Just getting started - several questions

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by Jeffrey, Dec 21, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Silver Member

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    Hi there!

    I've just really discovered the possibilities for travel on credit card points... I've always been targeting large cash-back cards rather than travel cards. But now I've been reading a lot, and I'm realizing my mistake! I currently have the Chase Freedom (got for cash back, currently using in the 5% categories), Sapphire Preferred (main card - got it for the signup bonus that I interpreted as $625 in travel, but now realize as much better than that), and Amex Blue Preferred (purely a cashback on gas/groceries card). I have a couple questions before I jump too deep into this rabbit hole, though! As a quick background, my goals in this would be something to the effect of just enough points to earn two coach international seats every other year, probably via one or two card apps a year. If we had extra for mid-level hotels, great.

    1) Currently, our cards are all set up with me as the applicant and my wife as a cardholder. We did that for ease, and for helping make sure we reached the spend requirements for apps. But now I'm realizing that I may have missed an opportunity, especially with the Sapphire card. Is it possible for her to do an application now (we just got the card in November), even though she's listed on mine and already technically has a Sapphire card as a result? If she does, will she get the 50K signup bonus, and can we then combine those points somehow?
    1b) Along the same lines, for future applications (I'm thinking we might do Starwood Amex next), I'm not sure we'll be able to meet the spend requirement if we both apply independently for the cards at the same time. So my question is, is it a bad idea for one of us to do it, meet the spend, then the other a couple months later - and is it ok to have each other as authorized cardholders?

    2) How close to a major purchase is it a bad idea to do a credit card app? We're anticipating moving in anywhere from 2.5-5 years, and obviously no rewards are going to be worth a potential massive interest increase on a mortgage. We're not planning on a new car, but have one that's old enough that it's not unreasonable to expect needing one in around the same time frame.

    Thanks in advance!
    -Jeffrey
     
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  2. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP! First I'll answer your specific questions:

    1) Your wife is not considered a primary cardmember, so if she applies for the 50K Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus, she will get it because she'll be considered a new cardholder. You can combine Chase Ultimate Rewards points very easily and for no cost.
    1b) Yes, you could apply for one, meet the spend requirement with both of you as cardholders, then have your wife apply for the same card and do the same. Just make sure you don't let the deal expire (and it can expire without notice as well).

    2) The general consensus is 2 years before a major purchase (car or house). That's because inquiries last 2 years on your credit report. If I apply for a credit card today, that inquiry will stay on there through December 2013. Obviously, you can't play the credit card churning game if you are purchasing a house within a 2-year timeframe.

    You say just enough points for 2 international coach seats every other year -- just want to warn you that British Airways (one of the 2 primary airlines partners with Chase, the other being United) charges massive fuel surcharges even on award tickets, to the point that using points for BA Economy tickets doesn't really make sense. Do you have an idea of where you'd like to go on those trips? With some strategy, you could get Business class tickets for not much more.
     
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  3. Jett Rink
    Original Member

    Jett Rink Silver Member

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  4. cennas
    Original Member

    cennas Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP Jeffrey!
     
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  5. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Silver Member

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    Thank you for the welcomes and responses! I have a couple followups to make syre we make our next couple moves right.

    Is this the only way it would've been possible for me to set it up, or might I have inadvertently done it in such a way (a joint account, perhaps) that would void her eligibility? If the latter, how would I know? Also, will Chase even see that she technically already has access to the Sapphire Preferred and raise questions as to why she would even need a second, eligibility notwithstanding. On the flip side, there is certainly no reason for us to both pay an annual fee for the same card, because I'm almost positive she can transfer all her points to my account. Is it reasonably common strategy to keep these types of first-year-free cards for 11.9 months, then cancel, with a few exceptions (so, we'd probably still pay for one of the two cards, and maybe it'd be hers because the cards we currently hold active are all primarily in my name)?

    True... but it seems to me like most of the cards are somewhere in the 3-5K within three months. Our spend habits are such that we would *probably* make it to 6, but not definitely more than that, and it seems like the risk might be too high for us right now. We got the Amex and the Chase at the same time back in October because we were redoing our bathroom and knew the spend would be no trouble. How long do the deals tend to last, and is it fair to say that even if you missed one 40-50K deal, there's probably another one nearby that's at least some value? Certainly, if we come across any options for 100K deals, that'd present a whole different story, but we also want to be careful to not spend needlessly to accumulate the miles.

    Clearly we won't be doing the huge churns around that time, then, but will, say, one or two apps a year, each, raise interest rates for a mortgage, or is the recommendation to completely abstain from obtaining these new lines of credit in preparation for a big purchase?

    [/quote]

    Part of why I said it that way is because our goals are more for making sure we can go with some regularity, and saving up for business class seems like it'd take twice as long (and thus be a less frequent thing we'd get to do). My thinking is that western Europe isn't so bad to get to economy, since we're on the East coast, but if (and when) we go to, say, Tokyo, business class is much more appealing and important. At this stage in our lives, I think if we had the extra points we'd apply them to hotels rather than class upgrades, with an eye too towards saving some so that when our kid is older (she's only a couple months now), we can get miles tickets for her, too. I'm pretty sure Chase won't extend her a line of credit just yet to help out in the collection, either! :)

    For our first trip, we're targeting Ireland, and we're looking at late fall 2012 or, more likely, early spring 2013, since we have the new baby (but we'd go just us). Potentially a tandem of Ireland and somewhere else if we could do it, though one thing that would make it especially easier is to use Atlanta or Chicago as a gateway city, perhaps with a stopover, because that's where grandparents are. I know it's too early to target itineraries, though - I'll be checking in again for that next year! Right now, I'm focused on building up the reserve I have so we can go as often and as cost-free as possible.
     
