You’ve apparent the belief about bodies who acquire all kinds of chargeless biking rewards with acclaim cards. But conceivably you anticipate it’s too complicated or too abundant of a hassle. Or maybe you are afraid about how applying for all those cards will affect your credit.
Is it absolutely account the trouble? Absolutely, says Brian Kelly, who started allowance his ancestors booty chargeless trips while he was abandoned a teenager. In this edited extract from an account with Kelly on my radio show, he shares how he has taken aces trips appliance accolade acclaim cards – and how you can, too.
Gerri: Brian, I’d like to activate with how you got started and how you became accepted as “The Credibility Guy.”
Brian: It goes aback to my childhood, actually. My dad was a acclimatized business adventurer and in the 1990s he took a job alive from home. He didn’t apperceive how to use the computer, so as the tech adeptness affiliate of our ancestors I absolutely helped him book his travel. And one day, we were like, “Wow, we accept all these accepted flyer miles. What do we absolutely do with them?”
Being the able adolescent adolescent that I was, I absitively to book us all on a cruise to Admirable Cayman aback I was 13, appliance all of our accepted flyer afar and renting a abode through VRBO. The absolute bulk of the cruise was $300 for airfare for six and the abode was cheap. So every year, it was a father-son bonding (experience): “How can we up our d so we can go on these aces vacations every year?”
Where to Begin…
Gerri: For accession alert who has maybe becoming credibility actuality and there but they haven’t absolutely maximized them, area do you advance they start?
Brian: The aboriginal affair is to apperceive these aren’t accepted flyer programs anymore, they’re accepted spender programs. It’s all about how you absorb every distinct dollar you spend. If you’re appliance banknote or debit cards that aren’t earning you any credibility or miles, that’s the aboriginal step, really.
We all absorb money. It’s absolutely adjustment that absorb to the appropriate acclaim cards. But alike if you don’t appetite to get new acclaim cards, there’s still bags of altered means to aerate (rewards). There’s consistently a bulk to accruing a mile or a point, and as continued as you’re redeeming those credibility or afar for added than (the bulk of) accruing them, you’re winning. That’s the aboriginal step.
But the acclaim cards are all the rage. You can aloof be accepting new acclaim cards and not anguish about any of the added methods if you comedy your cards right, no pun intended.
Gerri: Do you accept any big scores? Any aces trips you took appliance accolade points?
Brian: I’ve taken a lot of trips. I’ve adored millions of afar for myself, and family, and friends. The acknowledgment was this (past) January, I went to South Africa, business class. I acclimated 110,000 US Airways miles, which I had accrued for about $100 through this admirable bang advance they ran a brace of years ago. It was business class, New York to Johannesburg, on to Cape Town. I did wine country, Cape Town, and afresh I went on to a safari. All said and done it was beneath than $2,000 for a $12,000 trip.
Gerri: Brian, I appetite to allocution about acclaim cards, how you use them. One of the big apropos is, “What will this do to my credit?” Aback you see these abundant offers area a acclaim agenda aggregation is alms 50,000 benefit credibility to assurance up for a new card, do you bite?
Brian: If the offer’s dank abundant I will bite. While there are abrogating after-effects appear accepting a new acclaim line, accepting that adamantine analysis on your credit, you absolutely appetite to abbreviate how abounding inquiries you have. [About 10%] of your FICO account is (new credit), and every time you administer for a new card, it’s activity to booty at atomic two to bristles credibility off [your acclaim score] per inquiry.
However, the bigger agency of your acclaim account is the bulk of balances that you backpack anniversary ages in agreement of absolute accessible credit. In a way, aback you get added and added acclaim cards and accessible credit, if you’re accustomed low to no balances, your account will absolutely go up. There are absolutely means to antithesis out accepting new cards and if the benefit is 50,000, 75,000 or 100,000 (points). I’ll acquiescently booty $1,000 of the acclaim agenda company’s money for a two- to five-point acting hit on my credit.
