It’s been over 4 months since I applied for a credit card, and my credit score is at it’s highest point ever in my life. I was holding back from applying from anything new recently because I was thinking of getting a new home loan, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards anymore. That means it’s time to apply for some new cards!
But first, there were some credit cards whose annual fees had recently hit, so I had to go fishing for some retention offers.
Chase United Mileage Explorer
I didn’t even fish for one here. I only had a $2K limit on it and after the devaluation I had no interest in keeping the card. The agent had no idea about the devaluation, either. I cancelled the card and the annual fee was removed.
American Express SPG
I had no intention of cancelling this card. It’s my primary card for Vanilla Reloads since I don’t have a 5x option at the moment. I spent about $70K on it over the 1 year I had the card, which I consider to be a lot. The FlyerTalk forum for this card indicated that the best retention offer I could get was 7K SPG points, and that’s exactly what I was offered. I value those 7K points at around $175, which definitely outweighs the $65 annual fee on the card. This is like free cash since I was going to keep it anyway!
Barclay’s US Airways MasterCard
I got the 10K anniversary bonus points and I really had no intention of keeping the card, but it’s usually worth a call to see what they’ll offer. After a long call of the person detailing every benefit of the card and trying to convince me of how awesome it was, I was finally offered to have the annual fee waived. So I kept the card.
Now, on to the new cards.
Barclay’s Lufthansa Airlines Card (I believe this offer is now expired)
The offer: 50,000 miles after $5K spend in 90 days. Annual fee of $79 is not waived. (The current offer is for 20K miles).
Result: Instantly approved with a $12K limit.
The offer for 50K miles expires today, 12/15/13. While the card isn’t that great for getting to Europe because of fuel surcharges, it is the best card for traveling domestically in premium cabins (17K miles one-way Business Class on United Premier Service flights). There are other parts of the program that could be useful to you as well. Oh, and I get a kickback for signing up for my own card. Score!
Bank of America Alaska Airlines Card (targeted – read below first)
The offer: 50,000 miles after $1K spend in 90 days. Annual fee of $75 not waived.
Result: Instantly approved with an $11K limit.
The more I look into the Alaska Airlines program, the better I like it. That probably just means it will devalue soon…but a little diversification is never a bad thing. My favorite redemption option for the Alaska program is 70K miles for Cathay Pacific First Class from the US to South Africa, with a stopover in Hong Kong. Yup, they allow stopovers on one-way tickets!
This is the highest bonus we’ve seen on the card, and while it’s supposed to be targeted to just residents in Washington, others were getting approved and I was too. That means apply at your own risk. Let’s hope I/we get the bonus!
Hat tip to Canadian Kilometers, which is where I saw this first.
The offer: 75,000 points after $3K spend in 3 months. Annual fee of $75 is not waived.
Result: Approved, unknown limit.
My last card choice was tough. I was either going to go for this card or a Delta 50K mile offer. Both loyalty programs are hugely devalued, but I chose this Hilton card simply because I currently have no Delta Skymiles in my account, whereas I have about 110K HHonors Points. Those 50K Delta miles aren’t taking me anywhere internationally, and I’d rather not transfer a huge amount of Amex points to actually get a worthwhile award (no sense in throwing good points to save bad points). I’ll have about 200K HHonors points after meeting minimum spend on this card, and that’s enough for a pretty decent award stay if I plan it carefully.
Here’s what you should take away from this post: 1) Always ask for a retention offer when you hit the one year mark on your card (even if you don’t plan on actually cancelling); 2) Applying for credit cards, if done thoughtfully and correctly, can raise your credit score significantly.
You’ll notice I didn’t apply for any Chase cards this round. That was intentional – I thought it might be wise to take a bit of a break from applying for a Chase card every 3 months like I did for 2 years. I also decided not to apply for any Business Cards on this round of applications. I skipped them because the only ones that I’d consider at this moment are the Citi AA ones, but I’m going to have plenty of AA miles as soon as they combine with US next month, so I decided to hold off. Who knows where those award chart could go after this merger!