App-O-Rama Time Again!

It’s been 91 days since my last confession…I mean…round of credit card applications. I had several possibilities I was considering for this round. Now that Japan is booked, my new long term goal is eventually a trip to Australia/New Zealand. Of course after reading up on it, this seems to be one of the most difficult trips to book based on other bloggers’ experiences.

Since I can’t get all the points I need in one go (or even two or three!), I’m going to approach it with flexibility. It looks like airfare-wise, my best options are US (110k business class – but no one way), AA (125k business class, one way for half that) or United (135k business class, one way for half that). I’m going to pursue cards that could help me in multiple ways, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points which I could use for United miles or Hyatt hotels. I’m also going for the American Express Starwood Preferred card, since SPG points can be used for hotel or converted to airline miles and when you convert 20,000 you get 5,000 free. They convert 1:1 to American and US, 2:1 to United (so not a good option).

So, with that in mind…

The four winners (and also the order in which I will apply):

1) U.S. Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa

  • 85,000 points – 50,000 after first purchase and 35,000 after $2500 in 90 days
  • 40,000 renewal points each year you renew your card
  • when redeeming points for 2 or more nights, your last night is free! (essentially buy one get one free!)
  • Club Carlson Gold Status
  • 5x per $1 spent
  • $75 annual fee NOT waived for first year

2) Chase Sapphire Preferred Mastercard

  • 40,000 Ultimate Reward points after $3,000 in 3 months
  • 2x on Travel and Dining (3x dining first Friday of each month)
  • no foreign transaction fees
  • 7% annual dividend on all points earned on purchases
  • transfers to United, Hyatt, Southwest and many other partners
  • $95 annual fee waived the first year

3) American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card

  • 10,000 Starpoints with your first purchase, 15,000 after $5,000 in 6 months
  • 5,000 bonus points when transferring 20,000 to airline partner
  • $65 annual fee waived the first year

4) Citibank American Airlines Gold World Mastercard

  • 30,000 miles with $750 spent in 4 months
  • $50 annual fee waived the first year

I will apply for U.S. Bank first since they are notorious for not approving people with many inquiries on their credit report – not really expecting an amazing outcome but there are mixed reports on flyertalk so I figure I’ll try. The main draw to this card – aside from the 85,000 points and 40,000 points upon renewal is the free night on award stays of two nights or longer. That’s a significant discount, especially at the top tier properties like Radisson Blu requiring 50,000 points per night.

I chose the Chase Sapphire Preferred Mastercard for the obvious reasons of it being the card everyone seems to love (the 40,000 flexible Ultimate Reward points help!), but also because Chase seems to classify it as a separate product from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa and it may be possible to get both bonuses later on. I had to search hard for a Mastercard link but found one on flyertalk:  Chase Sapphire Preferred Mastercard. The landing page didn’t say for sure, but I will let you know if this is indeed the Mastercard. Reports in the forum are positive though.

The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card is also a great card due to the flexibility of the points. Especially since I can use 20,000 points to get 25,000 American Airlines or US Airways miles – or any other number of airline partners!

And finally, I already have the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Visa and American Express from the no longer working two-browser trick days. The new American Airlines card strategy as explained on Million Mile Secrets seems to be applying for the Citi Gold AAdvantage Mastercard after one of the Platinum cards. You can typically apply for the same card 18 months later. I’m not sure whether this will reset that clock and instead of being eligible for another Visa or Amex next June (since I applied last November) it’d now be 18 months from now – but I will let you know! Consider it an experiment. But really I decided 30,000 miles now is better than a possible 50,000 as who knows what will happen between now and June of next year. Especially as American Airlines and US Airways merge.

Stay tuned for the results!

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About Rebecca

I'm an engineer who is new to the points game. Hoping to share my discoveries as I collect points to travel the world.

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