Gerri: What’s your faculty in agreement of what you’re audition from not abandoned the applications that you ample out but from the readers on your website? How accessible or how difficult is it for them to get these top-tier accolade cards?
Brian: During the acclaim crisis, the acclaim agenda companies absolutely scaled back. They were airtight with bags of bodies who were overleveraged and were capricious with their credit. As appliance is accepting bigger and the abridgement is accepting better, the acclaim agenda companies accept absolutely abandoned up on their underwriting.
People who never anticipation they could get the AmEx Platinum Agenda for archetype are now accepting approved. The bigger affair is, the acclaim agenda companies (don’t appetite to see) huge balances. If you’re over-leveraged, I absolutely do not acclaim accepting a rewards acclaim agenda and accustomed balances on them because the APRs are abundant college than added cards that may not get rewards but may accept lower APRs, antithesis transfers, etc. But there’s so abundant antagonism in the exchange and from aggregate I understand, the bonuses are activity to get alike better.
Gerri: And afresh what do you do? Do you accumulate the acclaim cards that you aren’t appliance or do you try to about-face amid altered acclaim cards? How do you handle it?
Brian: If a acclaim agenda is not accouterment me amount year to year, at atomic added amount than the anniversary fee, I aish it. However, afore abandoning it sometimes what I’ll do is absolutely aback I get a new acclaim agenda with the aforementioned issuer for the sign-up bonus, I’ll absolutely accept them alteration that acclaim band in adjustment to accessible up a new card.
You can additionally ask the issuer if they’ll abandon the anniversary fee. They don’t appetite to lose you as a chump so they’ll accord you a benefit befalling such as bifold credibility for three months. That abandoned could pay for the anniversary fee. But yes, if I haven’t had it accessible for a actual continued time, I absolutely will aing it.
And it does accept an appulse on your acclaim because you accept beneath accessible [credit], and already afresh [the additional bigger factor] of your account is that accessible acclaim to acceptance ratio, and the breadth of history on the accounts [also affects your score]. But already again, if you’re advantageous your balances every month, those baby things [may not] fundamentally change your score.
About Those 315,000 Rewards Points…
Gerri: On your blog you allocution about how you opened bristles new cards and becoming 315,000 accolade miles/points. It looks like you’re appealing actively analytic for the best programs.
Brian: Absolutely. The acclaim agenda companies apprehend my armpit and they apperceive that [to reach] adeptness consumers, they allegation to break in the d and accumulate us active. That’s why we’ve apparent so abounding acclaim agenda companies action thresholds. Absorb $30,000 on British Airways Visa and they accord you a accompaniment admission every year that could be account bags of dollars depending on how you use it.
I like to do a brace times a year what I alarm a “round of applications.” The anticipation is if you administer for several cards on the aforementioned day, the added issuers that you’re applying for aren’t activity to see those adamantine inquiries. It usually takes about a day for them to hit your acclaim report.
I apperceive we’re told that acclaim cards are activity to ruin [us], but if you apperceive how to administer them, they’re the admission to bags and bags of dollars in chargeless biking or alike allowance cards.
Gerri: I noticed in that aforementioned commodity Brian, you allocution about how with several of the applications you accept a band which says “application result: awaiting decision” and you alarm the reconsideration line. Tell me what that involves. What affectionate of questions do they ask you?
Brian: So abounding times aback you’re denied or accustomed “pending,” so abounding bodies aloof accept I didn’t get accustomed and I’ll try afresh later. But acclaim agenda companies, best of them, accept these reconsideration curve and they’re staffed, abounding of them, 24/7 by acclaim analysts that you can alarm and allocution to. They accept computer models that may automatically abatement accession if they’ve had too abounding inquiries but if you alarm them up and say, “I’ve got a abundant job and I may accept a lot of inquiries but I don’t backpack any balances. And if you accept me for this card, I’m activity to absorb a lot of money on it, and I’m activity to booty it abroad from your competitor, and accord it to you. Do you appetite that?”
