Critique a newbie's 2012 strategy

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by Jeffrey, Jan 8, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Silver Member

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    I've posted a couple questions on MP in the last few weeks, and thank you to everyone for all the advice. That's helped me come up with the approach below, and now I want to see if it's a sensible one, or if there's something I'm missing or doing improperly. This'll be the first year of our journey in CC bonus-land and mileage accumulating, and we're excited. The quick background: Both my wife and I have excellent credit (770+), are currently based in Hartford, CT, and are working towards three main goals: (1) A major international trip in spring 2013, likely either to Japan/Korea or to France, but possibly to Ireland, as cash-free as possible. (2) Domestic travel primarily to family in Illinois (BMI airport). (3) Future domestic and international travel for us and our currently-two-month-old daughter. 2012 is likely to be a key year for us credit-card wise because we're planning to be moving back to Illinois in mid-2014; after that, we'll come back and assess the state of things for more future earnings, but building a reserve now to tide us over would be great. We spend approximately 2000/month on cards.

    As of today, I hold the Chase Freedom (Feb. 2011) and Sapphire Preferred (Oct. 2011) with 110K UR points, and an Amex Blue Preferred, for grocery shopping, also from Oct 2011. She's an authorized user on all 3. She just received this week the two Citi AA cards and the Chase Southwest personal card, and I'm an AU on the AA ones (the Southwest card has been used once and filed away, waiting for points to post).

    Our plan is something like this, and is flexible as bonuses change, of course:

    1) Upon reaching the spend on the two AA cards (estimated mid-March, unless several large purchases come up. No later than mid-February), I will apply for the two AA cards myself, and also some first-purchase, non-Chase card (likely the Barclay's USAir if it's still a good bonus). If the Chase United current card offer is still out there, though, that might be tempting (it's really a 50, not 60K bonus for me, though).
    2) Once we've met the spend on that (late May-June?), my wife will apply for the Chase Southwest biz card (this will be our first biz card, and our qualifications for such a thing are a bit of a hedge), the USAir card, and potentially the Amex SPG, if there's a good bonus. At this point, we will have 200K AA miles - enough, I think, to book business class to any of our three destinations (ideally on Cathay or JAL for Asia; not sure what oneworld airline I'd prefer to Europe). We'll also have 100K Southwest RR points and need 10K somewhere along the way for the companion pass, which can get us from BDL-> MDW at least, which is close enough for our domestic travel, given the cost savings. Not entirely sure where the 10K will come from yet, but it's clearly a big deal for us. At this point, we'll book our plane tickets.
    3) Late summer, I'll apply for the Chase Hyatt card for the two free nights and the Amex SPG. This, plus the UR points I already have, should take care of seven nights of nice hotels (Park Hyatt Tokyo/Paris, and Grand Hyatt Seoul if we go that route. There don't seem to be any Hyatts in Ireland, however, so if we make that choice instead, I'm not sure what card to go for in its place, though we'd be doing more of the B&B thing there anyway).

    That seems to cover our main goals and leave one more cycle of applications for both my wife and I available at the end of the year for stocking back up for the future. At the end of the year, we'd cancel at least one, maybe both, of her Citi AA cards. I feel like I should squeeze a couple more biz cards in there - maybe the Ink Bold for me, but with the Hyatt card I'd already have 3 Chase cards.

    To prevent myself from being any more long-winded than I already am, I'll stop here and summarize and thank you in advance for suggestions/critiques. For example, I'm happy to rethink our strategy of using AA/Oneworld as our carrier and do United instead, building on the UR points, if there's a good way to achieve enough more points for the second ticket, plus covering at least half of our hotel nights (we're expecting roughly 8 nights total on a trip).
     
  2. deant
    Original Member

    deant Milepoint Guide

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    It sounds like you have thought things out very well.

    The one thing to remember is that the 2 AA credit cards do not always work so you should have a backup plan.
     
  3. TheTravelAbstract

    TheTravelAbstract Silver Member

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    1) 200k would get you 2 Biz milesAAver R/T but after your kid is 2 years old they no longer qualify as lap runners. So economy milesAAver would be the best route.

    2) The extra 10k can come from your UR points but at a bit of a discount. UR 5,000->Hyatt 5,000->WN 2,400

    3)SPG will always float around 20-30k points. If you can only manage certain spend requirements always make sure how much your bonus offer needs as SPG tends to stay on the higher end.

    4) Off the top of my head I know ICH has hotels in Ireland so the Priority Club Card could be a good option.

    Great plan you set up for youself. Well thought out and tinged with reason which is more than can be said for most people.

    Good Luck!
     
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  4. IkeEsq

    IkeEsq Gold Member

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    Some thoughts as you mentioned being new to this.

