Applying for credit cards is one of the best ways to accumulate miles and points quickly. Assuming you have good credit and pay off your balances in full every month, if you’re not regularly applying for credit cards, you’re leaving a lot of easy miles on the table.
In terms of planning for my next credit cards, I usually try to think of what I want to redeem for in the coming year and how much spend I can sign myself up for. For the latter consideration, I also just received the 15,000 bonus US Airways miles offer for spending over $750 for each of July, August, and September, so I’m counting that as part of the spend that I need to meet.
I’ve got a trip to Hong Kong planned in November, and I’ve been eyeing the Conrad Hong Kong for part of that stay. While it’s a relatively unaffordable 80,000 Hilton points per night after the Hilton devaluation (and a very unaffordable $500 a night using cash), the Citi Hilton Reserve card comes with 2 free weekend nights after $2,500 of spend within 4 months. The $95 annual fee isn’t waived, though, which makes it a little less appealing, but it is a chip and sig Visa card with no foreign transaction fee, which is sometimes useful when traveling internationally (the only other chip card with no foreign transaction fee that I have is the Amex Platinum, which was a problem when trying to buy metro passes in Amsterdam), and it confers free Hilton gold status, which is useful for free internet and free breakfast. I think this is a card that I’ll get and maybe meet the $10,000 of spend to get the free weekend annual night, but I doubt I’ll keep it for longer than a year. $10,000 of spend to get the annual bonus is a little too high given my spending habits (or lack thereof) when that spend could be going to hitting other minimum spend requirements, and given the Hilton devaluation, I doubt I’ll find myself staying in many Hiltons on points in the future.
I’m also considering the Chase Ink Bold or MileagePlus Explorer Business card. While every blogger and their mom was pimping the Chase Ink cards recently due to the recent 60,000 point bonus (which is now back down to 50,000 points), it also requires $5,000 of spend within 3 months, which is pretty high. On the other hand, the MileagePlus Explorer Business card has a 50,000 United mile bonus after only $2,000 of spend within 3 months, which is much more manageable for me. Considering that I transfer almost all of my Ultimate Rewards points to United anyway, I’m leaning toward the MileagePlus Explorer Business card for this round of applications. The 50,000 mile bonus on the business card is higher than it’s been in the past, so I think now is a good time to act, and it means I can save the Ink cards for later.
So with the Citi Hilton Reserve, United MileagePlus Explorer Business, and the 15,000 mile bonus for my second US Airways card, I’m signed up for $6,750 of spend in 3 months (well, 4 months for the Hilton card, but I’d want to meet that spend quickly so I can book my hotel for Hong Kong; and after 3 months, I’d be applying for another round of credit cards anyway, which would come with new spend requirements). $6,750 in 3 months should be relatively easy to meet, and any excess spend that I have access to will go on the Citi Hilton Reserve to try to meet the $10,000 annual spend requirement for the free weekend night annual bonus.
I’ve considered adding a third (or fourth) card to the mix, but I don’t think I have a clear reason to. I’d avoid Citi and Chase since I’m already doing both this round, and I did Amex and Barclays in my last churn, and as much as I’d like to, I don’t think I could swing a third US Airways card so soon (and I don’t want to risk them shutting down my current two cards).
That leaves Bank of America and US Bank. Bank of America does offer an Alaska Airlines card that gives a 25,000 mile bonus after first purchase, but the last time I applied for a Bank of America card, they only gave it to me after reducing a different credit line, which makes me think they don’t really want to extend more credit to me at the moment. As for US Bank, while the Club Carlson card is attractive (and I think it’s probably better to get it sooner rather than later because it seems like that program is ripe for a devaluation), I’m going to hold off until I have a trip planned to a region with more Club Carlson hotels. All of my already-planned travel within the next year is to Asia, and Club Carlson doesn’t have a great presence there.