  6. deant
    Original Member

    deant Milepoint Guide

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    To answer some of your questions:
    1. All credit cards, AFAIK, do not issue "joint" cards. The applicant who's name is primary is the one that gets the credit report / hit. So if you have applied for a card, it is very safe to assume that your wife can also apply and your card will not show up on her report. You might want to pull your credit reports and see what cards are reported in each of your names.

    2. Most people do cancel the cards after 11 or so months in order to avoid the annual fee. Some credit companies, if you call, will waive the annual fee or give you a statement credit or bonus to offset the fee.

    3. No one can say how long a deal will last. They can be pulled at any time - or last for months.

    4. As far as your credit score is concerned (since you are looking at a mortgage in about 2 plus years), applying for two, or possibly 3 cards each six months (so a total of 4 or 6 between both of you) should not be too bad. When you are within a year of applying for a mortgage, I would stop all churning.

    5. Since there are 2 of you, you can still look at the "cash back" or cash rewards type cards. Just make sure that the rewards can be transferred to the spouse. For example, Citi Thank you points can be transferred. So if you both apply you could get over 100,000 points which would give you a free RT to Europe -assuming you found a good fare on the airline where the spouse had points and could get an award.
     
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  7. misterbwong

    misterbwong Silver Member

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    Welcome to MP Jeffrey!
    • In addition to all the other advice, I'd say first check your credit scores. This will give you a better idea of how many cards you can sign up for. For example, if your credit is in the 800's you can stand a couple hits because the highest quality score zone for mortages is 750+, I believe. If, however, you're at 752 and straddling two zones, you probably don't want any hits since it'll bring you to the lower zone, thus costing you thousands of $$$$ on your mortgage.
    • I haven't heard any reports of current additional cardholders being prevented from getting new card sign up bonuses. AFAIK, additional cardholders are still using the primary's line of credit so they shouldn't show up as having a current line of credit with the bank. Slight YMMV.
    • No one knows how long deals will last, but new deals come and go as well. Unless the deals are out of your mind crazy, it's usually a judgement call on your end whether you want the card or not.
    • IMO don't sign up for a card if you can't meet spend. If you think you'll be close, you need to be OK with buying gift cards to meet spend. The WORST thing you can do is get the card and miss spend, thus taking a credit hit for practically nothing.
    Hope this helps!
     
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  8. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Silver Member

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    Again, thank you!

    Given all this information, it sounds like my best next move is for my wife to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for herself, after verifying her credit is high (at last check, it was in the very high 700s). Are there recommended services for doing that cheaply, but effectively? From what I've read, it seems like most places check the Experian score, but I'm not sure how that info propogates from one bureau to another. I say the CSP sounds like our best choice because it's 50K signup bonus of somewhat flexible points that can dump right into what we've already been building, but does it actually make more sense to "vary our portfolio", as it were, and instead to first get her something like a Starwood card or, say, an American Airlines one, assuming they have similar deals? I know the ink card also provides a 50K signup bonus in Ultimate Rewards, but we don't have a business in any sense of the word.

    I'm okay with buying gift cards in moderation, but I'd rather not be frantically trying to get $1000 in gift cards at the last minute if I can help it, especially since we're not trying to churn cards too quickly.

    Also, we don't have elite status on any airlines, and I don't foresee us getting it unless we can pick it up "accidentally" from point collection via credit cards. In other words, I don't think we're going to get enough paid flying miles on any carrier to qualify anytime soon. It sounds like, for the most part, these kinds of signup or points transfer things don't get you status, but are there some cards that do? If so, it seems like those might be the best to grab earlier, to maximize the value of having the status? (I may be misguided in this thought)
     
  9. misterbwong

    misterbwong Silver Member

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    Sounds like you and I are in similar situations. Hope these answers help. I'm still a noob so other opinions are also welcome :)

    My wife and I used the 10 day free trial at myFICO.com to check our scores for free, though this only shows one bureau (Experian?). If you're a member at Costco, they have a monthly monitoring service for all three scores for <$20, I think.

    Both of us are leisure travelers and don't want to sign up for too many cards so points are harder to come by for us. You want to balance varying your portfolio with spreading too thin. It might be a good idea to look over your normal travel patterns or places you'd like to visit and then make a decision on where to bank your points. For example, if you regularly travel to cities where Marriott hotels are NOT located, it would make no sense to pick up their card. To give you an idea, my card list includes the UR cards (freedom, sapphire) and SPG cards because the credit card partners line up nicely with where I want to travel.

    Ditto here. Don't get in over your head on spend requirements and it won't happen. For example, I'm tempted to get the ink bold in addition to my Chase Sapphire but the 3000 + 5000 spend in 3 months would be too tough for me to fulfill.

    Here's a good primer from TPG's blog on how to attain status without flying. Basically in order to get it, you need to either a) sign up for a bunch of credit cards b) spend loads of money on said credit cards or c) buy it outright. The other option that might be appealing is to sign up for the Aegean M&B (*A) program and bank your miles to that until you attain *A silver. It has fairly low requirements so two long haul coach tickets should just about get you there. Just make sure the booking class you're in allows miles to be counted.

    *whew* this is super long winded. Hope this helps!
     
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  10. Titans26

    Titans26 Silver Member

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    Welcome to MilePoint.
     

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