My favorite feature of the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® is free access to my credit score every quarter.
If you are opening a lot of credit cards to earn points and miles, you definitely need to stay on top of the impact on your credit score.
Barclay’s offers free access to the real FICO score from Transunion. You are also eligible for a free FICO credit score from Barclay’s if you have the The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®.
This benefit has been available for the past six months, so I have been able to watch my score gradually increase over time as I took a break from opening new credit cards.
At first blush, you might think that your credit score would go down from opening a lot of rewards credit cards. It does. Your score temporarily drops a few points for each credit inquiry on your credit report.
However, if you pay your bills on time and in full every month (and you should only be in this game if you do) your score could actually increase over time.
That is because an important component of your credit score is credit utilization, or how much of the total credit line is being used.
If your total credit line increases as you open more cards, and the percent of credit utilized decreases, that can have a positive impact on your credit score.
Free FICO Score from Barclaycard Arrival: My Credit Score Increased Over Time
Six months ago, when I first gained access to my official FICO score via Barclaycard, my score was roughly 779. That is in the excellent range. (Sorry, I don’t have a screen shot.)
I wanted to give my credit score a rest, so I stopped applying for new credit cards for a while. As credit inquiries gradually dropped off my report, my score rose to 810 in January 2014.
Three months later, in April 2014, my credit score rose again to 825 out of a maximum score of 850. This is amazing considering the large number of credit cards I have applied for over the last several years.
Stay Alert for Offers for 50K Frequent Flyer Miles
My “strategy” when I first got into this game was to look for rewards cards that offered 50K bonus miles for new applicants. First, I applied for the Southwest credit card for 50K, and then the Southwest business card for 50K. Next I applied for the Delta card for 50K, and then the Delta business card for another 50K. After that I applied for the United card for 50K, and the United business card for 50K.
I am self-employed so I am eligible for small business credit cards because of my environmental consulting business.
I got a lot of free flights from these airlines!
Actually though, I think a consolidation strategy makes more sense for a lot of people, especially leisure, budget travelers.
Nevertheless, I didn’t follow my own advice, and last summer I applied for the American Airlines AAdvantage credit card for 50K bonus miles.
With my credit score now well above 800, I was now ready to consider applying for additional travel rewards credit cards. So this weekend, I applied for the American Airlines AAdvantage business credit card for 50K bonus points. This card has a $3,000 spend requirement in the first three months to get the bonus, and it has a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year. There are other offers out there for “Executive” versions of the AA card, but they had higher spend requirements than I was comfortable with.
Eyeing the Barclaycard Arrival
The next credit card on my horizon is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. This card is tremendously attractive to me because of the $400 sign-up bonus, and the ability to earn 2 points on all purchases, effectively worth 2.2 points when redeemed toward travel expenses. This card has an $89 annual fee, which is waived the first year. I already have the no annual fee version of the card, the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®.
Staying Organized is Paramount
Before I got in to this game, I had two primary credit cards; one personal, and one for my business. Both were cash back, no annual fee credit cards. I liked to keep things simple.
When I discovered the joy of free travel, I started to educate myself about the ins and outs of miles and points. One caution is that you have to be very organized to keep track of your bills, to ensure that you do not miss a payment.
The late fees and charges add up quickly, and will offset any savings from frequent flyer miles. A trick I use to stay organized is to structure the statement due dates so I can pay all my bills on the same day. Most banks allow you to change your due date online.
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