My App-O-Rama Results: 175,000 Points/Miles + $300 in Airline/Statement Credits

Last month, I applied for several new credit cards and decided to apply for them all on the same day in one “app-o-rama”. While it’s true some people are shifting away from the app-o-rama idea and applying for cards as needed, I stuck to it as historically it’s worked very well for my wife and I. Now before […]

Last month, I applied for several new credit cards and decided to apply for them all on the same day in one “app-o-rama”. While it’s true some people are shifting away from the app-o-rama idea and applying for cards as needed, I stuck to it as historically it’s worked very well for my wife and I.

Now before I get into the detailed results, please note I post about my credit card dealings as these posts are always popular with readers but remember just because I apply for a card (or 4) doesn’t mean you should. In fact, you probably shouldn’t as I know what I am doing and the risks associated with these financial decisions. We are at different places in the miles/points game and probably have different travel goals/needs. With that disclaimer out of the way, here is what I applied for and why.

1) American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card – 50,000 Membership Rewards Points + $200 in Airline Gift Cards

PRG Offer

Update (6/18): Some people might see an offer for 40k points the first year + 25k points the second year by clicking this link. Personally, I like the 50k offer below better since I never have to pay an annual fee but some people might appreciate the extra points.

I find it interesting that while I’ve had 47 credit cards (yes that’s the actual number though many of them are now closed) over the past 4 years, I never had the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card which is a fairly popular card. The normal signup bonus is just 25,000 points but I was able to get a 50,000 point offer to appear by opening this link in a Chrome incognito window.  This offer required spending spending only $1,000 in 3 months and the annual fee of $195 was waived for the first year. I was not approved right away but instead of calling reconsideration right away, I waited a day and found out I was approved when I checked my application status online.

Delta Gift Cards Amex

In addition to the 50,000 points, this card offers a $100 airline credit annually based on the calendar year so in the first year of card membership I will be able to utilize this credit twice. I have already used this year’s credit to buy 2x $50 Delta gift cards and I plan to repeat it in early January 2017.

Currently, when I click the link for the card above (remember not everyone will see this offer right away or at all), it shows a 50,000 point offer but with a $2,000 spend requirement – still a great offer in my opinion especially as Amex limits you to a card once a lifetime so you want to maximize the signup bonus. There are reports of very targeted 60k or 75k offers but they are quite rare so I think 50k is the realistic highest signup bonus for most people.

2) Chase British Airways Avios – 75,000 British Airways Avios

BA Avios Offer

My general focus for this round of applications was to accumulate transferable points (like Chase UR or Amex Membership Rewards) or airline miles as I have plenty of hotel points right now (over 1.3 million across all programs between my wife & I) so I went for one of the highest signup bonuses with this card. I did unfortunately miss the 100,000 Avios offer earlier this year but I wasn’t confident it would return anytime soon so I pulled the trigger on the 75,000 Avios signup bonus offer. Technically, the offer is split with 50,000 Avios being awarded after $2,000 in spending in 3 months and the other 25,000 Avios being award for spending $15,000 total in the first year. Additionally, the annual fee of $95 is NOT waived for the first year.

Chase is known for the lack of instant approvals and this was no different as I was notified my application was pending. I decided to not call reconsideration as I already had 5 Chase cards open (4 personal, 1 business) and I was worried about having another set of eyes on this application/all my Chase cards and have an overeager agent possible deny my application under the 5/24 rule even though 5/24 does not appear to apply to this card. After waiting it out for about 25! days, this is how I found out I was approved – I got a thick envelope in the mail from Chase.

BA in Mail

This is how I found out I was approved…thanks Chase!

Going back to the offer, I’ll easily reach the $2,000 spend threshold in 2 months and I have a year to tackle the remaining $13,000 in spend required for the other 25,000 Avios. This won’t be an issue as I will put all non-bonus category spend on this card and I’m sure there will be several reselling deals or smaller manufactured spending deals to help complete this spend. With these Avios, I will plan to exclusively use them on short haul American Airlines flight domestically and to the Caribbean.

