Posted by William Charles on January 14, 2015
Credit Cards

Published on January 14th, 2015 | by William Charles

28

My Credit Card Application Strategy

The Basics

I generally don’t do my app-o-ramas like everybody else. I believe that individuals credit reports update in real time and as such there is no chance that applying for multiple cards within a short time frame will prevent credit card issuers from seeing that you’re applying for multiple cards on the same day.

What I like to do instead is this:

  • Apply for multiple credit cards from the same credit card issuer on the same day, in the hopes that they will only pull my credit report once. As long as both the business and personal options are decent. 
  • Apply for cards from credit card issuers that pull from different bureaus. There are three different credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax & TransUnion) this means that I’ll try to spread my applications out over all three of these credit bureaus.

Tools/Resources You Need

There are several tools and resources that you can use to make this whole strategy a lot more manageable.

  • A way to tell which credit bureau a credit card issuer will pull. The credit bureau a credit card issuer will pull is very dependent on what part of the country you live in. There are a number of ways to find this information out, but by far the best is the credit boards credit pull application. Enter the credit card issuer your interested in and then select your state and it’ll show you credit cards people applied for, whether they were approved or denied, their score, what credit bureau they pulled from & a bunch more information.
  • A way to tell if a credit card issuer will combine multiple hard pulls or not. I put together this reference list as I was sick of having to find this out whenever I went to apply. Each card issuer has different rules (e.g some won’t combine business & personal pulls, others will).
  • Free credit monitoring with each of the three credit bureaus. After you’ve applied you’re going to want to see what credit bureau the card issuer actually pulled, this might not match up with the credit bureau you were expecting them to pull which is why this is important. I recommend using Credit Karma & Credit Sesame as they will cover all three bureaus but below is a list of credit bureaus and free credit monitoring sites that cover those bureaus.
  • A free copy of your credit reports from each bureau. This is just so you can see how many applications you currently have with each bureau. Credit Karma & Quizzle both offer free full reports, but you can also get one every twelve months from http://annualcreditreport.com/.
  • Which card’s are churnable. Once you’ve been doing this for awhile, you will start to run out of cards with good sign up bonuses that you haven’t applied for. Thankfully it’s possible to get some of these bonuses again, this is called credit card churning. I’ve put together a list of churnable credit cards which you can view here.

Putting It All Into Practice

The easiest way to explain all of this is to give you an example. I live in California where most card issuers pull either Experian or Equifax. This means sign up bonuses from card issuers that pull those bureaus need to be higher than credit card issuers that pull TransUnion. I know this from my own personal experience, but I can also quickly check that from looking at the credit boards credit pull database as well.

Barclaycard is currently offering 50,000 miles on their US Airways card. I wanted to get this card for two reasons:

  • U.S Airways & American Airlines will be merging their loyalty programs soon and I regularly use AA miles for my trip. This will probably be my last chance to get this card again.
  • This card is churnable, I’ve had it before but I know I can get the sign up bonus again.

Now that I know what card I want to apply for, it’s time to use my strategy to see how I can maximize this offer.

  1. First thing is first, I need to find out what credit bureau Barclaycard will pull. The creditboards database has 8 pages of data when I select California + Barclay. Almost everybody is reporting that they pull TransUnion. This is good news for me since not many card issuers pull TransUnion in my State.
  2. Now I need to check to see if Barclaycard combines multiple credit pulls or not. I check the resource page and it looks like Barclaycard does combine pulls, but they will usually only auto approve you for the first card and you’ll have to call reconsideration for the next one. I could apply for another card as there is no risk of a second pull, but if I am denied that will show on Barclaycards system. They are pretty pick on too many recent applications and there aren’t any other cards I currently want so I decide against going for multiple cards.
  3. I’m approved for the card, yay! Now I need to make sure they actually pulled my TransUnion credit report. Great success, Credit Karma is showing that they did.

After I’m finished I add my experiences to the credit boards database to make it more useful for others. A few weeks later I check my credit report and notice that I haven’t applied for any cards from issuers that pull Experian recently and decide to apply for another card.

