Okay, so you’re ready to start applying for credit cards to earn hundreds of thousands of miles/points!
(If you haven’t read our simple primer for earning credit card bonuses, check it out, here:
Now, here are some tips to make the most of your time and effort:
Do multiple card applications on the same day.
If you can afford to satisfy the required spends on 2 or 3 cards at once, apply for them all at the same time. Credit checks by the card issuers do cause your score to dip slightly (for a very short time), so this mitigates the dip in your score and the other issuers won’t be aware you’re applying for other cards.
Determine how much “spend” you can afford.
Some credit cards give you the bonus miles on your first purchase. Some require, say, $1,000 over 3 months (meaning you just have to spend a grand total of $1,000 within 3 months of opening the card). Other cards have higher requirements, like $5,000 over 3 months. Determine how much you can afford to spend on the cards before applying for two or three cards at the same time.
Always keep the cards open for a year (until the charge for the annual fee for the next year posts).
Then, call to cancel it. Some issuers will dangle all kinds of freebies – no annual fee, 10,000 miles, etc – to get you to keep it open. If the offer appeals to you, keep the card for another year. If you close a card right after your bonus miles are awarded (like at the 3 or 4-month mark), the issuer can try to claw them back.
With that said – some cards – like the American Express Platinum, for example – offer SO many ongoing benefits that it’s worth it to keep the card and pay the annual fee each year.
If you’re going to apply for a mortgage or auto loan within 3-6 months, don’t apply for new credit cards.
The ding to your score from opening new cards is small (and temporary), and likely would never throw you into a lower credit tier, but it’s not worth the risk when applying for a large loan.
You can earn the signup bonus more than once on many cards, but be aware of the issuer’s rules.
Chase has a 5/24 rule, meaning if you’ve applied for more than 5 cards over a 24-month period (that’s 5 cards across all credit card issuers, not just 5 cards through Chase), they will not approve a new card – so don’t bother applying.
Many issuers allow you to earn the bonus, close that card, then earn the bonus again two years later by reapplying (note that it has to be two years since you CLOSED the account).
Some issuers – notably, American Express – only allow you to earn the signup bonus once on each card product, in your lifetime. But they also have MANY card products. They have three personal cards for Hilton, for example, and new ones are being created every year.
If in doubt about the rules for any issuer, just Google it.
If you own a small business, or even just have a side hustle for which you have a DBA, you can open business credit cards.
There are business card versions of many cards, and those are considered a separate product. And these cards do not show up on your personal credit report. So, for example, you can open the personal AND business versions of many cards and earn two separate bonuses!
As you can see, it definitely takes some “management” to keep track of your spends, cards you’ve opened/closed, etc. But if you’re willing to invest a little time and energy, you can fly business or first class – and stay in wonderful hotels – for next to nothing!