I did it! I finally did it!!
I read, researched, understood and retained some information, din understand and couldn't retain a lot more, but after all the bed time reading and day time reading and work time reading and then researching my life away, I took the leap of faith and entered the field for my first unsupervised-by-any-expert, not-sure-how-it-will-end App-O-Rama.
I won’t make you read all the way to the end to figure out how it ended – from my perspective it went well. Applied for 7 credit cards on the same day, got rejected by one, approved from another five and application declined for the last one (that is not a reject).
So net score of 5/7. I would say that’s not bad for a first app-o-rama.
Let’s go through my card choices, the reason I chose them, the process as it unfolded and some mistakes I made.
First thing first, I researched all cards that were presently available in the market. I found 16 credit cards that offered fairly decent number of miles with various airlines, hotels or with their own reward program. Here’s my list:
By Airlines (Bank-Airlines- Points Program):
1. Chase – United – Mileage Plus*
2. Chase – British Airways - Avios
3. Citi – American Airlines – AAdvantage*
4. Barclays – US Airways – Dividend Miles*
5. Amex- Delta Airlines – Sky Miles*
6. Bank of America – Virgin Atlantic – VA Miles
7. Barclays – Lufthansa – Miles and More
By Hotel (Bank – Hotel / Points Program):
1. Chase – Hyatt – Hyatt Gold Passport Points
2. Chase – Priority Club*
3. Chase – Fairmount
4. Chase – Marriott Rewards
5. Amex – Starwood Preferred Guest*
6. Citi – Hilton Honors*
7. US Bank – Club Carlson
By Bank Reward Program:
1. Chase – Ultimate Reward Points*
2. American Express – Membership Reward Points*
My first and foremost criterion was that I will not select any card that doesn’t waive the first year fee. No exception. I don’t have a lot of cash this month and also, since this is my first foray into CC App world, I did not want to put any money on the line. So that left me with about 9 choices (refer to the ones marked with * above)
Second criteria was choice of type of points – my ranking list was- Airline miles, Hotel Points, Credit Card points. And last but not the least, the spend requirement or challenge total at any point shouldn't cross an average of $2000 per month. As my first app-o-rama, I wanted to play it safe.
And so I set out to apply for cards.
I started with Barclays US Airways. I found the 35000 after 1st spend link with first year fee waived. And considering it would soon disappear given the merger, I liked it even more. I need AA miles – I have a travel coming up on their flight. The application was not approved instantly. But I was armed with the information and I knew this was to be expected. I called their re-consideration line and spoke with a specialist. He reviewed my case and responded that I already have a Barclay card and the limit on that card is the max they can give me. Plus my small length of credit history doesn’t appeal to them. I discussed about my need to keep my office expenses separate and so the need for two cards and my upcoming travels. I also offered to move my credit from my current Barclays card to this one, but it did not work. So I got rejected. I was disappointed but I didn’t give in just yet. I hung up and called back a little later. Same conversation was repeated and I offered to reduce the limit on my current card, but the specialist said it won’t help. I decided to pursue this further and called Barclays credit card help line and got my credit limit reduced by $ 1000. After a little wait, I called the reconsideration line again and started the conversation as if I have called the first time. The specialist immediately started off with – You have already spoken with two of my colleagues. This was my clue to stop acting smart and get straight to the point. I told her that I did speak and they pointed out the limit issue and so I got my limit on my credit card reduced. She wasn’t impressed and said all the same stuff and said due to the length of my history, she can’t approve me. My recent reduction in credit line for this purpose did not appeal to her one bit. So after a many months of strategizing and reading and finally applying the end result of my first application of my app-o-rama was this – A credit pull from my account, a reduction in the current credit card limit and no new credit card. Score 0/1
I was really upset. I was on the all-these-bloggers-are-liars mode. I was ready to write a scathing note to ‘Just another points traveler’ and ‘mommypoints’ and ‘milevalue’ (I love their blogs the most..!!!). After a coffee I calmed down and thought to myself – I already have one credit pull on my account. If I apply for any more cards, there won’t be any pull. What’s there to lose? So let’s go ahead with this and let’s see how it ends.
Next up, Citi AAdvantage card. Applied for the card and was not approved immediately. Called reco line and after the initial discussion, they said they are unable to verify my details with my SSN (I just moved to a new address). So was asked to fax or mail a utility bill. I asked if I could email and they answered in affirmative. So I emailed a CC bill immediately. The rep said it will take sometime for them to track it and evaluate my application. So need to call after 10 days. – Update here – I called regularly every 2 days, to see an update, but none was given. After 5 days I gave up and just waited for the rejection letter. In the meantime I received other confusing mails for sending more documents, which I ignored. After about a week of waiting and giving up, I received an email saying my application has been approved. Note though, this is one week after my application, so on the day, I am still thinking that I have 2 applications and 2 rejects, probably. Score 0/2
Took a deep breath and moved on to Chase United. Application wasn’t approved immediately, so I called the reconsideration. After the Citi fiasco, I decided to use the address that was there on my SSN file, for this application. This rep also asked for address proof, and I came to the realization that I don’t have a current utility bill that would serve my purpose. Requested the rep to change my address on my application, but they refused to do that. So after a lot of discussion, I came to the realization that I won’t be getting approved for this one either. I left this application hang, and said I will try to get some sort of address proof. Score 0/3
At this point, I was really sad. The day just wasn’t going as per plan. 3 applications, not a single approval. I was very very sad.
It was time to move to the hotel’s point category. I started with the world’s favourite Amex SPG. Applied, using my new address and were instantly approved. This raised my spirits real-real high. No need to call the reco line or anything, just gave me the card. Score 1/4
Given how well Amex application went, I decided to sneak in Amex Gold Premier Reward, ahead of the other hotel card. Applied and got my second approval in a few seconds. Now I was on a roll and really happy. Score 2/5
Moved on to Citi Hilton. Free for life card. Seemed like a great option. Application was rejected immediately. Called reco line and was told I can’t apply for more than 1 Citi card in a day. So application was rejected right away without any consideration. I wasn’t sure if this was correct or not, but I decided not to pursue this any further. Score 2/6
Last card on my list was Chase Marriott. Applied and not approved immediately. Called the reco line and after the standard why I need the card and some talk about checking account and saving account with Chase for one year, I was approved. I asked the rep if he could also change the delivery address on my application, as I had used the old address. He gladly did that. Day was still going good. Score 3/7
At this point, I pushed my luck and spoke to the rep about my other Chase application, and how it has got stuck because of the address issue. He pulled it up, reviewed it and approved it. I couldn’t believe it..!! in a few seconds I had an approval on an application that I was sure will get rejected. The hang up and call back mantra seemed pretty good right now. Score 4/7
At this point I was pretty pleased with myself. I had got myself 4 new credit cards with just one credit pull. The spend requirement was $ 9000, which was below my threshold but I still decided not to apply for any more cards this day. In case Citi AA came through, it would touch exactly $12,000 and I din want to cross that line. As luck would have it, that got approved a week later. FINAL SCORE 5/7
A few days later, the cards started pouring in. Though I realized later Amex credit pull came on my account a day later. So I effectively have 2 pulls. But at this point I wasn’t bothered. I couldn’t change it, so what was the point of getting bothered.