One of the goals of Help Me Travel Cheap is to share my travel knowledge and insight so you can benefit from what I’m learning about nearly free travel.
But the other day I realized that there is one piece of advice I’ve shared on this blog that I don’t actually follow.
So, you deserve to know the content of that advice.
I don’t do app-o-rammas.
In case you don’t know or don’t remember, an app-o-ramma is the art of applying for several credit cards on the same day. Typically, people who apply for credit cards in this method are very methodical and only apply every three months for new cards.
But I don’t.
Today I’m going to tell you what I do, why I do it, and the results I’ve seen.
How I Apply for Travel Credit Cards (the Anti App-O-Rama Approach)
I guess the truth is that I’m more reactive than pro-active when it comes to my applications.
Here’s a bit of my recent application history:
Date: March 24th, 2012
On March 21st, I wrote that there was a lot of speculation that the bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred was going to drop from 50,000 to 40,000. That speculation matched my prediction. I wanted to wait as long as possible to apply to complete some other minimum spending. However, in a few days it was clear that the bonus was going to drop, so I got in before that happened and signed up with the 50,000 Ultimate Reward offer.
I applied in response to news about the card, not according to a credit card churning schedule.
Result: I was approved with a follow-up phone call after initially being declined.
2. Ink Bold
Date: April 17th, 2012
A short three or so weeks after the Chase Sapphire Preferred application, I wrote that the Ink Bold minimum spend was changing. I really wanted that card because of the sign up bonus of 50,000 UR points and because of the 5x spending category.
The biggest problem was the $5,000 minimum spend. However, I was convinced that $5,000 in 3 months was possible, but $10,000 was not going to happen.
Thus, once again, in response to card changes, I applied for the Ink Bold.
Result: I was automatically approved for the Ink Bold. This surprised me since I had just signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but I guess the fact that this was a business card meant it was handled differently.
Date: June 2nd, 2012
There is an offer for 50,000 for the Visa and American Express American Airlines cards. However, I got nervous about the longevity of this card for two reasons. First, I read that Citi was trying to clean up some of their stray inactive links. This offer technically ended months before, but the link was still active. I thought this card might be on the chopping block and the window of opportunity was closing. With 100,000 American Airlines miles on the line, I didn’t want to miss out.
I decided to apply for the card late May (30th?) because sometimes card offers change at the start of new a new month. However, when I tried to apply, I couldn’t get the link to work. I thought the deal was dead.
However, a couple of days later, the link was working again and so I wanted to get the cards before the door closed on this offer. I followed my own advice on applying for two cards at the same time.
Again, there was no formal plan. There was no app-o-rama. Just a lone (actually double) credit card application.
Result: Instant approval for both cards.
Time out: I should mention here the reason I didn’t apply for other cards is because I was concerned about the minimum spends. I could have maximized on any one of these applications, but each time my only concern was getting the limited time bonus or offer.
July 18th, 2012
We’re going to Hawaii in September, and as you could probably guess, there is no way I’m going to pay for hotels. (We already have the flight taken care of with points).
However, I’m short of the Hilton Honors points. I’ll need to get the hotels for the vacation, so I needed a quick fix of Hilton Honors points. I decided the best way to do it was by getting both of these Hawaiian airlines card and transferring them to Hilton. The end result is that I’m going to get 140,000 Hilton Honors points from these two cards.
This was an application of desperation. I needed the miles and couldn’t time the application with others.
Result: Approval after answering a few questions when they called.
5. United Airlines credit card
July 31, 2012
This was a completely spontaneous and random application.
I had an email in my inbox reminding me of the opportunity to get 50,000 United miles with this card. The email mentioned a July 31st expiration date.
I was pretty confident that after July 31st the 50,000 United offer would still be around, but I didn’t want to risk it. I didn’t want to look back and know that I passed over an opportunity to get an easy 50,000 United miles.
In the evening on the 31st, I pulled the trigger and applied for the card.
Result: Chase called and confirmed a few things about my application and identity and approved me for the card.
Including my business cards, I now have the following cards: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Southwest (personal and business), British Airways, and United.
Concluding Remarks from a Non-App-O-Rama Blogger
In theory, I think the idea of doing a mini-app-o-ramma makes sense. However, I’ve always found the minimum spend to be my limiting factor.
Still, the important lesson from this post is that every card I’ve applied for over the last 4-5 months has been approved. In fact, using this strategy, I’ve never been denied for a credit card – ever. As a result, I’m happy to stick with this non-strategy (apply when needed) until it’s proven to be detrimental.
Your results, approvals, and credit score may vary.