Credit Update: August 15, 2012

How long has it been?

It’s been pretty quiet on the credit card front for both Joann and me. The last time I applied for cards was back in April. For Joann, March…

What’s the latest for Joann?

Joann applied for the 2 Southwest Airlines credit cards about three weeks ago and was approved with a monster limit on the personal card. We already met the easy spend goal of $1,000 each and are anxiously waiting for our first statement to post so we can see where we stand for getting her the Companion Pass. This will be easy to hit before year end because of Amazon Payments (AP). She’ll use the business card for her AP account and I’ll use the personal for my AP account since I’m an authorized user on that card.

She also applied for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card last week and wasn’t instantly approved. A few days later, we checked the status of her application on this web page and found out that she was approved! We still don’t have the card yet but $5,000 spend in six months won’t be difficult at all with good old Amazon Payments once again. This 30,000 Starpoints offer is only for a limited time and will expire on September 4, 2012.

American Express also sent Joann an official FICO score that they pulled from Experian. I like that about their application process. They always include a credit score; it’s nice to know every once in a while. Even with all the credit cards we apply for, she still has a credit score of 718.

Good score! Keep on churnin’!

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Chase Southwest Credit Cards – 50K x 2 & Companion Pass

One of the best credit card combo deals is back. Chase has brought back the offers for both the PERSONAL and BUSINESS Southwest credit cards. Each card boasts a 50,000 point bonus after an easy spending threshold of $1,000 in the first three months of opening your account. With two approvals, you could be looking at over 100,000 points which is worth over $1,600 in airfare at Southwest!

Why am I applying for 2 cards?

Because by applying for two cards and earning the 50,000 point bonus twice, you will be a little bit of effort away from a Southwest Companion Pass! This will allow a designated companion to fly with you on any Southwest flight you take, whether you paid for it or redeemed points for it! Simply put, there is no better deal in the airline industry if two people are looking to fly together often.

Another great thing about the companion pass is that when you earn it, you get to use it for the remainder of the year you earned it (2012) and all of the next calendar year as well (2013). If you could time this right and apply in January, you could be looking at almost two years of free companion flights!

So you receive this Companion Pass by earning 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Let’s do some math:

  • Southwest Personal card bonus points = 50,000 
  • Southwest Business card bonus points = 50,000 
  • Points earned from completing each card’s minimum spend = 2,000
  • TOTAL POINTS = 102,000

As you can see, you’d be a mere 8,000 points away from hitting the goal of 110,000 points. I’m sure that none of you would have trouble coming up with different ways of earning 8k points, especially since Southwest has a shopping portal.

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No More Premier Access Security for Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Cardholders

As Mommy Points pointed out earlier this morning, Chase and/or United seem to have removed the Premier Access Security benefit from the Chase MileagePlus Explorer credit card. The “Premier Access” logo did not print out on her boarding pass and, without that, she cannot access the Premier Access security line. I questioned whether this was just a one-off, but the change is even reflected on the credit card’s main page – https://creditcards.chase.com/credit-cards/united-airlines-credit-card.aspx

This may not be a major blow to the credit card but it is significant. There are still, however, benefits as a non-elite cardholder such as the free checked bag, priority boarding (one group ahead of the general public), two free United Club passes every year, and primary auto rental coverage.

The move makes sense, in my opinion. I know that in my home airport (EWR), the Premier Access security line is usually just as busy, if not busier, than the regular security line. As it stands, that Premier Access is worthless. After all, it’s easy enough to get approved for the credit card. With this change, hopefully the Premier Access line will actually be faster and server a purpose for Elites.

If you have the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer credit card, does this change bother you? Are you going to keep the card or cancel it?

Citi Credit Card Retention Bonuses

It’s coming up on that time of year – the 11th month after opening a credit card when the annual fee is due. After a monster application run last April/May, several of my credit cards will charge annual fees that I have no interest in paying. This means that it’s time to call up credit card retention departments and see if I can squeeze out an annual fee credit or some points/miles.

It’s pretty well known that Citi is generous in their retention bonuses. All it takes is a simple phone call to the number on the back of your card (Citi Select / AAdvantage American Express in my case). I asked the front line agent to transfer me to the Retention Department because I wanted to cancel my card. Once there, I told the retention agent that I wanted to cancel my card because I couldn’t justify the “expensive” annual fee. He immediately offered me a retention bonus – an $85 statement credit after making 5 purchases within 3 months. Really? I can do that in a day.

So I made the 5 purchases and waited for the statement to close which was two days ago. Lo and behold, I see this!

So there you go! As always, it never hurts to ask. The worst they can say is no and then you cancel the card anyway. I’ll drawer this Citi card until I revisit this exact same process in April of 2013.

The New United MileagePlus Club Card from Chase

As part of my latest round of credit card applications, I applied for the new United MileagePlus Club Card from Chase. This card is similar to the old Presidential Plus credit card in that the main perk is membership to the United Club. While I don’t travel enough to justify paying for a club membership, I didn’t have to worry about that because thanks to Flyer Talk, I was able to capitalize on the offer of the waived first year annual fee. Otherwise, the annual fee would be a whopping $395!

The card arrived with as much prestige as the American Express Platinum card did. A silver hard cover case holds the card and the welcome package. In it, you get the card, a guide book to the perks, and the 2012 Luxury Hotel & Resort (LHR) Collection guide. If you’re familiar with the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts Program, this is essentially the same thing. When booking through the LHR program, you are entitled to certain perks like a room upgrade (if available), late checkout, free daily breakfast, and a unique property-specific amenity (likely a spa or food & beverage credit).

The physical card is a carbon copy of the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) card in that it is composed of a piece of metal sandwiched in between 2 thin pieces of plastic. It has the same weighty feel to it. The front of the card has minimal information on it – United logo, Chase logo, “MileagePlus Club”, and your name. Again like the CSP, the numbers, expiration date, and security code are on the back of this Visa Signature.

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