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This is the third post of a four part series that will walk you through the steps to multiple credit card applications to earn miles and points. This post will focus on the best strategy to choosing the top offers, the ones to apply for, and the results of my round of credit card applications. The first post covered the basics on preparing for the application process and double checking your credit health to ensure that everything is up to par before applying for credit cards. The 2nd post of the series will cover how to evaluate what cards to keep and what cards to cancel before applying for more. I will have a final and 4th post analyzing the impacts of my credit score and how credit card applications affects it.

After reviewing the cards I currently have and deciding to cancel only one card, the next step was to take a look at all the top offers and cards available by the major credit card companies. My strategy for this round of applications was to focus on hotel points and AA miles that will be merged with US Airways in the future. The two goals with this round of applications:

1. Earn hotel points that I can redeem for top tier hotels on upcoming trips

2. Take advantage of Barclays US Airways card offer that is probably going to either disappear or transfer to Chase after the merger with American Airlines

The value of the hotel credit card sign-up bonuses are based on award nights that I plan on using this fall on a month long trip to Turkey, Croatia, and Montenegro.

These are the cards I applied for:


– Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

My decision here was easy because I was targeted for a 70,000 Marriott points plus one free night in a category 1-4 hotel sign up offer after spending 1,000 in 3 months. This has been the top targeted offer for a while and I have received several offers in the mail, so I decided now was the time to apply for this card. Although Marriott recently devalued their loyalty program, 70,000 points can still be worth several free nights in the middle tier hotels.

Card Value: $700

Application Result: Approved

Annual fee: Waived for the first year ($85 after the first year)

– Priority Club

Since I wanted to focus on hotel points, the 80,000 Priority Club points through this link on FlyterTalk after $1,000 spend was a no-brainer. There are some great value redemptions using Priority Club rewards points, such as the Istanbul Holiday Inn Sisli that is only 15,000 points per night and has a normal rate of $320. The card automatically gives you Platinum Elite status that offers complimentary room upgrades with availability. The one free night after the 1st year of having the card more than makes up for the $49 annual fee, and will definitely hold its weight when it is put on the chopping blocks next year.

Card Value: $1700

Application Result: Approved

Annual fee: Waived for the first year ($49 after the first year)

US Bank – Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa is one of the best new offers for credit cards currently available. The 85,000 point sign up bonus is amazing, but it is really the automatic Gold Elite Status after the first card use that’s a golden offer. With the card and status you also get  Bonus Award Nights as well as room upgrades–the last night of any stay of 2 nights or more is free and you will be upgraded depending on availability at check-in. The Bonus Award Nights makes this deal better than the Citi Hilton Reserve and Chase Hyatt card–which are still a great bonus with 2 free weekend nights. The real value of the Club Carlson card is when you book two separate award nights of two nights each at a top tier Radisson Blu property. The last night will be free for each of these stays–making this offer worth almost FOUR free nights at a top tier hotel.

Since you will get 85,000 Gold Points from the offer–50,000 points after the first purchase, and another 35,000 points after you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days–you will also earn 12,500 more points for meeting the min spend. This leaves you only 3,500 points shy of 100,000 points. Most Radisson Blu hotels are either 44,000 or 50,000 points per night. After you spend a couple extra hundred dollars you will have enough for the four free nights, making this an amazing deal that can be worth more than $1,200 depending on what hotel you redeem your points at. The first years annual fee of $75 is not waived, but is well worth it if you ask me!

Here are the terms of the card: Up to 85,000 Bonus Gold Points – receive 50,000 Gold Points after your first purchase, plus 35,000 points after you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days; 10 points per dollar on eligible purchases at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide and 5 points per dollar everywhere else; 40,000 bonus points each year  after you renew your card and pay the annual fee; Bonus Award Nights – when Gold Points are redeemed for two or more consecutive award nights, the last night is free – exclusively for cardmembers; Automatic Gold Elite Status once the card is used. Existing Gold Elite members receive 15 qualifying nights toward Concierge Elite Status.

