For the first time In My Life, I was denied personal credit. And it hurt. Even though it’s partly my own fault; I did not heed the warnings of those who had gone before me. I just went in, balls to the wall, full of arrogance and my 808 credit score and was promptly shot down.
Let back up a bit, for some context.
Back in June, many bloggers (like MMS, and Mommy Points) and Flyer Talk reported that Chase was cracking down on approving applications for people who they felt had opened too many new accounts in the past 24 months. And this is from ANY bank! Not just Chase.
At that time it seemed to mostly affect Ultimate Rewards earning cards such as Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred. The airline and hotel cards (United, Marriott, Holiday Inn etc) issued by Chase seemed to be ok for a while.
I had a busy summer. I spent it with my family and we went on a few great trips. I did not spend as much time as I maybe should have reading blogs and Flyer Talk (or updating my own blog). So I knew Chase had tightened up, but I really didn’t think about it possibly getting worse.
I booked Australia!
(yay! I’ll tell you about it later!) Yes I did manage to get that done over the summer. In fact, I booked my flight to Australia using the Delta Mobile app on my phone while we were driving down to Mammoth Cave. If you know me at all, you know I am not comfortable doing things like that anywhere but my ginormous desktop computer. Mobile sites just make me uneasy for some reason. ANYWAY I am going to need some United miles and British Airways Avios for traveling within Australia and to get from Australia to Thailand. (yes, I’ve added a whole ‘nother trip to Australia) So I thought this would be a good time to apply for the British Airways card for myself and the United Card for Matthew. Both had 50,000 mile sign up bonuses which would more than cover what I needed.
I applied online using a friend’s link for the British Airways card and got the dreaded screen telling me to call in to further process my application. I didn’t think much of it. Most of my applications have been automatically approved, but I have had to call in a couple of times to verify information.
After verifying my address, SSN and phone number, the Chase agent started getting serious. She asked about the income I stated on the application and where it comes from. I told her most of it was from my husband, but a small percentage of it was mine from self-employment. She asked what my “self- employment” was. I told her I was a part time tour guide. (this is true) Then she put me on hold for what felt like forever while she “reviewed my credit history”. This is when I started to sweat. She told me I had applied for 9 cards in the past 12 months. This is not true. And I am almost positive she said 12 months and not 24 months. She then asked “Why did you apply for so many cards? Why do you need so much open credit?” I told her I don’t need that much open credit and I would be happy to shift some around to open this card. She was having none of it and said I would not be approved. I asked if I could close the Southwest card to get this one open. She said “No. You have more than enough credit for your needs”
Wow. She was tough. And she was not backing down. I asked if being an Authorized User on my husband’s cards was counting in this denial and she said “No.” Good thing, because that would have probably put me over 20!
I have always said I am a CONSERVATIVE credit card churner and “Manufactured Spender”. And I still believe that to be true.
In the interest of full disclosure, let’s look at how many cards I have actually applied (and been approved!) for since August 2013.
August 2013 – SPG Amex
Sept 2013 – Citi AA Visa (closed), Barclays Frontier MC (closed)
March 2014 – Citi AA Executive (closed), Chase Sapphire Preferred, US Bank Club Carlson Visa
June 2014 – Wells Fargo Amex (closed)
August 2014 – Skymiles Business Gold Amex (Business card should not be counted), Chase Marriott (closed)
December 2014 – Chase Southwest Personal
January 2015 – Chase Southwest Business (again, Business card)
June 2015 – Citi AA Mastercard, BoA Alaska Airlines Visa, Barclays Frontier MC
Ok. That’s 14 cards in the past 24 months. But 2 business cards should not count. So that’s 12. She said 9. I’m thinking maybe she did not count or see the ones from August and Sept 2013. That would make the count accurate.
I’m a little torn over what to do now. Should I just lay low and not apply for any cards until maybe mid-2016? That way many of my apps will drop off. Or should I apply for cards from other banks before the whole thing explodes? I am leaning toward the last option.
I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I really think this game is dying. I know when something dies, something new always comes along. Every once in a while someone will say, “Do you remember a few years ago when everybody was buying coins from the US Mint?” Well, I think a few years from now people will say, “Do you remember when everybody was getting hundreds of thousands of miles from credit card sign up bonuses? Ah..those were the days”
I mean, look at what has happened recently. American Express limits sign up bonuses to once per card per lifetime. Citibank will not give a bonus if you have opened or closed the same card in the past 18 months. And now Chase is not approving applications if you have opened more than 5 cards in the past 24 months. What’s next? Will they all eventually go the same way as American Express? Once per lifetime?
So I think this might be the time to just go for it. Grab what you can and be happy with what you get before the bottom falls out. And it will. If this hobby had remained a secret society, things might still be easy. But you’ve got too many big name bloggers spewing all the down and dirty details. Mommy Points was on Nightline for crying out loud! And even with all the approval crackdowns, they are still pimping their Chase Credit Card affiliate links. At least the newbies can get some miles.
Sorry. I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom. I think the Chase denial just got to me. Just last month I went through all the trouble of opening a new checking account with Chase and giving up a 20 year relationship with my credit union! Chase offered me $300 to do this, but that’s beside the point. I also haven’t completely cut the cord with my credit union and after this mess, I probably won’t.
So let’s see what happens next. I’m still $10 ahead from my last MS adventure with ordering American Express gift cards. (Oh yeah…you know the portals stopped paying out cash back, right?) So I think I will buy a couple Visa Gift Cards with my Chase Sapphire and load them to RedBird. That will give me 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points. I need all I can get to transfer to United! After that…who knows. If I decide to apply for some different cards in the next couple weeks, I will let you know.