The past few months have been a pretty boring time for credit card sign-up bonuses. As a result I haven’t really felt motivated to sign-up for any cards. That being said, the past couple of weeks we’ve seen some exciting new offers, which actually caused me to sit down and decide on a churn, which I “executed” on Friday. In July I shared the 11 credit cards I currently have open, and whether I planned on keeping or canceling the cards. Take a look at that post for my thought process on which cards were worth keeping and which I planned on canceling as soon as the annual fee hit.
For once I took a slightly different approach to my churn. I didn’t just want to apply for cards that I thought offered the best sign-up bonuses, but also for cards that have value to me long term.
Cards I wanted to apply for:
As savvy credit card “churners” know, there’s some strategy to applying for credit cards. For example, it makes sense to apply for multiple cards in a day, as credit inquiries aren’t usually reported to the agencies more than once a day. That way you don’t immediately “suffer” the loss of a couple of points for each subsequent application in a single day.
After much back and forth I decided to apply for five cards which I felt were a good “balance” (based on not wanting to apply for too much credit from a single issuer in a short period of time). Here they are:
This card has a fantastic sign-up bonus of two free nights at any Hyatt property in the world after your first purchase. Best of all, as a Diamond member those two free nights are in a suite. I could redeem those two free suite nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, where a night in a suite is usually ~$1,800USD plus 15.5% in taxes and service charge.
For an annual fee of $75 that’s an absolute bargain, especially since the sign-up bonus is earned after the first purchase. But there are two other things that made me apply for this card. First of all, the card comes with an annual free night certificate, good for a stay at a category 1-4 hotel. While I don’t find this card all that useful for every day spend, that more than justifies the $75 annual fee for me, and makes it a card I’d want to keep for a very long time.
Second of all, Hyatt has made their Gold Passport promotions more lucrative for those with the Hyatt Visa credit card, and I didn’t want to keep missing out. For example, during their spring promotion they offered 25% bonus points to those with the card, and during their fall promotion they’re going to offer a 20% bonus to those with the card. For the spring promotion alone I missed out on 11,000 Gold Passport points by not having the Hyatt credit card.
This one is also a no brainer for me. Starwood is presently offering an increased sign-up bonus of 30,000 points on both their Starwood American Express Personal and Starwood American Express Business cards, so if you’re going to get the card, now is the time to do so. But what really drove me to apply is that having the card offers two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights towards status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program annually. The nice thing is that the benefit applies to both the personal and business cards, and it can be stacked. So just for having both cards you get four elite qualifying stays and 10 elite qualifying nights towards status annually. Given that the annual fee is only $65 per card (and waived for the first year), that’s a real bargain given that I’d otherwise have to mattress run for those credits. I’ve had the personal card for years, so it’s about time I get the business card.
This is especially useful given that Starwood introduced new benefits to their program back in March, which offer 10 confirmed suite night upgrades after staying 50 nights. Previously I would have only qualified on stays (given that you need 25 stays OR 50 nights for Platinum status), so this makes all the difference for me.
This card is a brand new product from Citi, and is what it took for me to finally go for Hilton HHonors Diamond status. The card is similar to the American Express Hilton Surpass card, with two major advantages. First, you get Hilton HHonors Gold status just for having the card. As I covered in this post, Hilton Gold is by far the best mid-tier elite status, so getting free breakfast, free internet, and the occasional room upgrade for just $95 is an unbeatable value. But more importantly in my case, if you spend $10,000 on the card annually you get a free weekend night certificate. When you’re thinking of putting $40,000 of spend on a card for Diamond status, it sure sweetens the deal that you get a certificate good for a ~50,000 point/night hotel in addition to the other points and benefits.
The sign-up bonus on this card is also great, given that it offers two free weekend nights after spending $2,500 on the card within four months. I already have plans to use those nights in Hong Kong early next year after flying Singapore Suites on the Airbus 380.
Chase publicly introduced the new Chase Ink Plus card just a couple of weeks ago, and it’s very similar to the Chase Ink Bold card. The major distinction is that it’s a credit card instead of a charge card, though that’s not really significant if you pay your balance in full each month (as you should on any points accruing credit card). But the real opportunity here is to earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $10,000 on the card within three months. That sounds like a lot of spend, but it’s incredibly rewarding.
The Chase Ink Plus offers 5x points at office supply stores, so purchasing $10,000 in American Express prepaid gift cards over three months would net you a total of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points. You really can’t beat that, in my opinion, especially since I suspect many of us are already using American Express prepaid gift cards for our every day spend (whether those cards are purchased with the Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus cards).
This was a bit of a “wild card” for me. I thought I did a good job spreading out the previous four applications, since I had one Chase personal application, one American Express business application, one Citi personal application, and one Chase business application. For the last card I was looking to stay away from Citi or Chase, which led me to the Virgin Atlantic American Express issued by Bank of America.
The card offers 20,000 Flying Club miles after the first purchase, 25,000 Flying Club miles after spending $2,500, and an additional 5,000 Flying Club miles after adding two authorized users. That’s 50,000 Flying Club miles, which, as I covered here, can be converted to Hilton HHonors at a 1:2 ratio. So I figured it would be nice to start off with 100,000 Hilton HHonors points to go with the other benefits I get from the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card.
This post is getting a bit long, so stay tuned for part two tomorrow, as I share the results of my churn, as I applied for all these cards on Friday.
Full disclosure: I earn a referral bonus for anyone that signs up through some of the above links. They’re all the best publicly available offers to the best of my knowledge, and of course I’m very appreciative of your support, regardless of whether or not you use my links.