When I first started this blog, one of the first posts I wrote was a breakdown of all the candidates for my February 2012 App-o-Rama. To this day, it still remains one of the more popular posts and I continue to receive emails about it, 5 months later!
Now, as I prepare for my next AoR (What the Deuce is an App-o-Rama?), I’m once again at the point where I’m weighing the pros and cons of each card.
Since my last AoR was on April 3rd, I’d already be eligible to do another one, so most of you are probably wondering “What is wrong with this guy? Why in the world is he waiting on an App-o-Rama?”
The simple fact is that sometimes life gets in the way of my miles addiction (crazy, I know)! Until August 22nd, when I set foot back on US soil, I’ll be super busy moving out of my apartment in Japan and then traveling around Indonesia and India.
Seems crazy to push my AoR back 2 whole months but I don’t really feel like worrying about making a minimum spend while traveling in countries that don’t always accept credit cards.
Before knowing what I’m considering, it helps to know what I already have in my wallet (read my utterly over the top and completely in-depth breakdown of all my cards here). I’ve also included a chart:
This chart is the cards I’m considering, listed by lender. Just like last time, I’ll break down the cards in to three categories: Pretenders (red), Contenders (yellow), and Duh Obvies (green).
Pros: This card has two things going for it. First is the fact that there is never an annual fee, meaning you can open this card and keep it open forever without having to worry about closing it.
This helps keep your credit score high. The second is that each quarter there are categories that will give you 5x bonus points. If you meet the maximum spend each quarter ($1,500) this equates to 30,000 extra Chase points each year. Yes please!
Cons: The signup bonus is a paltry 10k (it was a high as 35k back in April).
Overall: For card that has had a bonus as high as 35k just a few months ago, there is no way I’m finally pulling the trigger on this card when it has such a low signup bonus.
Just like the Southwest card, I’ll be hoping that Chase decides to raise this signup bonus to something respectable by the time of my AoR.
If it bounces up to 30k (or maybe even 25k) then I’d seriously consider picking this card over any other Chase personal card available at the moment.
I’ve listed these cards in order of my current preference, from least likely to most likely. Of course, this is bound to change on a whim!
Bank of America and Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines Visa
Pros: The minimum spend is easily attainable and converting to Hilton points gives pretty good value at 70k Hilton points a card. Since it is Bank of America and Bank of Hawaii, I wouldn’t be wasting a spot with one of the bigger lenders (Chase, AmEx).
Cons: While I’m not sure about B of H, B of A pulls Experian in my area and so getting these cards would cost me an inquiry (and maybe two) with the credit bureau that I can least afford inquiries with. 70k Hilton points isn’t bad but they definitely give the least bang for your buck, so 70k isn’t exactly as great as it sounds. Also, they don’t waive the annual fee the first year, so I’d be stuck paying $160 for both cards right out of the gate.
Overall: 140k Hilton points isn’t too shabby, especially if I can you take advantage of their AXON or GLON rates (check out this great breakdown by Nick over at TGP to understand those two crazy acronyms). I’m not too keen on paying $160 upfront, nor do I want the hit (or two) on my Experian report, but 4 nights at a Category 7 resort does sound pretty enticing, especially come winter!
Pros: Even though I value airline miles more than hotel points, Virgin charges huge fuel surcharges on their flights and so the best value comes by converting VA miles to Hilton points. 100k points is a fairly decent sign up bonus for only one card (and therefore one inquiry) and is larger than the sign up for the actual Hilton card (60k) or the two cards mentioned above (70k each). Like the above two, it wouldn’t be with a major lender like Chase or Amex, so I’m in the clear there. Cons: The $2,500 in 3 months minimum spend is starting to get a little high when throwing it in with other cards during an AoR. The annual fee is high at $99. Overall: I’d most likely add this over the two Hawaiian Airlines cards if I was going to pad my Hilton account because it would only cost me 1 inquiry. Or, I might consider doing a major Hilton points bonanza during this AoR and getting all 3 cards, which would net me 240,000 Hilton points, enough for up an 8 night stay at a category 6 resort! That’s pretty sweet! My main issue isn’t the $99 annual fee, since I know how to maximize Hilton points, but the minimum spend is high enough to make me wary if I was also going to add the SPG cards. It will most likely come down to trying to get all 3 “Hilton cards” (Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Airlines x 2) or the 2 SPG cards. Decisions, decisions!
