Category Archives: SPG

Hotel Review: Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel and Conference Centre

I took a quick trip to Toronto a while back and took the opportunity to try out a couple of hotels. The Westin I reviewed gave me a pretty interesting upgrade, so I was hoping for something similar at the Sheraton. Unfortunately there were no suite upgrades available, but I did get upgraded to the Club floor.

I got a pretty decent rate of $85 per night, so it was a no-brainer to just pay cash for the stay. The alternative would have been 7K SPG points, or a dismal 1.2 cents per point before taxes.

The outside of the hotel isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but thankfully the interior was much better. Still, the lobby was nothing to be excited about. At check-in, I was immediately upgraded to the club floor, but no suite this time.

The King room's entry on the 8th floor.

The King room’s entry on the 8th floor.

Don't mind the bags!

Don’t mind the bags!

The bed was comfortable, like most other Sheratons.

The bed was comfortable, like most other Sheratons.

Standard-sized bathroom, no surprises.

Standard-sized bathroom, no surprises.

The shower.

The shower.

The sink.

The sink.

I decided to check out the Club Lounge a little after getting to my room. My key didn’t work for some reason, so I just knocked and the lounge attendant let me in and apologized for the key. No biggie. Once inside, I saw the lounge was pretty empty…just one other person.

Sheraton Club

The lounge had only one other person. It was furnished pretty well.

The lounge had only one other person. It was furnished pretty well.

Lounge 2

Lounge 3

The food options were kind of interesting. There was a hot chicken and rice dish that was completely untouched and didn’t look all that appetizing. It seemed like it had been sitting there for quite a while, but there was no way to tell.

There were also some other snacks set up in the middle of the lounge. My favorite was the elegant bowl of Cheetos. Again, these things didn’t look very fresh but I’m sure the pretzels and Cheetos were still good (or at least as good as they could be). Some veggies, crackers, and cheese were also available.

There was also tea and coffee, plus a mini fridge with soft drinks (but no water bottles).

Hot food. Untouched, and not very appetizing.

Hot food. Untouched, and not very appetizing.

The snack table. Sorry for the blurry pic.

The snack table. Sorry for the blurry pic.

Coffee and tea.

Coffee and tea.

The lounge was quiet and relaxing, but nothing to go out of your way to see. The coolest part of the lounge was probably the view, which looked out towards the airport. For travelers, it could be fun to see the planes taking off from the runway.

That light in the middle of the picture is an airplane!

That light in the middle of the picture is an airplane!

This hotel was perfectly serviceable if you’re in Toronto for a few days. They have a free airport shuttle (which I didn’t use), and the rooms were clean and worth the $85 rate I paid. The rooms were also much more updated than the room I stayed in at the Westin, and even though my room at the Sheraton was much smaller, I think I’d still prefer it over the Westin. The biggest issue I had with the hotel is that you have to pay for parking (which was also true at the Westin). The daily rate was about $15, so if you’re renting a car make sure to factor this in to your travel budget!

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How I Would Improve: The SPG Amex Credit Card

This is part of my new “How I Would Improve…” series in which I will discuss points- and travel-related items/programs that could be improved to the consumer’s benefit. Why? Because maybe if we (consumers) let the companies know what we want, they’ll be inclined to give us something. We can dream!

The SPG Amex is one of the best cards for non-bonus spend, but it could use an update.

Everyone has a go-to credit card for certain purchases. Many people choose the SPG Amex card for many of their purchases since it provides solid value:

  • Large chain of hotels, from relatively cheap to extravagant.
  • A HUGE list of airline transfer partners, plus you get 5K points for every 20K you transfer.
  • Widely recognized as having the highest per-point value of any loyalty points program out there.
  • Cash & Points option can make points EXTREMELY valuable.
  • SPG Gold status after $30K in annual spend.
  • Annual 2 stay/5 night credit toward elite status.
  • Relatively low annual fee of $65.

Despite all these great benefits, the card is far from being the “perfect” credit card. If I could improve this card in a realistic way (i.e. offering 10 points per dollar on every purchase is not realistic), then what would I add/change?

In no particular order:

ELIMINATE FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES

There’s a large group of people that love their SPG card and love staying at SPG hotels around the world, but still never charge an international dime to the card even when staying at an SPG hotel. The extra bonus points you earn are just not worth the 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so the card stays tucked in the wallet or left home on international trips. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which earns 2 points per dollar on all hotel spend, does not charge a foreign transaction fee. Even though a Chase point might be worth slightly less, the dollar savings in addition to the points makes it a better option for many people.

