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Changes to My Credit Card Application Strategy
18 Jan. 2018
Changes to My Credit Card Application Strategy

The Haunting

I’m officially spooked.  The recent news of shutdown from Chase has me more than worried.  At one point I was a little bunny nibbling on the grass in an open patch of lush green grass.  Then word of some large birds high above the area surfaced and some of my friends went missing.  Now I’m scared little bunny taking refuge in the high grass, not sure where to go and what might be lurking to get me.

In case you haven’t been keeping up to speed on the news, Chase shutdowns have occurred at a rather alarming frequency over the past couple of weeks.  Some example posts about the shutdown/freezes can be found here, here, here, and here with plenty of other similar stories out there via social media, message boards and forums.  There has been some other movement by banks to tighten restrictions on applications of the past several months as well that’s feeding my concern, but the Chase news is by far the biggest factor linked to why I’m changing my credit card application strategy.

chase-shutdowns

In the end, the machines will win

Protection from Rejection

In the past I used to do app-o-ramas, or generally 4-5 credit card applications at nearly the same time (certainly the same day) every 91-95 days.  That was done to minimize credit pulls and to keep a regular schedule of fresh sign-up bonuses rolling in basically 4 times a year.  Fortunately I’ve had great success with only several denials in 5 years using that technique.  A few of those denials came at my last application splurge which started my thoughts about an alternative direction for new credit card applications.

Now the (nearly) fixed app-o-rama program is at best on hold, and at worst changed for good.  I’m actually afraid to tamper with my current setup, or around 20 rewards cards, at all right now.  I don’t want to shift credit on any Chase cards, get into high credit utilization situations, or open any new Chase cards period.  The main reason for the fear is the stash of roughly 1.5 million Ultimate Rewards that I’ve managed to amass.  I’ve worked diligently to earn them, and to have my accounts frozen or closed would be a big downer, even if I could transfer them all out within 30 days.  There’s also the fear of the unknown.  There’s some speculation about what might cause some of the shutdowns and freezes, but basically no one knows.  The most recent shutdowns occurred just in the last few weeks to a month so things are still quite new and probably continuing to evolve.

The New Path? 

My new credit card strategy isn’t set in stone, but basically I plan to wait a big and not do anything right now.  I’ve already pass the date of my next app-o-rama (by a few days) and plan to wait another 2-3 months before applying for 1-2 new rewards cards that I’d really like to have.  After that, probably a similar pattern, with longer wait time between applications and when something does take place, only 1-2 new applications.  That will cut down on my apps in the last year, which will ultimately help my 5/24 potential over time which will in tern open up options with other banks besides Chase too.  I don’t really need any new rewards cards right now, but in isolated instances, a few to several total apps for the rest of 2018 is basically the plan.  The days of 16-20+ apps in a year are probably long gone.

The application waiting game for the next 2-3 months is definitely going to happen, but after that it’s not completely set.  There are a couple of Chase products, the Hyatt and Ritz personal cards, I’ve strongly considered getting over the past year but those are now on the backburner.  I don’t expect rules and restrictions for applications and churning to change in favor of the consumer anytime soon, and believe credit card sign ups are on a negative trajectory.  I’ve considered trying to get under 5/24 again pretty seriously, and this recent wave of near shutdown hysteria has me moving closer to that thought by dramatically limiting my new inquires.

As a side benefit, limiting my applications for new products will strengthen my chance at the Capital One Venture card, which I’ve tried to get in the past but was denied (too many recent inquiries).  General travel points are very valuable to me and the Venture card fills a gap left by my Barclay Arrival Plus shutdown a few months ago.

Most bull fighters live, but some do get gored and others actually die.  I don’t want to temp the bull.  Time to simmer down for a bit.

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