3) Bank of American Alaska Airlines (Personal) – 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan Miles + $100 Statement Credit

Alaska Personal Offer

Before I go into this offer, note the offer on this card has increased now to 30,000 miles + $100 statement credit and you can apply directly via this link. Back when I applied the best offer was 25,000 miles + $100 and even though I knew the 30,000 mile offer was coming at some point this year, I chose not to wait for it. I won’t describe my thoughts on churning these cards in this post as that deserves its own post (which I will write someday) but at a bare minimum I like to signup for at least 2-3 of these cards a year (and some people do much more than this). The timing made sense to get this application in now and I was happily instantly approved.

Anyway back to offer which was 25,000 miles for getting approved for the card (no spend requirement) plus a $100 statement credit if you spend $1,000 in 3 months. There is also a free companion ticket though I have never used mine as I’ve never actually flown Alaska Airlines. The annual fee of $75 was NOT waived for the first year but with the statement credit offer, Bank of America was paying me $25 to acquire 25,000 Alaska miles. Even with the demise of Emirates first class awards (yet another post I need to write – my review of Emirates first class), Alaska miles are still valuable for awards to Asia on Cathay Pacific/Hainan Airlines, awards to the South Pacific with Fiji Airways and great in general for awards on Delta, American or Alaska themselves. In short, I will have no problem spending these miles.

4) Bank of American Alaska Airlines (Business) – 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

Bofa Alaska Business

Update (6/18): This card now offers a 30,000 mile signup bonus.

The offer for the Alaska Airlines business card is quite similar to the personal card except it does not include the $100 statement credit to help offset the $75 annual fee which is NOT waived for the first year. Currently, the offer is still 25,000 miles but I’ve heard it will be increasing to 30,000 miles relatively soon to more closely align with the personal card. Just like the personal card, this card is indeed churnable and one that I like to acquire 2 or 3 of in a year to help augment my Alaska Mileage Plan balance. Additionally, if you apply for the the personal Alaska card at the same time, the credit inquiries will be combined thus creating almost no downside to adding a business card application. For this application, I was instantly approved.

For this offer, the 25,000 miles are awarded after first purchase so I tend to think of this offer as a way to buy 25,000 Alaska miles for $75 – an obvious good deal. Even if you don’t have plans to redeem Alaska miles for a luxurious flight aboard Cathay Pacific or Emirates, at the very worst you can think of this offer as buying a domestic flight for $75 since those 25,000 miles will cover domestic round-trips on American, Delta or Alaska. 

Summary:

This was yet another successful round of credit card applications especially when you consider I did not have to call reconsideration on any of these cards and there were no denials. For a total cost of $145 in annual fees the first year (after factoring in the $100 statement credit on the Alaska Personal card), I earned 175,000 points/miles and $200 in Delta Gift cards. That’s a pretty solid haul in return for 3 credit inquiries and shows that even after 47 cards, there is still much value to be earned by chasing the right signup bonuses.

*As always, there are no affiliate links included in this post. All links lead to the best available offer I am aware of.

Filed under: Alaska Airlines, American Express, Bank of America, British Airways, Chase Tagged: Alaska Airlines 30k + $100 Statement Credit Link, Amex 50k PRG Offer, Chase British Airways Avios 75k Offer

Did You Know Active Military Members Get Free American Airlines Lounge Access?

I like to think I know quite a bit about points/miles/frequent flyer programs etc. but even after 2.5 years of blogging, I’m still learning new things and this tip is a good one for our active military members. This weekend I learned that American Airlines offers active military members complimentary lounge access to their Admirals Club […]

I like to think I know quite a bit about points/miles/frequent flyer programs etc. but even after 2.5 years of blogging, I’m still learning new things and this tip is a good one for our active military members. This weekend I learned that American Airlines offers active military members complimentary lounge access to their Admirals Club when flying on American Airlines just for being active military! They even have the policy documented on their website.

