6 Rules for Applying for a ton of Miles Credit Cards

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Anyone can get tons of free travel by simply signing up for credit cards. Want to go to Thailand? Just sign up for two credit cards and you’ll have more than enough miles for a roundtrip. Probably enough miles for a business class ticket even.

But there are so many credit cards out there (and many you can get more than once)- it makes total sense to apply for more cards when you need more trips. To scale the amount of free travel, just increase the number of credit cards you have.

Just from the millions of miles from credit cards, we’ve been able to fly all around the world and stay in some incredible hotels. Here are the flights we took last year on miles alone:

Why and how it’s good for your credit score.

I won’t go into this for too long as there is already a lot of writing on how people with more credit cards end up having higher credit scores. But the basics are that your “credit score” has nothing to do with income and is completely related to how good you are at borrowing money.

Having credit, and paying it off well with on-time payments proves that you are trust worthy. Someone with 11 years of history has a much higher credit score. But similarly, that person would have a higher credit score if they had that history with 11 credit cards rather than 1 card.

Our credit score went from high 600s to high 700s within the first two years of getting multiple cards for miles.

There are also a few rules to having good credit:

  • Always be on time with payments.
  • Low balances are better than high balances.
  • Pay off your card in full.
    (If you can’t, don’t get credit cards. It’s a terrible loan, even with the miles, 20% APR is not wise.)

 

1) Apply for multiple cards on the same day

As I’ll explain in a second, banks are weary of people who are desperate for credit, so they try not to give too much credit to people aggressively opening cards. But for whatever reason, perhaps it’s just how the credit bureaus work, they don’t notice when you apply to other banks if it’s on the same day.

They might deny you if they saw you opened up an account elsewhere yesterday, and yet, they don’t know if you do it all at once.

We have applied for as many as 5 or 6 cards on the same day and gotten approved for all of them. It helps if you also have a great credit score though. But if you have a credit score 700 or above (which is “excellent”) it is totally worth applying for 5.

 

2 )Wait at least 90 days between cards

Although this is not a hard rule at all, many times I’ve applied for cards every 30 days… but every 90 is safest for one reason. Banks are weary of people desperate for money, blowing all their money and going bankrupt. To open new cards they need higher credit limits.

In my experience, applying for cards 31+ days apart will come with more denials. Often they specifically tell us when we call that there are just too many new accounts.

Yet, when I wait at least 90 days I never hear them say I applied for too many cards recently. It seems to be the magic amount of time to prove that I’m not some crazy person looking to max out all my cards.

 

3) One per bank

The point of doing it on the same day is that Bank of America won’t be able to tell if you just applied for a Citi card. However, if you apply for two Bank of America personal cards… that’s the exact same depart and they will know that you just applied for two cards and with most banks, you will surely get denied on one of them. Plus, it won’t look good.

 

4) Business cards are separate products and departments

The exception for everything is business cards. Business cards and personal cards are treated very differently and are often handled by very different departments.

This means that if you are applying for the American Airlines personal card you might as well go ahead and apply for the business one as well. It is the exception to the one per bank rule.

It also means that you can apply for the same card twice, basically. And the crazy part is that anyone can get a business card. Just see this post on how to fill out a business card application.

 

5) Call reconsideration [after denial]

Often nowadays we automatically get declined for a card, but when we call, the bank is very apologetic and a person will often manually approve it for us.

Do not be afraid to call and ask them to reconsider you! It’s so normal. And often if they don’t want to give you more credit, you can just move the credit lines around from one card to another to open the new card – this is true with Chase at least.

Also, don’t call too soon. Just because it’s taking a long time for them to make a decision doesn’t mean that you aren’t on the right track. Back in the day a bunch of people applied for the AA cards and got a pending message – “your application is under review”. I and my friends got the same message but didn’t call just yet. Others did call at this point, and all of them got denied over the phone. My friends and I got our cards in the mail a little bit later.

Just let the denial letter come in the mail and there will be a phone number on it. That’s the number to call for reconsideration.

 

6) Do your spending with the good bank

The reason Chase is so apologetic that we got automatically declined is because we use their cards. They want to approve people who use their cards, and they don’t want to give more credit to people who get their cards and never use them… they can’t make money that way.

They make money when people spend on the cards. They usually make a percentage, or unfortunately some people rack up too much debt and have to pay interest. Your goal is to be the person who makes them money from the actual spending so you can continue to get the miles.

 

7) Wait for big bonuses

To start out, pick cards that offer 50,000 miles or more! My exception is usually the Chase Sapphire Preferred which is 40,000 points nowadays.

 

8) Stick with good miles

As I’m about to explain, not all miles are created equal. In general I advise you to get United miles (or Chase points because they transfer 1:1 to United) and AA miles because they don’t pass on fuel surcharges. Plus they have generally good prices.

You don’t want to pay fuel surcharges, plus you don’t want something that charges double or triple miles because Delta or Virgin Atlantic appeared to have big bonuses. But in reality, they get you half as far.

 

 

Your next step!

Before you apply for any cards, make sure you read 4 cards 2 programs. It will talk about the best credit cards and how to know what the best cards are. It will also set you on the right track to get your first few cards.

Not all points are created equal, and so not all bonuses should be judged on the same scale. As a friend says, “if I offered you 100 dollars and 100 Japanese Yen, you would want to know how much they are worth in relation to each other.”

