How I Chose Credit Cards for My Churn

In my last post I walked you through my first credit card churn and included some details about what my credit score was, what cards I was deciding on, the ones I actually chose to apply for, and all the approval decisions. Today I’ll walk you through my thought process regarding why I decided to apply for the cards that I did.

I think it’s important to give you a little background on my current credit card list and what airline and hotel loyalty programs I have elite status with.

Pre-churn cards (oldest to newest):

  • Bank of America World Points Visa
  • Amex Premier Rewards Gold
  • Amex Business Gold
  • Chase Southwest Visa
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Chase Freedom
  • Amex Business Platinum

Loyalty Elite Status

  • US Airways Gold
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Silver
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum
  • Hilton Honors Gold
  • Priority Club Gold

As you can see, I have elite status with two Star Alliance members and at least mid-tier status with three hotel programs. I’m also pretty well spread out among Amex and Chase credit cards.

Now, here’s the list of which cards I was considering for my churn:

  • Citi AAdvantage Visa and Citi AAdvantage American Express cards using the two browser trick (50K points each after $3K each in 4 months; 100K total)
  • Chase Ink Bold with Ultimate Rewards (50K points after $10K in 3 months)
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Personal (limited time 30K after $5K in 6 months)
  • Chase United MileagePlus Explorer (50K after $1K in 3 months)
  • Barclay’s US Airways Dividend Miles Mastercard (40K after first purchase, 10K every anniversary)
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card (2 free weekend nights anywhere and automatic Gold status after $2.5K in 3 months)

Here’s my detailed thought process in the exact order that I thought about it:

  1. I know I’m getting the Ink Bold card for sure. It’s a powerful card that can provide 5 points per dollar on nearly every purchase (more on this in a future post).
  2. Unfortunately, the spend requirement for the Ink Bold is $10K in 3 months, so my remaining cards have to make it relatively easy to hit the spend requirements.
  3. I immediately eliminated the Citi American Airlines cards. Adding another $6K in 4 months didn’t sound feasible for me, plus I’ve seen those bonuses as high as 75K each in the past. I’ll pass on these.
  4. I’m already an SPG Platinum member, and I could definitely make use of the benefits. The $5K spend is high, but I have 6 months to do it, which definitely seems reasonable. I’m picking this card up for sure now.
  5. So far, I’ve picked one Chase and one Amex card. Maybe I should diversify.
  6. The Barclays US Airways card seems perfect at the moment. It’s a different bank, gives the bonus on the first purchase, and is the card for the airline I have elite status with. This is going to be my third card.
  7. I may not apply for a fourth card if the first three approvals don’t go as planned, but in case they do, I want to be ready. My last two options are the Chase United card or the Citi Hilton Card.
  8. The Chase United card has a lower spend requirement, which is very attractive. But I also have a lot of Chase cards already. The Citi Hilton card has a great perk in that it gives Gold status automatically, but I already have that. The two weekend nights would be great, but they’re a little inflexible since they have to be on the weekend.
  9. I’ll go with the Chase United card to continue to stockpile Star Alliance points, and hopefully Chase won’t mind one personal and one business card in the same day.

Now that I’ve picked the cards, it’s time to start applying right? Well, not for me…not just yet. I wanted to pick the order in which I was going to apply. Am I over-thinking this? Maybe…but I wanted to plan for a scenario in which I would end up getting denied a card and unable to get all  four. Here’s what I was thinking, and my thought process is definitely debatable:

  1. Chase business cards almost always get a “pending” decision. For this reason I’ll leave the Ink Bold for last, even though it’s the one I want the most.
  2. I have a good relationship with Chase already, so I’ll go for the Chase United card first.
  3. The card I wanted most after the Ink Bold is the SPG Amex card, and I have a good history with Amex. I’ll make this my second card.
  4. The Barclays US Airways card is kind of my wildcard…not sure how this one will work out. It will be my last personal card application today.
  5. I’ll apply for the Ink Bold last, regardless of what happens earlier.

Note that if I got denied on any of the first 3, it would have completely thrown off this plan. If I got denied on either one of the first two cards I definitely would not go for the US Airways card.

Thankfully I was approved for all four cards, and three have already arrived. I’m now in the process of carefully laying out my plan for meeting the rather heavy spend requirements of $11K in the first 3 months (Ink Bold and Chase United) and $5K in the three months after that (SPG Amex). I can always buy a pack of gum with the US Airways card since the bonus is given on the first purchase.

I’ll be sure to explain my plan for meeting the minimum spend requirements since that is always one of the main questions beginners have. Spending $10K in 3 months for a signup bonus sounds extremely daunting if you’re not a big spender, but believe me…I’m anything but a big spender (ask my friends).

In my next post I’ll be sure to explain the reconsideration hotline numbers that I’ve mentioned in my earlier posts, and how my experience went with the Chase Ink Bold reconsideration call.

 

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  1. [...] wrote a post about my experience with my very first credit card churn, and subsequently wrote about how I decided to pick the particular cards I picked. The feedback I got from those posts was basically that I [...]

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