  • I go to the credit pull database, click “Experian” and enter my state as California. I see reports of Chase, American Express & Bank of America all pulling Experian reports in California. Now I need to double check to see if they pull Experian exclusively or if they sometimes pull Equifax & TransUnion as well. I go back to the homepage of the database and type in “Card issuer” and California, but unselect Experian.
    • American Express seems to almost exclusively pull Experian
    • Bank of America seems to mostly pull Experian as well
    • Chase seems to pull Experian most often, but will also pull Equifax sometimes
  • I decide to go for Bank of America because I haven’t applied for any of their cards recently. I do some research and find three possible cards:
  • I check and see that BofA does combine multiple credit pulls. You can apply for up to three cards and mix business & personal. I do some more research and don’t really see any business cards that I like the look of.
  • I apply for all three cards (in order of importance). Great success, I’m approved for all three after some harrowing reconsideration calls.
  • I receive a notification that my Experian credit report has been pulled, but it was only pulled once. Another great success, I applied and got approved for three cards and only received one hard pull. That’s 40,000 miles and $325 in cash plus I also now have access to the spirit card which makes redeeming those miles cheaper.

Note: The above is just an illustration for demonstration purposes, I am still uhming and ahhing over the three BofA cards. I’m hoping the Alaska card will go back up to 50,000 miles at some stage and whilst they are churnable it’s probably gonna make things more difficult to get approved having three recent BofA apps.

Final Thoughts

I think the main take away you should get from this is that you should be trying to get multiple cards with only one credit pull where ever possible. It’s also a good idea to keep an idea on all three of your credit reports and make sure you’re spreading the love between the three.

If you can’t manage credit responsible, you shouldn’t be applying for any credit cards at all. AoR’s are old school, I much prefer AAT’s (App Any Time). Patience is a virtue, wait for higher sign up bonuses to come along and then strike. Having a clear goal for the next one or two years of travel is key.

 

 

 

 



28 Responses to My Credit Card Application Strategy

  1. Ralph says:

    Great post. As a heads up there is an offer for the Alaska Airlines for 25k miles + $100 statement credit which offsets the annual fee. I applied for two personal cards this weekend and got instantly approved on both. I’m going to post about my experience with this when the miles post.

    https://www.applyonlinenow.com/USCCapp/Ctl/entry?sc=VAB6CK

  2. Joe says:

    Excellent strategy! Thanks for sharing!

  3. James B. says:

    Great advice and summary on app strategy!!!

    Can you provide more detail on your BOA reconsideration phone call? Which BOA cards needed a reconsideration phone call? Did the BOA rep ask why you are opening 3 BOA CCs at the same time? Did you use any specific phone tactics? Can you email or post the phone number you called?

    I made a call to BOA on a pending app and the BOA rep said there is no reconsideration line to call and one has to just wait and see what the BOA credit dept decides. It took BOA almost 3 weeks to process and approve that particular app.

  4. Eddy says:

    Thanks Will! I currently have the Barclays US airways card and the arrival card. If I want to get the US airways card again, how long after I canceled the current one should I wait to apply? Also, can I transfer my credit line from my US airways card to my arrival hard before I cancel the US airways card? Thanks very much.

  5. Mike says:

    I’m definitely am a fan of trying to get multiple cards for 1 pull. But one clarification on phrasing since many people on forums seem to be confused on this: the card issuer does not combine pulls, the credit bureau does. The bank typically will put your credit for each app, then the credit bureau will combine the “duplicate” inquiries.

    • I don’t think this is true, otherwise why wouldn’t it be the same rules for each card issuer? There isn’t actually any combining going on, they just don’t pull a second or third time because they already have up to date data.

      I might be wrong, but I am pretty sure that’s the case.

      • Mike says:

        Banks can have different divisions for different cards. Citi is a common example (Citibank South Dakota, Citibank NA, CBNA). There have been examples given on FT of 2 inquiries not being merged due to the addresses of the issuer not matching. I’ve personally seen on my report, from Citi IIRC (2+ years ago), that I received 2 separate inquires on the day that I applied but a couple days later, there was only 1.

        Obviously I dont believe everything I read on the internet and of course you have to pay attention to the source, but I’ve read numerous reports on FT, dansdeals forums, from Dan himself, that it was the bureaus combining duplicate pulls from the same issuer on the same day.