Pros: Two nights stay at any Hyatt is nothing to sneeze at, since they have some amazing properties and I’ve been wanting to add Hyatt points and stays to my meager stable of hotel points. Cons: The biggest con is that this is a Chase card, meaning I’d have to choose it over the other Chase offerings or try to get lucky and apply for this AND another Chase personal card. If this was another lender’s card, I’d pick it in a heartbeat. The annual fee ($75) isn’t a huge deal, but is more than the $0 for the Chase Priority Club. Overall: Each AoR, I come close to picking this card but I usually can’t seem to justify the hotel points, even if it is Hyatt, over picking up some extra airline miles. I’m definitely sold on getting the Chase Southwest personal card and maybe even trying to get the Chase BA card (if it is still available), so it once again looks like the Chase Hyatt will be on the outside looking in.
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: Just like the Chase Hyatt, I’d need to get this card in lieu of another Chase card (which I wouldn’t do over the Chase Southwest card) or try to get lucky and get this card AND that card. Overall: I’d favor this card eversoslightly over the Chase Hyatt card because of the value of the “Point Break” properties and the lack of an annual fee. However, I have the same reservations about this card that I do about the Chase Hyatt; I have a hard time picking hotel points over airline miles.
There are two different signup offers for this card. This post describes both methods. I’d most likely go after the “alternative” signup method, which gives you 50k as a signup bonus now and 50k after you’ve paid the annual fee for the second year but has no minimum spend. The link connected with the title above goes to the regular signup bonus. Pros: 100k points is ALOT of Avios points, especially when I add it to the 120k I got from the Amex transfer back in March. The 5 Best Uses for Avios Points are all on my list of places I want to go (especially South America and Dublin) so I wouldn’t struggle to find ways to use them up! Also, if you get the “alternative” version you won’t have to meet any minimum spend requirements! Cons: I’d have to pay two years of the annual fee ($150), and I hate paying upfront for points. Also, I’d have to either pick this over the Chase Southwest personal card (which I wouldn’t do….I don’t think?) or try for 2 Chase personal cards at one time, which is always a risky proposition. Overall: I’m really close to pushing this to the “Duh, Obvi” section. Avios points, especially 100k, are incredibly valuable for the trips I wish to take and the fact that it has no minimum spend if I get the “alternative” version makes it a great card to throw in an an App-o-Rama. I’m a little wary about going after 2 Chase personal cards at one time, but….the worst they can say is no. And so far, using my 6 Tips to Crush Your Reconsideration Phone Call, I’m a perfect 100%. So why not? Now I’m just crossing my fingers that this deal is still around in late August.
Amex Starwood Preferred Guest Personal and Business cards
Amex SPG personal card application link Amex SPG business card application link Pros: SPG points are by far the most valuable hotel points out there, so while the sign up bonuses appear paltry at first (only 25k, are you kidding me?) they are actually worth (sometimes alot) more than double that amount at other hotel chains. SPG points also transfer to a ton of partners, including many airlines, and do so at a 25% bonus rate, meaning 50k SPG points, which you would receive for getting both cards, really turns in to 60k AA, USAir, ANA, etc miles. This allows for awesome flexibility down the road. There are no other AmEx deals right now that are enticing to me, and therefore, these deals don’t take up an AmEx spot in this AoR that could be for something else. Cons: The minimum spends are HUGE! Getting both these cards at the same time would mean spending 10k in 6 months, which is doable but hardly easy. Overall: It’s crazy to think that I still don’t have one of the best travel credit cards out there, but it’s just never worked out, mostly because I’ve gotten other cards with large minimum spends. I know I want the SPG cards, so it is more a question of when. Since I’m finally moving back Stateside for a while, I won’t have to worry about the 3% foreign transaction fee, another factor in why I haven’t gotten the cards yet. Also, most of the other cards I’m considering have a low or no minimum spend, making it possible to meet the requirements on these cards. Because there are no other AmEx cards I like right now, I’m definitely tempted to throw them in this AoR. The thing that would truly push me over the edge and guarantee their spot in this AoR is if Amex increased the signup bonus to 30k a card, as they are known to do every now and then. If that happens, I’ll finally be calling the SPG cards my own!
