Results from my biggest credit card churn to date…

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This is the continuation of my post from yesterday about my most recent credit card churn.

The order of applying:

Having decided on the five cards I wanted to apply for, it was time to decide the order in which I wanted to apply for them. There’s definitely some strategy to this for me, and in the past I’ve even gone so far as to “abort” a few planned applications after not getting instant approvals on several cards in a row. If you don’t get instant approval and the card issuer doesn’t have a phone number where you can contact them to seek approval on the spot, it can often take one to two weeks for a decision to be made, and it’s possible that the inquiries from the previous applications are on your report by then, which may not be a good thing.

So I usually decide on the order for which I want to apply for cards in reverse order, and I think these five cards are a perfect example of my strategy.

Here’s the order I applied for the cards in reverse:

5. Bank of America Virgin Atlantic American Express Card

This was my “wild card” option, and it was also the card I was least concerned about getting. I decided that if I didn’t get an instant decision on any of my first four applications, I’d just let this one go till sometime in the future.

4. Ink Plus® Business Credit Card

My reasoning for applying for this card towards the end is the same as the Chase Hyatt Visa, so read about that below. I have two Ink Bold cards (two versions of the same card, given that they changed the benefits around last November). I was hoping to close the original Ink Bold card I had in favor of the new Ink Plus card, and figured that shouldn’t be too tough of a “sell” for me to one of the analysts at the reconsideration line.

3. Chase Hyatt Visa Card

Chase is simultaneously the most strict and most generous bank for approvals, in my experience. It can be tough to get new credit with them, though if you already have credit with them they’re usually more than happy to switch around credit lines. In other words, if you have an existing Chase card with a $15,000 credit line, they’re usually happy to transfer some of that credit line over to a new card, or at worst close the existing account in favor of a new one. The best part is that they have a great reconsideration phone number, so if you’re not instantly approved you can call that immediately and be approved over the phone.

I happen to have the British Airways Chase Visa card that I planned on canceling, so as far as I was concerned the Chase Hyatt Visa was a near guarantee for approval, so I saved this for close to the end of my application cycle.

2. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa Card

I wanted to apply for this card towards the beginning because I have a bit of an inconsistent history with Citi, and if you’re not instantly approved I find it to be a pain to find a “human” at Citi that’s willing to reconsider your application.

1. Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

I was fairly certain I’d get instantly approved for this card given that I have a legitimate business and only have one business credit card from American Express, which I’ve been using responsibly and also got instantly approved for at the time. This is also the card I wanted the most, given the increased sign-up bonus and also the two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights that come with the card, which would push me over the edge for Platinum renewal.

The results:

With the above strategy in mind, here are the results (in the order that I applied):

1. Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American ExpressAPPROVED with $10,000 credit line

I applied for the business card online, and upon completing the application received a strange error message saying to call American Express OPEN as my application hadn’t been received. I assume it was some sort of a technical glitch. The agent read back to me some of the key details of my application, and then congratulated me on being approved with a $10,000 credit line. She asked how soon I needed the card, and I told her there was no rush and that normal delivery would be fine. I guess she wasn’t listening, because she said “okay, we will have that overnighted to you then.” Works for me! I activated the card today, and the two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights towards Starwood Preferred Guest status already posted to my account. Talk about instant gratification!

2. Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve CardAPPROVED with $30,000 credit line

This one was really straightforward. I applied online and was instantly approved for the card with an outrageously high credit line of $30,000.

3. Chase Hyatt Visa CardAPPROVED with $10,000 credit line

I also applied for this one online and received the dreaded “decision pending” message. I immediately phoned up the Chase personal reconsideration line (888-245-0625) and spoke to a pleasant agent who asked to place me on hold for a few minutes as she reviewed my application. She asked about my employment status, income, housing situation, etc. She then noted the other Chase credit cards that I presently have, and I proactively mentioned that I was looking to close the Chase British Airways Visa, so asked if she could just switch over the credit line from that card to the new one. She placed me on hold and came back a couple of minutes later and said “you don’t even have to close the British Airways one, we approved you for a $10,000 limit on this card.” Awesome!

She asked if I wanted to close my British Airways Visa card anyway and said she could do that for me, though I was thinking one step ahead and told her I’d rather hang on to it as I still value some benefits of the card. My logic was that I can use it as leverage with my next Chase credit card application, and then have them close the British Airways card in favor of the new one.

