New BOA approval process and a stumble on my way to Necker Island

BOA approval processIn my crazy quest to get 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles for a trip to Richard Branson’s private Necker Island, I previously signed up for four Virgin Atlantic credit cards at once.  Thanks mostly to REDbird, I quickly met the spend requirements and earned about 90,000 miles per card.  I then signed up for a 150K Amex Business Platinum card offer in May.  Since Amex often has 30% to 35% transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic, this potentially added over 220,000 Virgin Atlantic miles to the pot.  Awesome… I was already about half way there!

Then, a month went by with no new influx of Virgin Atlantic miles.  I was starting to get itchy for more.  I had planned to wait 91+ days before applying for more credit cards.  With many banks, that seems to be the magic amount of time that lessens the impact of prior applications.  But, I was impatient.  In late June, I decided to give it a try early.  On the day I went to apply, though, I discovered that the application link was no longer working, so I put it off.

Then, on July 1, MileCards reported a working link to the 75K Virgin Atlantic offer (the offer is advertised as 90K, but I describe it as 75K since the additional 15K is dependent upon an annual big spend bonus).  If I had bothered to look at the calendar, I would have waited a few weeks.  July 16th would have marked 91 days since my prior applications.  Instead, I was reckless and jumped the gun.

Application plan

My plan was as follows:

  1. Sign up for one card and ensure approval (e.g. call to get approved if not instantly approved)
  2. If step 1 goes well, then sign up for two cards and call for approval
  3. If step 2 goes well, then sign up for two more cards and call for approval

Honestly, I probably would have kept going until failure, but as it happened, failure came early….

New BOA approval process

According to the plan, above, I applied for one card.  I didn’t receive instant approval, so I called.  After a few minutes on the phone I was told that I was approved with a $20K credit line.  Score!

Next, I submitted two applications for the same card.  I didn’t receive instant approval, so I called.  Both applications were denied.  I was told that I had opened too many cards in the past 90 days.  I waited a while and called a couple more times (sometimes you can get a different answer from a different analyst).  I heard the same story from each.

The last person I talked with gave me a bit more information.  She said that there has recently been a change to their approval process.  She said that they can’t approve a person who has submitted too many applications within the past 90 days.  I asked her whether the number of applications were the issue or the number of new accounts, but she said that she couldn’t divulge that much information.

Applications vs. New Accounts

Obviously I should have waited 91 days and I probably then would have been more successful.  Now, I’m in a bit of a quandary.  I don’t know whether they look primarily at applications or new accounts.  If they look primarily at applications, then I’ll have to wait 91 days from my July 1 applications, since they’ll see that I submitted three new applications at that time.  If they look primarily at new accounts, I could apply for more as early as July 16th since I then would only have one new account in the past 90 days.

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that the rule is based on applications not new accounts.  The Bank of America Application Status Center shows all recent applications that have been approved or denied.  My bet is that the analysts see the same information… and more.  That means that I’ll have to wait until September 30th to apply for more Bank of America cards.  That’s quite a setback.

Next steps

After meeting the $12K spend requirement for my new Virgin Atlantic card, I’ll have about 450,000 miles banked.  That would leave me 750,000 miles short of Necker Island.

Of course, I could transfer points from Starwood, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, or Citi ThankYou Rewards.  But, should I?

Starwood: Ha.  No way.  SPG points are far too valuable.

Chase Ultimate Rewards: Again, no way. As with SPG, I value these points too highly.

Amex Membership Rewards:  Only with a 30% or higher transfer bonus.  I don’t use my Membership Rewards points often, but I like having the option of using them for high value transfers to airline programs.  And, I don’t see Virgin Atlantic as a high value transfer.  So, I’ll wait and see if/when Amex introduces a new transfer bonus.  When that happens, I’ll have a tough decision to make.

