Rookie Wednesday: Credit cards!

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.


So many Rookie Wednesday posts come from questions from readers and that just works. All it takes is one of those “huh” moments and we have a new topic to cover. This is one of those. Let’s jump right in.

The first step really should be to read the “rookie tab” as it hits on really basic ideas and this is more of a rookie +1 post. Do that and come back here.

Now on to all about ❤Point Cards❤. The first bit is about timing. I go for a new round of cards every 3-4 months. Why? Every time you apply for a credit card you will get a hit of 2-4 points against your credit score. This, btw, is a reason so many say they never want to apply for cards. They miss the big picture however. You see, after about 3-4 months you will find, if you are good about paying in FULL and using the cards, your credit score will not only go back up but likely it will be HIGHER than it was before you got the last card(s). Additionally these “hits” drop off every two years so after some time they will drop and your score will again go higher. Another reason for the 3-4 month window is it improves my chances for 100% approvals that I still hold to this day and this after DOZENS of cards over the years.

The next one is how many times can you get a card or a new card bonus. Do you have to cancel the old one. When should you cancel the old one? Hold on, one at a time. Let’s break down with a list of the generally accepted rules for new cards and bonus points:

  • AMEX. The basic rule is you must cancel, wait 365+ days and not have applied for a card for the past 90 days. There are cards that are considered the same “family” of cards so that is something to watch out for. Following this you can get a new bonus many times over many years.
  • CHASE: One bonus per card (sorta). There are lots of outs with Chase. Every time they come up with a “new” card, say like they are doing now switching so many like the INK products from Mastercard to Visa then you can get the bonus again even if you hold the other card at the same time. Other times a card is just “new”. What if you wait long enough? This can work but just how many years and if you should cancel is not set. My best guess is cancel wait 3+ years and you have a good shot.
  • CitiBank: Most report 18 months since you last got the same card bonus. You do not have to cancel but some report better success that way. Also there are many times products that offer the same points but are different cards so that can be a strategy.
  • US Bank: It depends on the card. There are some cards you can get again and again even if you have it already. Others you have to cancel to get the new bonus again. This one is all over the board. What will help is to freeze your ARS & IDA. One nice perk with say the FlexPerks cards is you can combine points, even have a wife send her points to her husband in the same household.
  • Bank of America: These folks are great (on some levels). Every 3-4 months you can get most cards again and again even if you already have the same card (or even two of them). The real gotcha part with BofA is they tend to “ding” your credit if you do anything but cancel an old card so be careful – better a ding for a new card than one you already hold.
  • Barclay’s: In the past you could get the same card again and again. Lately it is much harder and I would say the situation is developing. My best guess, under the current climate, is you would have to cancel, use your other cards with them a bunch, then 6-12 months later try again. Barclay’s has some really good cards so for me most are a hold anyway and use.
  • Discover: The funny thing is most times they don’t have much of a bonus but as of late solid cards. So not really an issue that I can see but if readers have feedback let me know.
  • Capital One. If you don’t currently hold the card you are applying for you should be able to get the new card bonus again. Also there are many similar cards so you can go for the other bonus while you hold the other card no problem. The downsides with C1 is they pull from all 3 credit bureaus but a plus is you can sometimes combine points from one card to another.

Now on to do you have to cancel old cards before getting new ones. That depends as we see above. But do you have to cancel ANY cards? Often you can do what is called a downgrade to a no fee card but be careful here too. For example, BofA could ding your credit so avoid that with them. Or, some banks may offer a card you can get a new card bonus for that you have either not had yet or not had for a long time. So, apply first and then use the leverage to close the other card to get approved for this new one and get the “downgrade” and a bonus too!

Can you have to many cards? That depends. For example, with AMEX most report 4 consumer or business at the same time. I tend to stay even more conservative than that. With Chase, it is not the number of card but rather the total credit line they are comfortable with. Have a 10k card, get a new card and go 5k each and so on and so on. Others, like US Bank or BofA as many as they will give you seems to be the rule.

Spending. Most cards have spend requirements. Keep the approval date in mind as most times that is when the clock starts. Then, if you are going use creative spending, be sure to mix up this spend with other spending to make sure you get the points. Keep in mind the annual fee does not count if the card does not waive the first year fee.

How to keep track. Lisa has developed a nice spread sheet to help her keep track of our some 40 cards we hold right now. You never want to ever miss a payment as that is REALLY bad on your credit score and you always want to pay your cards off in FULL.

That just about sums up most of the common questions I get about cards. Have I missed any? Have some input? Have any more? Ask away – René

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  1. Hi! My wife and I BOTH just scored the barclaycards with 40,000 bonus~ is there a way for us to combine our points to pay off our travel expenses? Or would we have to for example buy our tickets separately and then pay them off with our individual points?
    Thanks for your great blog!

  2. from my research, i thought that Amex four card limit excludes charge cards & co-branded cards ie. Delta Amex. Is it not?

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