App Party #3

by FI Fighter on February 24, 2014

in Travel Hacking

Debt

Now that closing Rental Property #5 is complete, I’ve decided to shift gears and refocus on the other critical component that will help make early financial independence more enjoyable — travel hacking! Typically, when I am trying to close escrow, I hold back from opening any new credit cards. This makes it slightly easier to get through underwriting since they won’t have to scrutinize all the credit inquiries.

I haven’t attempted a new App Party since July of last year. Here’s what I applied for this past weekend:

1) Citi American Airlines Executive:

This is my third American Airlines Card. I opened two cards last year for App Party #1, and was able to rack up 50,000 points on each card for meeting the minimum spending requirement. This Executive card is even more lucrative. The bonus is 100,000 American Airlines miles for spending $10,000 in three months.

The minimum spend of $10,000 may appear daunting at first, but like I mentioned in my Vanilla Reload post, it’s actually quite simple to clear if you have lots of expenses. For myself, I now have five mortgages to pay, not to mention: property taxes, insurance, maintenance items, etc.

I recently used up 130,000 of my United miles to book my round-the-world expedition in August for this year. Time to reload some points!

There is a catch. The annual fee is $450, but you will get reimbursed $200 once you clear $200 minimum spending. So, $250 for 100,000 miles. Sounds good to me!

Here is a link to Million Mile Secrets that has more details on the offer:

AA_Executive

2) Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus:

The Southwest deal is back! It tends to come and go, but I like to hop on board on this deal whenever the bonus is 50,000 points. To get the bonus, you have to spend $2000 in three months. I opted to get the Rapid Rewards Plus card instead of the Rapid Rewards Premiere card because the annual fee is cheaper, $69 instead of $99. The Premiere cards gets you 6,000 bonus points after your one year anniversary. The Plus card only gives back 3,000 points.

If you sign up for the Rapid Rewards Plus Business Card, you can get an additional 50,000 points for spending $2000 in three months. For some time, a lot of people were signing up for both cards and getting 100,000 Rapid Reward points. By adding an addition 10,000 points, you can qualify for a Companion Pass, which lets your buddy travel with you for free for a year (even longer if you time it right… e.g. If you can qualify for a Companion Pass right now, it will work until the end of 2015… you get to use it for the rest of 2014 as well).

Here is the link to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card:

Southwest_Plus

3) Barclay Arrival:

I first attempted to apply for this card during App Party #2. I was denied since I had too many credit inquiries at the time (well, that’s what they told me, anyway). After sitting on the sidelines for about seven months, this time around, I was approved! When it doubt, take some time off from travel hacking. 🙂

The Arrival card is a great card and gets you 40,000 bonus miles for spending $3000 in three months. Just two weeks ago, the deal was valid for a minimum spend of only $1000. Seems like I got in at the wrong time, but they approved me, so I’m not going to complain.

The annual fee of $89 is waived for the first year. Sweet!

Here is a link to the Arrival card:

Arrival

4) Club Carlson Premiere Rewards Visa Signature:

I plan on being in Rome later this year on my trip. To fund some of the hotels, I decided to sign up for the Club Carlson Premiere Rewards Visa Signature Card.

You get 50,000 points after the first purchase and an additional 35,000 points for spending $2500 in three months.

The annual fee is $75.

Here is a link to the Club Carlson Cards:

Carlson

5) Alaska Airlines Visa Signature:

The Bank of America Alaska Airlines card was the last card I applied to for this App Party. It’s pretty sweet because you can get 25,000 bonus miles immediately upon approval. There’s no minimum spend to meet!

However, there is a $75 annual fee that can’t be waived.

