If you’re New to Miles and Points: Which Travel Cards to Apply For?

New to Miles and Points: Which Travel Credit Cards?

Which Travel Rewards Cards for Someone New to Miles and Points, Traveling Domestically Now But Later Internationally?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclay Arrival Card are probably the best two credit cards to start with if your new to Points and Miles.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus
  • Enables points from the reader’s Chase Freedom card to be transferred 1:1 to Ultimate Rewards partners such as United MileagePlus and Hyatt Gold Passport
  • 2.14X on all travel and dining spend: 2X points + 7% end of year points dividend
  • No foreign transaction fees
Barclays Arrival Card
  • 40,000 “miles” signup bonus = $440 refund on any travel expense from signup bonus and 10% rebate
  • Redeem for travel and get 10% of your “miles” back
  • When redeemed for travel, effectively 2.2% cash back with the flexibility to spend with any travel provider
  • No foreign transaction fees
If I Close a Card Will It Impact Getting Approved for Another Card for That Issuer?
It could, so I would NOT close a credit card right before applying for another card from that issuer; instead, apply for the new card first, and then, after getting approved, close the other card. The other reason for doing this is that you don’t want to lose the credit line you’ve been given by that issuer–it may help you get approved for the new card(s) you’re applying for.
Should I Apply for Two (or More) Credit Cards on the Same Day?
 
Yes, I definitely recommend applying for two or more credit cards on the same day, then waiting several months before applying for any more credit cards. If you’re applying for two personal cards from the same issuer, the credit score pulls may be combined, resulting in fewer points off your credit score. Even if the cards are from different issuers, the advantage of doing your applications on the same day, as close in time as possible, is that then the issuers don’t see the other credit applications you’ve made, so you’re less likely to be denied for “too many recent credit inquiries.”
How Many Cards Can I Apply for At One Time Without It Impacting My Credit Score?
There will be some impact on your credit score–when you apply for a new credit card, a credit inquiry can take 1-5 points off your credit score, and the number of points can be higher for those who have shorter credit histories or only a few accounts. So there’s really no way to apply for new credit cards without impacting your credit score.
The good news is that, as I mentioned above, by applying on the same day for a couple similar type of cards (e.g. both personal, or both business) from the same issuer, credit inquiries can be merged, reducing the impact to your score. And over the long term, by gradually building up your credit lines and credit history while keeping low credit utilization and always paying in full and on time, individual inquiries can have less of an impact, and a long credit history and low utilization can help mitigate the temporary effect of the new credit inquiries. Typically the effect of the credit inquiries only lasts for about a year.
In general, I would advise that this is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re new to miles and points, I *don’t* advise going out and applying for 5 or more new cards every 3 months–I would instead make a list of 3-6 cards that make the most sense for you, given your travel preferences and goals, and applying for those 3-6 cards over the course of the next year, say in 2 application days spread 6 months apart. This may be conservative, but it also lets you gradually ramp up with much less risk of getting declined, plus gives you time to meet minimum spend and manage the new cards without feeling overwhelmed.
Are There Any Other Credit Cards I Should Apply For?
 
I recommend that you diversify your miles and points to hedge against devaluation, give you flexibility when booking awards, access more airline partners, etc. and the top miles and points I recommend collecting are AAdvantage miles, Ultimate Rewards points/United miles, AMEX Membership Rewards points and SPG points.
Currently there’s a 50,000 AA mile offers for the the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa and for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard. So I’d recommend applying for one of those.
Another aspect to consider is what most of your spend is on, because, when not meeting minimum spend for new credit cards, you want to be able to leverage this spend with category bonuses. For example, much of my family’s spend is via Amazon, which makes the Ink Bold an important card to us, thanks to being able to buy Amazon gift cards at office supply stores to earn an effective 5x points on all Amazon spend.
 Is There a Hit to Your Credit Score When You Cancel Credit Cards?
There’s not a direct hit to your credit score when cancelling cards in terms of a few points being deducted simply because you cancelled, but it can lower your score if, as a result of cancelling, your credit card utilization increases due to having lower credit lines, even if your spend remains the same. That’s why I nearly always recommend moving your credit line to another credit card of that issuer that you still hold, *before* cancelling or closing a card. And don’t forget to try for a retention bonus before deciding whether to close a card or not–if you earn enough points from the retention bonus or receive an annual fee waiver, it’s often worth keeping the card open for another year, which in turn helps your average age of accounts and credit score.
For more information or questions please feel free to contact me!

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