting these 35k Hawaiian Airlines miles to 70k Hilton points. The minimum spend is also $1,000 in 4 months and the annual fee of $79 is not waived.
All told, between the two Hawaiian Airlines cards, I earned 140k Hilton points for $168.
Using the AXON award chart, I could stay four nights at a Category 7 Hilton hotel (their highest level) for 145k points. Considering that these hotels can run upwards of $600+ PER NIGHT, I’d say paying $168 is quite the steal!
Citi Hilton Hhonors cards (x2)
Citi Hilton Hhonors application link
You know what is an even bigger steal though? Getting a ton of Hilton points for free!
This is exactly what the Citi Hilton Hhonors card allows you to do. Since it is a Citi card, you can get two of these cards if you apply for them at the same time. This was an obvious choice for me.
The public offer is for 40k Hilton points per card, but there is an unpublished offer that offers 50k Hilton points per card. It won’t mention the sign up bonus of 50k anywhere on the page, so it requires a little bit of faith, but many people have reported receiving the 50k with no problem.
I wasn’t instantly approved for either card and so I called up the Citi reconsideration line immediately. I called two separate times (once for each card) and both times, they were able to approve me immediately and also confirmed that I’d be receiving the 50k bonus for each card.
The minimum spend for each one of these cards is $1,500 in 6 months, which is really easy to hit, even with getting 2 of them.
Also, there is NEVER an annual fee, meaning I’ll be able to keep these cards open forever and help boost my credit score without ever having to worry about paying for them.
With two Citi Hilton Hhonors cards, I pulled in another 100k Hilton points, completely free!
Tip: If you do decide to apply for these cards, or any other Citi card, and want to get 2 of them, make sure to apply at the same time. Also, if you don’t get instantly approved and need to call in to get approval, call in separately for each card.
While I was super pumped with all my Hilton points, I wasn’t stopping there. I still had more cards to get!
Chase Ink Plus
Chase Ink Plus application link
I’d been eyeing this card since it came out and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Not only is the sign up bonus of 50k Chase points great, but the earning potential of this card is through the roof.
Using this card to buy gift cards at Office Depot, and then using those gift cards to pay my mortgage and student loan, could easily earn me an extra 120k Chase points per year!
Since I already have 7 other Chase cards, I knew I wouldn’t be instantly approved for this card. No problem.
I needed to call and cancel my old Chase Ink Bold (the pre-Nov. 2011 version) so that I wouldn’t have to pay the annual fee and I figured I could simply transfer the credit line from that card to the Ink Plus.
I called up the Chase business reconsideration line and my plan worked perfectly. They closed the Ink Bold and transferred the credit to my new Ink Plus. Easy, easy, easy!
This card has the biggest minimum spend of all the ones I opened during this AoR, at $5,000 in 3 months, but I’ll be meeting that easily by buying gift cards to pay my “big bills”. Also, the annual fee is waived for the first year. Gotta love Chase!
Chase British Airways
Chase British Airways application link
Since the Ink Plus is a business card and this card is a personal card, I was able to get both at the same time even though they were both Chase cards.
One of the big questions I had when thinking about which cards to get in this AoR was whether to get the British Airways card, and the 50k point bonus, or to go for one of Chase’s hotel cards, like the Hyatt or Priority Club.
Ultimately, I decided to go for the British Airways cards because:
- I already earned a bunch of Hilton points in this AoR
- I plan on going to South America or Ireland this year and those are 2 of the 5 best uses for BA Avios points.
Again, because I have so many Chase cards, I never hold out any hope for an instant approval. However, after getting the “your application is pending” message, I called Chase immediately.
As always, the representative was friendly and great and I was able to transfer some of the credit from my Marriott card (which I never use) to the BA card. The whole process took less than 5 minutes and I was looking at another 50k Avios points!
The annual fee of $95 is not waived for this card, but 50k Avios points can get me a roundtrip ticket Buenos Aires. $95 to get to Argentina and back? Yes, please!
