The Anatomy of a Mini-App-O-Ramma: Re-Evaluating the Best Current Credit Card Offerings

In the next week or so, my wife and I will be applying for a few new credit cards.  In this post I will walk you through the thought process I go through when deciding which cards to apply for and which cards to pass over.

App-O-Ramma

I honestly don’t know where this term originated from, but it is simply the act of applying for several credit cards on the same day.  The main reason to do this is that you’ll be more likely to be approved for each card if you do them simultaneously instead of individually over a several week process.

For example, Adam App applies for a Citi card, American Express card, and a Bank of America card at the same time.  Compare that to Single Sally who applies for the Citi card the first week, then American Express the second week, and then Bank of America the third week.

By the time the Bank of America application processes, Bank of America is wondering why Sally needs three credit cards in three weeks.  However, when Bank of America processes Adam App’s application, they don’t see the Citi or American Express application because those are being processed simultaneously.

In our home, the biggest limitation of doing an app-o-ramma is the minimum spend requirements.  We do use some strategies to reach a minimum spend, but there are still limits to our ability to to spend tens of thousands in a few short months.

Our answer is usually to do fewer card applications (hence the mini-app-o-ramma) and alternate when my wife applies for cards and when I apply.

Current Best Credit Card Options According to Craig

Chase

Both my wife and I already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and we carry it in our wallets to use anytime we have a restaurant expense or qualifying travel expense (because we get two points per dollar).  If we didn’t have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it would be a serious option at this point.  My wife is due for another Chase application, so the obvious best Chase option right now is the British Airways card.

Why?

  1. It’s the current biggest airline sign up bonus.
  2. It’s expiring, so it’s not like we can just apply for this card in three months next time we do a mini-app-o-ramma.
  3. It only takes a single purchase to earn the 50,000 Avois.  We won’t go for a bigger points haul because we’re not going to be able to spend an additional $10,000 for the card.  Since we’ll be applying for other cards, it make sense to get this card with a lower spend requirement.

American Express

I think the best American Express option for us right now is the Starwood American Express.  However, we know we can’t make the $5,000 minimum spend in the next six months with the other spending we’ll be doing, so we’ll postpone this application until the future when we know we can get not just the 10,000 Starwood sign up bonus (after first spend), but the extra 15,000 point bonus for spending $5,000 in six months.

Thus, we’ll pass on American Express.

Citi

For flights, the best current option is the AAdvantage cards.  We’ll do the two browser trick to get 50,000 AAdvantage miles twice.  This will mean a $6,000 minimum spend over the next four months (between the two cards).  However, we’ve found American miles to be some of the most valuable miles.  In advance, we’re often able to find availability for our family of five, and American has lower mileage requirements for a lot of the routes we fly.  We’re typically able to get 4-5 cents per point value out of our American miles.

Barclay’s

I considered getting the US Airways credit card.  It’s a card I’ve grown to like, not love – mostly because I haven’t used miles yet.  I’m especially interested in the off-peak flights to Europe.  However, I decided we’d pass on this card for now because if US Airways does the Grand Slam event again this year, my wife will be able to apply then and get a hit.

Bank of America

We’re planning a trip to Hawaii this year, and since I’m a Hilton Honors Gold member, we’d like to stay at a Hilton property.  The problem is that we don’t currently have enough points for those hotels.  As a result, the plan is to apply for a few cards with the intention of getting enough Hilton points.

The problem with this approach is that none of the following cards waive the annual fee.  I just need to decide if the expense justifies the results:

There are two Hawaiian cards that each offer 35,000 miles (with a $1,000 minimum spend) that can be transferred to Hilton 2:1, so we’d end up with 140,000 Hilton points. $79 annual fee times two.

The Virgin Atlantic card has a $2,500 minimum spend and offers up to 45,000 miles.  Again, those can be transferred to 90,000 Hilton points.  This card has a $90 annual fee.

The end result would be three credit card applications, $4,500 worth of spending in three/four months, $248 in fees, and 230,000 Hilton points.  The hotel we’re looking at is 37,500 per night, so we’d end up with six nights worth of hotels.

If you’ve got an upcoming application, then you should consider these thoughts and match them to your own travel needs and preferences.

 

Comments

  1. Heather Armstrong says

    I remember reading one of your posts regarding your wife being a stay at home mom and no longer able to apply for credit cards in her name, yet in this post it seems she is still able to apply and be approved. Unless she’s returned to work, how is she able to do this? I, too, am a stay at home mom and would love to be able to have cards in my name, thus doubling our sign up bonuses.

    • says

      Heather,

      She was denied for the Ink Bold when she was specifically ask for her income. Otherwise, we’ve never had a card ask specifically for only her income. We have been able to get her approved for personal cards.

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