Pros: The 50k signup bonus is not only great in its own right ($833 worth of Wanna Get Away fares) but it also counts toward the Southwest Companion Pass, which is one of the best airline perks out there. In my last AoR, I was able to snag the business version of this card (also a 50k signup) and after getting this card, I’ll have earned 100k out of the 110k needed for the Companion Pass. Cons: The $69 annual fee (for the Plus card) is not waived. There is a small minimum spend to meet this time around ($1,000 in 3 months) whereas previous versions of this card didn’t have a minimum spend. Overall: I’ve been waiting for this card to bounce back up to 50k for a few months now, so you better believe I”m jumping on it now that it is back! I’ll only be 10k away from the Companion Pass, which I can easily get by spending on the card and/or buying some miles ($250 for 10k). I usually don’t buy miles, but it is worth it to have the Companion Pass for the rest of 2012 and the entire 2013. Don’t forget, a companion flies free with you on ANY Southwest flight you take, whether is a paid flight or one you booked using miles! This is an amazing value!
Pros: I love AA miles, so getting 50,000 of them would be sweet! Also, there are no other Citi cards out there that I’m interested in (come on Citi, pick up your game!) so I’m not picking this over anything else. Cons: The only con about the card itself is that there is a $3,000 minimum spend in 4 months. While this isn’t too hard in its own right, it’s something to think about when adding it in to an AoR that might include other cards with minimum spends, such as the SPG. The major con, which you know if you’ve been following this blog, is that I’ve been denied for this card 3 TIMES already (you can read the whole horror story here)! I’ve never been denied any other card even once, let alone three times, so it’s safe to say that for some reason, me and the Citi/AA business card aren’t very compatible. Overall: The only thing more obvious than the fact that I really want this card is the fact that I’ll probably get denied. But a smart person once said “Never give up”, and I think someone else also muttered “Persistance is the key”, so what the heck? Who am I not to follow the advice of old, dead people (plus, I really want those miles)!
Pros: The fact that there is no minimum spend, no annual fee, and that Barclays pulls TransUnion for me makes this a complete freebie. Cons: None, other than the fact that I might get denied because I’ve already opened this same card TWICE (Nov. 2011, April 2012)! Many people have gotten it twice, but I haven’t heard any reports of people getting it a third time…cross those fingers for me! Overall: It makes no sense at all NOT to put this in the AOR. Worst case scenario is that I get turned down from getting this card because I’ve already opened it twice, which only costs me one pull on my TransUnion account. Since no other lenders pull TransUnion, that doesn’t really matter at all. Best case scenario is that I do receive the 40k sign up bonus again and then I repeat the process in another 3 months!
Right now, I’m definitely leaning towards getting the Amex SPG cards (both the business and the personal) in addition to the 3 “Duh, Obvi” cards. Additionally, if the Chase BA offer is still around, I’m highly tempted to add that in to the mix as well, even though that will be 2 Chase personal cards. I haven’t had a reconsideration phone call with Chase in the last couple months, so it’s about that time! All told, that would give me 2 Chase personal cards, 1 Citi business card, 1 Amex personal, 1 Amex business, and a Barclays personal. I’d absolutely love to finally add in the Hawaiian Airlines cards and/or the Virgin Atlantic card to pad my Hilton points, but I’m feeling a little gun shy about going after more than 6 cards during one AoR, so it looks like they’ll have to wait (again). I’m fairly nervous about the Barclays USAirways card getting approved since I already have 2 of them, but a lot of readers want to know if you can get a third, so I might as well be the guinea pig! I’m also skeptical of getting approved for the Citi/AA business card, seeing as I’ve been denied 3 times already, but the uncertainty and fighting for approval is part of the fun, right (or am I deluding myself)? The hardest part now will be putting it off until I get back to the States. Of course, once I do pull it off, I’ll be sure to keep everyone informed of the progress and my results! When’s your next AoR and what cards are you eyeing? Got a persuasive argument for one of the contenders and want to sway my decision? Fire away in the comments below! (photos courtesy of etchasketchist, Jon Blair, and dickdaniels57)