Citi ThankYou Rewards: Here’s where I’m having the most trouble deciding what to do.  On the one hand, I highly value ThankYou Rewards (especially for the ability to use points for 1.6 cents per point value towards AA flights, thanks to my Prestige card).  On the other hand, I’ve found that ThankYou points are incredibly easy to earn thanks to big signup bonuses, great category bonuses, big retention offers, etc.

I need to answer the ThankYou question by August 23rd.  As I reported via Quick Deals, Citi is currently offering a 25% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic, but the deal ends August 23rd.  How many points should I transfer?  600,000 ThankYou points would be enough to complete my mission.  But, that’s a huge amount of missed opportunity!  600,000 ThankYou points could be used for $9,600 worth of AA flights.  Ouch.

Calculating miles per dollar

With the Virgin Atlantic 90K-ish offer, $12K of spend and the addition of two authorized users results in a total of 93,000 miles.  That amounts to an overall earning rate of 7.75 miles per dollar (93K / $12K).  In an earlier post, I demonstrated why the Amex Business Platinum offer I signed up for was a better use of my spend.  Even without a transfer bonus, the spend required for that card resulted in 8.5 points per dollar.  With a 30% transfer bonus, it would be about 11 miles per dollar.

Let’s look at a few Citi ThankYou offers the same way:

Retention bonus: Until mid August, I have an active retention bonus on my Citi Forward card. I’m earning an extra 2 points per dollar for all spend.  So, for non-bonus spend, I’m earning 3 points per dollar.  If I transfer those points to Virgin Atlantic while the 25% transfer bonus is in place, that will increase my effective earning rate to 3.75 Virgin Atlantic miles per dollar.  That’s clearly not as good as the Virgin Atlantic signup offers.

Citi ThankYou Premier / Prestige signup offers: For each of these cards, Citi is currently offering 50,000 points after $3K spend.  If that $3K spend doesn’t involve category bonuses, then the cardholder would end up with 53,000 points.  If the points were then transferred to Virgin Atlantic while the 25% transfer bonus is in place, the cardholder would end up with 66,250 miles.  66,250 / $3000 = 22 miles per dollar.  That’s a pretty fantastic earning rate.

I could sign up for the Citi Premier card myself and the Premier or the Prestige card for my wife.  But, I would have to hurry.  The transfer bonus ends on August 23rd.  I’m not at all sure that I would get the points in time even if I met the spend requirement on day 1.  Still, it can never hurt to earn additional ThankYou points!

My plan

At this point, I think I will simply wait until September 30th to apply for additional cards.  I have until August 23rd to decide whether to transfer ThankYou points.  My leaning right now is not to.  Maybe I’ll change my mind by then, though.  We’ll see.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. […] Frequent Miler and Doctor of Credit recently wrote about approval issues from Bank of America.  I recently converted my Bank of America Alaska Airlines Credit Card to a Bank of America Better Balance Rewards Credit Card and I still have a Bank of America Virgin Atlantic Credit Card open.  I will try for another Bank of America Alaska Airlines Credit Card and hopefully I will get automatically approved for the Visa Signature version offering 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles on approval, with a $75 annual fee.  The public offer does not have any spending requirements. […]

Comments

  1. Sure wish they’d waive the AF on the VA card. Or give a statement credit offer like they do on the AS card. If they did, I’d be all over that card!

    In 3 years of being involved in the hobby, our churn team has earned over 15 million miles/points, w/o ever having paid an AF. Kind of a rule of ours. But with all the recent changes at the CC issuers re: churning, we may have to start bending that rule…

      • Well, it’s been fun using them, for sure! And truly, FM has helped immeasurably with the hobby.

        But…times, they are a changing! CC churnability appears to be drastically hampered now, both here and in Canada, where I double dip. FYI, Amex Canada has now implemented the “1 personal card per lifetime” rule as of Canada Day, so…I may need to start focusing more on spending the miles now than earning them!

        • Agree, it’s getting more and more difficult. Just found out that Staples has discontinued $200 visa gift cards 🙁

          Travel is Free blog is excellent for info on redeeming miles / points

    • nice! how big of a team is this? 15 mil total or avg 5mil a yr for 2 ppl is impressive. not so much if you got 10 fam members at it lol.

