My credit card churn dilemma

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When the best laid plans go awry due to too much opportunity… 

My intent this year was to go easy on new credit card signups and focus instead on earning elite status, points, and miles through gift card churns and other schemes.  Of course, I always knew that if a giant signup bonus offer came my way I would leap on it.  Plus, there are still several cards I want that I don’t yet have.  For example, both the new Chase Ink Bold (I have the old one) and the Chase Freedom would be excellent compliments to my Sapphire Preferred for earning Ultimate Rewards points.  And, I’m still tempted to follow through on the Hacking Hyatt idea, but that would require the Chase Hyatt card.  And, that’s not all!  The Hilton HHonors cards are tempting because of their very generous bonus categories.  I also like the bonus categories available for the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card…

My plan had been that once a great new offer came along, I would signup for it and pile on a couple of other credit card signups on the same day.  I thought the plan was simple until reality struck:

The Offer

A few weeks ago a giant offer showed up in my mailbox:

100,000 Membership Rewards Points

I was given a targeted offer of 100K Membership Rewards points to signup for the business version of the American Express Platinum card.  Even though the card costs $450, this signup is a no-brainer.  The card pays for Global Entry which I’ve been meaning to get anyway so I’ll save $100 there.  Plus, the card offers $200 back for incidental airline fees each year.  I’ll make sure to use all $200 in 2012, and again in the beginning of 2013 for a total of $400 back!  The card also provides airport club access.  That will be nice if/when I fly airlines other than Delta (my Delta Reserve card provides Delta Sky Club access).  And, maybe I’ll even take advantage of the Fine Hotels and Resorts program.  We’ll see.

The main downside is that to get the 100K points, I will need to spend $10K on the card by June 8th.  By itself, that wouldn’t be too hard for me (thanks to gift card churning, free after rebate software, etc.).  But, with my ambitious goals for spending $110K this year on my Delta cards, this will be a bit of a stretch.  This one is too good to pass up, though, so if I have to I’ll scale back spending on my Delta Platinum card.

So, what is the dilemma?  Shouldn’t I go ahead and pick a couple more cards to signup for and get it over with?  Well, American Express gave me until March 10th to apply.  I’ve been waiting to see if another mega-offer comes along before pulling the trigger.  My thought was that if I wait until March 10th I might have yet another great offer to add to my one day app signup.  Plus, there have been rumors of a Capital One offer coming soon…

The Rumor

Last year, Capital One launched a big promotion in which new Venture cardholders would be given points equal to the number of miles they held in a major airline program, up to 100K.  Plus, they would get a 10K signup bonus.  So, naturally, frequent flyers jumped on this offer to get 110,000 points worth $1100 in travel.

Lately, there have been several hints and rumors that the Capital One offer will return soon!  See, for example, this thread on FlyerTalk.  I didn’t get the card last year, but I would love to do so this year.  Even better would be to get both the personal and business cards for a total of 220,000 points!

So, far, so good, right?  All I have to do is wait until March 10th to apply for the Amex card and hope that the Capital One offer comes out before then.  I was happy with that plan until I read this post in the same FlyerTalk thread:

..The terms are not known yet but the ads are going to start running around March 11th

March 11!  If this is true, the Capital One promotion will start one day after my targeted Amex offer ends!

Decision Time

One option is for me to signup for the Amex card as soon as possible so that I can let a month or so go by before signing up for the Capital One card.  With that option, I think I’m better off signing up for the Amex by itself without doing any other signups that day.  That way, when Capital One looks at my credit report they’ll see only one recent signup.

Another option is to apply for the Amex and a couple of other cards right now, and hope that the Capital One offer (if it really exists) will still be available about 3 months later.  That way I can keep to a regular 3 month cycle of credit apps.

Of course, it’s quite possible that the March 11th start date is wrong.  If it actually starts earlier, I’d hate to miss out on signing up early.  It does seem like a reasonable start date, though:  Last year, Gary of View from the Wing first wrote about the promo on March 9th.

What would you do in this circumstance?  What do you think I should do?  Please, comment below!

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