If I prefer to use the Sapphire Preferred card over the hotel’s own branded credit card, something is wrong!

THE ABILITY TO EARN PLATINUM STATUS WITH SPEND

The SPG Amex currently offers Gold status for those that spend $30K on the card in a calendar year. This is actually a very weak (and almost useless) benefit. Many of us in the points game have or have had the Amex Platinum card, which automatically gives free SPG Gold status. Additionally, SPG Gold status doesn’t really entitle you to all that much anyway.

Also take into account that Hilton Gold status can be had by just owning the new Citi Hilton Reserve card. Oh, and Hilton Gold Status offers significantly better benefits than SPG Gold status does. In fact, most of the Hilton credit cards allow you to spend your way to top-tier Diamond status with $40K in spend.

I propose that the SPG Amex grant Gold status at $25K in spend and Platinum status at $40K in spend, allowing it to compete with the Hilton products.

ADD A BONUS CATEGORY (OR TWO)

How about 2x for gas, groceries, drug stores, restaurants, the zoo…anything! Many cards have bonus categories, and when I have the option I usually put spend on the card that earns the most points. Two Chase points at a restaurant or two Amex points at a grocery store are almost always worth more than one SPG point.

ANNUAL FREE NIGHT CERTIFICATE

Most of the other hotel-branded credit cards offer a free night every year in return for paying the annual fee. Some, like the Citi Hilton Reserve card, offer the free night after hitting a certain spend requirement ($10K for the Reserve card). The SPG Amex would become a fantastic card with a benefit like this, even if it were restricted to a certain category of hotel.

AN ONLINE SHOPPING PORTAL/MALL FOR BONUS POINTS

It doesn’t matter whether it only offered an extra 1 point per dollar or more, but having an online points mall would be a fantastic addition to the SPG program. Imagine how often people would use this card with the ability to earn an extra point or more for online purchases! Right now, Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall is the champion after Amex’s mall suffered an unexpected and sudden death.

Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall is one of the best shopping portals!

IS THAT FAIR?

Adding all these things would make this the clear-cut, undisputed champion of credit cards, but that’s not going to happen. We can, however, hope and/or pray for at least a couple of these changes. I personally would be a HUGE fan of eliminating foreign transaction fees since I stay at Starwood hotels abroad and don’t use the card. The ability to earn extra points or a free night certificate also holds some appeal.

Let’s be realistic though – adding some of these benefits would likely not be “free” additions. It would be extremely costly for Starwood to just hand out a free night certificate to everyone that has a card, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to raise the annual fee of the card. Depending on what they added, I’d say a fee up to $95 would be reasonable.

Other changes, like the ability to earn Platinum status, could be a free addition since it likely wouldn’t cost Starwood much. In fact they might benefit from extra spending by customers trying to attain elite status.

Or maybe it’s just time for a completely new product. Hilton has several options with various banks – maybe it’s time for an SPG Visa/MasterCard from Chase or Citi. I wouldn’t even mind if they marketed it as a premium card for a $200+ annual fee if they could include everything I noted above, plus a nice sign-up bonus of course.

What do you think? Did I miss anything, or are there certain features you’d like more than others?

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Discounted SPG Hotel Rates? Maybe…At Your Own Risk.

I’m an SPG Platinum member thanks to taking their Platinum Challenge earlier this year. I called in and asked for the challenge, and after 18 nights I earned their top tier status (it used to be 15 nights but when I asked they said it had to be 18). Since then I’ve stayed at quite a few SPG hotels and I’ve loved many of them.

They also announced many enhancements earlier this year to give more benefits to their top tier elites. In addition, the SPG Twitter team is one of the best there is – it’s nearly as good as American Airlines’ Twitter team, which is widely recognized as the best in the loyalty program business.

Like anyone who wants to travel more and loves a particular loyalty program, I set out to learn as much as I could to minimize my paid nights or maximize the points I earn in the program.

I started at Loyalty Traveler, who knows hotel programs in and out and does some great mathematical analysis (my favorite kind) on what deals and programs are most worthwhile. I then moved on to Frequent Flyer Bonuses to see what kind of deals might currently be available (note that these deals are not always current). I was also sure to read everything written by the blogs I feature in my blogroll on the right of this page.

