Getting Credit Cards & Getting a Mortgage… It Is Possible

2011 was an amazing year for me. I rediscovered the sign-up bonus game with my fiancee and together we earned over 800,000 miles/points on bonuses alone. We also finalized plans for our wedding in Hawaii that is about 45 days away. But the most amazing part of 2011 came on November 29 when Joann and I closed on our first home! That’s right, as some may know and others may not, we are now part of the fraternity of “good debt” and are proud owners of a shiny new 30 year mortgage house! I know there is a lot of talk about messing with your credit before you are applying for something big like a car loan or mortgage so I want to share our story so people have yet another data point in this crazy game.

Let me start out by listing all the details.

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Results of my Latest Credit Card App-O-Rama

First of all, Happy New Year!

The results are in! Well, not entirely, but I do know what I’ve been approved for and what I did not get approved for. This is my first actual app-o-rama since getting into the points and miles game early last year. I think it went well and I’m pleased with the results. Keep in mind, unlike last year where Joann participated, this time around it was only me. I won’t go into detail about the perks of these cards as most of them are solely used for their sign-up bonuses.

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Planning My Next Card Churn / App-O-Rama

It’s about that time, folks. I don’t have a specific day for my next round of credit card applications, but I know that time will come soon (and before the holidays). I’m looking to do a few apps for myself, but not for Joann this time around. We’re keeping her credit untouched in case we need to apply for a car loan in the near future.

I know there are a lot of good cards out there, but I want to focus on a few key programs – United/Continental, American Airlines, US Airways, and Starwood. To clarify, I have already used the following cards for their bonuses:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Chase United [old] Mileage Plus
  • Chase British Airways Visa Signature
  • American Express Platinum
  • Citi Platinum Select Visa Signature
  • Citi Select American Express

Here are the top 4 cards that I’m looking to churn next:

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer: I am a United Elite and have been targeted for the 50k offer after first purchase. I will probably end up keeping this card as we mainly fly UA/CO and Star Alliance has, in my opinion, the best partner availability for redeeming awards. I have the majority of our eggs in this basket. Link

CitiBusiness American Airlines Visa: Gone are the days of the 75k offers that were easily churnable, but we still have this offer for 50k miles after $2,500 spent in 4 months. I have about 160k AA miles that I want to get up to 270k so we can be set for a First Class award to Asia on Cathay Pacific. Link

US Airways Premier World MasterCard: After the Grand Slam promo comes to a close, I will have about 95k Dividend Miles. I want to add to that total and this cards offers 40k miles after first purchase along with 10k miles every anniversary. Not bad for an $89 annual fee that is waived the first year! Link

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business: This is exactly like the current Amex SPG card I currently have and use for my daily, non-bonus expenses. The only difference is that this is the Business version and you are allowed to have both a Personal and Business version of the same card. It will yield 10k Starpoints after first purchase and 15k Starpoints after $5,000 spent within 6 months. I value the Starpoints for their Starwood hotel redemptions and also for their transfers to both AA and US at 20k Starpoints = 25k AA or US miles.

Those are the 4 main cards I want to pursue. I’m also considering the 2 Citi ThankYou cards for 50k each, Chase Hyatt, the 30k Chase Freedom, but am unsure if I should do a HUGE churn like many of you do.

Do you have any advice for me? What’s up next for your big, app-o-rama??? Help me out here, guys!

Note: I don’t get any referral bonuses for those links. I think most of them are generic, but it’s a possibility that someone else could get paid for them. Just wanted to let you all know.

Chase Freedom 5x Bonus Category Strategy

The Chase Freedom card is a great supplement to one of the best cards on the market right now, the Sapphire Preferred. What the Freedom does that the Sapphire Preferred doesn’t is give a 5x bonus on rotating categories each quarter. You can see the categories and register your card each quarter here.

From Oct 1 – Dec 31, 2011, you can earn 5x Ultimate Rewards points on the following categories:

  • Dining
  • Department stores
  • Movie theaters
  • Charitable Organizations

Bonus: Chase is also giving you an EXTRA 5x points on purchases at Kohl’s. 

NOTE: The bonuses are only up to $1,500 in spend within these categories.

Chase Freedom Bonus Spending

Personally, my plan is to max out this deal at Kohl’s. If you did $1,500-worth of spend ONLY at Kohl’s, your quarterly total would be $150. You won’t actually get $150; you’ll actually receive 15,000 UR points (that you can redeem for $150 cashback so that’s why they advertise it as such). We know better. We’ll be saving these points to transfer to partners ;).

BONUS: By originating your shopping at the Ultimate Rewards Mall and navigating to Kohl’s, you can earn 10x points per dollar spent. This is in addition to the rotating category bonus above. With some number crunching, that looks like 20x points per dollar spent to me! I’m staring at 30,000 UR points!

With Christmas time coming around, everyone who I buy gifts for is getting something from Kohl’s! LOL. Obviously, this is only relevant to you if you could spend $1,500 at Kohl’s within reason. Don’t just buy $1,500 of merchandise for no reason!

Overall, this is a great card to help supplement your earning of Ultimate Rewards points. UR points offer flexibility to transfer to airlines in all 3 alliances and 3 major hotel chains. You can even transfer UR points to anyone with a UR account instantly and without fees.

What’s In My Wallet?

With so many different credit cards circulating, it’s important to have a good strategy. As the saying goes, you have to have the right tools for the right job. Well the job is your everyday spending and the tools are your credit cards. I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that the 3 credit cards I carry in my wallet are the following:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature (SP)
  • American Express Premier Rewards Gold (PRG)
  • American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)

This lineup covers my most important needs – Dining, Travel, Gas, Groceries, and Airfare.

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