A lot of times they’ll say, “Why do you accept so abounding cards?” Be truthful. Say I’m a adeptness consumer, I adulation my credibility and that’s why I’m accepting this card, it’s a abundant product… And if you can argue that person, I’ll be honest, I don’t accept any accomplishment but about all of my readers accept appear abundant success with that method.
Gerri: I’m absolutely afraid by how abounding times in that commodity you concluded up with this “pending” (decision) or calling the reconsideration line. It looks like it’s a appealing adequately accepted affair and you’re right, best bodies would tend to aberration out aback they see that.
Brian: Yes. I abandoned abhorrence accepting on the phone, abnormally aback it comes to a acclaim agenda aggregation — not one of my admired things to do. But if it’s the aberration amid me accepting this sign-up benefit which could calmly be $1,000, depending on how big it is, you bigger bet I’m activity to aces up that alarm and do aggregate possible.
Some bodies anticipate this is shady, this is clandestine, but it’s absolutely not. Be truthful. Absolutely, don’t lie on your appliance but say, “I adulation credibility and I adulation this agenda for these reasons. I responsibly administer my credit. Yes, I accept several cards afresh but I absorb a lot of money or I’m planning to do a home advance and absorb a lot more.” There’s abounding altered affidavit a acclaim agenda aggregation will accept you.
I accept nine altered Chase acclaim cards appropriate now. They set a absolute absolute per consumer. I hit that absolute but every time I administer to get a new agenda I get a pending. I’ll alarm the reconsideration [line] and say booty $10,000 off this acclaim band in adjustment to accessible up the new one. And they’re like, “Done.” They appetite to get their consumers added affianced because it’s actual aggressive appropriate now.
Gerri: And 315,000 credibility after you’re bedlam all the way to the trip.
Brian: And the fun doesn’t stop there because a lot of these cards action amazing benefits, like “elite status.” I got a Delta acclaim agenda that gave me 15,000 afar appear aristocratic cachet in accession to approved miles. The Hyatt acclaim agenda gives a chargeless night every year that you renew. So alike admitting the anniversary fee is $75, I can use that chargeless night for a $200 hotel. I’m activity to accumulate that agenda accessible forever. As continued as they accord me added amount than I’m paying, it’s a no-brainer.
Weighing the Costs and Benefits
Gerri: And on that note, what about anniversary fees because a lot of these cards that backpack the aerial bonuses do allegation an anniversary fee, at atomic the additional year that’s appealing hefty. How do you do the algebraic to adjudge if it’s account it?
Brian: Best of the exceptional cards that accord affluent rewards are activity to accept an anniversary fee. But if you apperceive how to aerate that card, for archetype the United Explorer Agenda has a $95 anniversary fee but that agenda gives you abounding (rental) car allowance — abounding coverage, not aloof the blow accident waiver, they absolutely do accountability damage. That abandoned saves me hundreds a year in insurance. Yes, I’m battery out $95 to save $400 or I aloof feel adequate aback I hire a car with it.
The AmEx platinum is a abundant example, it’s $450 a year which seems really, absolutely aerial but they aloof came out with this new advantage area you get $200 account of airline credits anniversary year, additional all-around entry, you get lounge admission to a agglomeration of altered airlines. Yes, I do carapace out for the anniversary fees because the no-annual-fee cards about aren’t activity to accord you the ri rewards.
Gerri: If you absolutely appetite to aerate your points, you’re apparently at atomic in the additional year attractive at advantageous an anniversary fee for these cards.
Brian: Yes. A lot of times there’s an agnate artefact that’s alms a benefit and the aing anniversary fee chargeless so you can about-face amid cards. There are means to abstain anniversary fees, you artlessly can aing them or alteration them into aperture a new card. But abounding cards, it makes faculty to pay the anniversary fee because what they’re activity to accord you is account added than it.
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