        • I’m not saying you’re wrong, I just don’t see why it wouldn’t be more standardized if it was the credit bureaus themselves. Citi or other issuers might have given instructions to combine multiple pulls if they occur on the same due to having multiple divisions which could be what causes it.

          Personally I’m not sure it matters too much in the grand scheme of things, as long as we know which card issuers end up having their pulls combined and which don’t and what the rules are for this.

  6. dojo says:

    I don’t have any credit cards right now (debit cards only -personal and for our business), but I find these details very useful should I be ready to make the move to a credit card. Choosing wisely and doing some research though will always pay off in the end.

  7. Vadim says:

    I learned the hard way that combining multiple pulls into one one and spreading them between different credit bureaus isn’t a free lunch.
    I successfully implemented this strategy for some time, but now most of my denials have a new reason stated: “Too many recently opened accounts”. Once you start opening 10-20 accounts a year they’ll notice it. And new accounts cannot be combined or spread between bureaus.
    Now I apply only for really good offers.

    • Of course, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should do it. I usually open a lot more than 20 new accounts a year though and I think I’ve only heard that excuse a few times and typically when I put more spend on the existing card I had it was magically no longer an issue.

      • Andy Shuman says:

        Just out of curiosity – how many more? I’m trying to open 5-6 every 90 day or so, but I had 3 denials (that I was not able to overcome) in 2014 for too many inquiries. That hadn’t happened before. I’m starting to feel that perhaps, the time has come to slow down a little. I’m going to do the next one, though, and then decide.

  8. Greg says:

    Does Credit Sesame offer a free Experian Credit report (like Credit Karma does with Transunion) or only free credit monitoring?

  9. David says:

    Will,

    I just applied for Amex business reward gold that offer sign up bonus 75k MR points after $10k spend. I bought gift cards mostly and mixed it with regular spend and was able to met the minimum spend within a month. I was in hurry because I want the MR points posted so I can take advantage of 40%bonus when transferring MR to Avios as I need to use avios for intra Japan flight award for my japan trip.
    My statement closed last week but until now I still haven’t see the sign up bonus points and spending bonus points posted yet. This is weird since with chase and other cards the points posted once statement closed.
    I am hesitating to call Amex to expedite the posting of my points because I am afraid it will trigger a financial review. FYI in the past I got financial review after meeting minimum spend for personal and business SPG by buying gift cards to met the minimum spend and pay off the balance with Bluebird and Serve.
    What is your experience with this, how fast usually the MR points post into your account? Is it safe to call Amex to expedite posting of my MR points without triggering or alarming them of financial review?

    Thanks!

  10. Brandon says:

    I currently live in Tuscaloosa, AL. So, if I apply for any credit cards, I would be physically submitting the application in Tuscaloosa. However, I usually use my address from San Jose, CA on my applications. Which city would determine the credit bureau that gets pulled?

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  12. robertw says:

    Per comments by Vadim. I dont worry about some of the things you mention exactly. Most of the card companies will let you move credit from one card to another, or close one account to get the new account. If you are applying primarily for a bonus, then you dont mind that much. If you have a great deal of new product it is not bad sitting things out a bit and let the accounts age a little before additional rounds. For me clustering the inquiries works better as they all age off my credit report the same timeframes. Also the affect to the overall scores works better to have a few apps at once rather than spreading out. If I have to talk to a rep I know what to say. If they ask about other cards or products feel free to state you havr upcoming travel plans so you got a new airline card etc for that purpose. If you are applying for a Chase hotel for example tell the rep you have many upcoming stays this year at Hyatt and you heard the Hyatt card has some good perks.

  13. weedibix says:

    Any data re multiple apps on the new TD Bank Aeroplan Card?

  14. CopperHog says:

    Question about meeting min spend … I just completed an AOR and am awaiting the new cards in the mail. Is it usually ok to just head to Simon and hit the min spend all in one transaction, or is it a better idea to mix in some smaller, day to day transactions first? I’d much prefer to do it in one fell swoop, but if that’s going to result in a fraud alert then on a brand new card, then maybe I should “warm up” the card before going big. Cheers.

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