  2. Does this mean churning BOA cards is dead? This data point, along with the reports of Alaska shutting down Mileage Plan accounts for too many credit cards, seems to make me think multiple BOA cards may be a thing of the past. I had an odd comment from an AS agent over the weekend, as I was booking some award flights using miles from both my wife and I’s accounts. She explicitly mentioned that we both had three cards each; what an odd statement to make when trying to book an award ticket.

    I am also curious: do you think this is for too many BOA applications or apps in general? Also, how long do you typically keep your BOA accounts open before canceling?

    • I don’t think its dead, but it does seem to be hobbled.
      I think this is specific to too many BOA applications.
      I don’t have a standard length of time I keep the cards open for. My guess is that it would look good to BOA to keep them open for a while and put regular spend on them, but I don’t have any way to know if they would really look at that or care.

  3. BofA base it off hard pulls from your credit bureau, unless something changed since June. My success rate has always been do all applications in one day, 91+ days apart. You can pick up couple personal cards and a business card. Experian will pull all of these together and make it one hard pull. Of course, YMMV and last time I done it was 6/12/15, so maybe something has changed.

    Good luck,

    PedroNY

  4. Multiple reports of BoA closing down ALL of one’s BoA’s accounts if you have recently done an AoR with them (Adverse Action). Shutdowns includes BoA / FIA — even CC’s that you’ve had with them for 1+ year.

  5. Not sure waiting 91 days would have helped. I applied for 2 AS cards at the same time on same day and was instantly approved for 1st and pending for second. I called in and was told I had enough existing credit with them. I asked then to move some credit around and was told no — I couldn’t get 2 cards in same day (not sure what would’ve happened if it was 2 different cards). I called back and was told the same thing – rep even notated who I already spoke to and what she said to me. Things they are a changing.

      • I’ve always wondered, when everyone advises us to “HUCA” (hang up, call again), don’t these reps make notes on the call? Most call centers I deal with keep track of customer calls and make notes. I KNOW that AMEX does so. I’ve had more than one customer service rep tell me who I’ve spoken with before and when.

  6. I only have the travel rewards card from B of A, but I was planning on getting the Fidelity Amex and Alaska on the same day. What do people think?

  7. Ummm, you know they do sell vacations to necker.. It would take less effort and you could fulfill a credit card spend. Soo theres that..

  8. Don’t you think having bloggers blog about getting dozens of boa cards to insanely go to Necker Island is giving BOA idea’s about how to stop this nonsense?

    • Yes, I agree. I don’t think today’s post hurts, but I don’t think I should have published the post about getting 4 cards in one day. There’s a tough balancing act between wanting to share great deals and trying not to kill them. I admit that I don’t always get the balance right.

  9. I received a letter from Amex today, saying effective Oct 1 2015, when transferring points from Amex Membership rewards to British Airways and Iberia, the number of Avios you receive will change: for every 250 Membership Rewards you transfer to British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus programs, you will receive 200 Avios. This means if you want to transfer to Avios do it before Oct 1.

  10. I think no discussion of this is complete without mentioning the damage that Million Mile Secrets did with his post. But then again, you made a similar post.

    • There was someone in that blog’s comments who applied for 16 of them in one day and got approved for 14 or so. As long as people use miles for themselves, it’s ok, but when too many start reselling and use it as a means of supplemental income it becomes a problem.

  11. Just finished my churn, applied for Alaska for the first time:

    Alaska Business – under review
    Alaska Personal – approved instantly
    Virgin Atlantic – declined

    Looks like the policy of one personal card is applicable for all BoA cards now and not just one type of card. I churned after Feb since I was refinancing in between so no reason for too many cards / applications.

  12. As to transferring citi points versus redeeming for AA flights, it seems a little late to be thinking about missed opportunities now – the whole Necker Island idea has a lot of opportunity cost but it is entertaining!

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