If one is good, three is better, right? Gaming the credit card system is something that brings a smile to my face. Signing up for multiple credit cards at one time is a very challenging and rewarding feat, but it requires you to know the angles to take. So, what is the best way to sign up for multiple credit cards in a short window of time?
As you probably know by now, signing up for credit cards is arguably the most efficient way to rack up free travel. If you aren’t sure how obtaining credit cards and free travel go together, start here.
Before you start signing up for credit cards it is important to know your credit score. You can get access to a free report on both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, they are 100% free. If your credit score is between fair and poor, check out what affects your credit score so you can work on rebuilding it.
Once you have your score (and it is at least 680~ish), it is time to start figuring out what travel/rewards cards you are interested in. Do you have a preferred airline or hotel chain? Do you prefer to book travel freely and just be reimbursed for the charges or book with points? The key to “free” travel is to have a few cards in each class. If you want to really travel for free you will need to cover airfare, a hotel, and then little charges like taxi/ubers/parking/etc.
Here are my top picks:
Airline card – Southwest Airlines
Hotel card – Starwood preferred guest
Universal points – Chase Sapphire
Travel cash – Citi Thank You Premier
Now that you have picked out 2-4 credit cards you want, we are ready to do an app-o-rama. An app-o-rama is when you sign up for multiple credit cards at the same time. The reason you do these applications back-to-back is because the banks cannot see that you are applying for credit elsewhere. You will want to pick cards from different banks as it is very unlikely to be approved for two cards by the same bank at the same time. Your best bet, sign up for the Amex Starwood card, Citi Thank You, and Chase Southwest card since they are each with different banks and cannot see that you are applying elsewhere.
By applying for multiple cards at the same time, it makes it easy to track your minimum spend since all the cards’ “90 day minimum spend” clocks start at the same time. Now, I am sure taking on $5,000-$8,000 of spend in 90 days can seem overwhelming. It is important to not bite off more than you can chew. You can, however, use Plastiq.com to pay almost any bill with a credit card such as; tuition, mortgage, rent, car payments, etc. Another thing to keep in mind, you can always pay bills for friends and family and then just have them pay you back with cash or check. You will be charged 2.5-3% to use online bill pay so you will have to weigh the pro’s and con’s.
If you incur $150 in fees to receive $1,200 in free travel, that is a great return. Keep in mind, you also have to calculate in all the perks you will receive on top of the free travel. Chase Sapphire gets you primary rental car insurance. Amex Starwood gets you a free Boingo hotspot account. Citi Thank You Price Rewind will automatically track the price of an item you buy and will reimburse you if the price drops within 60 days. All these cards will get you trip insurance and lost baggage reimbursement if you book your travel using said card.
There is one other major reason that you should do your card applications in bulk. You see, banks check your report to determine how long it has been since your last inquiry. Most banks like to see no inquiries in the last 90 days. On the 91st day since your last app-o-rama, you would be geared up for your next hoorah. It is 90 days to meet your minimum spend and coincidentally 90 days to space things out for the banks. Again, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many cards at once. I highly recommend you setup automatic payments for each card. This will make sure that you don’t forget to make your payment and get hit with a late fee. Keep in mind that some automatic payments take 1-2 statements to begin, make sure to check your account every few weeks until auto-payments are humming.
Have credit card questions, chime in below.