Clean Slate Series: Year 3 Of Applications, What I Would do if I Were Starting Out Now!

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Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 3

Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 3

This is the third entry of my Clean Slate Series. For this series I am imagining what life would be like if I were starting out now from scratch.

How would I handle the new rules and regulations?

What would be my goals?

In order to get a better idea of how I set up this thought exercise, the ground rules I set forth, and the goals I established you should read the Year 1 EntryYou should also read Year 2’s Entry to see where I currently stand on my way to achieving the goals set forth.

3rd Year of Applications

As we left off year 2 I was sitting at a Chase 5/24 count of 5.  Since I am at 5 cards in the last 24 months I can not currently get anymore Chase cards that fall under the 5/24 rule.  But if you remember I started off year 1 with a personal Southwest card.  I did that on purpose knowing that the card would be falling off of my credit report at the beginning of 2020 since it has been 24 months since I applied for the card.

In order to get the Companion Pass again in year 3 I need to get two Southwest cards again.  But I only have one 5/24 slot so I need to be careful here.  I would start with the business version since it doesn’t count towards the 5/24 rule.  Then I would still be at 4/24 even after approval, allowing me to get the personal version as well.

But if you remember I applied for the business version a few months later so our 24 months clock has not ended yet.  So to bide some time I need to choose a different business card that does not count towards 5/24.  Then I would move into the Southwest cards to secure the companion pass.

Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 3


These would be the cards I would apply for in year 3.  The order is as follows:

  • CitiBusiness AAdvantage card – January 2020
    • 60,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months.  $95 annual fee waived the first year.
  • Southwest Business Card – April 2020
    • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after $3,000 in spend within the first 3 months. It comes with a $99 annual fee.
  • Southwest Plus – July 2020
    • 50,000 Rapid Rewards points after $2000 in spend within the first 3 months.  It has an annual fee of $69.
  • Barclay Aviator – October 2020
    • 50,000 AAdvantage miles after the first purchase.  The $95 annual fee is not waived.

Why I Chose These Cards & In This Order

Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 3

CitiBusiness AAdvantage Card

I decided to diversify some and American Airlines miles were the next best place to go in my opinion.  Since I had to go with a business card this was one of the better offers out there.  I also needed to stay away from Chase business cards since my next two applications would be with Chase.

To be honest it probably would have been better to slot this card in at the end of year 2 so that I could start of the year with the personal Southwest card.  But I really wanted to get some purchase eraser/cash equivalent cards into the mix in year two.

This was more of a place keeper more than anything so you could put any business card in this slot from a bank that doesn’t report it on your personal report.

Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 3

The Southwest Cards

These are pretty obvious and the reasoning is the same as in year 1.  If I want to get the Companion Pass again I need 110,000 Rapid Rewards points and that is done with two sign up bonuses.

I started with the business card since it would still keep my count at 4/24 and allow me to get the personal card next.  If I had started with the personal card I would have been stuck at only being able to be approved for one card since that would have bumped me up to 5/24.  The nuances are important here and it is why I started with the personal card in year one, to get the 5/24 clock started.

Click Here for more info on these and other airline credit cards.

Mapping Out the First Three Years of Applications, Year 3

Barclay Aviator

Since I chose to accrue American Airlines miles with the Citi AA Business card I wanted to increase my stash some.  This would give me over 110,000 miles between the two sign up bonuses which opens up a lot of partner award travel.  And that is one of the few places where AA miles still have some shine.

You could go with this card or with the Citi American Airlines personal card.  I chose this one since it is a different bank and because the bonus terms are easily achievable.


After completing the minimum spend on these particular cards I would have earned the following:

  • 113,000 American Airlines Miles
  • 115,000 Rapid Rewards Miles
  • The Companion Pass

I would have paid the following annual fees:

  • $168 for the two Southwest cards
  • $95 for the Barclay Aviator Card (no annual fee if you chose the Citi version instead)

This is over $3000 in value (more if you include the Companion Pass) for $263 in annual fees.


I was able to secure the Companion Pass in year 1 and year 3 like I had set forth in my goals.  I did this by mixing in business cards with personal cards and keeping close track of my 5/24 count. This was possible because I had set forth my goals in advance and then formulated a plan of attack.

I could have improved this a little bit and gotten the CP earlier in year three if I had gone with another business card at the end of year 2.  The lesson is even with planning you will probably make a few small mistakes along the way.

I hope that you enjoyed the series and got some ideas on what can be accomplished even if your goals are not the same…if you don’t fly Southwest etc.

I will be putting out one more article for the series, a bonus round if you will. I will consider what I would do in year 1 if I couldn’t get business cards.


Thanks for reading!


Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. So…at some point after getting the Southwest Business card the first year you must have cancelled it in order to be able to apply for it again in the third year? When did you do this and how does that affect your rapid rewards balance/companion pass? Would cancelling the personal card have the same effect?

    • Yes I would have cancelled it when the annual fee came due in the second year. It wouldn’t affect the Rapid Rewards points or the companion pass. Once the RR are earned they are yours.

  2. Do you plan on making a “Clean Slate” Series for….

    1) Go Hard and get millions each year, but smartly & not risking getting account closed & confiscated.
    2) Not a Newbie and done some research and would be at the end of year 2 thinking, “why cant I get 6-8 cards a year”
    2a) How would you Do it with or without worry about 5/24?

    Basically…I like the series…and these 3 things are something would tell others is Must read (mainly for how you thought it out and most importantly how you explained “Why?”…..because even though it will not work for every person……if someone wants Delta, American, United…etc etc…they can figure out how to tweek it.

    I hope ya a do an “intermediate Clean Slate” & “Advanced Clean Slate” series……..
    I would definitely read it (I’m kinda new,…have an actual business that I have enough spend that I could do almost a card a month)….So I would definitely interested in the thought processes…..
    Basically I made a couple of the mistakes that your series would have kept me from doing……I hope ya do more before I make some others 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Craig. It was less apps then I would do or a more advanced person because one of the main goals was to get the CP twice. And it was kind of developed for someone who knew nothing and I didn’t want to overwhelm them. I think year 4 on would be more apps since the 5/24 is pretty much toast going forward.

      I hadn’t thought about an advanced one but that is an interesting idea. So much is based on personal preference and choice that it would be different for everyone. Maybe I should start doing articles on cards I have recently or are going to be signing up for and why. That could kind of be similar to what you are looking for…or lay out my plans for the next 3 years. Thanks for the idea Craig!


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