Like a lot of “power users” of credit card sign-up bonuses and benefits to travel for less, I run up against velocity rules, card limits and other “too many recent accounts”-type barriers that keep me from getting approved for new cards. One of the keys to maximizing sign-up bonuses and benefits, of course, is being able to navigate around those barriers to unlock the rewards. It pays to have an understanding of when you have opportunities to strike.
This month, I found myself with a unique window of opportunity that I thought gave me a chance to get approved for a new personal card from Chase and one from Citi. I was successful on both fronts. Within the past week, I applied and was approved for a Chase World of Hyatt Visa card and a Citi American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard (AA Platinum card). I thought my circumstances and strategy would make for a good an interesting case study on applying for cards when you’re way beyond the bounds of the Chase 5/24 Rule.
What Were My Stats and Circumstances That Created a Unique Window of Opportunity?
As of mid-October, my basic credit status was:
- 14/24 (including 1 AU card)
- 8/12 (including 1 AU card)
- Credit scores: Approximately 790 on Experian, 820 on TransUnion, and 830 on Equifax
As you can see, my recent card counts are quite high. I also hold a lot of cards overall. 20 active accounts were showing up on my credit report at the time of these applications, and I have a large overall credit line. Both of these factors make new application approvals tougher. On the bright side, my overall credit scores are quite good.
My unique window of opportunity came from the fact that some recent new cards were not showing up on my credit reports yet. It takes a little while for new cards to be reported. And particularly with American Express, it may take 2-3 months for a new account to show up on your credit report.
I had gotten a few new cards recently that were not yet showing up on my credit report:
- 8/1/2018 – Amex Business Green card (as a Business card, this one won’t ever show up on my personal credit report)
- 8/23/2018 – Amex SPG Luxury card (obtained during the 3-day window before its current restrictions kicked in)
- 10/3/2018 – Amex Gold card (obtained on the evening before the updated card benefits went into effect; I was able to get the updated benefits but still receive a 50,000-point sign-up bonus with the first year’s annual fee waived)
- 10/9/2018 – Bank of America Alaska Air Visa card (see our article, The “West Coast” Offer Works! – Approved for a 40k Bonus on the Alaska Air Visa)
Therefore, for Chase and Citi, my credit status and profile as of last week looked like this:
- 11/24 (including 1 AU card)
- 6/12 (including 1 AU card)
- Good credit scores
- No problems under any Chase approval rule for a non-5/24 card
- No problems under any Citi approval rule
- Most Recent Approvals/Accounts: USBank Altitude Reserve & Citi Premier on June 4-5, 2018
- Most Recent Chase Approval/Account: Chase British Airways Visa in May 2017 (since closed)
- Most Recent Citi Approval/Account: Citi Premier on June 5, 2018
I expected that the Amex SPG Luxury card would show up on my report on November 1 or shortly thereafter. This gave me a window until the end of October with my credit report showing no new accounts within the past 4 months.
In addition, with Chase, I had closed a Chase British Airways Visa card in late June 2018. That card had a high credit limit. Even though it had been closed, it was still showing up in my online Chase account until sometime in early October, when it dropped off. I made an educated guess that when the card dropped off of my online account, it fully released the limit on that card from my total available credit limit with Chase across all cards.
As those pieces fell into place, I thought it gave me a unique window of opportunity to apply for a new card with Chase and a new card with Citi.
I decided to apply for the recently-refreshed Chase World of Hyatt Visa card and (another) Citi AA Platinum card. Since Chase is usually tougher on approvals than Citi, I wanted to apply for the Chase card first, then the Citi card.
The Chase World of Hyatt Visa Card
What Is the Card and What Are Its Benefits?
- Chase World of Hyatt Visa card (personal)
- $95 annual fee – not waived first year
- Bonus Categories:
- 4x Hyatt points/dollar on purchases at all Hyatt hotels
- 2x Hyatt points/dollar at restaurants
- 2x Hyatt points/dollar on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline
- 2x Hyatt points/dollar on local transit and commuting
- 2x Hyatt points/dollar on fitness club and gym memberships
- 1x Hyatt point/dollar on all other purchases
- One free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year after your cardmember anniversary
- One additional free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember year
- 5 qualifying night credits toward Hyatt elite status each year
- An additional 2 qualifying night credits toward Hyatt elite status, each time you spend $5,000 on your card
- No foreign transaction fees
- 10,000 Hyatt points for each referral who is approved, with a 50,000 annual cap
What Was the Sign-Up Bonus, and What Is It Worth?
- Up to 60,000 Hyatt points
- 40,000 Hyatt points after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening
- An additional 20,000 Hyatt points after you spend $6,000 total within the first 6 months of account opening (that is, an additional $3,000 beyond the first threshold)
- Our baseline value for Hyatt points is 1.5 cents/point, so 60,000 Hyatt points would be worth about $900
How Did the Application Process Go?
Somewhat to my surprise, I was insta-approved for the Hyatt card. I received a confirming email shortly thereafter.
Also somewhat to my surprise, I received a high credit limit. The credit limit was almost the same as my Chase British Airways Visa card (BA Visa) that I’d canceled 4 months earlier and had just fallen off my online Chase account, within 10%. To me, this supports my theory that the BA Visa card dropping off of my online account helped me with approval and freed up some of my total available credit limit with Chase. Other than the BA Visa card dropping off, I did not proactively lower my credit limits with Chase or any other issuer in advance of this application.
Also in my opinion, the window of opportunity that I saw was important to approval, as Chase had denied my application for a Chase Marriott Rewards business card in early August 2018. In the denial letter, Chase cited (a) too many credit accounts have been opened recently; (b) too many accounts with balances; and (c) too many active accounts or too much available credit.