Here is a link to the Alaska Airlines card:

Alaska_Airlines

Summary

This might have been my most aggressive App Party yet. In total, I need to spend $17,500 in three months to get all the bonus points. Here is the breakdown:

  • $10,000 American Airlines Executive (100,000 miles)
  • $2,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus (50,000 miles)
  • $3,000 Barclay Arrival (40,000 miles)
  • $2,500 Club Carlson Premiere Rewards (85,000 points)
  • Alaska Airlines (25,000 miles)

300,000 total bonus miles/points. Looking forward to replenishing my Award Wallet! 😉

 

What travel hacking products are you looking at? How many cards do you typically sign up for each App Party? Any recommendations?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Income SurferNo Gravatar February 24, 2014 at 9:58 am

You do play this game well FI! You also understand it better than most of us. Might I suggest you sign up as an affiliate for some of the cards you recommend…..so that we can reward you for recommending them. Just a thought.
-Bryan

Reply

2 FI FighterNo Gravatar February 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Bryan,

Thanks for the suggestion. Yeah, I can look into affiliates at a later time…

My objective for sharing links, information is not to monetize. I try to only recommend things that I’m actually doing myself…

So, I get nothing if you sign up for these cards… Now you know I really believe these are good deals 🙂

Cheers!

Reply

3 SundeepNo Gravatar February 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm

That’s insane that you can rack up 300k points in the next 3 months, even though it requires $17.5 K of spending in the same timeframe. It’s great how the more properties you get the easier hitting that requirement becomes, it seems like once you get one thing snowballing, it spreads to other things too.

I can’t remember if you mentioned it in your other travel hacking posts, but are you only keeping these cards for a year, cancelling them to avoid further annual fees or…?

Thanks as always for all the useful info. I think I need to PM you about some out of state investing sooner than later. Thinking Indy first, and am eagerly awaiting your findings on your Texas trip as well.

Sundeep

Reply

4 FI FighterNo Gravatar February 25, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Sundeep,

Yes, definitely owning more properties makes the whole travel hacking experience much easier. Otherwise, it would be extremely difficult for me to spend $17.5k in three months time… I’m way, way too frugal for that… 😉

Yes, I terminate the cards before a full year to avoid the fees. There’s really no sense in keeping the cards after you clear the initial bonuses. Too many other good products out there that deserve your time 🙂

Feel free to contact me anytime for more info!

Cheers!

Reply

5 LeighNo Gravatar February 24, 2014 at 10:50 pm

I applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred recently. It should give me 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points for spending $3k in 3 months. I’ll probably combine those Ultimate Rewards points with the 20k I have from the Chase Freedom in January to make them more valuable 🙂

I got in on the Barclaycard while it was only a $1k spend deal, pretty sweet! I’ve actually been using it as my primary card recently since so long as I have travel expenses, it is worth 2.2%. I will still cancel/downgrade it once the annual fee hits though!

Reply

6 FI FighterNo Gravatar February 25, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Leigh,

60k points, that’s awesome! 60k more and you can do that round-the-world excursion on first class 🙂

Yeah, the Arrival card seems pretty cool. I’m looking forward to making it my main card for some time. I’m with you… I don’t like annual fees and will cancel before then.

Cheers!

Reply

7 Done by FortyNo Gravatar February 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

That’s an aggressive churn, but I like how you’re swinging big. I was curious how you’re able to pay for mortgages on your credit card. Seems like an arbitrage opportunity there.

Reply

8 FI FighterNo Gravatar February 25, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Done by Forty,

Yes, the combination of rental property and travel hacking is extremely lucrative… Surprisingly, I still haven’t seen too many people taking advantage of it…

All the best!

Reply

9 BrettNo Gravatar February 27, 2014 at 7:03 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but do you even need to have a few mortgages to pay? Couldn’t you just use vanilla reloads to put money in your online banking account and use those reload cards to pay off your credit card balance that you used to purchase the reload cards?

Curious, FI, once your points/miles have run their course with a given card, do you cancel them? If so, how long does it take until you can once again get the travel points deals that they offer for signing up?

Reply

10 FI FighterNo Gravatar February 27, 2014 at 9:46 am

Brett,

Of course, you can make this work without the use of mortgages… It’s just a lot simpler with mortgages since these are bills you have to pay anyway.

I would caution against moving money around in a circular loop though, it just looks way too obvious and may be grounds for account termination if you aren’t careful.

You typically have 1 year to cancel the cards… That’s usually enough timeframe to close one party and start the other. 2-3 app parties per year sounds reasonable. For individual cards… it might take 12-18 months before reapplying for the same card.

Cheers!

Reply

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