After cashing out my Discover miles, that same day I decided to try an App-o-Rama. My recent account shutdowns with Bank of America (BoA) and Citibank have left me with a real shortage of cards to earn rewards with. I’m not alone, as others have had similar issues with finding good cards. I still do high volumes of manufactured spending (MS) but am limited right now simply because I don’t have enough good credit card choices in my wallet.
Making a List, Checking It Twice (or many multiples of twice)
Weeks and even months before each App-o-Rama, I make a list of cards that I’m considering applying for. In that list I usually make note of some basic, but important information:
- name of the card
- current sign-up bonus (cash or points)
- high sign-up bonus (cash or points)
- annual fee year 1 waived (yes/no)
- annual fee amount
- credit bureau used/pulled
- application order of importance
This application cycle was no different that others in the recent past, except that I applied for more cards this time around. I ended up applying for 7 rewards cards, and was approved for all 7, which at this stage of the game (nearly 6 years into the points hobby), is pretty incredible. Here are the cards and the results:
eBates – this play was kind of follow the leader. I’m probably one of the few that’s not super keen on the card, as there’s reports of slowed available credit limits, missing portal cash back (for gift cards), and the thought that the enhanced Membership Rewards (MR) payouts (for online gift card orders) has to die at some point, and likely soon. However, the card is tied to my Amex Membership Rewards account so even for non-gift card purchases online it should be a solid option for other online purchases. No sign-up bonus. No annual fee. Status: Instant approval.
Alliant Credit Union Visa Platinum Rewards – At first the card might seem obscure and a bit unusual. I chose this card over the much more vaunted Visa Signature card (that offers 3% cash back) because: 1) the Visa Signature wasn’t offering a sign-up bonus, 2) Alliant allows customers to product change at any point without a hard credit pull, 3) I had applied and was denied the Visa Signature card a little over a year ago, and 4) was hoping this card might have an easier approval path than the Visa Signature. Basically I wanted to use this card as a back door sign-up bonus: get the 28,000 or so rewards points (25,000 points sign-up bonus plus the $3k minimum spend requirement), then product change to the Visa Signature card shortly after. The product change to the Visa Signature should still get the 3% cash back on everything in year 1 without an annual fee. I deposited funds a few weeks before the application to hopefully enhance my status as a customer. No idea if it had an impact or not, but my goal was accomplished. Bonus: 25,000 points for $3k spend in 90 days. No annual fee. Status: Pending, then Approved next day after a follow-up call.
Discover It Miles – 3rd card of this type with Discover. Had nice success with it the past two times plus Discover customer service, and website have been excellent. It’s been a card that I’ve used for a lot of general spend too, as 3% cash back is nice anytime you can get it, plus it doesn’t require much thought to do so. Other cards earn a bit more return in category purchases, but I don’t worry much about purchases and under $50. No annual fee. Status: Instant approval
Fidelity Rewards Signature Visa – I have this card already and it’s been great. I transfer any cash back earned directly into investment products. Also have financial history with Fidelity. Bonus: $100 cash back for $1k spend in 90 days. No annual fee. Status: Declined initially, then Pending after a follow-up call, then Approved next day.
Penfed Cash Rewards Visa Signature – another card I already have. It’s been great. Customer service is great too. Website is adequate although not my favorite. Used to apply cash back towards statement credit, but that doesn’t post until next statement cuts, which was annoying and too much to track. So now I just transfer directly into my checking account. Was considering the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express Card for the sign-up bonus and then product changing into the Cash Rewards, but Penfed does a hard pull for any product change (at least that’s what I was told 3 times this past week). Bonus: $100 for $1.5k spend in 90 days. No annual fee. Status: Instant approval
Navy Federal Visa Signature Flagship Rewards – A new card for me, but applied mainly as a backup 2% cash back spend option. Not open to everyone though so make note of that before considering. Also note that there have been many MS related shutdowns from Navy Federal in the last year or so. So if you plan to use this and hit it hard, you’re likely going to get the chop. Bonus: 50,000 points for $4k spend in 90 days. No annual fee year 1, $49 year two and beyond. Status: Instant approval
U.S. Bank Radisson Signature Rewards Visa – the Radisson business card isn’t available online or in branch anymore, but I was told over the phone that customers can have more than one personal Radisson card, even if it’s the same card. I attempted to freeze my ARS and Sagestreem credit bureaus before applying. ARS was easy to freeze, but the Sagestreem was difficult, as I sent in documentation via fax and mail once each, along with 2 phone calls that were not returned. I was finally able to reach a human to verify the freeze on the same day as my App-o-Rama. I’m not completely sure that the Sagestream bureau was frozen before I applied for this card, but based on the timeline that I was given over the phone, it probably was. I wanted to apply in branch, as I’m confident doing so helps the chances of approval, but that wasn’t an option. While I don’t view Radisson as a comparable hotel product vs. Hyatt or even with Hilton, Marriott or IHG. However for Europe and some other destinations that I travel to overseas it’s still a decent program. Plus at a 5x earn rate, points are easy to earn. I also use the free nights earned through spend for relatives who needs to stay in hotels domestically here and there. Bonus: 85,000 points total: 50,000 points after 1st purchase, and another 35,000 points for spending $2,500 in 90 days. Annual fee $75. Status: Initially declined, then pending after follow up call, then approved after 3 days in the reconsideration queue.
The good news is that this App-o-Rama was very positive considering the cards that are available to me and on my radar. A main goal of the application run was to get cards that could fill some voids from past shutdowns, and that was accomplished. The downside of all of the apps and approvals is that I incurred a lot of hard credit pulls, putting me further back in the line to get under Chase’s 5/24 rule. There’s always trade offs in this hobby though, and I’m fine with how things turned out this week.