Update: Literally 5 minutes after I posted this, I got an e-mail from AAdvantage saying programs would start combine on March 28 (though no real details).
Most are savvy enough to have avoided these mistakes, but for relative newcomers here are a few reminders. Currently, you can get 100,000 AAdvantage miles pretty quickly with two credit card sign ups: the Barclays US Air card and the Citi AA Platinum card.
The theory is simple – sign up for the Barclays US Air card and get 50,000 US Air miles after first purchase ($89 annual fee not waived). Sign up for the Citi AA Platinum card and get 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3000 in three months. Once the programs merge (imminently!), you’ll have 103,000 AA miles, 7000 short of flying round trip to Hong Kong in Cathay business.
The problem is, if you’ve been in this game a lot, getting that Barclays approval is tough. Read some theories on how to improve your chances from Chasing the Points and Miles to Memories, then read about my unsuccessful attempt (I applied before I read either of those posts).
I made quite a few mistakes when I applied for my US Air card. For starters, I was applying for my third card. I knew it’d be a long shot but I hadn’t applied for a Barclays’ card for over six months so I figured it was worth a try. Barclays is all about the instant approval – if you have to call reconsideration you’re dead in the water more often than not. Especially if you’re going for your third card of the same product (and fourth overall). I applied and got the dreaded “pending” page, and pretty much was dead from there.
Let it be said that people have had success getting approved for a third card instantly, as I was informed on Twitter. Not me though.
@asthejoeflies Yep, got 'em in 2013, Nov '14 and again last Friday. Used diff offers each time (50k no anniv bonus, 50k w/ 10k anniv bonus)
— Brandon Hamada (@BrandonHamada) March 23, 2015
@asthejoeflies yes, wife and I both were approved for 3rd card last week
— James (@JamesStorie1) March 23, 2015
Well, I realize now I could have improved my chances by lowering my credit limit on one of my other cards. (Those guys didn’t, but I could have improved my chances if I had).
Other mistakes not to make are not using your card or applying more than once every six months – but Miles to Memories more or less has that stuff covered so I’ll leave it there.
After I finally got my rejection letter I called in – they specifically told me they wouldn’t give me a third card. I didn’t push it too hard, win some, lose some. I figured an easy 50K with no work was worth a hard pull on my Transunion score which never gets dinged (except by Barclays).
Applying for the Citi AA Platinum is a bit more straightforward. Nowadays, it seems like Citi won’t approve you for the card if you have opened or closed another AA Platinum card within the last 18 months – so you can screw that up easily if you don’t get your timing right.
Best practice is probably to open a card, get the 50K bonus, keep for 18 months, open a new card (Citi is great about moving credit lines around as long as you’re not breaking their arbitrary time rules), then close the old one (or keep it forever). That way you can get a new card every 18-19 months or so. I haven’t tried it personally but that’s what makes most sense to me (let me know in the comments if you’ve been successful or otherwise with something like this).
One thing to note for the truly new players in the game: a buddy of mine applied for the Citi AA card but didn’t have an AAdvantage account yet. Currently he’s not sure where his miles are. Theoretically, AA should have opened an account for him but if they did he can’t find it – he also opened his own AAdvantage account after getting the card. Anyway, I think it’s just simpler to enroll in AAdvantage first and then apply for the card.
AAdvantage miles are still some of the best miles out there – get them while they’re still hot! Just make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s along the way.