Barclays Frontier Airlines
Barclays Frontier Airlines application link
Interestingly enough, the card I care the least about is the card that I got denied for. Yep, that’s right…I was able to get approved for 240,000 Hilton points worth of cards and also get approved for my 8th and 9th Chase cards and not a freakin’ Barclays card that offered, in essence, one domestic roundtrip ticket.
What a funny hobby this is!
Currently, the only two cards I have with Barclays are two USAirways cards, one with a $5,000 credit limit and one with a measly $1,000 credit limit (don’t even ask me how this is possible). And yet, when I called the Barclays representative, she simply said that I was denied because “Barclays had already offered me a sufficient amount of credit.”
Now, we can argue whether $6,000 of total credit is a sufficient amount (hint: it’s not), but I don’t even care about that. I don’t ever use my Barclays cards, so I’m not looking for huge credit lines. Instead, I want the sign up bonuses.
So I offered to transfer some of the credit from my $5,000 line to the new Frontier card, meaning they wouldn’t be giving me any more actual credit, just shifting it around, and she still wouldn’t budge. She simply said there was no way for them to approve me, even after I mentioned to her that I had 13 other credit cards total with other lenders and never missed a payment.
I attempted to call back and get another representative, hoping that things would change, but to no avail. I was told, firmly, that Barclays wouldn’t be giving me the card.
The biggest kick in the balls was that Barclays pulled ALL THREE credit bureaus, meaning I got a hard inquiry for each one and DIDN’T EVEN GET APPROVED!
Now that’s insult to injury!
I was more shocked than bummed about not getting approved. After all, I had gotten approved for the 6 cards I wanted the most and I still have plenty of Southwest points and the Southwest Companion Pass for my domestic travel needs.
Meeting the Minimum Spend
Meeting the minimum spend for this App-o-Rama won’t be too difficult, as most of the cards, with the exception of the Chase Ink Plus, have pretty small minimum spend requirements.
Here’s the chart of all the minimum spends:
Here’s my rough plan to meet the spends:
Chase Ink Plus- Since this is the heftiest minimum spend, I’m getting on this right away. The day I got my card, I went and bought $1,500 worth of gift cards. I’ll use this strictly for gift card purchases with a few small purchases thrown in just to be safe. With $2,000 in gift cards a month (which I’ll use to pay my mortgage and student loans), I can easily hit this no problem.
Chase British Airways- I’ll use Amazon payments to send $1,000 to my sister in February. This will take care of the BA card.
Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines- I’ll use my $1,000 Amazon payments limit in March to complete this spend.
Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines- I’ll use my $1,000 Amazon payments limit in April to complete this spend.
Through gift cards and Amazon Payments, I’ll have met the spend requirement on 4 of the cards and not even tapped in to my everyday spending.
Then, I’ll simply use my Citi Hilton cards for everyday purchases. With only $3,000 total that I’d need to spend in 6 months, I can do this very easily.
Tip: If you are planning on using Amazon Payments, I’d suggest using cards OTHER THAN Citi cards. There have been some reports that Citi counts it as a cash advance, which will charge you a fee and probably not count against your minimum spend.
Even with getting denied for the Barclays card, I’m super happy with how this AoR turned out.
I’ve been able to amass enough Hilton points to take a truly epic vacation to a top-notch resort, something I rarely do. Sometimes, it’s nice to spoil yourself (Heather wholeheartedly agrees with this statement).
In addition, I was able to add 50k to my stable of British Avios points, which now sits at about 170k. If used right, Avios points can be super valuable. 170k is enough for Heather and I to fly roundtrip to both Buenos Aires and Ireland, two trips we plan on taking sometime this year.
And of course, adding the Ink Plus is a major, major coup. Having the Ink Plus in addition to the Ink Bold I already have allows me to ramp up my gift card purchases and earn 5x per $1 spent on almost all my purchases. That means an extra 200,000+ Chase points per year!
Have you pulled off an AoR recently? If so, what cards did you get? What cards are you planning on getting for your next App-o-Rama? Let me know in the comments below!