My strategy given BOA 2/3/4 rule


You may have read this week that Doctor of Credit has confirmed a new rule with regard to Bank of America approvals that is being dubbed the 2/3/4 rule. Greg is currently on vacation, eating his way through Italy on what looks like an epic food tour. At any rate, I’m sure he may have some analysis on the new rule when he returns next week. In the meantime, here’s my strategy going forward.

2/3/4 Explained

First, an explanation for those who may have missed it: it has been confirmed by a source within BOA that there is a new rule at play for Bank of America credit card application approvals. According to this new rule, you will only be approved for a maximum of:

  • 2 new Bank of America cards within a 2-month period
  • 3 new Bank of America cards within a 12-month period
  • 4 new Bank of America cards within a 24-month period

Unlike the Chase 5/24 rule, this rule does not appear to consider cards from other banks, at least with regard to instant computer decisions. If your application goes pending and needs manual review, it is always possible that a human might additionally consider the number of accounts you have opened with other banks. Interestingly, business cards do not count towards this rule. Also notable is that Doctor of Credit reports that it may be possible to get around these rules via reconsideration if you have a significant relationship with the bank and a good reason for an additional card, though most data points indicate the rule is being pretty closely enforced.

My current status

I’m currently in an interesting place. When the Chase Sapphire Reserve came out last fall, I realized that I was only about a year from being under 5/24 if I continued to focus on business cards. With a good number of decent business card offers on the market, it didn’t seem unreasonable to take a break for a year and get under 5/24 so I could grab some of the Chase cards I’d like to have. At this point, I am at 2/24 on personal cards and 0/24 on Bank of America cards.

That’s an exciting place to be in terms of having a blank canvas. I have been holding off at the moment, waiting to see if Chase bumps up the offers on any of their cards as we head into the holiday shopping season. I intend to give them another month before I make any decisions on Chase cards. Ideally, I’ll fill out my 5/24 slots by year end.

But once I’ve exhausted my 5/24 slots, I’ll be looking to other banks… here’s looking at you, Bank of America.

The cards I’ll apply for to hit 3/12 with BOA

The nice thing about Bank of America is that they do not seem to be counting BOA business card approvals in the rule. That’s great because it means I can open an Alaska Airlines business card without taking up a slot — something I am likely to pair with a personal card on the first application day just to pick up an easy 30K Alaska miles. I’ll probably apply for the first two of my three personal cards within 30 days of each other since BOA generally uses one hard pull for applications within a 30-day window. Then I’ll have to wait a couple of months to open my third personal card. Right now, I’m probably looking at January for the first two personal cards + 1 business card. The third card will depend on the return of the signup bonus. Anyway, here are the cards on my mind:

The first personal card I’m going to apply for will be the Asiana Airlines Visa Signature card, and this is the one I’m probably most attracted by. As many readers might know, my wife and I are expecting our first child in January 2018. In January 2017, I redeemed a Starwood Nights & Flights package. I didn’t have an immediate use for the 5-night package at the time, so I booked out as far as I could — which was summer 2018. At this point, we have a 5-night hotel stay booked in Europe and are tentatively planning Baby Reyes’s first international adventure next summer. Asiana fits nicely into that plan as their program has two interesting things going for it: business and first class to Europe cost 40K/50K miles one-way, respectively (compare that to 70K/110K for partner awards with United miles). Second, they charge 10% of the mileage cost (plus taxes & fees) for an infant. Many programs charge 10% of the revenue cost for a lap infant on an international award. Paying just 4K or 5K miles for the baby would be yuge. They do assess fuel surcharges on most partners, so we’ll have to choose carefully. The signup bonus on the card is currently 30K miles after $3K spend. Gas and grocery purchases earn 2x so I’ll plan on doing about $7K in gas and grocery spend on the card and I’ll have enough miles for 1 adult and 1 infant in business class.

The second personal card I want (though perhaps the third one I’ll apply for) will have to be the Bank of America Premium Rewards. While I generally prefer miles and points to straight cash back (since I often stretch the value of the miles well beyond the value of cash back), it’s hard to ignore it when the bank is waiving $500 in front of you. Having this card will also put me in position to switch up strategies if we were to find out that the 4.59% cash back everywhere angle actually works, despite our expectations otherwise. However, I may switch the order here and apply for this one last if the next offer comes around again soon…..

The third personal card on my radar, though not currently available, is a “90K” offer on a Virgin Atlantic black card. Greg has previously delved pretty deeply into this card (See: Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard Deep Dive: Maximize Earnings and Status). The short version of the story is this: First, racking up a net 2.1 miles per dollar is pretty solid even though their miles can be somewhat challenging to use. Second, Greg’s pursuit of Virgin Duckies might be rubbing off on me. We might consider one of the African properties if prices stay the same into 2019 or 2020. It’s crazy to plan to accumulate miles now to hold them that long — but we’ll keep our eyes out for devaluations and adjust accordingly. Getting this card soon would enable me to do the spend required for Silver status and position myself should we decide to go after it. And if not, we’ll find a use for the Virgin Atlantic miles. That said, the higher offer comes and goes and isn’t around on this card right now. If I’m feeling frisky, I may go for the Asiana Business card as well in round three as I think I’ll value Asiana miles (at least while I have an infant) more than the other currently available business card bonuses…though I’d love to see at least a slightly higher bonus than the current 10K on that card.

Why not the Alaska Airlines personal card?

Update: The following offer for the SPG Business Credit Card has expired. See our Best Offers page for current offer information.

While part of me thinks I’d love to have the $0 companion fare certificate currently being offered on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature (personal) card, the truth is that I don’t anticipate putting it to use next year. I love Alaska miles and certainly wouldn’t turn down an extra 30K. However, my wife has never had either of the Starwood cards. I think I’m going to have her apply for the SPG Business card. At the time of writing, the total signup bonus on that card is 35K Starpoints after $10K spend. After meeting the required spend, she’ll have 45K Starpoints. Every 20K Starpoints can transfer to 25K Alaska Miles — so she’ll have enough points for about 55,000 Alaska miles. Additionally, from an everyday spend perspective, the SPG card makes more sense for accumulating Alaska miles than the Alaska card does due to the 20K:25K transfer bonus. By having SPG points, we’ll also have the ability to transfer to Asiana should that make more sense for us. I’d like another 30K Alaska miles as much as the next guy, but if I’m limited to 3 personal cards in 12 months, I think I’ll sacrifice this card, at least for 12 months. This may become my 4th in 24 months, unless I decide to go for Virgin Atlantic Gold with two cards…but that’s not in the master plan at the moment.

Reader input

What do you think? If you were at 0/24 with BOA right now, which 3 cards would be in your plan this year? What would your order be? Let me know in the comments.

Bottom line

This new rule is the latest in restrictions meant to slow down those of us who would like to open cards every day if the banks would let us. Thankfully, Bank of America seems to be taking a slightly more reasonable approach in the sense that they are only counting the number of new Bank of America cards you’ve opened, rather than blocking those who have opened accounts with other banks (a la Chase 5/24). This move seems a bit more customer-friendly, if more restrictive than our ideal world. While the change will be disappointing tot hose who were used to opening some of the the BOA cards with regularity, it’s nice that we won’t be shut out entirely. This change will modify my strategy a bit, but I’ll still be going after the cards I ultimately wanted — just perhaps a bit more methodically than I may have otherwise planned them.

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