Still unsatisfied with the rates I was getting, I decided to check FlyerTalk. I’ll admit that I’m not a very patient person, so reading through hundreds of pages of posts isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But then I found some FT posts referencing the “SET/Corporate Account #” field on the SPG website, but they were “coded” messages that I couldn’t decipher.

FTU this year is at the Sheraton Gateway in Los Angeles. Is this the best rate possible? Let’s find out…

I never paid attention to this field before. I happen to work for a big, well-known company so I checked to see if my company had a Corporate Account number. Sure enough it did, and I was embarrassed to not know of it earlier. It brought some prices down considerably, but others were unaffected or even higher. I wasn’t sure exactly how these worked so I used mine a couple of times. It worked exactly the same way as using a normal prepaid rate.

Then I started wondering if I could use other corporate account numbers. First things first, I needed to find some. That was not an easy task at the time. FlyerTalk is kind of written in code in order to prevent anyone from just searching for the obvious string of words, and it’s actually forbidden to write these codes outright (this type of thing is heavily moderated). Still, determination and Google work wonders.

Sometimes better, sometimes worse. Use at your own risk.

MilePoint also has an interesting discussion of the ethical and other questions that come from this. I personally know someone that got a hold of some codes, then met a guy on a flight that had different codes. They exchanged information. Plenty of people also have anecdotal evidence of getting completely shut down for doing this.

The fact is, these codes are meant for qualified people only and no one else should be using them.

Everyone has their own interpretation of what is right, wrong, ethical, or a grey area. Yours probably isn’t the same as mine, so I don’t expect people to agree with the way I’ve written this one way or another.

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Hotel Review: The Westin Bristol Place Toronto Airport

A few weeks back I took a quick weekend trip to Toronto and took the opportunity to stay at a couple of hotels. My first night was spent at The Westin Bristol Place Toronto Airport.

My flight to Toronto wasn’t direct and I was on a red eye flight, so I was pretty tired when I landed in the morning. I knew that the hotel provided a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, and all I had to do was call them from the information desk at the airport.

As soon as I cleared customs I went straight to the information desk to make the call. I was told to wait outside at the post marked “F5, F as in freedom, 5.” After  a quick bathroom break I went outside to wait at the post. I was freezing in the 45 degree and windy weather (keep in mind I’m a southern California native). I waited and waited, then went inside to wait because I got too cold. After 40 minutes of waiting I decided something was wrong, so I went to call again.

I spoke to the same person on the phone, who this time told me to go downstairs and wait at “S5, S as in Sam, 5.” I said “OK, but last time you said ‘F as in Freedom 5’ and I waited there for a long time.” He brushed off the comment and said he’ll be there in 10 minutes. He was there on the tenth minute.

I could see the hotel from the post marked “F5” (the red building).

I was too exhausted to be upset at him when I finally got picked up, and we were at the hotel after a literally three minute drive. It was about 1pm at this point and a few hours before the normal check-in time of 4pm, but my room was ready. I was upgraded to “The Bristol Suite” thanks to my SPG Platinum status,  and I didn’t even have to ask. I love my SPG Platinum status!

I love getting these!

So I walked into my room, which was at the end of the hallway, and I was pretty surprised. The suite was very large compared to what I was expecting.  Here’s the grand tour of the suite:

The entry.

I had a kitchen!

The dining room.

I’ll call this the family room.

The family room also had a work desk.

Just behind the family room is what I’ll call the living room.

After I walked around a little bit I realized I hadn’t seen the bedroom yet, and walked down a small hallway to find several closets and the bedroom.

The hallway.

In the hallway was a walk-in closet (this was the second closet, the first was just to the right of the entry door).

Once I got through the hallway and looked right, I saw there was another entry door. I completely missed it in the hallway walking in, but there are two entry doors to the suite. The bedroom and bathroom were also on this side of the suite.

A second door! And a third closet!

The hallway to the bedroom (bathroom was just to the right).

Yup, closet #4, and walk-in closet #2.

The bedroom was a little small compared to the rest of the suite.

Yup, that’s closet #5!

Surprised at the single sink, but not a big deal.

The shower was standard for Westin.

There was a second hallway between the bedroom and bathroom. It had no light in it, and the opposite door didn’t open. It was actually a bit creepy, so I closed and kept that door locked for the duration of my stay.

Hallway to a door that doesn’t open. Creepy!

The view from my suite. You can see the Sheraton in the distance, which I’ll be reviewing soon.