Similarly, you want to know what your miles are worth. But even if you’re not into all the research or caring about miles yet, let Drew recommend 4 cards for you.

Click here to see his 4 card picks.

29 Comments on “6 Rules for Applying for a ton of Miles Credit Cards

  1. Enjoy your blog!
    Just a note, it’s Japanese Yen (not Yet) (saw the same typo on Drew’s blog too)

  2. AH! 1 per bank!? Banks don’t notice pulls from other banks on the same day?

    I think you guys have it backwards. Pulls post to your CR instantly, so other banks DO see those on the same day. And 2/3/4BMs DO work for the purpose of only getting 1 pull and yet getting 2/3/4 cards from the same bank in 1 day.
    #FirstTimeCommenter

  3. Last month I applied for 3 of the same Bank of America Alaska personal Visas after reading Flyertalk. I did have to call in and indicate that they were not duplicate applications. All three were merged into one hard credit pull. I agree that you shouldn’t apply for multiple cards from the same bank on the same day but at the same time, there are exceptions.

    • Definitely. there are always exceptions for sure. Just depends on how confident you feel in whether or not you’ll be the exception? Or the patterns you’ve seen in your own apporamas.

  4. I don’t have any typos to point out, but I do strongly agree with you on #5 :-).

    I’ve been on both sides of the fence about when to call – right after applying or waiting until you’ve been denied – and now I’m firmly with you on the latter. There’s no reason to rush it. Hopefully no one is needing to get points on that tight of a schedule, or at least relying on the CC bonus as a surefire way to do so. And to me, being that eager (going through the effort to track down the hard-to-find phone numbers) to get approval would be a red flag in the first place.

    Plus, I have actually also had better luck waiting it out – and calling when I need to – than calling every time I’ve had an application “pending”.

    • Thanks for adding your experience. It is sort of an individualized experience I guess but I think there are practices that can give you better luck in a way.

      • I try to keep up on DDF and that’s actually a huge resource to have here in this post, but I meant more so that the numbers are hard to find from the perspective of the normal consumer. That’s why I think it’s a red flag sometimes when you call right away – because it’s only people like us that know where to look for the numbers prior to getting them in the denial letter.

        Definitely a YMMV I suppose, as I think it also has a lot to do with how sweet of a talker you are on the phone. Maybe I’m just not as charming as I thought I was?

        • That’s a really good point about the fact that we even KNOW the number to call being a lil odd!

  5. Thank you, this is super helpful! I’m trying to carefully plan a series of applications, but it will be my first time applying for multiple cards for the purpose of miles, so I’m a little nervous. Do you have a go-to source/guide that you use for info.?

    • Not really because it’s so individualized by each person’s particular situation or preferences. Frequent Miler is a good website for all things credit cards though!

  6. Do you have problems spending the required amount ($3000/month for the first 3 months) in order to get the bonuses? It seems like it would be difficult to do living so frugally.

    • Not really because we just buy things that can be somehow turned back into money. Even if the “manufactured spend” strategies are always changing, there’s always SOME way to do it. I like to send people over to Frequent Miler’s site to learn more about manufactured spend because he covers the topic so well.

  7. About your 90 day between application rule – is it 90 days from when the credit card pulls your info or 90 days when the card is added to your credit report? These dates are 2 months apart for my most recent card (I had to follow up an initial decline). Thanks for info! Appreciate how accessible your posts are for relative newbs

    • Well it’s definitely not a hard fast rule, this is just kind of our personal M.O. But we pretty much calculate our 90 days based on the actual day we apply But there are people saying you shouldn’t wait that long and others who wait longer. So this bit of advice is genuinely just our experience.

      It’s worked out pretty well for us, though I’ll say that doesn’t mean we don’t get initial decline letters. 🙂 We don’t really look at a decline as the end of the road- because as you’ve mentioned, you can always follow up. 🙂

  8. Hi!

    Love your blog!!! You guys are awesome and inspire my husband and I to travel more.

    Question,
    When do you know when the big sign up bonuses are? Is there a way to get notified when a bank offers a huge sign up bonus?

    Thank you!

  9. How do you go about rotating your spending on numerous cards so banks show that they are being used enough to be a good customer. With 7 cards now and about to apply for two more I’m working on this. I want to make sure the couple I have with long histories stay active and I love to use the ones that have the more points for cash back at 5% for groceries, etc

    • Honestly, we do not make an effort to spend on all of our cards once we’ve gotten the bonuses we set out to get. The only exception might be my Chase Ink Bold card. We do make sure to keep that around and make occasional spends on it because we really really want Chase to like us. 🙂

      The only time we’ve been declined for a card for “inactivity” was with Chase and it was unusual- after a very long amount of time without use.

      The only other exception would be that Citi has closed cards that went a long time without having any spends on them.

      Even so, we usually just make sure we’re doing some spending with Chase consistently.

  10. Would you say more about moving credit lines. Will they tell you when you need to do this or would I need to suggest it? Is this within the same bank, or across different banks?

    • When you move a line of credit, it is to and from cards within the same bank. So for example I may move credit from my Chase Ink Bold to the Southwest card I want to open. (Both Chase cards.) But I could not ask Chase to move credit on over to another bank. Usually I end up suggesting the option of moving credit from one card to a new one, rather than waiting for the agent to suggest it. However keep in mind that certain cards require a minimum amount of credit to remain open. In this case, an agent will be able to see which cards have credit available for moving.

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