    First, I think it is useful to setup a spreadsheet with all of the cards, spend requirements, due dates, etc. This helps keep track of what is due when, how far you are to your spend, and avoid late fees and missed payments when you have a dozen credit cards with 4-5 different companies to remember.

    Second, in addition to the AA personal cards, you can also get AA business card(s). If you are having problems with the spend, Amazon and Venmo can be your friends. After meeting your spend on the AA cards, call them up and talk to the retention people and see what they can offer you. You can do this every 6 months. They may offer something worth putting a bit more spend on the cards. Call back with a month or two before the fee hits and see what they will offer and if you can take advantage of it and subsequently close the card(s).

    Third, if you can, figure out which card issuers pull which credit bureaus. This can help with evening out hard pulls so that your credit score doesn't take a dive. For me, Citi/AmEx pull Experian, Chase pulls Equifax, and Barclays pulls Transunion. Unfortunately, I needed a bunch of Citt/AmEx cards to get AA LTG last year and ended up with 12 inquiries on Experian. :(

    Fourth, from all that I have read, spacing out applications every 91 days is a good all-around plan when possible. Feel free to hit each card issuer every 91 days but when possible try not to hit them more frequently than that.

    Fifth, remember that there could be a *killer deal* that pops up at any time (100K offers, etc.), which is why it is good to build some flexibility into your schedule in order to be able to take advantage of something great.

    GL!

    Ike
     
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  5. tondoleo
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    tondoleo Gold Member

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    This may be of help. It is from Ingy, the Frugal Travel Guy:

    Go to creditboards.com, join for free then go to the forums and the creditpulls forum. On the creditpulls database page, plug in your home state and the card issuer you want to check out. You'll see who is checking your credit and the approximate scores needed for approvals.
     
  6. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    AMEX allowed me to access my full credit report (with records of who pulled what) and all 3 scores for a 1 month trial for $1.
    On the bottom of your AMEX account page, click on "credit scores and reports".
    Just be sure to cancel within one month.
    Definitely worth $1!
     
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  7. infamousdx

    infamousdx Silver Member

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    I wish more people would use the credit pulls database. Whenever I search for NJ, it's pretty out of date.
     
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  8. IkeEsq

    IkeEsq Gold Member

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    Same for me for the most part in Virginia. I put in a lot of my apps over the summer and the most recent apps were mostly in 2009. :(
     
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  9. Toula
    Original Member

    Toula Gold Member

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    Thanks for that link I found it very useful. I had signed up for the free credit score and could not work out why my score was dropping every month. I used the AMEX service and found out the Credit Sesame score is 40 points below what the other services are showing.
     
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  10. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    You're welcome.
    My Credit Sesame and Credit Karma scores were about 10 points above my TransUnion and Experian scores. But there was a thread on this on FT in which some folks talked about CK and CS being off as much as 50 points. So, it's hard to know what to think of these free services.
     
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  11. infamousdx

    infamousdx Silver Member

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    Mine and my fiancee's were more like 20 points off from what CK/CS told us vs. what was actually pulled when we applied for our mortgage. Now, I'd rather pay for the real score a few times a year than put much into the freebies.
     
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  12. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    If one really needs to know for sure, it's best to one of those free trial score services or a paid service. But Credit Karma does provide some interesting info, and I like being able to check my score as often as I like. I have learned some things via CK.
     
  13. IkeEsq

    IkeEsq Gold Member

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    The thing I like about Credit Karma is getting alerts and watching the trend. The score itself is of little value. I just applied for (and received) 3.875% no-cost refinancing on our mortgage and got a list of myscores and my wife's and they were quite a bit lower than expected. Gotta cool it on the CC apps for a while. :D
     
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  14. Extra Pack of Peanuts

    Extra Pack of Peanuts Silver Member

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    It's pretty much the same in PA. Not a bad resource, just not up to date. That being said, sometimes I forget to go in and put my info in after I get a credit card, so...But not a bad place to START. After that, it's some educational guesswork on what they've pulled in the past.
     
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  15. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Welcome to Milepoint !
     
  16. Jeff the Wanderer

    Jeff the Wanderer Silver Member

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    Not sure how many people would have an option like this, but my bank, KNBT in Pennsylvania, has a checking account that includes a free membership with Privacy Guard. My wife and I have a joint checking account and each of us was able to get an account with Privacy Guard. Their service allows us to pull a full credit report once a month. I have found it quite useful to run a report right before a churn and then again a month later to see how scores were affected. It might be worth it to check with your local banks to see if any offer a similar service where you are. It sure beats paying for a credit service and is more accurate and comprehensive than the free services.
     

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