AA Lounge Access for Military Members

My friend, Navy Lieutenant Jon S., shared this with me as he was returning from a weekend trip to Gulfport. He lives in Rhode Island and always has a connection through Charlotte when flying on American Airlines which is a hub for American after the US Airways-American Airlines merger. While waiting out his connection in Charlotte, he simply showed the agent at the front desk of the Admirals Club his military ID and was admitted access. This generous policy also allows access for immediate family or two guests. Per the documented policy, you need to show both a military ID and working orders but in Jon’s case he was never asked for his orders (which he did have on him).

I took a look at some airlines to see if they had a similar policy and only United comes close, though it is much more restrictive. If a military member is on Rest & Recuperation (R&R) leave, then he/she will be admitted to United clubs but unfortunately no guests are allowed. Additionally, some airports have USO centers which military members have access to. 

I’d like to commend American Airlines for offering this perk to those who bravely serve our country. Its been a weekend of learning for me – between learning another flaw in Marriott’s program to finding out about this free lounge access policy for military members. I only wish I knew about this sooner so I could have shared this with those traveling for the military.

Filed under: American Airlines Tagged: American Airlines Admiral’s Club Access for Military Members, Free Lounge Access for Active Military

One More Reminder Why I Hate The Marriott Rewards Program

Earlier this year, my wife & I spent the long Presidents Day weekend (which happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day), at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel to escape the cold weather in NY. We could not have timed the trip better – it was record cold in NY that weekend (0 degrees on Long Island) […]

Earlier this year, my wife & I spent the long Presidents Day weekend (which happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day), at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel to escape the cold weather in NY. We could not have timed the trip better – it was record cold in NY that weekend (0 degrees on Long Island) and record highs in Laguna at 82 degrees! It was a fantastic use of 60,000 Marriott Rewards Points per night as room rates were over $700/night for the holiday weekend and I’ll talk about the hotel in a separate post (spoiler alert – we loved it!).

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

It’s no secret I’m not a fan of the Marriott Rewards program as I think among the major hotel programs, Marriott’s hotels are overpriced from a points perspective, lack aspirational properties that I want to stay at (excluding Ritz Carltons),  and earning points in this program is not as rewarding as their competitors. Many run of the mill Courtyards and Marriott hotels price from 30k to 40k points a night but for 25k or 30k points at Hyatt (remember Chase UR transfer to both Hyatt and Marriott at a 1:1 ratio), I’ve stayed at some truly excellent hotels including the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome and Park Hyatt Maldives.

I'll choose this over a Courtyard for 25k points

I’ll choose this over a Courtyard for 25k points

Anyway getting back to the point of this post, while checking my points balances a few weeks ago, I noticed I never earned any points for my incidental charges at the Ritz including our Valentine’s Day dinner at Raya in the hotel. I finally contacted Marriott Rewards to ask about my missing points and was told that incidental charges don’t earn points at Ritz Carlton hotels.

No Points for Ritz Carlton Stays

That’s right you earn zip, zero, zlich, nada, nil etc. for any incidentals charged to your room not only at just Ritz Carltons but also many other Marriott chains including Courtyard, Fairfield Inns, Edition, SpringHill Suites and several others. To Marriott’s credit, they do make this pretty clear on their website.

Truthfully, this was something I should have known about Marriott’s program before going but since I tend to shy away from this program, I didn’t know all the ins and outs of the program. It seems kind of crazy to me that Marriott doesn’t want to incentive their guests, especially ones staying at Ritz Carltons where food/drink options are generally a bit more expensive, to stay on property and earn additional points for spending money at the hotel. It’s not hard to imagine a family of four spending a week at a Ritz Carlton resort spending over $1,000 (probably more) on incidentals but getting nothing to show for it. The policy seems kind of petty to me and is just another reason for me to stay away from this program.

Filed under: Marriott Tagged: Earning Marriott Points at Ritz Carlton Hotels, Why You Dont Earn Points at Ritz Carlton Hotels