I recently added a couple more credit cards to my collection and it’s a couple firsts for me! Not only did I get two cards on the same day for the first time, but I also got my first true duplicate card. Becky also got a new card recently and ended up with the highest limit either of us have gotten so far, so that’s 3 new cards we signed up for that I can tell you about. Oddly enough, every single card that we got has the best signup bonus available directly from the card brand itself! I’ll talk about the signup bonuses, why we got the cards, and how to find the signup bonuses yourself if these cards make sense for you too.
Adding Three New Credit Cards to the Collection
My standard plan with churning credit cards is to always be putting our regular spend towards a signup bonus. As I explained in my Getting Started With Churning Series, this is far and away the best way to get the maximum return on your credit card spend. Instead of the standard 2-5% back on your regular spending, it’s not uncommon to get 20%+ back when you average out the signup bonus across the minimum spending. Whether or not this is possible for you depends on how much you spend and your ability to sign up for new cards, but in general, the more cards you can meet the minimum spend on (comfortably), the better. Anyway, this line of thinking led us to sign up for 3 cards recently and I’ll briefly introduce the benefits of each and why we chose them.
Bank of America Alaska Airlines Personal Card
I signed up for this one on the same day as the next one (first time I’ve applied for multiple on the same day), and was instantly approved with my highest credit limit. As I get more cards and my credit score goes up (currently floating in the high 700s), banks seem to have no trouble extending me more credit. Both Becky and I’s personal lines of credit actually exceed our incomes! I assume they are just hoping we slip up at some point and have to start putting those salaries towards interest payments, but as long as we stay on top of all of our accounts, we stand to benefit with lots of free travel.
Anyways, I got a 2nd Alaska Airlines personal card because Alaska is based out of Seattle and their miles are very valuable for us. The signup bonus was for 25,000 Alaska miles upon approval and a $100 statement credit after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. The annual fee of $75 for this card is NOT waived though and you have to pay it on your first statement. The $100 statement credit makes up for the annual fee, and then some, while the miles are worth far more than that, so I have no problem paying the annual fee on this card (but I probably won’t pay for the second year!). This actually brings my Alaska miles account high enough to take a nice international business class flight which will go towards our honeymoon trip that I’m currently planning. More on that at a later date. Anyway, BoA Alaska cards are notoriously easy to get and they have no issue with you owning multiple of the same card. While others have signed up for several on the same day, I chose to take it easy and just get the one. With the large number of cards available right now, I’m fine taking it slow and steady with new cards.
While there’s no direct link for this offer (that I know of), it should be possible to get it for yourself by starting to book a flight on Alaska’s website and looking for a link to apply on the checkout page.
American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Personal Card
This card has been on my radar for a long time as it’s one of the most valuable point currencies out there. Unfortunately, I signed up for this card with the 25,000 points bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months with the annual fee is waived the first year. I’ve heard that it’s now possible to get a 30,000 point bonus by attempting to book a hotel through SPG’s website, much like the Alaska trick I mentioned above. Amex is unfortunately not as flexible with matching offers as Chase is, but I’ll still probably try my luck with a secure message. They have raised the signup bonus to 30k in the past around June and I was originally holding out for that, but after they changed the signup bonus spending requirements, I wrongly guessed that they wouldn’t be increasing the bonus this year (Whoops!). I was also instantly approved online for this card.
Regardless, this card is extremely valuable and one that I’ll probably keep for a while. The points are only earned at 1x with no bonus categories (aside from spending directly with SPG), but while they are hotel points, they can be transferred to over 20 airlines! Not only that, the transfer rate is actually BETTER than 1 to 1 because for every 20k SPG points transferred, you get 25k airline miles. This actually makes the card better for earning airline miles than most of the co-branded airline cards that are stuck at 1x! In addition to the nice airline transfer options, SPG points are also valuable when used directly for hotel reward nights and they even have a flexible points + cash option that can be worth it in the right circumstances. This card also gives you a jump start towards elite status with SPG if that’s something you can get value from. There’s a good chance I’ll also pick up the business version of this card in the future which has all of the same benefits of this card and an additional benefit of Club access at most SPG hotels.
My first use of my new SPG points will be to book The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort which happens to be right next door to the Tough Mudder event Becky and I are running in this October!
Chase Hyatt Card
Becky also signed up for a new card recently and we decided to go for the Hyatt branded one offered by Chase. This card has a signup bonus of 2 free nights at any Hyatt after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after your first purchase, the annual fee is waived for the first year. Once again, there’s no direct link to this bonus, but it frequently appears when you start to checkout for a room on the Hyatt website (you don’t have to complete the purchase). With 2 free nights AND $50, this signup bonus is extremely valuable if the nights are used at a high end property that typically costs hundreds of dollars per night. Becky was instantly approved after applying online and broke the record once again for out highest credit limit.
This card earns 3x on Hyatt purchases, 2x on restaurants, airfare, and rental cars (booked directly with the airline/rental car agency), and 1x on everything else. While Hyatt points are pretty valuable, it doesn’t make sense to use this card for regular spending because we currently have a Chase Sapphire preferred. The earning is the same, but the CSP allows transfers to Hyatt AND a bunch of other options for using the points. It’s typically good to keep your options open if possible, so this card probably won’t be seeing any regular spend after the signup bonus is reached. Another benefit of this card is a free night annually in a lower end property (category 1-4) after payment of the annual fee, so even if we aren’t putting spending on the card, it may be worth it to pay the annual fee simply for the free hotel night.
The current plan for the free nights is to use them at the Hyatt in Maui on an upcoming trip to Hawaii. While we haven’t booked the trip yet, a round-trip to Hawaii from Seattle is only 25,000 British Avios per person and we have a lot of those miles at the moment (or at least flexible points that transfer to Avios). I might signup for this credit card myself and then we can do a long weekend in Maui (4 nights) without paying for the airfare or hotels! Aren’t credit card bonuses great?
The first takeaway should be to always search around for the best credit card offers even after you know which one you want to sign up for. All three of these cards offer a better than standard offer if you first start to book something on their respective websites! I didn’t luck out with my timing on the SPG application, but you can’t win them all. Another takeaway is that you should at least have a general idea of how to use the signup bonuses before applying for a card. While this isn’t entirely necessary (I don’t always have a plan), it certainly makes choosing which card to sign up for much easier. All three of these cards had a particular trip in mind (honeymoon, tough mudder in vegas, and random Hawaii trip) and I know exactly how I’m going to get value out of the points I earned. Like I said though, a general idea is all you need. We might not go to Hawaii for another 6+ months, but once we find the time, I know exactly how we’ll be paying for it (more like not paying for it!). Hopefully you either learned something or were inspired to start planning your next trip and looking at the credit cards that might get you there.