4. Ink Plus® Business Credit CardAPPROVED with $5,000 credit line

I also got the dreaded “decision pending” prompt after applying for the Ink Plus, though that was hardly a surprise as I already have two Chase business cards. I called up the Chase business reconsideration line (800-453-9719), and the agent also requested to place me on hold for a few minutes. He came back and said that he needed to transfer me over to a personal agent, since I had applied for a personal card. I explained to him that I had applied for both a personal and business credit card, at which point he put me back on hold.

He came back and asked me for my business’ income over the past three years, including both revenue and profit. He then asked me how much I was planning on spending on the card every month. I told him at least $2,000-3,000. He proceeded to mention that I already had two Chase business cards, and asked why I wanted this one. I said that the other two were charge cards, and that I really wanted a credit card instead of a charge card since I might want to finance some purchases in the future (hey, it’s what he wanted to hear — that’s how credit cards make money, not that I’m dumb enough to finance something at 13%+ APR).

I then told him I was actually interested in closing one of my two Chase Ink Bold cards since I no longer use it, and asked if there’s anyway he could close one of them in favor of the new card. He said he wouldn’t be able to. It never occurred to me until that point that because the Ink Bold cards are charge cards and not credit cards, they don’t have credit lines. Therefore there’s no credit line that could be transferred to the new card. Instead he asked if I would be receptive to transferring some of the credit line from my personal Chase British Airways card to this card, which worked great for me. In the end I had a net reduction in credit — I had a $15,000 credit line on the Chase British Airways Visa, and he offered to give me a $5,000 credit line on the Chase British Airways Visa and $5,000 credit line on the Ink Plus).

5. Bank of America Virgin Atlantic American Express CardAPPROVED with $10,000 credit line

Given that I was four for four, my “wild card” was a “go,” and I decided to apply for it as well. I got instantly approved with a $10,000 credit line!

Conclusion:

Once all is said and done I’ll have earned 30,000 Starpoints, 100,000 Hilton HHonors points, 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (plus another ~50,000 Ultimate Rewards points for completing the minimum spend), two free nights at any Hyatt in the world, and two free nights at any Hilton in the world. Not bad for a handful of credit card applications!

I’ve had a lot of credit inquiries lately (not just from credit card applications but otherwise as well), and this just comes to show you that as long as you pay your bills on-time and have a reasonably low credit utilization you can be approved for just about anything. A credit inquiry will only hit your score a couple of points, while new credit cards with a high credit line and low utilization can help you a lot more than that.

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Comments

  1. Good deal! Just got the wife approved for 6 with 100% success rate a couple weeks ago. Now to figure out how to get the $25k spend we need over 3-4mo, ha.

  2. I am impressed! I’m 23 and just applied for my first credit card (Chase Southwest) in April. I have no idea what I was doing all of those years before that- debit card ugh. How soon do you think I can start churning? The Southwest card isn’t very good for everyday spend and I’ve already earned the Companion Pass. Thanks!!

  3. Curtis,
    I’m in the same boat. I just signed up for AmEx Gold Bus – $2K spend and then a week later AmEx Starwood – $5K spend. I want to sign up for more, but…how can I spend more?!

  4. I had a similar experience with “requesting to close” a Chase account. They put me on hold and told me that I could keep it open. That seems to be the trick. The chase biz cards ask you a lot more questions than the personal cards. How many total Chase cards (personal and biz) do you currently have including the ones you were approved for?

  5. @ Julie — Congrats on getting in the “game!” If you got approved for the Chase Southwest card I assume your credit score is good enough to pick up a few more cards. Have you checked your credit score? There are some links on the “Best Credit Card Offers” page of the blog to free credit reports. I’d suggest checking it out, and if your score is good you should be able to apply for a few more cards.

    @ Grant — I have a total of six Chase cards right now.

  6. I did the same thing. I applied five cards in April and five cards last week. All on the same day and all were approved.

  7. is this a typo or did you get a targeted offer?

    “(plus another ~50,000 Ultimate Rewards points for completing the minimum spend),

  8. @ bluto — Most of my spend will be at office supply stores, which earns 5x points (see the previous post for details on that).

  9. Which credit bureau did Amex pull for your SPG BIZ card? And how many hard inquiries in the last 6 months…as for me, if Experian , I would have 4 hard inquires within the past 6 months and for Equifax, 2 hard inquiries within past 6 month-all personal cards and only one of the personal from AMEX (hilton Honors) Do you think I have a good chance to be approved for SPG Biz? Fico is 780

  10. Applied for both Amex SPG personal and business at the same day. Immediately approved for personal card, but flagged for business card as a duplicate application. After calling them said it would be reviewed. Today I was approved for business card. Bad news was that Amex pulled my credit twice and I now have 2 inquiries on my credit report.

