All of our Sunday Success Stories serve as a living example that all of us average Americans can, indeed, see the world at prices we all can afford. We can do this by working together and sharing our stories. Send your story to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your first name and last initial, along with your occupation and a photo, if you wish. - Rick
I’ve been meaning to write you for a few days to give you a follow up. When we last spoke back in April, I had consulted you on the best cards for my wife and I to apply for so we could start traveling. We decided on:
Me: US Airways Barclays card, AA Citi (was going to do 1x50k points but got 2 cards, more on that in a moment), Southwest 50k card.
Wife: Priority Club 80k, USAirways 40k, and Alaska Air 25k.
Other than the Citi AA cards, we opted to go for $0 spend cards to make things easy. Originally, I was planning on doing just one AA Citi card (2k spend in 3 months), but when I hit “submit” to apply, the site through an error (didn’t prompt me that the application was sent or anything). I applied again, and in a few days I got two cards in the mail. I confirmed with Citi that I will be getting the points for both cards, so score! My wife and I pretty much charge all of our monthly expenses anyway (and pay off in full each month!) so we just spread some things between the two cards. No problems hitting those minimum spends. The other cards we got based on some of our needs and where we already had points (my wife already had some points with Priority Club, Alaska, and USAir so for us it made sense to go with what we had points on). I went with the Southwest since they fly out of Charleston.
I just checked my Credit Sesame and Credit Karma scores. My Credit Sesame (Experian model) is still sitting at 840 (it shows last updated in May, so I’m expecting it to change any day now). Credit Karma (Transunion) I dropped 20 points (from just over 760 to now 740). As you can see, my scores are still pretty good. My wife is out of town at the moment, but my guess is she is close to mine (our scores were very close to each other to start with).
The good news is we are already using some of the points we have earned. We are taking a family trip to St. Louis this summer (my wife is from there). Using some of those Priority Club points, we are covering one night in Nashville and two nights in Atlanta (the Atlanta nights we were able to secure a room for 2 nights at 5k a night thanks to Points Break deal. We missed out on Nashville by a day or two so we are having to spend 15k). So three nights are covered thanks to points. I’m going to be flying out to meet them so I booked a flight on AA at a good rate (plus I’m making two stops so I’m getting more miles) and because of my Citi AA card, I get a $150 AA credit which knocks my ticket down way under $100. Since I’m making 2 stops I’m making the day a “travel day” as you call it. I’m going to use your advice and check in early and volunteer to be bumped first thing. One of the flights is looking close now so I may get lucky. My wife thinks it’s funny that a) I’m taking a longer flight to get more miles and b) I’m hoping to get bumped! I’m looking at the day as an adventure!
Where do we go from here? Well we are already thinking about our next round of apps in August/September. We are leaning hard at getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I’m also thinking about the Chase Ink Bold (hey 5x points for internet, cable, and cell phone hello!!!) I “may” do the Citi AA biz card depending on the deal. If the Southwest 50k offer comes back we may hit that.
There is also a chance that next year my wife will be chaperoning a trip to Europe (she is a chemistry teacher). I’ve already volunteered to be a chaperone. We won’t be able to use points for the trip, but I’m looking at it as a way to EARN points (especially the flight). Depending on who the carrier is if we don’t already have a card with them we most definitely will pick one up. If we do Europe next year Hawaii (our original goal for the cards and points) may be put back a year, but it gives us more time to accumulate points.
Again, I wanted to thank you for all of your help. I still read your site daily and I’m looking forward to seeing which new cards you apply for!
I asked Richard to share some more about his thoughts through the application process; I was glad to read this, and hope you take it and use it when thinking about applying.
- Your credit is probably the most important thing, so you must protect it.
- Always stay within your comfort level (that is what we did).
- For us – apply for what you need. As I mentioned we chose cards for programs we already had or were local to us (ex: wife had Alaska, USAir, and Priority Club points so those cards made sense for her. For me, I decided to go with USAir and AA since my wife had USAir points and the two are in merger talks as well as Southwest since they are local).
- Have a goal in mind. For us, taking an anniversary trip to Hawaii (hopefully) next year.
Richard, thanks again for all of the details and taking the time to share with us your experiences. -Rick