The Worst Newbie Mistake I Made When Applying for Credit Cards

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credit card mistakes
Photo by Matt Chan.

Newbie Credit Card Mistakes

Yesterday’s article about a “waiting period on credit cards” has proved to be popular and has motivated a lot of people to share their experiences! I am really glad to find out so many people are doing quite well despite having recently found this hobby.

One of the common mistakes I talked about in the article was stranded points. People new to the hobby also tend to over-apply, meaning they end up missing out on good offers when they come around or get temporarily blacklisted by a bank for too many applications in a short period of time.

Thankfully I haven’t been denied very often, although I have spent my share of time on reconsideration calls with all of my favorite banks explaining myself. I have also had to pass on an offer or two because I had recently applied for a inferior card at the same bank and wasn’t eligible to get another card so soon. None of those things amount to huge mistakes, but every defeat still stings a bit.

My Biggest Newbie Credit Card Mistake

credit card mistakes
Photo by B Rosen.

Since I have been writing about common credit card mistakes of newbies, I thought it is only fair to share the biggest mistake I made when I was new to the hobby. When I got started several years ago, I took on the app-o-rama strategy of applying for gazillions of cards all at once. Or to put it more plainly, I would apply for cards in large waves every few months. During these rounds, I often went back and forth between applications for both myself and my wife. (With her permission of course!) 🙂

During one such app-o-rama, I applied for a card with all of my wife’s information, but my social security number. I had been going back and forth between her apps and mine and somehow the information got mixed up in my brain. The result was an instant denial and a gigantic mess to follow.

When my wife called in to find out about why the application was denied, she was instantly transferred to the fraud department who wouldn’t give her any info. After a second call and many levels of questions, someone eventually told her that the social security number didn’t match. Thankfully they hadn’t run her credit, so all that needed to be done was another application with the correct information.

After that day I generally shifted our applications to different days so only one set of information was in my brain at a time. Eventually I trusted myself again and I now apply for cards for both of us on the same date, however I never go back and forth. I apply for my cards and then hers or vice-versa. I also carefully read the confirmation screen before submitting an app. Pretty simple steps, however things like that can get lost in the excitement of a credit card application round.

Your Biggest Newbie Mistakes?

Now that I have made myself look like a complete idiot, how about you do the same? Just kidding, but I would love for some of you to share your biggest newbie mistake in the comments. By sharing our collective experiences, we can help those new to the hobby avoid some of the simple pitfalls. Thanks in advance and have a wonderful day!

Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. I made a horrible newbie mistake that I’m still paying for and may never be able to make up for. I had 3 cc’s but because I was new had been rejected for 4 more. I misunderstood the 5/24 rule and thought it was for inquiries not accounts… I begrudgingly went on to accrue 4 more, non chase, cards and thus putting me at 7 new accounts in a little over 12 month period.

  2. Shawn,

    I am a newbie! My current strategy is loading 1K/month to my Serve card with my Barclay Arrival+ card. I also have recently opened an American Express Gold card because of it’s 50,000 miles promotion (for 1k spend in first 3 months). …that’s about as far as I got into this hobby but would love to learn more. Any suggestions to rack up more miles? Also, is there a way that I can combine all my miles into one place so that I can use miles from multiple cards for flight purchases?
    Thanks much!

  3. The worst mistake I have done is not calling to reconsideration line on time for the Barclay arrival back in 2013. I was away and the denial letter arrived to my friends house. What I didn’t know is that Barclay didn’t approve the card because I had too much credit on my Upromise account. If I knew, I would have call them before it was late. Oh well.

  4. I would say so far my biggest mistake is not learning about the AA Exec card sooner than now :-/ i could have at least 350k miles by now but possibly more. not sure when last 100k offer was.

  5. Idiot #2. I did exactly the same thing as you, put my social security on my wife’s application, during an app-o-rama. Only did that once and have now done about 70 applications over 5 years. It was a mess, involved fraud dept too. Eventually got her a card, but it took a month. I’m more than stupid because I get these application urges very late at night on the weekends after a bottle of wine. What do I expect to happen?

  6. Spent my hard earned 50k United miles on two r/t tickets from New York to Chicago. I couldn’t find any Avios available flights at the time, but if I would have waited closer to departure, something may have opened up. Or I could have paid and it would have been more worthwhile. Oh well. You live and learn!

  7. Last year, when I decided to really jump into the game (after my waiting period), I applied for the Chase ink 70,000 point offer. There was so much back and forth about requesting more business info that I just gave up and applied for the sapphire preferred.
    Now, 6 months later, I’m regretting such a waste of a hard pull. It probably just would’ve been one more phone call/fax to get final approval for the ink. Oh well, that was pre-MS for me, so that $5,000 minimum spend went to good use elsewhere. I guess.

    • That is pretty tough, especially considering it was for the 70,000 point offer! Anyway, you have to make mistakes in order to enjoy the successes. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I will occasionally get the same card for myself and my husband at the same time. I once mixed up the two cards in my online bill pay system, paying my balance due on his card and his balance due on mine. Bank was very nice and waived all fees, but it was a hassle!

  9. Hah, I once wanted to do a 2BM with Chase. Entered all my info on one app, then filled out the other app, then hit submit on both. In my haste, I mistakenly sent the same app twice! They denied the duplicate submission.

  10. My very first trip with points, I spend 20,000 US Airways miles (5K discount for having the card) for a roundtrip ticket to FLL, when I could have used 15,000 Avios.

    Not a big deal, but it IS fewer miles, AND it would have been a direct flight.


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