How Will I Use the Card?
For starters, I’ll make sure to put enough spend on the card to get the full 60,000-point sign-up bonus.
I also expect to put $15,000 in spend on the card during my cardholder year in order to get the Category 1-4 Free Night Certificate. At a minimum, I’ll earn 15,000 Hyatt points on the $15,000 spend, worth about 1.5 cents each (total $225). Plus, I believe I can reasonably expect to get at least $225 of value out of the Certificate. The total return on $15k of spend would be about $450, which is about 3% and is a very reasonable return on otherwise unbonused spend.
Beyond that, I’m still contemplating my going-forward strategy with Hyatt. Currently, I only hold low-level Discoverist status with Hyatt and we don’t have many nights at Hyatt hotels beyond our stays at MGM properties in Las Vegas. We’re much more focused on Marriott/Starwood/Ritz, where we hold Platinum Preferred elite status, and Hilton, where we have Diamond elite status. That said, however, it seems to me that Hyatt treats its top-level elites better than Marriott or Hilton overall. And I like the direction Hyatt is heading with its recent strategic loyalty alliance with Small Luxury Hotels and its acquisition of Two Roads. More earning and redemption options at high-end hotels is very attractive to us – especially when combined with the ability to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt. We’ll be contemplating the issue of where to focus our stays much more as we look into 2019.
The Citi AA Platinum Mastercard
What Is the Card and What Are Its Benefits?
The Citi AA Platinum Mastercard comes with benefits that include free checked bags and preferred boarding on AA, and 2x AAdvantage miles on AA purchases and spend at restaurants and gas stations. The annual fee is $99/year, waived first year.
What Is the Sign-Up Bonus and What Is It Worth?
Frankly, the reason we’re getting this card is for the sign-up bonus. I applied using a mailer addressed to a family member that advertised a sign-up bonus of 60,000 redeemable AA miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. We give AA miles a baseline value of 1.25 cents per mile, so for us, the sign-up bonus is worth about $750.
I also hope based on past recent experience with Citi AA Platinum cards that I can send Citi a secure message requesting an additional 15,000 AA miles to “match” other sign-up bonus offers on Citi AA cards. We’ll have a separate article on Middle Age Miles after I ask for the match, to give you a data point on how I asked and whether Citi granted my request. If I’m successful at getting the additional 15,000 AA miles, then the sign-up bonus will total 75k AA miles, worth about $900.
How Did the Application Process Go?
- I submitted the application on the morning of Friday, October 19
- The application went pending – Citi said it would get back to me within 7-10 days
- On Monday, October 22, I received a call, an email and a text from Citi asking to speak with me
- On the morning of Tuesday, October 23, I called Citi
- I verified that I was actually the one who applied for the card
- The rep said that I would be approved and that he needed to put me on a brief hold to check on the credit limit
- The rep came back with 2 options with regard to my credit limit – either a higher limit if I wanted to move some credit over from other cards, or a much lower limit if I didn’t want to reduce the credit lines on my other Citi cards
- I chose to take the lower limit – I did not want any more eyes on my other Citi cards, particularly since I currently have 5 personal cards open with Citi, including 2 other AA Platinum cards!
- The rep didn’t ask any other questions – and in particular, there were no questions about why I wanted/needed another Citi AA Platinum card given that I have 2 open right now that haven’t seen any spend in the last 4-5 months!
- The rep confirmed that I was approved for the card, and I quickly received a confirming email from Citi
What Else Might Be Important or Interesting About This Citi AA Platinum Application?
- As I mentioned earlier, I applied using a mailer sent to a family member at my home address
- The mailer contained a 9-digit code
- 9-digit codes can generally be used by people other than the recipient, per our research and past experience
- In our case, the mailer was to a family member with the same last name at our home address – this gave me more confidence that it would work
- Within the past few days, it appears that Citi has restricted the use of mailers to 1 application per mailer code (previously, a 9-digit mailer code could be used multiple times by different people)
- The mailer did not contain the typical “24-month” language for Citi AA cards
- This was critical since I would not be eligible for the card if the “24-month” restriction applied
- Standard language is: “American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi / AAdvantage card (other than an AAdvantage MileUp or CitiBusiness / AAdvantage card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.”
- I currently have 2 Citi AA Platinum cards open, and I had another that was product-changed a little over a year ago
- My current cards were opened in January and March 2018
- My prior card was opened in August 2016 and converted to a Citi AT&T Access More card in September 2017
- I’m plainly up against the maximum total credit limit that Citi wants to extend to me
- In addition to my conversation with the Citi rep for this card, I had a conversation with another Citi rep when I was approved for the Citi Premier card in June where he expressly stated that I was at the limit.
How Will I Use the Card?
Of course, I’ll make sure to put $3,000 in spend on the card, as quickly as I can, to get the full 60,000-mile sign-up bonus.
Beyond that, I probably won’t use the card much, as I have other cards that have better earning return for ongoing spend in each category. But, I do want to have the option of converting this Citi AA card and my others to other Citi products after they’ve been open for a year. Depending on my needs at the time, I might consider a Citi Double Cash card (for a 2% cash-back option), a Citi Dividend card (for rotating 5% cash back quarterly categories), another AT&T Access More card (possibly useful for its annual bonus of 10,000 ThankYou points (TYPs) if you spend $10,000 in your cardholder year, and also perhaps useful for a retention bonus), or even a no-fee Citi AA card. We’ll make those decisions as the cards come up for renewal during 2019.
We hope that you found this case study and strategy discussion about applying for new Chase and Citi cards to be helpful. The sign-up bonuses are very generous and we’ll certainly use them to get great value and travel for less! To get all of our tips and helpful information on credit cards and earning miles, please Like and Follow us on social media at:
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