The suite was pretty nice, aside from the creepy hallway. The five closets is kind of ridiculous, and one of my Twitter followers noted that she doesn’t even have that many in her apartment. I think I’d prefer a half bathroom instead of one of the walk-in closets, because honestly…who needs FIVE closets in a hotel?

While the Bristol Suite was nice, it was also starting to show some age. This was most apparent in the kitchen with the very old appliances, but the carpet in the rest of the suite also was quite worn. The TV’s and the internet connection were great though, and the bed is what you expect to get from a Westin.

I only spent one night here so I didn’t get to look around the hotel much. There are several restaurants within walking distance, and quite a few within a one-mile radius if you have a car. I didn’t hear any airplnes going overhead, which is pretty surprising considering the hotel’s proximity to the Toronto Airport.

Guess which room I got! 🙂

Other than the hassle of waiting an hour to get a ride to the hotel, I was pretty satisfied with my stay. I was upgraded without having to ask, and the room was huge. While the room was a little bit worn and had a hilarious amount of closets, it was definitely nothing to keep me from staying there again.

The whole shuttle thing, however, is a different issue. I did not appreciate having to stand out in the cold for that long. I was literally forgotten about after the first time I called, and the driver didn’t even acknowledge it. I received an email from the hotel afterward thanking me for my stay, and said to contact the General Manager if I had any comments. I did, and never got a response back.

Because of this, and despite the room upgrade, I don’t think I’d stay at this hotel again. There are plenty of other SPG options in the area for the next time I’m in Toronto, and I’ll soon be reviewing the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel & Conference Center that I stayed on on the back-end of my trip.

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Squeezing Every Penny out of SPG’s Fall 2012 Promotions

Three SPG Promos in one!

SPG has a lot of different promotions going on concurrently right now, and you can take part in all of them at the same time. As with everything in the points world, taking a little time to think it through can really make a big difference in the points/rebates you earn, and the SPG promotions are a perfect example.

Here are the promotions:

  • Better by the Night: Double points on 1-2 night stays, Triple points on 3+ night stays
  • iPhone app booking: 500 points per night (or 250 if booked online)
  • Foursquare check-in: 250 points per stay

How else you can earn points:

  • SPG Gold/Platinum Status: 1 point per dollar spent
  • Platinum Status: 250 point bonus check-in amenity (125 points at Aloft, Element, and Four Points)
  • SPG Amex: 2 points per dollar
  • “Super” Platinums (75+ nights): extra 1 point per dollar spent
  • SPG Green Choice (decline housekeeping at select hotels): 500 points per night
  • Ultimate Rewards Mall: 2 points per dollar at Westin

Oh, and if you want to forego the Ultimate rewards mall points, are booking at non-Westin hotels, or for some reason can’t book with an iPhone, you can always book through Big Crumbs for 2.1% cash back. (That’s my referral link – I appreciate if you sign up using it!)

Holy smokes that’s a lot of ways to earn points! Let’s break it down to see what you can earn in a few real-world scenarios, starting with a one-night stay for $100 for a non-elite.

Points Earned by an SPG non-elite on a $100 Stay

Your one-night, $100 stay earns a pretty respectable 1,350 SPG points if you have no elite status with SPG. According to MileValue’s Leaderboard, SPG points are worth 2.44 cents each. Those 1,350 points are like having $32.94 back in your pocket, or a 33% rebate! I’d also like to point out that several bloggers agree that you can/should get MUCH more than 2.44 cents per SPG point (I got more than 7 cents per point before). See The Points Guy, Deals We Like, Frequent Flyer University, and Google for how-to guides.

But what if you’re a Platinum member? Well the points just keep coming!

Points earned by a Platinum member on a $100 stay

Those 1,700 points is like getting back $41.48, or a 41.5% rebate! “Super” Platinum members would get another 100 points, for a total value of $43.92 or 44% back.

What about a 3 night stay? For consistency I’ll go with a $100 nightly rate again ($300 total for 3 nights).

Points earned by a non-elite member on a 3 night stay at $100 per night

Those 4,150 points can get you a free night at a category 2 hotel (4,000 points), or a calculated value of $101.26 for 33.7% back.

Elite members do a little better. Let’s see what a Platinum elite can get back on the same stay.

Points earned by a Platinum elite on 3 night stay at $100 per night

That equates to $114.68 back, or 38.2% back, so not quite as well off as on the one-night stay. This, of course, is based on calculations. You may very well get better value with the points you earn!

