I figured it would be beneficial to show you what it looks like when I sign up for three credit cards at the same time. I understand it can be daunting to bite off a big piece, or in the case of free-travel, a big minimum spend.
As you have heard me spout many times, the quickest way to earn free travel is to sign up for multiple travel credit cards. (at the same time if possible). A few weeks ago I did an app-o-rama, which means I signed up for multiple credit cards back-to-back. The reason one signs up for multiple cards at once is because banks typically won’t approve you if you’ve had a previous credit card application in the last 90 days. This isn’t a concrete rule but a good way to avoid a credit inquiry and a possible turn-down, usually for “too many recent credit inquires”.
By signing up for a batch of cards every 90 days you maximize your number of new credit cards while giving banks their “90 day” buffer. When you apply for cards one right after another, banks cannot see that on your credit report, the credit inquiries generally won’t show up for a few hours to a few days. Plus it is any easy way to keep track of your ’90 days’ clock on your minimum spend.
Here are the three credit cards I signed up for:
– Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite
– American Express Premier Rewards Gold
– Chase Hyatt
Let’s talk about the Barclay Arrival Plus Card. This is a cash-back travel card. You receive 40,000 points as a sign up bonus which equates to $400 in travel credit. You can spend money freely on ‘travel’ and then use your points to offset the charges. The travel purchase must be at least $100, therefore applying a minimum of 10,000 points to cover the charge (the points are only worth .5 cents if you use them as basic cash back rather than travel reimbursement). You also receive 2% points on all purchases moving forward. This is a great card to use if you like to book travel and not worry about points. I like to use this card to offset the cost of rental cars or when there is a really good cash deal on a hotel. You must spend $3,000 within 90 days to receive the sign up bonus, which also earns you $60 ($3,000 @ 2% cash back) when you finish hitting your required spend. ($89 Annual Fee is waived the first year)
The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card, better known as the PRG card, is one of my favs. This card is arguably the best value in the business right now. You receive 50,000 Membership Reward Points after spending $1,000 in 90 days. These are flexible points that can transfer to a number of airlines as well as three hotel chains. These points are worth $500 at a minimum, if you transfer them to Delta or JetBlue they can be worth $600+. Additionally, you receive reimbursement for airline incidentals, up to $100 per calendar year. This can be used to cover baggage fees, seat upgrades, in-flight food and entertainment, or even $100 gift cards. It does not reimburse direct airfare purchased on the card, but airline gift cards skirt the rules thus allowing you to ultimately purchase airfare and then be reimbursed. If used correctly, you can receive $200 in airline ‘money’ before the first annual fee is due. ($195 which is waived the first year) You can only receive the sign up bonus for the PRG card ONCE in your lifetime.
The Chase Hyatt credit card is a gem. I love this card for two simple reasons; automatic Hyatt Platinum status and two free nights at any Hyatt in the world! This means you could stay two nights at the Park Hyatt in Manhattan, which normally costs $500-$1,000 per night. You could also stay two free nights at the Hyatt Zilara in Cancun. This is an all-inclusive beach resort, so getting your money’s worth is easy (all you can eat and drink). The bonus kicker is that this card also offers $50 statement credit, which is essentially free money in addition to the two free nights. To find the application, just make a mock booking on hyatt.com and you should see the link on the page just before you confirm the booking. Best of all, it only requires $1,000 spend in 90 days. ($75 annual fee waived the first year)
So as you may have added up, I had $5,000 in credit card spend that was required within 90 days. Here’s how I did it in less than 30 days:
I paid one car payment on chargesmart.com ($400 with $10 fee)
I paid the mortgage on my investment property using plastiq.com ($850 with a $19 fee)
I paid my Verizon bill with a credit card ($150 no fee)
I paid my car insurance with a credit card ($120 no fee)
I paid the rent on my home using plastiq.com ($1200 with $25 fee)
I paid for two grocery trips with credit ($250 no fee)
I bought four $500 debit gift cards at my grocery store ($2,000 with $24 in fees, $6 per card)
Boom, $5,000 minimum spend hit in less than four weeks! It cost me $78 in fees, more on that in a bit
To liquidate my $2,000 in MasterCard gift cards I will load them on my Bluebird card at a Walmart Money Center. There is NO Fee to load my debit gift cards to my Bluebird. Once I have the $2,000 on my Bluebird, I can pay any bill for free online or I can withdraw the cash directly to my bank account, again all fee free. Once the money is in my bank account, 3-4 days later, I can just pay the remaining credit cards off.
It cost me $78 in fees to meet my minimum spends, let see what I earned:
— Barclay Arrival = $460 (40,000 points + 6,000 points from the $3,000 minimum spend at 2% back)
— Amex Premier Gold = $500 + $200 in airline credit $700 (you can get way more value by transferring your 50k points to airline partners like Delta. A one-way to Europe is 30k points, so you do the math on that value)
— Chase Hyatt $800 value + $50 statement credit, $850 (two nights at the Hyatt Cancun is $800 or two nights at the Park Hyatt NYC is $1000, much more during peak times)
I earned at least $2,010 in travel, for signing up for three credit cards, minus $78 in fees. I could get hundreds more by maximizing my Hyatt stays and by transferring my Amex PRG points to Delta or JetBlue. (which of course I will do, I just want to be conservative in my valuations)
My wife signed up for the Hyatt card last year, allowing us to stay completely free at the Andaz in Amsterdam, our stay would have cost $900 otherwise.