Card Value: $1300

Application Result: Approved

Annual fee: $75

American Express – Hilton Hhonors

To round out my hotel card bonuses I added 50,000 points after spending $750 within 3 months on the American Express Hilton HHonors card. This card has a low minimum spend for the 50,000 points and no annual fee, which is why I chose this card over the Hilton Surpass card that has a higher bonus of 60,000 (I didn’t want to add another $2,500 to my minimum spend for an extra 10,000 points). I like how the card gives you free Hilton Silver elite status, making you eligible for discounted AXON and VIP awards. The Hilton Amex cards have some of the highest points earning values for normal spends–6 Hilton points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels, supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, phone/internet/cable & 3 points per $1 for everything else.

Card Value: $300

Application Result: Approved

Annual fee: No annual fee

Citi – CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage

American Airlines miles are my second highest valued miles (only behind United because of their stopover rules), so I wanted to add 50,000 AAdvantage miles to my account with the Visa CitiBusiness AAvantage card. The best Citi offer is actually the “unofficial” 50,000-mile offer available and widely discussed in this Flyertalk thread. It has been two years since my last Citi AA cards–the two browser trick was still around then and I was able to get two 75,000 bonuses in the same day. Since the offer does not show on the application page I took the leap of faith and trusted all the successful reports on Flyertalk that this link works. After spending $3,000 in the first four months I will receive 50,000 miles, 2 Admirals Club passes, and a $150 statement credit for the first eligible AA purchase made within 12 months of card membership.

Card Value: $1,100

Application Result: Pending decision. After calling the reconsideration line at 1-800-763-9795 the rep quickly told me I was approved for the card after a few minutes.

Annual fee: Waived for the first year ($75 after the first year)

Barclays – US Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard

Since the merger of US Airways and American Airlines will mean that Dividend Miles will be combined with AAdvantage miles, I wanted this card to add some miles to my American Airline miles account. This card will also likely disappear or at least change over to Chase, so it will not be offered anymore–also making it a great opportunity to score this bonus before it’s gone. Although there are always new products and bonuses being introduced, I always like to take advantage of one that is going away so it leaves the ones that are still around and available to me in the future. The bonus after the first purchase on the card is for 35,000 Dividend Miles, one US Airways Club lounge pass, and two $99 plus taxes companion tickets per year. This Flyertalk thread confirms that the promotion is working, although the offer page does not populate the bonus details. Again, another leap of faith, but I am sure it will work out based on all the successful reports on Flyertalk.

Card Value: $590

Application Result: Pending. I called into the reconsideration line at 1-866-419-6437 and asked the rep if I could check my application status, a few minute later I was told that I was approved!

Annual fee: Waived for the first year ($89 after the first year)

The Results: Six new cards and 370,000 miles/points!

Success! My goal of earning lots of hotel points to use for free nights on some upcoming trips to Europe and South America was definitely achieved. All-in-all I will earn 370,000 miles/points from the lucrative sign-up bonuses after meeting a total minimum spend of $8,250 (my good friend Amazon payments will help with this). I would put a value of the combined bonuses at around total of $5600.

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About the author

Rand Shoaf

Introduced to traveling at a young age, Rand has since traveled to over 45 countries. Learning how to maximize credit card sign-up bonuses in college has allowed him to earn millions of travel miles and points. Using the same tips and tricks he writes about here has ultimately allowed him to explore the word for pennies on the dollar.


  • Great information, and nicely written! Appreciate the process steps and insight on comparing the rewards.

  • Hi,

    For the Citi – CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage Card how did you get 50K miles? I went to the flyertalk website you referenced and it said the offer is now dead.

    Thanks and nice Churn,

    • @ Jon – I applied for the card in March, but it looks like #3 on the first post in the Flyertalk thread is still working. Here is the direct link to the application (not my affiliate link)–note that the offer does not populate in the application so you going off the successful reports from people are flyertalk.

  • Awesome churn! A lot of cards on here that I hadn’t seen before. I hope I’m targeted for that Marriott card soon as I’ll be staying in a few this summer. Thanks for getting into the details on each card.