Credit Card Seminar Pt 6 – What Are App-o-Ramas?

I can’t decide if the term “app-o-rama” is something Fonzie would have said or if it is more Phoebe Buffay.  If those names don’t mean anything to you, then clearly you did not watch enough television growing up or I am really getting old.  Anyway, what is an app-o-rama?

Before we answer this question and complete this series, let’s take a quick look at the preceding 5 lessons we learned:

  1. Getting Your Credit In Order
  2. What Is the Actual Rate of Return on a Card?
  3. The Different Types of Credit Cards: Cash Back, Fixed Value, and Flexible Point
  4. Why Signup Bonuses Are the Key to Free Travel
  5. What Are the Right Cards For Your Desired Trip?
Now, you remember everything from those lessons, right?  Because now you’re about to see something truly amazing.  We hit on sign up bonuses and saw what just each one of them could do on its own. What if I told you that it is possible to do 2, 3, 4, 5, or more sign ups in a single day?  4 is still my record, and I probably won’t push that because I don’t travel that much, but it’s nice to know it can be done.  This idea, applying for multiple cards in a single day, is known as an app-o-rama.  In case you did not guess, “app” means application.

Now, I will share with you my exact card list in that app-o-rama from November of last year in a moment, but it begs the question as to why people would do this?  There are several reasons.

First, this allows them to keep their “application cycles” on a schedule.  The idea is that once a credit pull is 90 days old, it hurts you less, thus freeing you up for more applications.  So, these people consolidate their apps into one day, wait 91 days, and then lather, rinse, repeat.  Another reason, though I am not totally convinced it is genuine, is that multiple credit pulls may be consolidated into one if they are on the same day.  I think years ago this had more credence, but in today’s age of near-instant reporting, the lenders can see if you just applied 15 minutes ago for another card.  The final, and most important, reason is: an absolute bonanza of points!

So, as promised, let me share with you the results of my most recent app-o-rama:

  • Hilton American Express (no annual fee version) card.  I had to spend $750 in 3 months on the card to get 40,000 Hilton points.  Most point experts value Hilton points at about a third of a cent apiece, so the approximate value of these points is 40,000 / 3, or $133.  I got lucky and blew that away.  By combining those points with about 9,000 previously existing Hilton points, I managed to score a free night at the Athens Hilton on my trip to Greece.  For a stay there in June 2014 (on the same day of the week I stayed), the rate is 339 euros, or $462 dollars.  With taxes, that’s almost $500 in rewards from $750 in spend.  What an insane rate of return.
  • Barclaycard Arrival (annual fee version, but fee waived for first year).  I had to spend $1000 in 3 months to get 40,000 Arrival points, which can be used for $440 in travel redemptions.  Remember, this card is a fixed value card, so no matter what I used it for (hotel, flight, rental car, etc.), I was going to get $440 in value.  So, again, $440 in value on $1000 in spend.  Over 40% return.
  • Chase Ink Classic card (a no annual fee card).  This card no longer exists, but Chase does offer three other types of Ink cards.  I needed to spend $3000 in 3 months to get 20,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points.  Since Chase points can be used in a variety of ways, I estimate them to be worth about 1.5 cents apiece.  Hopefully I can do better than that, but worst case should be $300 in value.  
  • Citi American Advantage Card (annual fee, but waived first year).  I needed to spend $3000 in 3 months to get 50,000 American miles.  25,000 American miles are required to get a round trip ticket in the US, so let’s say these points are worth $600 apiece ($300 per ticket).


When we total everything up, we get ($500 + $440 + $300 + $600) = $1840 just from bonus miles/points.  Don’t forget that we spent ($750 + $1000 + $3000 + $3000) = $7750 to get it.  Since I still earn miles/points on my spend, let’s make it simple and say I get exactly 1 mile/point for each of those dollars.  Then my $1840 becomes $1840 + $77.50, or $1918 in rewards.  When I divide $1918 by $7750 (rewards earned by dollars spent), I get a rate of return of almost exactly 25%.  Compare that to the 2% numbers you hear on television.  Incidentally, I was instantly approved for the American Airlines and Barclay cards.  I called AMEX and found out that I was also approved but the system was down so they couldn’t notify me right away.  Chase, as usual, was reluctant to give me another card since I have so many with them, but I called their reconsideration line and got them to approve me.

Also, if you click on my links, you will often find that the points I got may differ from what is in the links.  This is because sign up offers do change.

So, do you need to do app-o-ramas?  Not really, but they are lucrative as can be, aren’t they?  Many do these religiously, lining their pockets with thousands of miles and points, ensuring that their next trip is well funded.  Other people tend to be more cautious and sign for great offers when they come along.  After all, if you do an app-o-rama schedule, you may miss good offers because you did so many just a few weeks earlier.

So, there you have it.  I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

What do you think?  Do you have a personal app-o-rama strategy?  I’d love to hear from you.

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