Just for fun, let’s do a much more interesting scenario. SPG has a Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) that gives either 2,000 points back or 10% off the lower rate. For stays that are cheap, you get more points for your money.

Let’s say a Platinum member sees a rate of $88 instead of $100, and successfully submits a BRG claim to get the points. What will he/she get back?

Points earned by a Platinum elite on a one night stay of $88, after a BRG claim.

Those 3,616 points have a calculated value of $88.23. You actually end up MAKING MONEY! This type of scenario is a pretty good mattress run. Keep in mind that those 3,616 points can potentially be worth a lot more than the $90 you spent, depending on how you use them.

If you’ve never done it before, making a successful BRG claim isn’t that hard. I’m one for one, and it was easy, completely painless, and done in 12 hours. The hard part is finding one, but sites like Kayak make it so much easier.

It’s also worth noting that if you’re booking at a Westin and booking online, it’s probably better to book through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall instead of Big Crumbs. Using an SPG Amex at the Ultimate Rewards Mall should work, but there is a risk. I personally value 2 ultimate rewards points higher than the 2.1% cash back from Big Crumbs, but to each his own.

Also, if you don’t have the SPG Amex, you can use the Chase Freedom card for 5x points or the Sapphire Card for 2.14x points.

Once again, this shows that putting a little bit of thought into your travel can allow you to get a lot more for your dollar!

If I missed any SPG promotions or if you have other tips, please let me know!

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What Exactly is a Hotel Rack Rate?

SPG has a rate called the “Rack Rate” that we usually don’t hear about. Instead, the rates we deal with are usually called the Lowest Standard Rate, AARP Rate, Automobile Associate Rate, or Corporate Account (SET) Rate, among others. With the exception of the “Rack Rate,” these are pretty self-explanatory.

So what exactly is a Rack Rate? Think of it as the MSRP when you’re buying a car. No one in their right mind pays the MSRP for a car – instead you negotiate for a lower and much more favorable rate. The Rack Rate is a rate you hope to never pay, except in extreme circumstances.

A few weeks back I was looking for a hotel in Downtown Los Angeles for one night because I have to be there in the early morning, and absolutely hate commuting from Orange County. The two hotels I was looking to stay at happened to be sold out. Just my luck…

But then I remembered a particular benefit of being an SPG Platinum member:

“Guaranteed room availability when your room is booked by 3 p.m., 72+ hours prior to arrival.3″

Yes…that little “3” at the end of that sentence is a rather large caveat that reads “Applicable to one standard room booked by 3 p.m. local time 72+ hours before day of arrival at participating hotels. Member must pay regular RACK rate. Black out dates apply. Not available at resorts. Room upgrade and Free Night Award redemption do not apply when this benefit is utilized. Minimum length-of-stay requirement must be met.”

So I COULD stay at either of the two sold out hotels if I was willing to pay the Rack Rate, and would not get upgraded assuming it wasn’t a black out date. Okay…so how much is this Rack Rate? I searched all over the SPG website and Google and could not find it for these hotels. I decided to ask SPG’s Twitter team, because they’re usually extremely responsive and helpful. They replied immediately, as always. Here are our Tweets:

Me: @spg Can you tell me the RACK rate for the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown hotel? I might want to use my “guaranteed availability” benefit.

SPG: @TravelSummary We can if you DM us your phone number and best time time to reach you.

Me: @spg Wow didn’t know it was top secret info. DM on its way.

SPG: @TravelSummary Not top secret 🙂 We are just unable to quote rates (even rack) via twitter.

Me: @spg Oh okay that makes sense. Is there a reason it’s not listed on SPG website?

SPG: @TravelSummary The RACK rate would only show online if the hotel was extremely close to full & rooms were actually going for that rate.

After the Direct Message on Twitter and the ensuing phone call, I learned the Rack Rate for the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown hotel is a whopping $349. I’d have to call the concierge to book it if I was interested, which I no longer was…just too rich for my blood.

But hey…at least we learned how the SPG Rack Rate works!

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How I Chose Credit Cards for My Churn

In my last post I walked you through my first credit card churn and included some details about what my credit score was, what cards I was deciding on, the ones I actually chose to apply for, and all the approval decisions. Today I’ll walk you through my thought process regarding why I decided to apply for the cards that I did.

I think it’s important to give you a little background on my current credit card list and what airline and hotel loyalty programs I have elite status with.

