First steps towards rebuilding my point fortune: Bilt and AA

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In the post “Plans for rebuilding my point fortune,” I wrote about my 5/24 status and my desire to build up points in the following programs: Bilt Rewards, AA, Alaska, and Marriott.  In that post I also wrote: “it makes sense for me to grab a couple of consumer cards ASAP. The sooner those new accounts hit my credit report, the sooner they’ll drop off as being more than 24 months old.”  So, following my own advice, I signed up for two new consumer cards this week.

a hand holding credit cards over a map

The Bilt adventure

a screen shot of a computer screen

Bilt’s unbelievable 1-day up-to-150% transfer bonus to Virgin finally pushed me over the edge.  I decided that I needed this card sooner rather than later so that I can be in position to take advantage of deals like that in the future.

I started the application on August 1, but I quickly hit a snag.  The system wanted to verify my identity by having me take photos of my ID (license or passport) and a selfie.  I tried first on my laptop, but the system rejected my photos without explanation.  It gave me the option to complete the ID verification on my phone, so I tried that.  I went through the process twice more, but each time it rejected my photos without telling me what was wrong.  Finally, it gave up on me altogether.  I couldn’t proceed with the application.  When I tried to restart the whole process, it told me to pound sand (not really: it told me to contact support).

I’ve been told that most applicants don’t go through this type of “step-up” ID verification.  I was just one of the lucky ones.  Further, I’ve been told that about 75% of those who do step-up verification get through it without trouble.  Again, I was “lucky.”  Apparently, those who fail this step, like I did, get put into a queue for manual verification.  As things stand today, that can take up to a month, but Bilt is actively working on a solution that will remove that delay for everyone and, I’ve been told, that should be in place within a couple of weeks.  In my case, thanks to having friends in high places at Bilt, they were able to clear my ID check in about 24 hours.

The next day, I clicked to continue the application and I was instantly approved for the card.  Fortunately for those who get stuck at ID verification, there was no hard inquiry to my credit report until this final step.

a screenshot of a credit card

I’ll do a follow-up post with thoughts about how I plan to earn rewards and elite status with this card.

AA Executive Card

a screenshot of a card

In order to build up my AA points, I applied for the Citi AAdvantage Executive card.  My application was automatically approved.

At the time of this writing, the offer for that card is for 100K miles after $10,000 spend in first 3 months.  In case you’re reading this after that offer has expired, here’s the current offer for this card:

Card Offer and Details
70K miles ⓘ Affiliate
70K miles after $7,000 spend in first 3 months
$595 Annual Fee
FM Mini Review: Good choice for those who need Admirals Club® access and those who value the Loyalty Points boosts at 50K and 90K Loyalty Points earned. Plus, it offers the usual collection of perks for flying AA (free checked bag, priority boarding, etc.) and some handy credits for Avis or Budget rentals and GrubHub.
Earning rate: 4X AA ✦ 10X hotels booked through AA.com/Hotels ✦ 10X car rentals booked through AA.com/Cars ✦ 1X everywhere else
Base: 1X (1.3%)
Brand: 4X (5.2%)
Other: 10X (13%)
Card Info: Mastercard World Elite issued by Citi. This card has no foreign currency conversion fees.
Noteworthy perks: ✦ First Checked Bag Free ✦ Admirals Club® access for both primary and authorized users ✦ Up to $120 in statement credits per calendar year for car rentals booked directly with Avis or Budget ✦ Up to $120 per 12 monthly billing cycles for GrubHub purchases (up to $10 per monthly billing cycle) ✦ $10 monthly Lyft credit after you take 3 Lyft rides that calendar month ✦ 10K bonus Loyaty Points after earning 50K Loyalty points through all channels and another 10K bonus Loyalty Points after earning 90K Loyalty Points through all channels ✦ 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases on American Airlines flights ✦ Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

Bottom Line

Obtaining the Bilt and AA Executive cards is just the first step towards building up the points I want.  With AA, I need to meet the hefty minimum spend requirements.  With Bilt, I’m hoping to get the 5x everywhere for 5 days offer that most new cardholders get.  If so, of course I’ll want to spend big during those 5x days.  Beyond that, I’ll look to maximize spend on the first of each month (when Bilt doubles reward earnings).

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