When it comes to applying for new credit cards, my general strategy can be described as “throw it against the wall and see what sticks.” Obviously, I’m mindful of various rules the banks have and try not to waste hard pulls. But I’ve been surprised in the past when credit card approval seemed like a pipe dream (see my post on Capital One Venture X). And yet, that’s exactly what happened.
My goal is to use as much of our everyday spending towards new sign-up bonuses as possible. I’ve said many times that this is how you can get ahead in this hobby via least amount of effort. Unfortunately, once you collect enough new cards in a short time (referred to as LOL/24 in this community), you start getting rejected. And that’s exactly what’s been happening to us recently.
After meeting minimum spend on Bank of America Premium Rewards card (which should soon net us $500), it was time to select my new victim. As I’ve mentioned in the recent post, my goal right now is to focus on cash back bonuses whenever possible. Or flexible points, depending on the size of the bonus. The reason: meager savings after tying up most of our money in I-Bonds.
I’ve already tried applying for Capital One Venture card ($95 annual fee) and was rejected. It offers 75k points after spending $4k in first 3 months. This is one of the best deals in the hobby at the moment, as long as you don’t mind getting hit with three hard pulls. Capital One Venture Rewards Card application link (pays us commission).
My husband has Venture X product, but a quick search on the internet told me he can have both cards at the same time. So, we applied…and got rejected. No surprise there, I was actually shocked when he got approved for Venture X. That’s one of the reasons I’m reluctant to cancel that card, since it has so many great benefits.
Anyway, on to the next one. But what? We don’t qualify for most decent cards out there. We either had them, have them or have zero chance of getting them. Most cash back bonuses (attainable to me) hover around $200-$250, though I did discover a new product: Wells Fargo Autograph. You get $300 bonus after spending $1,500 in three months, zero annual fee. Non-Affiliate application link
The bonus wasn’t spectacular, but as the saying goes: “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is a king.” I’ve had good success with Wells Fargo in the past, so fully expected to be approved. Nope. Ditto for my husband. If Wells Fargo doesn’t want us, we have a problem.
But I’ve decided to do one last application, before hopefully taking a break for six months or so. And it wasn’t a cash back product, but Best Western Rewards Premium MasterCard. Non-affiliate application link
Why did I do that? It’s simple. I’m fairly certain that my profit from this card will exceed $250, which was my next best option. As far as I know, this is the highest-ever offer on Best Western product, and all these other small cash back bonuses will still be there later. I’m crazy, but not that crazy.
Nevertheless, I had such little hope of approval, I didn’t even join Best Western Rewards program before applying (more on that later). Lo and behold, I was approved! Now what? Well, now I plan to spend $5k, so I could get the initial bonus+extra points. I’m not sure if I will have to renew the card in order to collect the second portion. Please chime in if you know. The annual fee is $89, not waived.
Why I think this card is (kind of) underrated
I almost applied for this card four years ago, but then the program went through a nasty devaluation. The Florida property I was interested in doubled in cost via points, so I lost interest. But recently, I had to book a short stay in Paris and only had a month to find lodging.
I’ve researched various hotel programs where I had points, and nothing stood out. Out of curiosity, I looked at Best Western and was surprised to see many decent options. Some hotels occupy historic buildings and have lots of character. These are not your typical/generic Best Westerns you are used to seeing in the States.
I was a little sad that I didn’t have any Best Western points, as I would have definitely used them in Paris. In the end, I was very happy with Hotel Eiffel Blomet we stayed at, but it did cost me $800 for two nights.
However, we are not going back to Paris anytime soon. Fortunately, Europe has a plethora of Best Westerns, and most look quite decent. It’s extremely likely that we will spend at least a few nights in London within the next two years, since I’ve promised my son to take him there when we fly to meet my family in Europe. London has a lot of properties that cost 28-32K point per night. Even if I redeem them on two rooms, it could still represent significant cash savings in such an expensive city.
Also, it’s somewhat likely we will stay in Istanbul for a few nights. Turkey is one of the few places where my Belarusian family can visit with a visa. Plus, Belarus’ national carrier Belavia even has charters to Antalya from Minsk. Unless political situation changes, Antalya will likely be the spot for our next family reunion.
And of course, if I’m in Turkey, I simply can’t skip Istanbul. That would be a travesty. And Best Western program happens to have a really awesome property there, for only 24k points per room/per night, full breakfast included. It’s located in the old center and is called Best Western Empire Palace. Normally, the terms “Best Western” and “palace” don’t go hand in hand, right?
For a bit more points, you can even book a triple room:
According to the website, the hotel even has connecting rooms. I would totally drop 96k points on a two-night stay at this amazing-looking property.
Remember how I said that I didn’t join the program before applying? That proved to be a mistake. The website kept saying I already have an account, which I didn’t. It took several phone calls to sort it all out, but I still wasn’t able to set up an online profile using my number.
I ended up setting up another account using my middle name and my in-laws’ address. Super frustrating, and hopefully not a harbinger of things to come. After I get my new credit card in the mail, I plan to call the bank and attach it to my account.
Of course, when you are dealing with hotel points, it’s important to have plans B and C in place. Best Western program may devalue without notice yet again, the properties I’m interested in may leave the chain, and so forth. It’s hard to say whether I’ll actually be able to leverage these points the way I hope.
But in my case it’s important to remember that I was comparing this offer against $250 bonuses. It looks like Best Western points are worth around 0.5 cents apiece, at least in Europe. That’s why I’m reasonably sure that I can do better with this obscure card, even after deducting the annual fee.