  11. @ sil — I don’t actually monitor my credit as actively as I probably should, so I’m not sure at this point. I’ll update once I do check my score.

  12. Ben, could you give us an idea of your credit score?

    I am thinking of applying for a couple of cards in the end of the month, but I have to go way easier. Deciding between the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve and the Chase United Mileage Plus (for 50K miles), what’s your thought on the Mileage Plus for the points and primary car insurance?

  13. @ Philipp — I haven’t checked in the past few months, though last time I did it was in the high 700s. As far as which card is better goes, do you currently have status with Hilton? Do you have the AmEx Plat for secondary insurance?

    While the primary insurance is valuable, I just don’t see any other value in the card, since you can almost always earn more United miles per dollar by using other cards, like the Chase Ink Bold or Chase Sapphire Preferred.

  14. @ Philipp — Whoops, hadn’t refreshed so didn’t see the update. It’s much of the same as above. I think the Hyatt card has more long term value for the annual free night, while the only benefit of the United card is the primary insurance.

  15. @Santastico

    Did you say you have 3 total inquires, ( 1 pull for personal, 2 pulls for the business card) ?

  16. @JoC: I had 2 inquiries, 1 for the personal and 1 for the business card. Both applications were submitted on the same time and using the same S/S#.

  17. Lucky, you’ve posted about the Hyatt card in the past so I assumed you carried it. Are you saying you applied for a second account? I didn’t think Chase allowed you to earn bonuses for repeat accounts.

  18. @Lucky: Congrats! I did a 4 personal card churn, but did not know that for pending decision calling immediately is the key. Got one denial for US Airways card. Thanks for the info.

  19. Thanks for taking the time to show us what’s inside your wallet.

    It’s challenging me to do a similar analysis of the credit cards I have or hold, and is giving me the courage to churn, baby, churn.

    Thanks to you, my old favorite is the Chase Sapphire, and my new favorite is gonna be the SPG AmEx. And a couple of free nights at a Hyatt via the Chase Hyatt isn’t bad either.

    Woohoo! Thanks again. 😀

  20. Can anyone tell me what’s the trick to getting a Chase rep at the reconsideration line to actually review an application? Applied for a Sapphire Preferred last week and got a “pending review”. I have called several times since then and spoken to several agents. I cannot get a single one of them to pull up my application. All I get is, “it’s processing, there’s nothing we can do.” This is my first card credit application with Chase (but not my first credit card). Any ideas?

    By the way, Lucky, congrats on your successful churn! Have fun putting all those points and miles to use.

  21. Hey Lucky, what happens to your credit if you apply for a card and they approve you for a lower card than you want. Is it better to keep the card that does not do much or just close the account? Does it hurt your credit if they open and close a card on the same day?

  22. Great churn. I must have missed something. How did you get 100,000 Hilton points and 2 free weekend Hilton nights? I only see the 2 nights as part of the offer, plus maybe 7,500 – 12,500 points by hitting the minimum 2,500 spend at 3-5x on the card…

  23. @ J in NC — The 100,000 Hilton points are from the Virgin Atlantic credit card. It offers 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles after completing the minimum spend, which can be converted to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio.

  24. @ Brad — Well what impacts your score isn’t the opening or closing of the card per se, but rather the credit inquiry. So once the inquiry is made it really doesn’t matter whether you close the card right away or not. It can slightly help your score if you keep it open for a while since it could potentially increase the average age of your accounts, though that’s minor.

  25. @ Jes — Interesting. It could just be that this is because it’s your first application, so they don’t really have much of a “file” to review. Unfortunately it could also mean you were rejected, in which case they’ll often simply tell you they can’t process the application. Please keep me updated!

  26. @ yohoo — The 100,000 Hilton points were from the Virgin Atlantic credit card and not the Hilton credit card.

  27. Lucky – great website and I’m glad I found it.

    Question – I opened a BA Chase card last month for the 100k bonus, and have a UA Mileage as well (3 years ago). Do you know if there is a rule of thumb for waiting to apply for another Chase card? I’ve read everything from no rule, to 3 months, to 6 months. Thank you.

  28. @ Chad — Chase can be really inconsistent when it comes to approving new accounts. The one thing they’re consistent about is that if you have an existing card you’re willing to cancel or reduce the credit line on, they’ll almost always approve you for the new card. Given that you just have one new BA card recently I’d say you have a great shot at being approved, especially if you’re willing to reduce the credit line on one of your existing cards.

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