Pre-churn cards (oldest to newest):

  • Bank of America World Points Visa
  • Amex Premier Rewards Gold
  • Amex Business Gold
  • Chase Southwest Visa
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Chase Freedom
  • Amex Business Platinum

Loyalty Elite Status

  • US Airways Gold
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Silver
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum
  • Hilton Honors Gold
  • Priority Club Gold

As you can see, I have elite status with two Star Alliance members and at least mid-tier status with three hotel programs. I’m also pretty well spread out among Amex and Chase credit cards.

Now, here’s the list of which cards I was considering for my churn:

  • Citi AAdvantage Visa and Citi AAdvantage American Express cards using the two browser trick (50K points each after $3K each in 4 months; 100K total)
  • Chase Ink Bold with Ultimate Rewards (50K points after $10K in 3 months)
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Personal (limited time 30K after $5K in 6 months)
  • Chase United MileagePlus Explorer (50K after $1K in 3 months)
  • Barclay’s US Airways Dividend Miles Mastercard (40K after first purchase, 10K every anniversary)
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card (2 free weekend nights anywhere and automatic Gold status after $2.5K in 3 months)

Here’s my detailed thought process in the exact order that I thought about it:

  1. I know I’m getting the Ink Bold card for sure. It’s a powerful card that can provide 5 points per dollar on nearly every purchase (more on this in a future post).
  2. Unfortunately, the spend requirement for the Ink Bold is $10K in 3 months, so my remaining cards have to make it relatively easy to hit the spend requirements.
  3. I immediately eliminated the Citi American Airlines cards. Adding another $6K in 4 months didn’t sound feasible for me, plus I’ve seen those bonuses as high as 75K each in the past. I’ll pass on these.
  4. I’m already an SPG Platinum member, and I could definitely make use of the benefits. The $5K spend is high, but I have 6 months to do it, which definitely seems reasonable. I’m picking this card up for sure now.
  5. So far, I’ve picked one Chase and one Amex card. Maybe I should diversify.
  6. The Barclays US Airways card seems perfect at the moment. It’s a different bank, gives the bonus on the first purchase, and is the card for the airline I have elite status with. This is going to be my third card.
  7. I may not apply for a fourth card if the first three approvals don’t go as planned, but in case they do, I want to be ready. My last two options are the Chase United card or the Citi Hilton Card.
  8. The Chase United card has a lower spend requirement, which is very attractive. But I also have a lot of Chase cards already. The Citi Hilton card has a great perk in that it gives Gold status automatically, but I already have that. The two weekend nights would be great, but they’re a little inflexible since they have to be on the weekend.
  9. I’ll go with the Chase United card to continue to stockpile Star Alliance points, and hopefully Chase won’t mind one personal and one business card in the same day.

Now that I’ve picked the cards, it’s time to start applying right? Well, not for me…not just yet. I wanted to pick the order in which I was going to apply. Am I over-thinking this? Maybe…but I wanted to plan for a scenario in which I would end up getting denied a card and unable to get all  four. Here’s what I was thinking, and my thought process is definitely debatable:

  1. Chase business cards almost always get a “pending” decision. For this reason I’ll leave the Ink Bold for last, even though it’s the one I want the most.
  2. I have a good relationship with Chase already, so I’ll go for the Chase United card first.
  3. The card I wanted most after the Ink Bold is the SPG Amex card, and I have a good history with Amex. I’ll make this my second card.
  4. The Barclays US Airways card is kind of my wildcard…not sure how this one will work out. It will be my last personal card application today.
  5. I’ll apply for the Ink Bold last, regardless of what happens earlier.

Note that if I got denied on any of the first 3, it would have completely thrown off this plan. If I got denied on either one of the first two cards I definitely would not go for the US Airways card.

Thankfully I was approved for all four cards, and three have already arrived. I’m now in the process of carefully laying out my plan for meeting the rather heavy spend requirements of $11K in the first 3 months (Ink Bold and Chase United) and $5K in the three months after that (SPG Amex). I can always buy a pack of gum with the US Airways card since the bonus is given on the first purchase.

I’ll be sure to explain my plan for meeting the minimum spend requirements since that is always one of the main questions beginners have. Spending $10K in 3 months for a signup bonus sounds extremely daunting if you’re not a big spender, but believe me…I’m anything but a big spender (ask my friends).

In my next post I’ll be sure to explain the reconsideration hotline numbers that I’ve mentioned in my earlier posts, and how my experience went with the Chase Ink Bold reconsideration call.

 

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